After migrating over to Alaska Airlines and American Airlines as my primary frequent flier programs, I’ve been leveraging Avianca Lifemiles to stay in the game for Star Alliance award tickets.
One thing that I’d heard over and over about Lifemiles award redemptions was to make sure you’ve made up your mind before booking, since it’s a huge pain in the butt to cancel them. So while I’ve booked several Lifemiles award tickets in the past, in each case I was careful to really consider the booking final before pulling the trigger.
Well the time finally came that I needed to make a cancellation, so I blocked off several hours of my day and prepared for the worst. The reality of the experience was anything but a nightmare, and only took a total of two calls that spanned 18 minutes (and 23 seconds to be exact).
Here’s a summary of my experience along with a couple tips to keep in mind if you are in a similar situation:
Before calling, make sure that your online profile is fully completed. In particular, in the “My Profile” section of your account, you will need to click on the “Password & PIN” section to select a PIN, and need to rill out your entire mailing address in the “Contact Preferences” section.
I made the mistake of only having the “Member Information” and PIN sections completed, and the first agent I reached was not in the mood to wait for me to enter my address online while on the phone. This led to a failed call #1.
Once you’ve filled out your online profile, call 1-800-284-2622, select #2 for English, enter your Lifemiles number, and then enter #3 followed by #3 again to reach an agent.
For both calls i was connected to an agent immediately, and simply stated that i would like to cancel my ticket. The sentiment has been that many of the agents are clueless, but that wasn’t my experience at all. The agent knew exactly what to do, so it’s probably fair to say that they have received training and practice over time.
For security purposes, I had to confirm the reservation locator, passengers names, and the date and route of travel.
After that it was smooth sailing, and I primarily dealt with a series of automated systems. Firstly, I received a prompt to enter my PIN number. Afterwards, I was sent to another automated telephonic system to entire my credit card information number and expiration date, and had to repeat this for each passenger.
Lastly, I was re-directed back to the agent who outlined how the process would work from this point onward:
- Within 72 hours, my credit card would be charged for the $50 cancellation fee per ticket, and miles would be refunded to my account
- Within 4-6 weeks I would receive a refund of the award ticket taxes
In reality, I received the miles back in my account in roughly 24 hours, and received a refund of the taxes back to my credit card within a week. The latter was a pleasant surprise since I’d read that getting the taxes refunded can be tricky and would potentially need several rounds of follow-up.
While it’d obviously be preferable to cancel or change award tickets online, cancelling my Lifemiles award ticket via phone was anything but the nightmare experience that I was prepared for. I presume that this process has come a long way since inception, and that agents have gotten a lot of practice over time which has helped to expedite the process.
After I had gotten my account setup properly, the process essentially took 12 minutes from start to finish, and I received my miles and taxes back within a week.
If you’re looking for additional tips, and some real-life battle stories, check out this Flyertalk thread which is dedicated to the topic.