Avianca-TACA and Copa join Star Alliance today!

Back in November of 2010 (yeah, you’ve gotta love the pace at which this stuff happens) I wrote about Avianca-TACA and Copa’s intention to join the Star Alliance. Well, that date has finally come, as both airlines are Star Alliance members as of today.

Copa is based in Panama City, Panama, and has a pretty thorough route network within South America (you can find their route network here), though doesn’t have any longhaul flights (they don’t even fly any widebodies). Since the United merger it has been possible to redeem MileagePlus miles for travel on Copa, and before that it was possible to redeem Continental OnePass miles for travel on them. Copa was never formally part of the Star Alliance, though, so this is the first opportunity for other Star Alliance members to earn and redeem miles for travel on Copa.

The best place to search for Copa award space is on the United award search tool, and as you’ll see they have excellent coach award space, though the same can’t be said for business class.

TACA is based in Sal Salvador (their route network can be found here) while Avianca is based on Bogota (I can only find their unofficial route map here). Avianca award space can be accessed on ExpertFlyer, and based on a few quick searches availability seems to be reasonably good.

Not gonna lie, I’m kind of excited to book a few awards on any of the above airlines with US Airways. Am curious which geographical region they think Colombia belongs to (my money is on Europe or the Iraq).

Comments

  1. @ JohnBom — They haven’t published their earnings chart yet, but yes, you should be able to.

  2. How many of us LatinPass mileage runners in 2000 would have predicted so many of those 10 airlines would become members of Star Alliance in 2012?

    Star Alliance should run a million mile promotion to welcome the new airline members!

  3. Ben, do you ever have safety or service concerns about flying these airlines based in developing countries? Can we take the fact that Star Alliance gave admission to these airlines as an endorsement by the other member airlines that these carriers are reliable and safe, or does it not represent that kind of seal of approval? Any rules of thumb that you personally follow?

  4. I flew Avianca last year from Bogota to Santa Martha and Catergena back to Bogata. All locations are within Colombia and only about 1 hour of plane ride.

    Their planes are in excellent condition, each seat is equipped with USB charger, remote , in flight entertainment screen with many selections for a short domestic flight(including american movies/shows). I can’t remember what plane it was, but probably the best domestic plane I have ride on, comparable with domestic plane in Japan on Japan Airlines.

    On the other hand, driving style(whether its car or plane), they’re very aggressive in Colombia. The descending of the plane was rather aggressive, most aggressive I have experienced.

  5. LACSA is owned by Taca, but operates flights under its own IATA code. No mention is made of them in the *A website about the other airlines that just joined. Are they part of *A?

  6. How can I use United Miles to fly on Avianca? What is the process to book the award? Thanks

  7. what’s the award chart on Avianca for flying with other star alliance partners? Seem like they regularly run 100% mile bonus purchase sales, might be a good way to get star alliance FC seats without using United/US miles?

  8. @ John — That’s a great question. In and of itself I don’t think Star Alliance accepting them makes them safe. After all they’re a business alliance and not a safety board.

    So what’s my personal rule of thumb? I used to make an effort to fly only “first world” airlines, but over the years I’ve realized that even 99% of airlines in developing countries are safe and not worth avoiding. When you look at how many flights they operate and how few accidents there are, it’s still safer than being just about anywhere else.

    That being said, the pure stupidity of Avianca’s crash in NY 20+ years ago still frustrates me.

    @ Maury — As of now it needs to be booked over the phone since the website doesn’t display Avianca award space. Though you can at least search for space on ExpertFlyer…

  9. In the last ~6 years I’ve flown Y on AA, UA, CO, IB, BA, SW and Avianca.

    El Dorado airport (suspect arrivals) and all, Avianca remains the best coach experience out of them all.

  10. Uh, I just sent you a screenshot of business class award space on SQ 2 for late December that’s showing up on Avianca’s award engine.

    Interesting…

  11. (The bad news is that reports are that using a LifeMIles phone agent for any kind of complex award may make you wish you were explaining to a US or DL agent that Singapore isn’t in South America…)

  12. Does anyone know about how far in advance that Avianca opens up its award space to United?

    Thanks!

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