Most U.S.-based points and miles collectors may know Avianca because of its generous LifeMiles program, but the airline can also be a top choice if you're flying to Central or South America.
Since Avianca doesn't have a first-class product, Avianca's business class is the best way to fly Colombia's flag carrier. We'll show you how to score the best food, service, seats and lounges that Avianca has to offer.
What to expect flying Avianca business class
Avianca business class reviews vary. Many travelers are pleasantly surprised by the quality of the business class seats; however, service from the crew and the food options can be hit-or-miss. Avianca business class may provide a very different onboard experience depending on the aircraft type and route.
These are some standard aspects that will be the same no matter which route or Avianca business class product you fly:
Baggage allowance: Avianca business class fares include two checked bags of up to 70 pounds each, one carry-on bag of 22 pounds plus a personal item. You may be entitled to more free checked bags through elite status. To check the exact checked baggage allowance, enter the route, fare type and LifeMiles status level in Avianca's Baggage Calculator.
Boarding: Avianca business class passengers get to board in Group A, the first boarding group after preboarding. If you'd rather maximize time at the lounge, make sure to get to the gate before boarding closes 15 minutes before departure.
Seats: Avianca uses a variety of aircraft types on flights between the U.S. and Central America. The recliner seats in Avianca business class on narrow body aircraft are similar to flying in domestic first class on a U.S. airline. However, there are lie-flat seats in business class on Avianca's Boeing 787 and some Airbus A330 aircraft.
Lounges: Avianca offers over a dozen VIP lounges in airports in Colombia, El Salvador, Brazil, Spain and North America. And passengers have access to all of them when flying in Avianca business class. Due to COVID-19, some lounges or amenities may not be available. Check with Avianca for the latest updates.
Meals and drinks: Food and drink service depends on the length of the flight and the route. You may get a complimentary drink only on short domestic flights within Central America. Meanwhile, Avianca business class passengers can enjoy a full meal service on longer international flights. Note that service may vary due to the pandemic.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
Finding Avianca business class award availability
To book Avianca business class, search and book on Avianca's U.S. website. Enter routes, dates and select business class under the "Who is traveling" section.
However, if your dates or routes are flexible, we recommend using an online search tool, such as the Google Flights Explore Map, to find inexpensive routes and destinations. When searching, options can be limited to a particular airline such as Avianca. For example, here are the cheapest Avianca business class options from New York City over the next six months:
After selecting a route, Google Flights shows the options. Then, click through to Avianca's website or an online travel agency to book the flight.
How to get good value for your Avianca business class ticket
Book a route with lie-flat seats
To get the best Avianca business class experience, you'll want to fly on a route that uses Airbus A330 or Boeing 787-8 aircraft. These aircraft have lie-flat business class seats rather than recliner seats. You can often find these aircraft on routes between Bogota and New York-JFK or Los Angeles-LAX.
Use LifeMiles to book Avianca business class awards
You can use LifeMiles — Avianca's mileage program — to book Avianca awards. Award rates vary based on the date and route. For example, an Avianca business class flight from Miami to San Salvador can cost 25,000 LifeMiles each way.
Meanwhile, New York-JFK to Bogota might cost 40,000 LifeMiles one-way.
If you don't already have LifeMiles, you can transfer points to LifeMiles from:
Book Avianca business class through partner programs
Since LifeMiles uses a variable-pricing method, you might be able to pay fewer miles by booking Avianca business class through a partner mileage program. Avianca is a member of the Star Alliance. This means you can use miles from any Star Alliance partner to book Avianca award flights; however, the rate will vary between programs.
For example, you can pay 38,500 United MileagePlus miles each way for Avianca business class. Plus, availability is generally wide open:
But you'll have to use 57,500 Singapore KrisFlyer miles to book the same route in Avianca business class:
Upgrade to Avianca business class using LifeMiles
If you booked an Avianca flight in economy, you aren't stuck flying in economy: Use LifeMiles to upgrade the ticket to Avianca business class. To do so, contact Avianca's Call Center (800-284-2622), select option No. 3 and tell the agent that you want to use LifeMiles to upgrade. The mileage cost to upgrade depends on the route you're flying:
One way upgrade cost from...
U.S. (excluding Florida) and Canada
Mexico, Central America, The Caribbean
Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador
Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay
The bottom line
Avianca is a convenient option for flying between the U.S. and Central America and for connections onward to South America. Although Avianca doesn't have a first class product, its business class can be competitive with U.S.-based airlines operating on the same routes.
When flying Avianca business class, some aspects — like baggage allowance and lounge access — will be the same regardless of the route. However, food, drinks and the type of seat will vary based on the route and length of the flight. Make sure to check these details carefully when booking to maximize your experience.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card