When Will I Get My Copa ConnectMiles Card? And Other FAQs

Copa Airlines broke away from United MileagePlus and started their own frequent flyer program back in July. Since most of Copa’s best customers are elites in other programs, they’ve been offering status matches to Copa ConnectMiles.

This is a great way to get free access to the United Clubs even on wholly domestic itineraries where you would otherwise need a United Club membership, provided you already have elite status with United or another program.

Copa has seemingly been pretty generous in matching other programs, though there are some reports that they might have tightened it up a bit lately, at least for those matching from programs outside the North America region. Both Ben and I are now Copa Platinums — he matched his American Executive Platinum status while I matched from United 1K. My Dad also matched and ended up as a Platinum.

My Dad’s datapoint from last week indicates that the program is still going strong. It’s a straightforward process, but there have been a few questions, so I thought I’d do my best to answer them here.

Copa ConnectMiles

How Long Does It Take For A Match To Go Through?

I called (and emailed) Copa to request my match about a month ago. I received an email informing me that my account had been upgraded within a few hours. By the time I logged in, my account showed that I was a Platinum, and the screen showed a gray Copa Platinum card, with the Star Alliance Gold logo.

When my Dad did his match last week, he didn’t receive the email until the next day. When he logged in, his account showed he was a Platinum, but the card on the screen was still the blue general member version. That means that even though his account said he was a Platinum, he couldn’t print out a Platinum version of the card.

Copa blue card for General Members

Blue Copa frequent flyer card for general members

When Will My Blue Card Turn To Gray?

When I did my status match a month ago, it was pretty much instant. When I logged in for the first time after receiving the email, my account said I was a Platinum, and my online card was also the Platinum version.

Gray Copa Platinum card

Gray Copa Platinum card

In case of my Dad, it seems to have taken about a week after he received the match confirmation email for the online version of the card to upgrade to reflect his new status. I’m not sure why the rest of the account can update immediately, when the card takes a week. But this is a Latin American airline, so sometimes you just can’t get in a hurry.

When Will I Receive My Physical ConnectMiles Card?

That’s a good question. I still don’t have mine, and it has been a month. A buddy of mine did his status match back in July and said it took about 60 days to receive his credentials, so I probably wouldn’t expect them before that.

And it could take longer since there are a lot more people matching these days.

[This space reserved for a photo of a physical Copa ConnectMiles card.]

I Don’t Want To Wait 60 Days!

That’s not a question.

I once waited 6 months for Turkish to send my credentials to arrive. I guess there’s a reason that Turkish granted status for 2 years… because even then, you still only got about a year of use from it. At least Copa has an option to print the card from the website.

Can I Get Into United Clubs Without The Physical Card?

Maybe.

My Dad reports that he went 2 for 2 in terms last week at United Clubs at two different hubs. He simply printed out a copy of his Platinum card from the website, showing his name, account number, and Star Gold logo. Then he explained that Copa was sending him a replacement card but that they advised him to print out a temporary copy from the website. Apparently that worked.

Printing a temporary Copa card

Printing a temporary Copa card

I’ve been entering United Clubs on Star Gold credentials from foreign airlines for years.

Even if you have the physical card, the number still needs to be entered manually into the computer, as they can’t be swiped. That means there’s nothing really different from reading the number off a piece of paper rather than a plastic card.

That said, it is still going to depend a lot on the lounge matron and the story you tell as to whether you get in or not. If you get denied at a hub with multiple clubs, I would just walk to a different terminal and try again.

What If I’m Denied Entry Because I’m On A Domestic Itinerary?

Like I say, I’ve been using foreign Star Gold access to gain entry to United Clubs while on domestic itineraries for years. There have been a few times when the agent has started to say that I don’t get access while traveling domestically. I honestly think that for the most part this is simply a programmed response on their part because they do get a lot of people who think that flying domestic first, or being a 1K, should get them access anytime. So it sort of becomes a reflex for them.

Once you explain that this is a a Copa Star Gold card, it will probably be fine.

United Club San Francisco Airport

If that doesn’t clear it up, you can decide whether to press your case. I’ll be honest — when I know I’m right, I tend to stand my ground. So I’d insist upon a supervisor. Let them get out the book and prove to you that you don’t have access.

Or for the non-confrontational types, maybe just walk over to a club in a different terminal and try again…

What About Club Access Upon Arrival?

Lounge access for Star Gold members is for departing flights only. That means that technically you don’t get club access based on a Star Gold credential if you have just arrived at your destination. Put another way, you can access the club before your flight, or during your connection (i.e. before your next flight), but not at your destination airport.

I learned this the hard way while trying to grab a quick snack at the Lufthansa Senator lounge in Detroit a few years ago. Lufthansa got out their lounge access guidebook where it clearly stated that only departing passengers get lounge access. I turned around and left like a sad puppy dog with his tail between his legs.

Now it should be noted that Lufthansa is notorious for both knowing the rules and enforcing them. United, on the other hand, is more known for making up rules.

So while you may well get denied entry to the United Club upon arrival at your destination, odds are that it won’t be for this reason.

Do I Have To Renounce My United Status When I Match To Copa?

No.

This isn’t a citizenship issue. You can be top-tier members with two (or a dozen) airlines at the same time.

Bottom line

Copa is taking longer to process status matches these days, but the program seems to still be going strong.

Once your status match has been approved it may take a few days for your temporary card to be available, and it could be a few months before you receive physical credentials.

What other questions do you have?

About Travis

Travis has been playing in the world of miles and points for over a decade. At one time or another he has held status on just about every major domestic airline and hotel program. He has visited all 50 US states and over 50 countries. Nowadays he travels almost exclusively with his wife and three young children.

More articles by Travis »

Comments

  1. I filled out my on line account got the 3000 points and sent them an email with an attachment of my 1K card from United 3 weeks ago and have hear nothing since and there have been no changes on my online account. Guess I have to call them. Kind of wonder if it’s worth it?

  2. If I have my United number in my reservation, but then go to a lounge and present my Copa card, will they deny me entry because I don’t have my Copa number in the reservation? A friend of mine had went in with his Aegean card once, and they made a fuss as to why his Aegean FF# wasn’t in his reservation.

  3. US citizens can hold more than one citizenship Travis, look no further then Ben.

    What US citizens can’t get away from is the IRS without giving up their citizenship.

  4. No Name — Yes, I realize that Ben has dual citizenship because of his parents. That’s still different than me just wanting to go become a citizen of Germany, no?

    Anyway, somebody actually asked the question in a previous thread about ConnectMiles, so I figured I’d answer it here.

  5. Pete — In rare instances I’ve them say that the FF number on your BP needs to match that of the credential you use to access the lounge. As in I’ve seen that happen maybe twice ever.

    If it does happen, I just let them change it, then walk up to the inner desk and have them put my UA number back on. There may be a slight side effect to doing this — if you haven’t been upgraded yet, you may lose your place in the queue when they remove your number and reenter it. So if you are at the top of the list, and there are still seats in first remaining, you may not want to let them take your UA number off your BP.

  6. They also give you an option to download the card to passbook, which would seem like a more resonable thing to present (I carry very few physical cards around for anything anymore).

    BUT I cannot get the darn thing to download into passbook. It keeps going in circles – You go on the website, and you click for passbook and it sends you an email, and then the email sends you back to the website. Pretty frustrating so if anyone has figured it out please let us know here.

  7. Note that when you log into your Copa account and click on the “ConnectMiles Card” icon on the left side of the page, your status card will be displayed with “Add to Passbook” and “Add to Passwallet” to the right of the card image.

    I found it a bit challenging (had send emails back and forth to myself), but I was eventually able to enter the image of my new ConnectMiles card in the Passbook on my iPhone … and the image has a QR code on it. So perhaps, it can be scanned by the reader upon entering a UC, obviating the need for the matron to hand enter the number. I have yet to have the opportunity to actually try it.

  8. @bert As best I remember, the way I succeeded getting the card into Passbook was to open the email from Copa with the image attached on my desktop computer, forward it to myself to an email account that my iPhone has access to. Then I think clicking on the attachment moved the image into Passbook … or something like that. But I agree: I was NOT straight forward.

  9. I don’t think thInk this matching program is a solid as you think. I got this a few days ago: Dear Mr. Heinemann:

    Greetings on behalf of ConnectMiles.

    We are developing a new product to assign PreferMember status in ConnectMiles.

    Please contact us at the end of the year in order review your request.

    We appreciate your interest in our loyalty program.

    Best Regards,

    ConnectMiles

    Copa Airlines

  10. Sent match request on October 1st from Delta Diamond but no response yet. And when I signed up, I only got 1,000 Connect miles. How did others get 3,000 miles?

  11. I’m sitting in the United ORD B concourse lounge as we speak, courtesy of my Copa status and a domestic ticket to Louisville (heavily delayed of course). I was able to enter with just an image saved to my phone, desk agent couldn’t have been more happy to type in the number and grant me access.

    And to think, I wouldn’t have known without this blog…Thanks!

  12. Andrew Topp — Thanks for sharing your experience. Thrilled to hear it. Not so thrilled about your delayed flight, but also not surprised. 🙂

  13. Paul —

    Interesting. Can you provide more details on who you are trying to match from? There are certainly reports that the program is getting tightened a bit in terms of the airlines they will match from.

  14. I called to apply for the status match. They answered quickly and said that, for American airlines (and other non-United requests) one must apply by email. I did this, and await their response.

  15. I emailed in a request last Wednesday based on AA status (figuring EXP status on AA with 80K+ EQP YTD was better than Platinum on UA – since that’s based on 2MM flyer and i have little UA flight activity to show YTD). I included a couple screenshots of my EXP status and YTD total along with note that I have multiple res booked remainder of the year- and requested a match to Platinum.
    I hadn’t heard anything for the last 7 days then this morning got an email “Your new ConnectMiles status” informing me I was now Platinum. The image of the card on the website still shows a general member blue card (not upgraded yet in line with Travis’ post that it may take a week or more)- but i am listed on the site as platinum and I have 3 regional upgrade certs in my account now.
    Will be interested to try using it for lounge access in a couple weeks on a domestic UA flight I have booked.

  16. It took one week from email submission as an AA Plat to receive my Copa Gold status and gold card image.

    I downloaded a PassWallet app for Android, then downloaded my Gold card into my PassWallet.

    Easy Peasy.

  17. Not sure if it helps but you may need to go to Preferences > check if the receiving mail packages option is ticked.

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