The Guide to Copa Airlines

Travelers can join Copa Airlines' ConnectMiles program to earn and redeem miles on airlines in the Star Alliance.

Josh GarberApr 1, 2021
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Copa Airlines is a Latin American airline based in Panama City. Although Copa Airlines began as the national airline of Panama with only three domestic flights, it now flies to over 20 countries across North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. A member of the Star Alliance, Copa Airlines has been consistently named the Best Airline in Central America and the Caribbean by SkyTrax. Here’s what you need to know about Copa Airlines.

Copa Airlines

Here’s a quick overview of a few key features of Copa Airlines:

  • Fare types: Copa Airlines offers two different fare types — economy and business class. For economy class tickets, you can purchase either basic, classic or full fares and for business class tickets, there are promo or full fares. The most restrictive fare is basic economy (where you have to pay for the first checked bag, earn 50% award miles and have to pay for seat selection) and the least restrictive ticket is full business class (which comes with full refunds, same day changes and 200% award miles).

  • Main U.S. routes: Copa Airlines flies to 12 destinations in the U.S.: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston, New York City, Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, San Juan, Denver, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

  • Points currency and loyalty program: Copa Airlines’ loyalty program is called ConnectMiles. You can use ConnectMiles to book flights on Copa Airlines and other Star Alliance airlines or you can use ConnectMiles to book flights on a few of Copa Airlines’ non-Star Alliance partners (including Emirates, KLM and Aeromexico). A great feature of ConnectMiles is that it uses award charts for booking flights both directly with Copa Airlines and with partner airlines.

How to earn ConnectMiles

Earn by flying

You can earn ConnectMiles by flying on Copa Airlines, flying on an airline in the Star Alliance or by flying one of Copa Airlines’ non-Star Alliance partners. For flights on Copa Airlines, the airline provides a calculator to see how many award and status miles you’ll receive based on member status, fare class and destination.

ConnectMiles members earn award miles based on flight distance, calculated at 50% to 200% of miles flown based on fare class. If you have premier status on Copa Airlines (Silver, Gold, Platinum, or Presidential), you’ll receive a PreferMember Bonus that means an additional 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of award miles, respectively.

You can also earn ConnectMiles by flying on partner airlines, with the amount earned being based on fare class, airline flown and distance traveled. For instance, business class fares on United earn 100% award miles based on distance flown where business class fares on Air New Zealand earn 150% award miles based on distance flown.

Earn by spending on credit cards

Currently, there is only one credit card that you can use to directly earn ConnectMiles — the ConnectMiles BAC Credomatic Visa Platinum card. This card currently offers a 10,000 ConnectMiles welcome bonus after spending $500 or more in the first 3 months. Cardholders earn 2 miles per $1 spent with Copa Airlines and 1 mile per $1 spent everywhere else.

Earn by transferring

ConnectMiles doesn't currently have transfer partnerships with any U.S. credit card programs, so you won't be able to convert AmEx, Chase, Citi or Capital One points to ConnectMiles. That said, ConnectMiles does have partnerships with a number of banks in Latin America, including Banco Panama, Metrobank and BCT Costa Rica — so if you’re based in Latin America or have access to accounts there, you’ll have more opportunities to earn ConnectMiles.

Other ways to earn:

  • Hotel partners: Earn ConnectMiles by staying at a hotel partner (Marriott Bonvoy or IHG) or by booking hotels through either Booking.com or Rocketmiles.

  • Car rental partners: Earn ConnectMiles by renting a car through Alamo, National Car Rental, Avis or Budget.

  • Cruise partners: ConnectMiles gives you the opportunity to earn miles by taking a cruise on Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Cruises and Pullmantur Cruises.

  • Currency exchange: You can earn up to 750 ConnectMiles when buying currency at any Travelex location inside Tocumen Airport in Panama City, Panama.

  • Purchase miles: ConnectMiles also allows the purchase of miles through its website.

How to redeem ConnectMiles for maximum value

Flights

ConnectMiles uses an award chart for all award flights purchased through the program, including flights with partner airlines. If you’re using ConnectMiles to book a flight on Copa Airlines, the airline provides a helpful award redemption calculator so you know how many ConnectMiles you’ll need to spend.

Because ConnectMiles uses award charts for all award redemptions, this gives members the opportunity to find some sweet spots, including Emirates business class from the U.S. to Africa, South Asia, Australia or New Zealand for 80,000 miles each way.

Upgrades, transfers or donations

If you don’t want to use ConnectMiles to book flights, you can use them to upgrade seats on flights operated by Copa Airlines or other partner airlines, transfer miles to family or friends or donate miles to eligible nonprofit organizations.

ConnectMiles’ elite status program

ConnectMiles has five different elite status tiers — Member, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Presidential. You can earn Member status by signing up for the ConnectMiles program and there are reduced qualifications in terms of how to earn all other tiers of elite status in 2021:

All elite status tiers with ConnectMiles require at least four segments flown on Copa Airlines per calendar year, although the four segment requirement can be achieved by U.S.-based travelers by taking just one round trip flight on Copa Airlines from the U.S. to either South America or the Caribbean as many routes require a connecting flight. As an added benefit for 2021, ConnectMiles credited all qualifying miles earned during 2020 to boost to 2021 qualifying miles.

Benefits that come with each status tier on ConnectMiles vary including priority services, lounge access and upgrades.

Keep in mind that ConnectMiles Gold status and above gets you Star Alliance Gold status, which gives you access to priority boarding, lounges and priority airport check-in with Star Alliance airlines.

The Hub of the Americas

Something that makes Copa Airlines unique is that the airline’s hub in Panama City’s Tocumen Airport (PTY) is dubbed the "Hub of the Americas" as it’s designed for quick connections and conveniently located for those traveling between North and South America. It’s not unusual for connection times of less than an hour there.

The bottom line

Copa Airlines has been consistently named as one of the top airlines in Latin America and for good reason, with flights to 25 different countries, an attractive loyalty program that partners with Star Alliance and non-Star Alliance airlines and its convenient hub in Panama City. If you’re looking to fly to Central or South America or the Caribbean, it’s definitely worth considering booking flights through Copa Airlines and taking advantage of the ConnectMiles program.

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