What Copa Airlines Offering Its Own Frequent Flier Loyalty Program Means to United MileagePlus Members

C opa Airlines — which had a long relationship with Continental Airlines and now United Airlines — is launching its own frequent flier loyalty program as of July of 2015; and details will be unveiled as of March of 2015, with enrollment commencing in May of 2015.

If you are a Premier elite status level member of the United Airlines MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program, there are some changes about which you should be aware; for as of July of 2015:

  • Flight segments on Copa Airlines will not count toward the four-segment minimum for MileagePlus Premier elite level status
  • Flight miles on Copa Airlines will not count toward your lifetime flight miles balance
  • Copa Airlines flights on tickets that are not issued by United Airlines will not earn Premier qualifying dollars
  • You will no longer have priority access to seats in the front rows in the economy class cabin on flights operated by Copa Airlines
  • Fees will no longer be waived for changes to your flight on the same day
  • Your 2015 Premier card will not display a Copa Airlines logo


The partnership between United Airlines and Copa Airlines will otherwise remain as it is today; and the two frequent flier loyalty programs will offer reciprocal benefits to their members.

Interestingly — as the MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program of United Airlines moves towards earning miles based on revenue — the new frequent flier loyalty program to be unveiled by Copa Airlines will be based on distance, or miles flown.

In addition to members of Star Alliance — of which Copa Airlines will remain a member — there will also be additional partner airlines of the new frequent flier loyalty program which are not members of Star Alliance. However, partners will initially be focused on credit card and lodging companies.

What seems to sound similar to the Karma Rewards frequent guest program of Kimpton Hotels, the new frequent flier loyalty program to be offered by Copa Airlines will offer a preferred status program for premium members designed to focus on the needs and behaviors of its most frequent travelers.

Additional details — including the name itself — are yet to be revealed in the new frequent flier loyalty program by Copa Airlines.

I have flown as a passenger in seats in the first-class cabin on an airplane operated by Copa Airlines several years ago between Miami and Buenos Aires with a stop at its hub airport in Panama. The seats themselves were similar to seats you would find in the first-class cabin in airplanes operated by airlines based in the United States on domestic flights. The food was good to very good — I had the filet mignon — and the entertainment options were sparse.

Although I would fly as a passenger again on an airplane operated by Copa Airlines, that airline would not be my first choice.

4 thoughts on “What Copa Airlines Offering Its Own Frequent Flier Loyalty Program Means to United MileagePlus Members”

  1. Joey says:

    Ah! When I was a Continental Premier platinum back before the UA merger I always flew Copa Airlines to go to South America since I always got upgraded to their business class cabin. Sure, it wasn’t the best business class out there to South America but it’s still a free upgrade thanks to my elite status with Continental. Even after the merger, I would still get upgraded to business class.
    With this new/separate frequent flyer program, I doubt UA elites will get upgraded… or will they?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I suppose only actual experience after the new frequent flier loyalty program by Copa Airlines is launched will reveal the answer to your question, Joey

  2. Tom says:

    Will Mileage Plus redemptions on COPA now be at the higher “partner” rate, or will it remain the same as on UA metal?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is a good question, Tom — to which I do not know the answer.

      I have tried to find the answer for you — including here — but it does not appear that those details have been revealed as of yet.

      Perhaps a reader of The Gate can prove me incorrect and find the answer…?

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