Copa Airlines is the flag carrier of Panama, headquartered in Panama City. If you’ve ever booked flights between the United States and Latin America, there’s a good chance you’ve flown on Copa Airlines or its low-cost subsidiary, Wingo (which was previously known as Copa Airlines Colombia). Copa Airlines also has its own frequent flyer program known as ConnectMiles, which is worth getting familiar with if you fly between the U.S. and Latin America often.

One of the main advantages of Copa Airlines ConnectMiles is that the program still uses fixed award charts to price its own award flights as well as all of its partner award flights. And, since Copa Airlines is a member of Star Alliance and has several other airline partners including Aeromexico, Emirates, and KLM, ConnectMiles is a fairly flexible rewards currency.

Unfortunately, Copa Airlines isn’t partnered with any of the major transferable credit card rewards programs (such as American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards), which makes earning ConnectMiles far more difficult. Still, if you fly to and from Latin America frequently, this is a program worth looking into.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the Copa Airlines ConnectMiles program, including elite status, how to earn miles, how to redeem miles and which redemption methods offer the most value per mile.

Copa Airlines ConnectMiles Program Overview

Copa Airlines was established in 1944 as “Compañía Panameña de Aviación,” which was later shortened to the acronym COPA. The airline didn’t start operating flights until 1947 and didn’t operate its first international flight until the 1970s when it began flying to cities in Jamaica, Colombia and Costa Rica.

The airline continued to expand its operations over the next several decades and joined Star Alliance in 2012, which was a major strategic move that allowed Copa Airlines customers to book flights nearly everywhere in the world through its partner network. Copa Airlines also introduced its new frequent flyer program ConnectMiles in the same year, allowing members to earn and redeem miles on all 26 Star Alliance member airlines.

 

Here are all of the current members of Star Alliance:

Air CanadaEthiopian Airlines
Air ChinaEVA Air
Air IndiaLOT Polish Airlines
Air New ZealandLufthansa
All Nippon Airways (ANA)Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
Asiana AirlinesShenzhen Airlines
Austrian AirlinesSouth African Airways
AviancaSwiss International Air Lines
Brussels AirlinesTAP Air Portugal
Copa AirlinesThai Airways
Croatia AirlinesTurkish Airlines
EgyptairUnited Airlines

In addition to the Star Alliance partners listed above, Copa Airlines also has several non-Star Alliance partners with which you can earn and redeem ConnectMiles.

These partners include the following:

Aeromexico
Azul
GOL
Emirates
KLM

In addition to earning ConnectMiles (which can be redeemed for award flights as well as several other types of awards) with partner airlines, you can earn qualifying miles toward PreferMember elite status with many of these airline partners as well.

Copa Airlines

Copa Airlines PreferMember Elite Status

Like most frequent flyer programs, Copa Airlines has its own elite status program known as PreferMember. The PreferMember elite status program has four elite status tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Presidential.

In order to earn elite status, you need to earn a certain number of either qualifying miles or qualifying segments in a calendar year. Qualifying miles and segments can only be earned by flying with Copa Airlines, Star Alliance partners or other airline partners that participate in the program. Additionally, in order to achieve any elite status with the PreferMember program, you need to fly at least four segments on Copa Airlines per calendar year. Luckily, this can be achieved by taking one round-trip flight that requires a connection.

The following chart details the requirements for earning each elite status tier:

SilverGoldPlatinumPresidential
Minimum segments flown on Copa Airlines4444
Required qualifying miles20,00035,00060,00075,000
OR required qualifying segments20356075

For example, in order to achieve Gold elite status, you either need to achieve 35,000 miles or 35 segments on Copa Airlines, Star Alliance airlines or other partner airlines in a calendar year. Additionally, you must fly at least four segments on Copa Airlines during that year.

It’s also important to note that different fare classes on Copa Airlines as well as partner airlines earn qualifying miles and qualifying segments at different rates.

The following table explains how many qualifying miles and segments you’ll earn in each fare class on Copa Airlines:

Fare familyQualifying miles earnedQualifying segments earned
Business Full200%2
Business Promo150%2
Economy Full 125%2
Economy Classic/Classic Flex100%1
Economy Basic50%0.5

Qualifying miles earned is calculated as a percentage of actual miles flown. For instance, if you were to take a flight from New York City (JFK) to Panama City (PTY), which has a distance of 2,200 miles according to the Great Circle Mapper, in Economy Basic class, you’d earn 1,100 miles (2,200 miles flown x 50% = 1,100 qualifying miles earned).

Copa Airlines fare classes G, I, N, P, X and Z are not eligible to earn qualifying miles or segments.

Copa Airlines publishes different earnings charts for each of its airline partners that outline how many qualifying miles and qualifying segments you could earn by flying in each cabin class with each individual airline partner. You can view the earnings charts for Star Alliance partners on the Copa Airlines website. You can view the earnings charts for non-Star Alliance partners.

These charts work the same way as the earnings chart for Copa Airlines itself. For instance, here is the earnings chart for Aeromexico:

How to Copa Airlines ConnectMiles

Now that you understand how to earn Copa Airlines PreferMember elite status, let’s talk about why you might want to in the first place. PreferMember elite status members are entitled to special benefits, such as extra baggage allowance, mileage earning bonuses, airport lounge access and more.

The following chart includes all of the benefits that you’ll be entitled to at each PreferMember elite status tier:

Elite status tierBenefits
Silver• 25% bonus miles when flying on Copa Airlines
• Better Saver award availability on Copa Airlines
• Reduced or waived call center booking fees, late booking fees, same day change fees, cancellation fees and refund fees with Copa Airlines
• One extra 50-pound checked bag free in Copa Airlines Economy Basic class
• Two extra 70-pound checked bags free in Copa Airlines Economy Classic/Classic Flex and Economy Full classes
Two extra 70-pound checked bags free in Copa Airlines Business Promo and Business Full
• Preferential check-in, security screening, boarding and baggage handling when flying with Copa Airlines
• Complimentary premium seats and seat selection on Copa Airlines
• Complimentary upgrades based on the fare family purchased (subject to availability) on Copa Airlines
• PreferMember maternity leave benefit
• Priority standby and waitlisting on Star Alliance partners
Gold• 50% bonus miles when flying on Copa Airlines
• All benefits included with Silver elite status
• Two extra 50-pound checked bags free in Economy Basic class
• Three extra 70-pound checked bags free in Economy Classic/Classic Flex and Economy Full classes
• Three extra 70-pound checked bags free in Business Promo and Business Full
• Complimentary Star Alliance Gold Lounge access when flying international on any Star Alliance airline
• Priority airport check-in, boarding, baggage handling and security clearance in Star Alliance partners
• Extra baggage allowance of either 44 pounds or one additional piece of luggage on Star Alliance partners
Platinum• 75% bonus miles when flying on Copa Airlines
• All benefits included with Gold elite status
• Three Connect Regional upgrades per calendar year (available on Copa Airlines and United Airlines flights in certain regions)
Presidential• 100% bonus miles when flying on Copa Airlines
• All benefits included with Platinum elite status
• Six Connect Global upgrades per calendar year (available on Copa Airlines and United Airlines flights systemwide)

As you can see, PreferMember elite status can come with very valuable perks, particularly for those who fly with Copa Airlines often. Receiving complimentary upgrades, extra baggage allowance and free lounge access at certain elite status tiers can end up saving you a lot of money and make your travel experience far more comfortable. Plus, the mileage earnings bonuses can help you save up for your next award flight much faster.

Copa Airlines Panama City Airport, Central America.

A Copa Airlines Boeing 737-700 at Panama City Airport, Central America.

How to Earn Copa Airlines ConnectMiles

As previously mentioned, you can earn Copa Airlines ConnectMiles by flying with Copa Airlines, Star Alliance members and certain other partner airlines. However, there are several other ways to rack up ConnectMiles, including spending on Copa Airlines co-branded credit cards, converting bank points, booking hotels, renting cars, paying for insurance, pumping gas, using Copa’s courier service and more.

In the following sections, we’ll take a look at all of the different ways that you can rack up ConnectMiles so you can start saving up for your next award flight.

Flying with Copa Airlines

Of course, the most straightforward way to earn ConnectMiles is to fly with Copa Airlines. When taking flights on Copa Airlines, the number of ConnectMiles you’ll earn for a specific flight depends on the actual distance of the flight, your fare class and your PreferMember status.

The following table includes the earnings rate for each fare class:

Fare classConnectMiles earnings rate
Business Full200%
Business Promo150%
Economy Full125%
Economy Classic/Classic Flex100%
Economy Basic50%

To calculate the number of ConnectMiles you’ll earn for a Copa Airlines flight, you need to find the actual mileage of the flight, which you can do using online tools such as the Great Circle Mapper. Then, you need to multiply the actual mileage of the flight by the earnings rate that corresponds to your fare class. Finally, you can apply any elite status bonus that you may be entitled to.

For example, if you were to fly from New York City (JFK) to Panama City (PTY), which is a 2,200-mile flight according to the Great Circle Mapper, in Business Promo fare class and didn’t have PreferMember elite status, you would earn 3,300 ConnectMiles (2,200 miles flown x 150% = 3,300 ConnectMiles). However, if you took this same flight and you had Gold elite status, you would earn 4,590 ConnectMiles with your 50% elite status bonus.

Copa Airlines fare classes G, I, N, P, X and Z are not eligible to earn ConnectMiles. On flights that are eligible to earn ConnectMiles, all members will earn a minimum of 500 ConnectMiles.

It’s also worth mentioning that you can’t earn ConnectMiles for flights on Wingo, Copa Airlines’s low-cost subsidiary based in Colombia.

Flying with Partner Airlines

You can also earn ConnectMiles for flying with Star Alliance partners and several other non-Star Alliance partner airlines. To do so, you’ll need to choose Copa Airlines ConnectMiles as your frequent flyer program of choice and enter your membership number when making your booking.

Similar to accumulating miles for Copa Airlines flights, the number of miles you’ll earn for a particular flight with a partner airline depends on the actual distance of your flight as well as the cabin class that you’re booked in. However, PreferMember elite status members don’t earn bonus miles on flights that aren’t operated by Copa Airlines.

Each partner airline has its own ConnectMiles earnings chart, all of which you can find on the Copa Airlines website. You can view the earnings charts for all Star Alliance partners. Earnings charts for all other airline partners (including Aeromexico, Azul, Gol, Emirates and KLM) can be viewed here on Copa Airlines website.

All of these earnings charts work essentially the same way as the Copa Airlines earnings chart. For instance, here’s the earnings chart for GOL-operated flights:

earn copa airlines connectmiles by flying with partner airlines

So, if you were to take a GOL-operated flight from Brasilia (BSB) to Santiago (SCL), which has a distance of 1,869 miles according to the Great Circle Mapper, in Economy Comfort class (fare code D), you would earn 2,336 miles (1,869 miles flown x 125% = 2,336 ConnectMiles). You would earn this number of miles regardless of whether or not you had PreferMember elite status because elite status bonuses don’t apply to partner flights.

Spending on Copa Airlines Co-Branded Credit Cards

Another way to boost your ConnectMiles balance is to sign up for a Copa Airlines co-branded credit card. Unfortunately for U.S. consumers, Copa Airlines co-branded credit cards are only available in Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Uruguay.

So, unless you’re a citizen of one of the aforementioned countries, you won’t be able to get a Copa Airlines co-branded credit card. If you are a citizen of one of these countries and you want to learn more about Copa’s credit card offerings, you can do so on Copa’s website.

Transfer Partners

As mentioned, Copa Airlines isn’t a transfer partner of any of the major transferable credit card rewards programs (such as American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards). This is a major disadvantage of the ConnectMiles program as it makes this rewards currency far more difficult to accumulate.

Copa Airlines ConnectMiles does allow you to transfer rewards points from several financial institutions. However, these financial institutions are only available in Panama, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru. You can view all of the financial institutions that allow transfers to Copa Airlines ConnectMiles on Copa’s website.

You can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Copa Airlines at a ratio of 3:1. Plus, if you transfer 60,000 points at once, you’ll receive a bonus of 5,000 ConnectMiles. For instance, if you were to transfer 9,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to ConnectMiles, you would receive 3,000 miles. However, if you were to transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points at once, you would receive 25,000 miles (including the 5,000-mile bonus). Transfers of Marriott Bonvoy points to ConnectMiles usually take between 6 and 8 weeks to post to your account.

Copa Airlines ConnectMiles also allows transfers from the Melia Rewards program at a ratio of 6:1. So, if you were to transfer 60,000 Melia Rewards points to ConnectMiles, you’d receive 10,000 miles.

Converting both Marriott Bonvoy and Melia Rewards points to ConnectMiles is a poor use of these rewards currencies, though. In general, you’re much better off spending these points through their native programs.

Booking Hotels

In addition to transferring points from Marriott Bonvoy to Copa Airlines ConnectMiles, you can earn ConnectMiles directly for booking hotel stays with certain hotel chains and third-party hotel booking engines. It’s worth noting, however, that many of these hotel chains have their own rewards programs. By electing to earn ConnectMiles for your stay, you forfeit the opportunity to earn that hotel chain’s native rewards currency.

The following table includes all of the different hotel brands and hotel booking engines with which you can earn ConnectMiles directly:

Hotel partnerConnectMiles earnings
Barcelo Hotel Group• 1X mile per $1 spent on applicable charges
Booking.com• 4X miles per $1 spent worldwide
Marriott Bonvoy• 2X miles per $1 spent at certain brands (including JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Gaylord Hotels and many more)
• 1X mile per $1 spent at certain other brands (including Courtyard by Marriott, MOXY Hotels, Aloft Hotels and many more)
Melia Rewards• 1X mile per 60 cents spent
Rocketmiles• Between 500 and 10,000 ConnectMiles per night

In addition to the partners listed above, you can earn ConnectMiles for booking hotel stays through the Copa Airlines online hotel booking portal, known as ConnectMiles Hotels. With this service, ConnectMiles members can earn up to 15,000 miles per night at thousands of properties across the globe.

Plus, ConnectMiles PreferMember elite status members can earn up to 15% more miles on every booking. That means that you can earn up to 17,250 miles per night if you have PreferMember elite status.

In order to use ConnectMiles Hotels, simply enter your desired destination, travel dates and number of guests and click the “Search” button. You’ll be presented with a list of hotels that match your search query as well as their nightly rates and how many ConnectMiles you could earn per night.

Booking Hotels

In general, if you choose to book your hotel stays through ConnectMiles Hotels, you’ll forfeit the opportunity to earn hotel points. However, if ConnectMiles is your rewards program of choice, booking hotel stays through ConnectMiles Hotels is a great option.

Car Rentals

Like most other frequent flyer programs, Copa Airlines ConnectMiles allows you to earn miles by booking car rentals with certain partners. Unlike hotel chains, most car rental companies don’t have their own rewards programs, so there’s no downside to earning airline miles for your rental. However, most of Copa Airlines’s car rental partners also have partnerships with several other frequent flyer programs. So, before you decide to earn Copa Airlines ConnectMiles on your next car rental, you should consider whether or not you’d rather earn a different airline rewards currency.

The following table includes all of the car rental partners with which you can earn ConnectMiles and their respective earnings rates:

Car rental partnersConnectMiles earnings
Avis• 100 miles per day
• ConnectMiles members enjoy up to 25% off base rental rates at participating locations worldwide
Budget• 100 miles per day
• ConnectMiles members enjoy up to 25% off base rental rates at participating locations worldwide
Dollar• 200 miles per day
Hertz• 200 miles per day
• ConnectMiles members enjoy up to 10% off base rental rates at participating locations worldwide
Thrifty200 miles per day

In order to receive ConnectMiles for eligible car rentals, you’ll need to select ConnectMiles as your rewards program of choice and provide your ConnectMiles membership number when making your booking.

Other Ways to Earn ConnectMiles

Copa Airlines has several other partners that allow you to earn ConnectMiles for eligible purchases. However, many of these partners are only available in Panama and other countries in Central and South America.

The following table includes the partners with which you can earn ConnectMiles:

Other partnersConnectMiles earnings
Attenza Duty Free• 1X mile per $1 spent at Attenza Duty Free stores at international airports in Panama, Bogota and Quito
Chubb Travel Insurance• 1X mile per $1 spent on travel insurance
Copa Airlines Courier• 200 miles when you make four shipments with a Copa Courier corporate account
Degusta• 100 miles when you make a reservation at any participating restaurant
• 25 additional miles for each person you add to your reservation
Delta and Lubricantes Mobil• 1X mile per gallon of gas purchased with your MAXI flota card at Delta gas stations in Panama
Mail Boxes• 1X mile per $1 spent on courier services, copy centers, print services, packing services and more
Pacifica Salud• 1X mile per $1 spent on radiology and laboratory services

As previously mentioned, most of these services are only available in Panama and other countries in Central and South America.

Buying Miles

Copa Airlines gives ConnectMiles members the option to purchase up to 100,000 miles per transaction (with a maximum of 2 million miles per calendar year). The purchase price per mile will vary depending on how many miles you purchase at once and if Copa Airlines happens to be offering a promotion on miles purchases at the time.

However, in almost every case, purchasing miles isn’t a very good decision. The amount that you’ll pay for the miles will almost always be more than the value that you’ll get out of them.

The only time that purchasing ConnectMiles might make sense is if you’re only a few thousand miles short of a specific redemption. And, even in this case, you might be better off earning those miles in other ways (such as booking a hotel stay or a car rental).

Copa Airlines also offers two programs called ConnectMiles Plan and ConnectMiles Accelerator. ConnectMiles Plan is essentially a subscription to purchase a set number of ConnectMiles each month at a slight discount. ConnectMiles Accelerator allows you to multiply the amount of miles that you’ve earned in the past three months for a fee. For most people, these programs aren’t a very good deal and aren’t worth paying attention to.

International Airport in Panama City

Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama.

How to Redeem Copa Airlines ConnectMiles

Of course, ConnectMiles can be redeemed for flights on Copa Airlines. You can also use ConnectMiles to book award flights on Star Alliance and other partner airlines, upgrade your seat on an upcoming flight, donate miles to charities or transfer your miles to other ConnectMiles members.

While the ConnectMiles program has far fewer redemption options than many other frequent flyer programs, you can still find great value by redeeming miles for flights on partner airlines.

In the following sections, we’ll take a look at all of the different ways to spend ConnectMiles and which of these redemption options offer the most value per mile.

Flying with Copa Airlines

The most obvious way to spend ConnectMiles is to book award flights on Copa Airlines. There are two types of award tickets available on Copa Airlines flights: Saver Awards and Standard Awards. Saver Awards have more limited availability but cost fewer miles. Standard Awards have much wider availability but cost more miles.

Copa Airlines publishes two award charts for its own award flights: one for Business class redemptions and another for Economy class redemptions.

Here’s the award chart for Copa Airlines-operated Business class award flights:

MexicoPanamaCentral AmericaCaribbeanColombiaNorthern South AmericaSouthern South America
U.S. and CanadaSaver30,00030,00030,00030,00035,00035,00055,000
Standard70,00070,00070,00070,00075,00080,000120,000
MexicoSaverN/A20,00020,00025,00020,00025,00040,000
StandardN/A40,00040,00050,00040,00050,00080,000
PanamaSaverN/A10,00020,00020,00020,00020,00040,000
StandardN/A15,00040,00040,00040,00040,00080,000
Central AmericaSaverN/AN/A20,00020,00020,00020,00040,000
StandardN/AN/A40,00040,00040,00040,00080,000
CaribbeanSaverN/AN/AN/A25,00025,00025,00040,000
StandardN/AN/AN/A45,00045,00045,00080,000
ColombiaSaverN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A20,00040,000
StandardN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A40,00080,000
Northern South AmericaSaverN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A20,00040,000
StandardN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A40,00080,000

Here’s the award chart for Copa Airlines-operated Economy class award flights:

MexicoPanamaCentral AmericaCaribbeanColombiaNorthern South AmericaSouthern South America
U.S. and CanadaSaver17,50015,00015,00015,00015,00015,00025,000
Standard30,00030,00030,00030,00030,00030,00050,000
MexicoSaverN/A10,00010,00012,50010,00012,50020,000
StandardN/A20,00020,00025,00020,00025,00040,000
PanamaSaverN/A5,0007,5007,5007,50010,00020,000
StandardN/A10,00015,00015,00015,00020,00040,000
Central AmericaSaverN/AN/A7,50010,00010,00010,00020,000
StandardN/AN/A15,00020,00020,00020,00040,000
CaribbeanSaverN/AN/AN/A10,00010,00010,00020,000
StandardN/AN/AN/A25,00025,00025,00040,000
ColombiaSaverN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A7,50020,000
StandardN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A15,00040,000
Northern South AmericaSaverN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A10,00020,000
StandardN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A15,00040,000

The award rates in the two charts above are for one-way flights on Copa Airlines.

There are a lot of great sweet spots in these Copa Airlines award charts that you can take advantage of. In particular, you can often find outsized redemptions for Business class awards on Copa Airlines. However, you can often find good value on Economy class redemptions as well if you want to save some miles.

Copa Airlines doesn’t levy fuel or carrier-imposed surcharges on its own award flights or partner award flights. That means that you’ll pay very little out-of-pocket when booking awards at excellent rates through the ConnectMiles program. However, Copa Airlines does charge a booking fee for award reservations made over the phone or in-person at a sales office. Luckily, almost all awards can be booked online.

Pretty much any Copa-operated Business class Saver Award departing from the U.S. is going to provide solid value. Specifically, you can find great value by redeeming ConnectMiles for Business class Saver Awards from the U.S. to Colombia and Northern South America.

For example, we found a Copa-operated Business class award flight from New York City (JFK) to Lima (LIM) for 35,000 miles (plus about $22 in taxes and fees, which is fairly low) through the Copa Airlines website.

Redeem Copa Airlines ConnectMiles

If you were to buy the same flight through the Copa Airlines website with cash, it would cost you about $1,288.

Redeem Copa Airlines ConnectMiles

So, by purchasing this flight with ConnectMiles, you’d be getting a value of about 3.6 cents per mile (factoring in the $22 in taxes and fees), which is good.

With some searching, you can find plenty of great redemptions for Copa-operated flights through the ConnectMiles program.

Flying with Wingo

Flights operated by Wingo (Copa’s low-cost subsidiary) unfortunately aren’t eligible to earn ConnectMiles. However, you do have the option to redeem ConnectMiles for vouchers that can be used to offset the price of Wingo flights.

The following table includes the three options you have for redeeming your miles for Wingo vouchers:

ConnectMiles requiredVoucher value
5,000100,0000 Colombian pesos (or about $25 at the current conversion rate)
10,000260,0000 Colombian pesos (or about $67 at the current conversion rate)
15,000460,0000 Colombian pesos (or about $116 at the current conversion rate)

No matter which of these vouchers you redeem for, purchasing Wingo vouchers with ConnectMiles provides poor value per mile. In each case, you’ll get a value of less than 1 cent per mile.

In general, you’re better off paying for your Wingo flights with cash and saving your ConnectMiles to pay for award flights on Copa Airlines or another partner airline.

Flying with Airline Partners

You can also use ConnectMiles to book award flights with any Star Alliance airline as well as several non-Star Alliance partners. Almost all Star Alliance and non-Star Alliance partner award itineraries can be booked online. However, certain partner award itineraries can only be booked through the ConnectMiles Service Center.

All partner awards are priced according to a region-based single award chart that displays award prices for one-way journeys in Economy, Business and First class. The rates displayed on this chart are for Saver Awards only. Partner award flights are often available at both Saver and Standard prices, depending on the specific flight. As Standard Awards are typically around twice as expensive as Saver Awards, it’s worth doing some searching to find partner awards at Saver prices (which are the ones displayed on the award chart).

You can view the Copa Airlines ConnectMiles partner award chart on Copa Airlines website.

In general, redeeming your ConnectMiles for partner awards is one of the best ways to get good value. However, not all partner redemptions offer the same value, so it’s worth doing some research to see which partner award redemptions can help you maximize the value of your miles.

To get you started, we’ve identified some of the sweet spots in the ConnectMiles program to help you get great value out of this program.

Flights from North America to the Middle East, Africa and Oceania in Business Class for 80,000 Miles One-Way

One great use of Copa Airlines ConnectMiles, particularly for travelers based in the United States, is to book flights from North America (United States or Canada) to the Middle East, Africa or Oceania in Business class for 80,000 miles one-way. These flights are often very long and, if you’re going to pay the extra mileage for a Business class flight, it may as well be on a long-haul flight.

For example, we found a Business class award flight between New York City (JFK) and Johannesburg (JNB) for just 80,000 miles one-way. This flight itinerary is very long and involves a layover in Istanbul (IST). However, the bright side is that you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy Turkish Airlines Business class.

Flying with airline partners

If you were to purchase this flight with cash through the Turkish Airlines website, it would cost you a whopping $4,479.

Flying with Airline Partners

So, by purchasing this flight with Copa Airlines ConnectMiles, you’d be getting a value of about 5.6 cents per mile, which is great.

There are plenty of outsized-value redemptions like the one above on routes between the United States and the Middle East, Africa and Oceania on partners such as Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Egyptair and more. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to find award space in Emirates Business class, which is considered one of the best business-class products in the airline industry.

Flights Within North America in Business Class for 25,000 Miles One-Way or Economy Class for 12,500 Miles One-Way

Another excellent way to maximize the value of your miles is to book one-way flights within the North America region in Economy class for 12,500 miles one-way or in Business class for 25,000 miles one-way. Economy class awards on these routes are often available at Saver prices. However, finding Business class awards on these routes at Saver prices can be very difficult.

For example, we found an Air Canada-operated award flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Montreal (YUL) in Economy class for the Saver award price of 12,500 miles one-way. However, as you can see, there’s no Business class availability on this flight.

Flying with partner Airlines

If you were to purchase this same Economy class ticket with cash from the Air Canada website, it would cost you $257.

flying with partner airlines 3

So, by booking this ticket with ConnectMiles, you’d be getting a value of over two cents per mile, which is solid for an Economy class award. Again, if you’re able to find a Business class award on one of these routes at the Saver Award price, you’ll almost certainly get a lot more value. But these Business class Saver Awards are very difficult to find on flights around the North America region.

Even if you book Business class awards within North America at Standard Award rates, you can probably still get solid value. For instance, we found a United Airlines-operated Business class award flight from San Francisco to Newark (EWR) for the Standard Award price of 50,000 miles (the Saver Award price would be 25,000 miles) one-way.

Flying with Airline Partners

If you were to book the same flight with cash through the United Airlines website, it would cost you $1,290.

Flying with Airline Partners

So, even at the Standard Award price of 50,000 miles, this redemption would yield a value of about 2.6 cents per mile, which isn’t bad.

In general, if you’re looking to maximize the value of your ConnectMiles, redeeming for Business class awards at Saver Award prices is typically the best way to do so. However, Business class awards at Saver prices can be fairly difficult to find on certain routes. In this case, you can usually still get pretty good value on Economy class awards at Saver prices or Business class awards at Standard prices.

Upgrade Awards

You can also use your ConnectMiles to purchase seat upgrades on flights that you’ve already paid for. Upgrade awards can be purchased for flights operated by Copa Airlines and Star Alliance partners. Flights operated by non-Star Alliance partners aren’t eligible for upgrade awards.

When it comes to redeeming for upgrade awards on Copa Airlines, members can use miles to purchase upgrades from Economy class to Business class on certain flights. The number of miles required to upgrade depends on the regions of travel and the only way to determine the number of miles you’ll need to upgrade on a Copa-operated flight is to call Copa’s Service Center.

In general, booking upgrade awards doesn’t offer as much value per mile as redeeming for award flights. Plus, requesting Copa Airlines upgrade awards over the phone can be a bit of a hassle. So, you’re probably better off redeeming your miles for award flights rather than Copa upgrade awards.

You can also use your ConnectMiles to upgrade on certain Star Alliance partners. Certain Star Alliance partners allow you to upgrade from Economy to Business as well as Business to First while other partners only allow you to upgrade from Economy to Business. Additionally, only certain booking classes on each Star Alliance partner are eligible for upgrade awards.

To view which booking classes are eligible for upgrade awards on which partners, you can visit the Mileage Upgrades page on the Copa Airlines website. Star Alliance partner upgrades are priced according to a region-based award chart, which you can view on Copa Airline’s website here.

Redeeming ConnectMiles for Star Alliance partner upgrades doesn’t tend to yield as much value as redeeming for award flights. However, if you have an upcoming flight and upgrading to the next cabin class sounds nice, then using ConnectMiles to do so might be a decent idea.

Donate Miles

Like many other frequent flyer programs, Copa Airlines ConnectMiles gives you the option to donate your miles to charities to “sponsor travel arrangements for those who need it most.” It’s unclear exactly how much money per mile Copa Airlines contributes to charity when you donate your miles. However, if you want to use your miles to help the world, then donating to charity is a good way to do so.

The Bottom Line

In summary, Copa Airlines ConnectMiles is a fairly valuable rewards currency, particularly because Copa Airlines still prices its own award flights as well as all of its partner award flights using region-based award charts. That means that you can definitely find outsized value redemptions with a bit of searching.

However, when searching for award flights through Copa Airlines ConnectMiles, you should be aware that there are two different types of award flights. Saver Awards have lower prices but are harder to find. Standard Awards have higher prices but are much easier to find. If you really want to make the most of your ConnectMiles (whether redeeming for Copa Airlines or partner award flights), it’s worth searching for Saver Awards as they’re usually around half the price of Standard Awards.

Unfortunately, while Copa Airlines ConnectMiles are valuable once you have them, they’re fairly difficult to earn as the ConnectMiles program is not a transfer partner of any major transferable credit card rewards program (such as American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards). This means that most of your ConnectMiles will probably have to be earned by flying with Copa Airlines or by crediting partner flights.

If you’re a North America-based traveler, then you may want to credit your air mileage to another Star Alliance program, such as United Airlines MileagePlus or Air Canada Aeroplan, instead of Copa Airlines ConnectMiles. However, if you travel around Central and South America often and you often fly with Copa Airlines, then this is probably a great frequent flyer program for you.