Amongst points and miles fans, Avianca is probably best known for its LifeMiles program that I’ve been using and benefiting from for years now.
However, it also has a fairly extensive route network in the US. Avianca has announced cuts to that network as well as cuts to its generous baggage policy.
Avianca US Route Cuts
According to FlightGlobal, Avianca is set to cut 11 routes including discontinuing all service to Boston and Chicago. The slashed US routes include:
- Boston (BOS) to Bogota (BOG) – Ends May 1
- Boston (BOS) to San Salvador – Ends June 1
- Chicago (ORD) to Bogota (BOG) – Ends May 1
- Chicago (ORD) to Guatemala City – Ends June 1
- New York (JFK) to Cartagena – Ends May 1
- New York (JFK) to Guatemala City – Ends June 1
- Orlando (MCO) to Guatemala City – Ends June 1
Even though many of these routes just started in the last year or two, Avianca is focusing on improving profitability instead of expand.
Avianca’s New Baggage Policy
Starting with flights after May 1, 2019 economy class tickets between North America and Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the Caribbean will include one piece of checked luggage. Sounds like a positive, right?
Reading their policy change announcement, I certainly couldn’t tell. After some thorough investigating, the Point Me team discovered that what Avianca did for economy (“tourist” class) was break up South America into two segments and actually reduce baggage allowance.
What used to be two free bags is now one free bag for northern South America as the policy email states (Peru, Ecuador, Colombia). Deep South America still gets two free bags.
My rose colored glasses are now tinted with skepticism when these policy change announcements fill my inbox.
The Avianca Credit Card
There are two Avianca cards available in the US via Banco Popular. The Avianca Vuela Visa Card is intriguing since it offers 40,000 LifeMiles after first card use. That’s right, there’s no minimum spend to earn the LifeMiles bonus. In addition, there’s a bunch of other perks like:
- 3 LifeMiles per $1 spent on Avianca purchases
- 2 LifeMiles per $1 spent at gas stations and grocery stores
- No foreign transaction fees
- Additional checked bag (to counteract the loss above)
- 15% discount on purchases of miles with Multiply Your Miles
- 50% discount on an award ticket redeemed for travel to Central America or Colombia from the US after $12,000 spent
- Additional 50% discount on an award ticket redeemed for travel to Central America or Colombia from the US after $24,000 spent
If you travel to Central America or Colombia with any frequency, this card could make a lot of sense. It does come with a $149 annual fee.
Both the route cuts and checked bag restrictions are unfortunate for Avianca flyers here in the US. Avianca is renewing its focus on intra-Latin America while slightly contracting its international operations. It’s a boon for international carriers like American who have already have a strong position in South America
And sorting through complicated baggage policies is no small undertaking. Avianca was generous with two free checked bags previously. so this reduction brings them more in line with other carriers. However, this is certainly a negative change, especially for those that check multiple bags when visiting family abroad.