Copa

Buy Copa ConnectMiles With A 50% Bonus

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For years, Panama-based Copa Airlines used United MileagePlus as their loyalty program, which goes back to Continental having a stake in them. However, in 2015 Copa decided to launch their own ConnectMiles program, which very closely mirrored MileagePlus.

Fortunately Copa still awards miles based on distance flown rather than revenue, and they don’t have a revenue requirement for earning status, but otherwise the program looks quite similar. Copa is also a Star Alliance member, so you can earn and redeem Copa miles for travel on any Star Alliance airline. I know many of us have taken advantage of the opportunity to status match with Copa, so I’m sure I’m not the only ConnectMiles Platinum member among us. 😉

As of this month, Copa ConnectMiles has added the ability to buy and transfer miles, something which they previously didn’t allow. Perhaps they’re inspired by their Star Alliance partner to the south, Avianca, and what they’ve done with their LifeMiles program.

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Review: Copa Club Panama City Airport

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Before I begin my next major trip report, I have a couple of random reviews to catch up on. Last month I did a mileage run to Panama City, where I spent a night. American publishes some great business class fares to Panama, and nowadays American offers double elite qualifying miles for paid business class travel. So these fares are a fantastic way to requalify for Executive Platinum status on the cheap.

I routed the trip from Los Angeles to Panama via New York and Miami, and the roundtrip fare came out to under $800. I just want to review two aspects of the trip — the Copa Club in Panama City, and then in the next installment I’ll review the Waldorf Astoria Panama City, where I spent the night. While I haven’t yet reviewed flights on Copa, early last year Nick reviewed his flights in Copa business class, for anyone who is interested.

Our American flight from Panama to Miami departed at 7AM, so we got to the airport at around 5:30AM. Check-in was efficient, though it’s a bit odd that there’s no oneworld lounge at Panama City Airport, and they don’t have provisions for offering premium passengers lounge access.

Ironically the airport signage specifically indicates there’s an Admirals Club, which is a reflection of when these boards were last updated — the Admirals Club closed in June of 2012. 😉

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How To Use Copa Upgrades On United

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Early last year, the Panama-based airline Copa rolled out a new frequent flyer program, and subsequently offered a status match to well, pretty much everyone.

Most of us were matched to the Platinum PreferMember level, which includes several benefits (such as Star Alliance Gold status), along with three regional upgrades.

The expiration date of these upgrades has just been extended to December 31 of this year, but the big news is that the functionality is now in place to use these upgrade certificates on United flights, not just on Copa.

If, like me, you primarily fly an airline that offers systemwide upgrades, the concept of regional vs. global upgrades can be a bit confusing. There are also plenty of restrictions, so you’ll want to have a solid understanding of the rules to avoid frustration later.

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I Received My 2017 Platinum Copa ConnectMiles Membership Kit

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Once upon a time, Copa used the same OnePass frequent flyer program as Continental. But then Continental merged with United, and in so doing, dropped OnePass in favor of MileagePlus. Like it or not, Copa then ended up with MileagePlus. From a United frequent flyer’s perspective, this was actually kind of nice since we’d get most all of the same benefits flying Copa as we would on United.

Then about a year ago, Copa seemingly decided that every self-respecting airline ought to have it’s own frequent flyer program so they announced that they would be leaving MileagePlus and forming their own program called ConnectMiles.

That was all well and good in theory, but the problem was that that all of their loyal flyers were still members of MileagePlus. So in order to get them into their own program, they offered generous status matches to pretty much any United Premier, and sometimes to anyone with status in another program.

I was able to match my United 1K status to Copa Platinum. Ben and Tiffany matched from American. A lot of our readers did as well.

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Copa Airlines Suspending Status Match Program

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In mid-September, Travis wrote about how Copa Airlines was offering status matches all the way to their Platinum tier, which gets you Star Alliance Gold status.

This was an easy way for United flyers to get United Club access when traveling domestically, given that Star Alliance Gold status with any airline other than United gets you lounge access on all Star Alliance itineraries.

While I’m a oneworld guy nowadays, I status matched to Copa ConnectMiles Platinum as well.

I do fly Lufthansa a fair amount, and that will get me access to their Star Gold lounges (specifically, the Senator Lounges), along with priority boarding, check-in, seating, etc.

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

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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.

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Is The Copa 150,000 Bonus Mile Promotion Mileage Runnable?

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Copa Airlines is about to launch one of the more interesting promotions we’ve seen in a while. They are apparently celebrating service to 12 “new” destinations and offering tiered bonuses for flying to those cities between October 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016. Those that fly to 10 of the 12 new destinations will be awarded 150,000 bonus miles.

Ben discussed the promo a bit last week where he concluded that this promotion might not be practical for those that aren’t based in Panama. He might be right, but he didn’t really provide any numbers to back up his conclusion — I guess that’s what I’m here for.

I will admit that I love these complex, convoluted, yet potentially lucrative promotions. I used to build massive spreadsheets to manage multiple accounts in the US Airways Grand Slam which once would have been gearing up right about now. Not only was it possible to earn a lot of miles and points, but it was also a good way to try new products and have new experiences. It was also a bit of a brainteaser as you’d try to figure out how to achieve all of the goals while minimizing the cost, the hassle, and perhaps most importantly, the risk. This promotion seems to fit that mold.

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Copa’s Cool Promotion For Up To 150K Bonus Miles

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I sort of miss the days where airlines had creative promotions. It’s not necessarily just about how lucrative they are, but there’s something fun about an engaging promotion which gets members excited.

Copa ConnectMiles just announced a promotion which isn’t likely all that practical for non-Panama based flyers, but it’s still a fun promotion which I think is worth drawing some attention to.

Copa has expanded quite a bit over the past few years, and has added service to the following destinations:

2015: Belize (Belize), David (Panama), San Francisco and New Orleans (United States), Villahermosa and Puebla (Mexico)
2014: Santa Clara (Cuba), Georgetown (Guyana), Montreal (Canada), Fort Lauderdale (United States)
2013: Tampa and Boston (United States)

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Is Copa Already Restricting Status Matches?

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Travis first wrote about Copa’s status match opportunity last week, whereby Copa has been matching status from other airlines, all the way up to ConnectMiles Platinum status. The benefit for United flyers in having Copa Gold status or above is that it comes with Star Alliance Gold status, which gets you United Club access even when traveling domestically (United Star Gold members don’t receive lounge access when traveling domestically).

For a bit of background, Copa used to have MileagePlus as their frequent flyer program, but earlier in the year they decided to create an independent program (after all, these can be huge profit centers for the airlines). Copa seemed to be matching status from just about every program, both within Star Alliance and outside the alliance.

Earlier in the week I explained how I status matched to Copa ConnectMiles Platinum status, using my American Executive Platinum status. The status is good through February 2017, and while I’m not a big Star Alliance flyer anymore, I’ll certainly get value out of having some Star Alliance status for those times I fly with Star Alliance.

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I’ve Status Matched To Copa ConnectMiles Platinum!

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In June I first wrote about how Copa, the airline based in Panama City, was launching their own frequent flyer program. Back in the day they used Continental OnePass as their frequent flyer program. Then after the merger between Continental and United, they used MileagePlus as their frequent flyer program. And then earlier this year they finally decided to create their own frequent flyer program — ConnectMiles — given what a big business frequent flyer programs are nowadays.

As Travis wrote about last week, Copa ConnectMiles is status matching those with status in other programs. They’re even status matching those with Star Alliance status, which is a bit atypical, since airlines usually won’t status match from other airlines within their alliance.

In this case they are, though, presumably since their most valuable customers are presently elite with other Star Alliance carriers.

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How To Get Free United Club Access

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Copa Airlines has been a bit of an oddball in the world of aviation. Copa used to be 49% owned by Continental, and basically matched the look and feel of their big brother most of the time. Similar seats, similar branding, heck, even the clubs had similar furniture. At one point I actually thought that Copa was an abbreviation for Continental Panama! Perhaps the best indication that these two were bed-buddies, however, was that they shared the Continental OnePass frequent flyer program.

Well, that bed got a little crowded five years ago when Continental merged with United. That resulted in OnePass being folded into MileagePlus, which forced Copa to follow suit.

That all changed this past July, however, when Copa apparently decided that any self respecting airline needs to have its own loyalty program. Riding along with big brother — only to watch him get married — just wasn’t cool anymore.

Thus was the dawn of Copa ConnectMiles. And they’re now offering status matches.

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2,000 Miles For Joining The Newest Star Alliance Progam

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A bit earlier this year, Panama based Copa airlines announced their new frequent flyer program, ConnectMiles, which will be launching in July. Copa Airlines used to use MileagePlus as their frequent flyer program, though decided to create their own one instead.

While Copa has been offering a sign-up bonus of 1,000 miles since they announced their program, Copa is offering a sign-up bonus of 2,000 bonus miles to those who sign-up for ConnectMiles between June 10 and June 30, 2015.

Through this promotion, 1,000 miles should be credited to your ConnectMiles account almost immediately upon the program launching, while the other 1,000 miles should be credited to your account within four to six weeks of when the program launches.

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Review: Copa Airlines Business Class Los Angeles To Panama City To Buenos Aires

I found Copa's business class seats to be better than the United domestic first seats

Copa Airlines has a fascinating business model.

World-class, it ain’t, but it is a uniquely efficient carrier focusing on what might be one of the most convenient hubs in the world. With the Panama Canal in its backyard, Panama City has always been a city geared toward global transportation, and in aviation it serves as the key midpoint between North America and South America.

You won’t get lie flat seats on Copa in Business Class – you’ll get recliners only a little bit more comfortable than a domestic First seat – but none of Copa’s flights are truly long-distance. The brilliance of Copa is that none of its flights are longer than seven hours, and most much shorter than that. Copa connects a number of cities in the U.S. and Canada (Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Washington Dulles, Montreal, and Toronto, with nonstops to Denver, Houston and Newark on partner United) to just about every destination imaginable in Latin America, and on top of that, has ridiculously abundant award space.

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