How to Make the Most of Flying in Copa Airlines Economy Class

If you want a checked bag or seat selection, it's worth opting for Classic or Full economy fares.
Josh GarberJun 8, 2021

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Copa Airlines, a Latin American airline and member of the Star Alliance, is based in Panama City, Panama.

If you’re considering booking a Copa Airlines economy class ticket and want to know more about the airline’s economy experience, below is a guide, including what the baggage, seats, food and service on your flight will be like.

What to expect flying basic economy with Copa Airlines

Fares

Copa Airlines’ economy tickets come in three fare levels: Basic, Classic and Full.

  • Basic economy is the most affordable, but also offers the least perks.

  • Classic economy fares come with complimentary seat selection, one checked bag, flight changes (for a fee) and increased award and status mileage earnings.

  • Full economy fares come with complimentary seat selection and premium seats (usually closer to the front of the plane, and occasionally with more legroom), two checked bags, free flight changes and increased award and status mileage earnings. They’re also fully refundable.

Bag allowance

All economy tickets include up to a 22-pound (10-kilogram) carry-on bag.

If you have a Basic economy ticket and you’d like to check a bag or two on top of your carry-on, you’ll have to pay a fee of $30 for the first checked bag and $45 for the second checked bag. Classic economy tickets include one free checked bag, whereas Full economy tickets include up to two free checked bags.

Checked bags cannot exceed about 50 pounds (23 kilograms) in weight.

Award tickets

Economy award tickets have different baggage policies. Saver awards include one free checked bag, whereas standard award tickets include two free checked bags. An extra checked bag on a saver award ticket will set you back $45.

Boarding

All economy passengers without status board by seat: Passengers toward the back of the plane are boarded first, while passengers seated toward the front are boarded last.

If you have status, either through Copa Airlines’ ConnectMiles program or via Star Alliance Silver or Gold status, you’ll receive preferential boarding, regardless of your seat’s location.

Seats

Economy passengers will be seated in Copa Airlines’ main cabin, and the exact seat dimensions vary by plane. The airline’s 737-800 B plane’s seat width and pitch (a measure of legroom between seats) is 17 inches and 31 inches, respectively. This is about average.

If you book a Basic economy ticket and would like to select a specific seat, you’ll need to pay extra. However, Classic and Full economy tickets receive complimentary seat selection.

Regardless of ticket type, if you have premier status through Copa Airlines’ ConnectMiles or Star Alliance Silver or Gold status, seat selection is free.

Award miles

If you’re flying on a Basic economy ticket and crediting the flight to your Copa Airlines ConnectMiles account, you'll only earn half of the status and award miles you’d receive if you booked a Classic economy fare. Full economy tickets receive 125% status and award miles.

If you plan to credit your economy Copa Airlines flight to another airline, the amount of status and award miles you receive will vary depending on that airline’s policies. In general, you can likely expect to receive fewer award and status miles on a Basic economy flight than on a Classic economy fare.

Changes and refunds

Basic economy tickets on Copa Airlines are nonrefundable and non-changeable, which is important to keep in mind before booking. If you think your flight plans may need adjustment, you may be better off booking a Full economy fare, which offers free changes and refunds. Classic economy tickets, the mid-tier economy fare option, can be changed for a fee. Like Basic economy tickets, Classic tickets are not refundable.

Food and on-board service

All economy flyers get a free bottle of water, regardless of flight length. If your flight ranges from 90 minutes to 3.5 hours, you can also expect a light snack. Flights ranging from 3.5 to six hours provide main cabin travelers with a mini snack box, whereas on long-haul flights — more than six hours — economy flyers will get a full snack box.

Ways to get good value

If you want to get good value out of your economy flight on Copa Airlines, adhere to the following tips.

Only book if you’re sure you won’t need to change your flights

Since Basic economy fares aren’t designed for flight cancellations or adjustments, we recommend that you only fly this ticket type when your plans are rock-solid. Otherwise, even for an added upfront cost, paying extra for a Classic or Full economy ticket might be worth the price.

Obtain ConnectMiles or Star Alliance premier status prior to booking

ConnectMiles members, known as PreferMembers, can sync their Star Alliance status to enjoy additional comforts and perks on a Copa Airlines flight, even in economy class.

Here’s how these different elite status levels translate:

Star Alliance Silver members are automatically Silver PreferMembers, and this continues through Gold, Platinum and Presidential status levels.

PreferMembers get access to otherwise unavailable benefits on Basic economy tickets, including free seat selection.

Pack carry-on only or factor the price of checked baggage into the cost of your ticket

You might think that you’re getting a killer deal with a Basic economy ticket, but if you’re traveling anywhere for more than a few days, you might need to factor in the cost of checking a bag. This charge will hit you in both directions, effectively adding up to $90 to your ticket price.

Book with ConnectMiles

Use the miles in your ConnectMiles account to book a saver or standard award ticket. Keep in mind that saver tickets, while costing fewer miles, will give you fewer perks.

Copa Airlines uses a distance-based award chart, which simplifies miles calculations and estimations ahead of booking. Sample searches for award flights in June 2021 also charged taxes and fees for saver and standard tickets, ranging in price from $5 to $90 one way. Be sure to factor in this cost as you determine the overall value of booking with your ConnectMiles.

If you fly Copa Airlines economy class

You may not be able to change your economy ticket, and you may end up paying more for baggage and/or assigned seats. If having access to some flight change conveniences is important to you, consider booking a Classic or Full economy seat instead of Basic economy.

If you’re working toward premier status on either Copa Airlines or one of its partners, an economy Basic ticket may not be the best option for you since it earns fewer status and award miles.

That said, if you already have status on Copa Airlines or through another Star Alliance airline, you’ll receive some benefits — like priority boarding and seat selection — that you would otherwise not receive with a Basic economy fare.


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