Avianca LifeMiles Partner Ticket Disaster: Turkish Airlines Denies Boarding


A LoyaltyLobby reader dropped us an email about a nightmare scenario with an Avianca LifeMiles award ticket issued on Turkish Airlines.

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Here’s the email from the reader:

Not sure if you heard from others but basically I bought $2600 in Avianca miles on Sep 25 in order to top my account to book to business class award tickets to DAR ( Tanzania) .

I end up going anyway on a different airlines with mikes from AA.

But I really want to share with you:

Sep 25 booked two award tickets business from Miami to DAR( Turkish airlines) for Nov 17,2020.

I was able to select seats on line and everything seems to be working ok for 315,000 miles plus $257 taxes, award and fees but for my surprise one day before Nov 16,2020 when I tried to check in online did not work . Called Turkish and they said that Avianca make the reservation but never ticketed the reservation ( they took my miles and my cash). On Nov 17,2020 started calling early I the morning one phone call over 3 hours and i conference Turkish airlines and Lifemiles.

During check in on November 17,202 Turkish airlines agent confirmed that ticket was never paid – confirmed and I could not fly and have to call Avianca the owner of the ticket. Avianca just emailed me today since I sent 50 pages document to my credit card to reverse the charge.

They are nuts and saying that I tried to modify the flight over the phone.

If you hear from others in the same situation .

Basically Avianca was blaming on Turkish and Turkish is a well run airline and they advise me that Avianca is the owner of my ticket . I received two e tickets via email showing tailor ticket receipt so I have all documents needed and pictures from phone calls but I am wondering if you heard from others . Since people are canceling tickets or just changing for a future date they keep making money and don’t provide the service on award tickets .

If they don’t refund the cash that I paid for the miles $2654.00 and the $257 paid to the tickets I may file a motion in court agains Avianca and Lifemiles. I end up staying one night in Miami and just booking Qatar for the next day. Huge expense for. Safari and Zanzibar.

Example for the 156k miles charge

UPDATE: The reader sent the following message about what took place during the call with Avianca/LifeMiles and Turkish:

Even conference both agents in the line and Lifemiles could not make it happen and keep saying to the Turkish airlines that my ticket was valid.. check in person from Turkish very polite and helpful mention that reservation was made but never ticketed. Turkish flight departed on time.

Here’s what may have happened:

1. Avianca made the reservation but never issued the actual ticket.

2. Avianca issued the ticket, but the ticket number was never updated at the Turkish Airways end.

3. Turkish Airways made a small schedule change, and Avianca never revalidated the ticket, and it ended up being out of sync.

Who is responsible?

Here Turkish Airlines claims that Avianca never issued the ticket while it is unclear what Avianca told the reader over the phone.

When you make any airline, including the award reservation, you should soon receive the e-ticket number in addition to the six-letter PNR.

In the rate instance that  you don’t receive the e-ticket number within a few minutes or perhaps up to an hour or two later, you should always contact the issuing airline to see if there is an issue. Sometimes there could be a problem with the PNR that the agent needs to fix, or perhaps the credit card authorization didn’t go through properly.

If the e-ticket was issued correctly and the reader had it, he should have given it to the Turkish Airlines agent.

If there was a schedule change and the ticket became out of sync, Avianca should have revalidated it. If this was not done before check-in, I believe that Turkish Airlines could have done it as well.

Eventually, whether right or wrong, regardless if the screw up happened at the Turkish Airlines end, the ticketing airline, in this case, Avianca, is responsible for the passenger.

The 50-page long documentation that the reader’s bank had received after disputing the airline’s charge is likely standard “garbage” that Avianca, an airline in bankruptcy, tries to fight them with even when they (disputes) are valid.


What a mess and a miserable situation to be in.

We have not heard of any other cases recently where a reader would have had issues with Avianca issued award tickets.

It is understandable that partners, who accept Avianca’s tickets for transportation, maybe hesitant because they don’t get paid until the passenger flies the segment (the electronic coupon is presented for settlement).

My advice would always to check that the ticketing airline has issued the electronic ticket and periodically check that the operating airline PNRs are in order.

There used to be more cases in the past about schedule and other changes that were not adequately communicated between airlines that often lead to long waits when checking in while e-tickets (or paper tickets way back) were sorted out.

I am not sure if the reader could have visited Avianca’s ticketing/customer service desk at the Miami airport at the time when TK’s check-in was open to see if the issue could have been resolved? Agents at airports can usually fix problems swiftly that can take hours over the phone.

As the reader lives in the United States, I would open a DOT case regarding the denied boarding and address the complaint to both Avianca and Turkish Airlines.

The reader can open a small claims court case against Avianca/LifeMiles. Not sure how enforceable the judgment would be if LifeMiles (based in Bermuda) or Avianca (headquartered in Panama) decides not to pay.