I’m gonna cut to the chase and save you about five minutes of reading. If you are looking for a Star Alliance frequent flyer program with great miles earning and a sweet award redemption chart, then you can stop reading now because Copa ConnectMiles is not the program for you. I had such high hopes for this program but their newly released details about earning and burning miles on partner airlines is just sad and left me wondering if anything will ever compare to the old United MileagePlus.
For United flyers who wish to credit their miles to a more rewarding program, I recently wrote a blog post comparing Aegean, Air Canada, EVA Airways, Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines’ frequent flyer programs. You can read more about my analysis here and my complete guide to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer can be found here.
Rocky already wrote a couple post about the new Copa ConnectMiles program so I won’t go into too much detail here but I did want to talk about a few things that he did not cover. You can read his intro post to the Copa ConnectMiles program here and his post about how to earn the most miles when flying Copa/United here.
Copa Airlines gave us a sneak peak of their new Copa ConnectMiles program back in March 2015. The information provided seemed very promising as they promised “one mile flown equals one mile earned,” no minimum dollar requirement for elite status and upgrades that can be used for both Copa and United flights. At first glance, I became very excited for the program and couldn’t wait for the program to kick off on July 1, 2015. But they recently released more details about their partner airlines earning and burning side of things and well, I’m not so excited anymore.
First off, let’s talk about miles earning and burning when flying Copa Airlines.
Earning miles on Copa Airlines flights: They kept their promise here. All Copa Airlines flights will earn 100% of miles flown when credited to ConnectMiles and business class fares will earn a miles bonus of up to 75% of distance flown. This is pretty good considering no other airline program credits at least 100% earning on all of their fares. The full Copa Airlines earning chart can be found here.
Burning miles on Copa Airlines flights: This is not so bad. They have a decent two-level (saver and standard), award chart for travel to/from and within North/Central/South America for both economy and business class awards. US/Canada to Central America is 30K miles for economy and 60K miles for business class. US/Canada to Southern South America is 50K miles for economy and 110K miles for business class. All miles are quoted for roundtrip travel. For one ways, just divide in half.
Business class awards are not great and keep in mind, Copa only flies Boeing 737s on their long-haul routes with recliner seats (similar to domestic first class seats) up front. The award redemption rates are similar to or slightly cheaper than United’s new award chart but flying on United will offer a better hard product with lie-flat seats and better time tables. The full Copa Airlines award chart can be found here.
Now let’s look at miles earning and burning for their Star Alliance and partner flights.
Earning miles on Star Alliance partner flights: Apparently “one mile flown equals one mile earned” only applies to their own flights as award miles and Prefer Qualifying Miles (for elite status) on partner flights will be earned based on the distance flown and the fare class of the ticket purchased. This is similar to how the other airlines such as Aegean, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines run their programs. Each airline will have their own fare structure so earning miles on a Turkish Airlines N fare will be different than earning miles on a United Airlines N fare.
Here’s United Airlines miles earning chart:
United’s highest fares (F and A) will only earn 100% of miles flown and their lowest fares (S, T, L, K, G and N) will only earn 50% of miles flown when credited to Copa ConnectMiles. Economy fares Q, V and W will earn 75% of miles flown.
It’s not great as United’s most expensive fares will only earn a maximum of 100% of distance flown. Compare that to other programs such as Turkish Airlines or Singapore Airlines, flying United’s most expensive fares will earn you 150% of miles flown. However, unlike Singapore Airlines, all fares including United N fares will earn at least 50% of miles flown when credited to Copa ConnectMiles. United N fares will earn 0 miles when credited to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
Like I said earlier, different airlines will have different earnings when credited to ConnectMiles. Air Canada for example, has a much better miles earning chart. J, C, D, Z and P fares will earn 150% of miles flown and their lower economy fares will earn at least 50% of miles flown.
Looking at their current information, it doens’t look like Copa elite status will yield any bonus award miles for partner airline flights. The complete list of partner miles earning can be found here.
Burning miles on Star Alliance flights: ConnectMiles’ partner award chart is just ugly as it’s identical to United’s new (de-valued) partner award chart. Ugh. All miles below are quoted for roundtrip travel. For one way travel, just divide in half.
- Within US/Canada: 25K miles for economy, 50K miles for business and 70K miles for first class.
- US/Canada to Hawaii: 45K miles for economy, 80K miles for business and 100K miles for first class.
- US/Canada to Europe: 60K miles for economy, 140K miles for business and 220K miles for first class.
- US/Canada to Middle East: 85K miles for economy, 160K miles for business and 280K miles for first class.
- US/Canada to North Asia: 70K miles for economy, 160K for business and 240K miles for first class.
- US/Canada to Australia and New Zealand: 80K miles for economy, 160K miles for business and 260 miles for first.
- However, one sweet spot is South Asia to Australia/New Zealand: 35K miles for economy, 60K miles for business and 80K miles for first class. That’s not bad for a 10+ hour flight in Thai’s first class or Air New Zealand’s Business Premier.
As you can see, it’s quite shitty. And with no way to transfer outside points (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards) to, there’s really no way to earn ConnectMiles than through flying.
Some additional info:
- Miles don’t expire as long as you have some sort of mileage activity within 24 months.
- One stopover and two open jaws are allowed on roundtrip awards.
The full ConnectMiles partner award chart can be found here.
Overall, the new Copa ConnectMiles program is great for people who want to fly, earn and redeem miles for Copa flights. Earning at least 100% for all Copa metal flights is pretty good nowadays and their award chart is similar to or slightly cheaper than United’s new partner award chart, post-devaluation.
Additionally, earning elite status on Copa Airlines will require less PQMs than United and there is no minimum spending requirement. Copa Connect Miles only requires 45,000 PQMs for Gold status (United Premier Gold) and 95,000 for Presidential Platinum status (United Premier 1K). And because they are launching their program mid-year, you will have the rest of 2015 and all of 2016 to earn elite status for calendar year 2017!
So will I switch my loyalty to Copa’s new ConnectMiles program? I don’t think so. Even though Copa has some ridiculously cheap fares out of Los Angeles and it would easy for me to qualify for elite status and earn a ton of miles, it will also cost me a ton on miles to redeem for award flights outside of Copa Airlines. I would rather credit my Copa flights to Singapore Airlines as all Copa flights earn at least 100% of miles flown when credited to KrisFlyer.
More information about the new Copa ConnectMiles program can be found here.