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Historically, Copa Airlines (a Star Alliance airline headquartered out of Panama) has been a part of the Continental OnePass, and then the United MileagePlus loyalty program. However, starting July 1st, Copa Airlines will begin offering their own loyalty program, ConnectMiles.
One of their (smart) marketing selling points of this new program is that (unlike with United’s MileagePlus) you will be awarded at least one mile for every mile that you fly on Copa Airlines or Copa Airlines Colombia. In some cases you will be earning more than that via their bonus structure for higher fares and additional bonuses for the PreferProgram.
However, I am interested in Copa’s ConnectMiles not because I normally fly Copa, but primarily as an alternative to the increasingly revenue based United model. You also never know when some of the foreign loyalty programs will offer opportunities to earn, buy, and use miles at rates more favorable than the US based programs.
For example, when my mom, daughter, and I flew to Europe this spring on a good paid United fare that if it were credited to United MileagePlus (without elite status bonuses) would earn only 1,375 redeemable miles each way even though the distance flown was about 5,007 miles each way. This is thanks to the revenue earning model that awards redeemable miles based on how much the fare costs, not how far you flew. That same flight credited to Singapore Airlines instead of United would earn 5,007 miles each way.
I was interested to see how Copa’s new program would earn miles in terms of United operated flights credited to that program. It turns out that it isn’t terrible, but likely still isn’t as good as the Singapore chart currently is for most United fare classes.
Earning Miles in ConnectMiles on United Operated Flights:
S,T,L,K,G,N fare classes – 50%
Q,V,W fare classes – 75%
M,E,U,H, Y, B, Z, P, J, C, D, F, A fare classes – 100%
Singapore Airlines is still a better program to earn in for many of the fares (at least for now), but more program options are better than fewer options.
On other Star Alliance partners such as Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, Air Canada, the earning rates on ConnectMiles vary from 0 miles on some discounted tickets and fare classes to 150% on some premium cabin fare classes.
If you want info on how the four tiered elite program will work, you can head here.
ConnectMiles Star Alliance Award Chart:
I also spent some time this morning looking at the ConnectMiles award chart in terms of Star Alliance partner flights and found it to be relatively similar to United’s current award chart. You can view the full Star Alliance partner award chart here, but a few examples of award prices are (economy one-way prices unless otherwise indicated):
US/Canada – 12,5000 miles
US/Canada – Hawaii – 22,500 miles
US/Canada – Mexico, Panama, Central American, Caribbean – 17,500 miles
US/Canada – Europe – 30,000 miles in economy, 70,000 miles in business, 110,000 miles in first
US/Canada – Australia and New Zealand – 40,000 miles in economy, 80,000 miles in business, 130,000 miles in first class
Many of their rules and fees aren’t dramatically different than United’s either, though some fees are a bit lower. You can view their full listing of award rules and fees here, but a sampling of the rules are provided below.
- Changes must be made at least 24 hours before departure when flying with one of our Star Alliance partners.
- ConnectMiles award tickets booked less than 21 days before travel will be subject to a late booking fee.
- Saver Awards have limited availability and are subject to capacity controls. Availability at peak travel times to prime destinations is rare.
- Standard Awards offer expanded availability on flights operated by Copa Airlines, Copa Airlines Colombia, and United. Standard Awards are available on most flights, at most times, and provided there are still seats available for sale.
- The regions where the member wishes to travel determine pricing for award travel.
- Members can combine different award types (Saver & Standard) and cabins to create award tickets.
- Most travel award itineraries may be booked at ConnectMiles.com; however, certain air awards may only be booked via our ConnectMiles Service Center.
- Two open-jaws are permitted per round-trip award. Also, one stopover is permitted on round trip award travel only.
- A same-day change on award tickets is permitted on Copa Airlines (same policy as a paid ticket).
- Unused or canceled ConnectMiles awards may be re-deposited back to the account from which the miles were withdrawn. Award re-deposits from unused or cancelled awards are subject to applicable fees.
- Award tickets are valid for one year from original date of issue. All travel must be completed within one year from date of issue in order to apply for a refund.
- Copa Airlines does not have any restricted travel dates for ConnectMiles awards; however, some partners may have restricted travel dates.
- All Members are responsible for all applicable federal inspection fees, terminal facility fees, customs and immigration fees, infant tickets (when required for children under two years of age) and any other fees or surcharges applicable to award travel.
- Fees and surcharges must be paid at the time the award is ticketed. Also, some international departure fees are due at the airport and payable in cash only.
- Once an airline ticket is issued, the passenger name on the ticket may not be changed and the ticket may not be used by anyone else.
Get up to 4,000 Free Miles in This New Program:
Via View From the Wing and Free Frequent Flyer Miles you can earn up to 2,000 miles for signing up for ConnectMiles by June 30th and then another 2,000 miles for completing your profile. I have not yet completed this process myself, but wanted to pass along the opportunity.
Thus far I don’t see any absolutely amazing values or opportunities via the ConnectMiles program, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some good uses, and free miles are certainly always good.