COPA wants you to know that you can still earn points based on distance flown with their airline as long as you buy your tickets through them, and not off of United.com.
That’s because — even though COPA is a part of the United MileagePlus frequent flyer program and MileagePlus will be awarding points based on ticket price starting in March 2015 — MileagePlus will continue to award points based on distance flown for tickets sold by their partners for travel on their partners.
In other words, if you buy a COPA ticket and fly on COPA, that earns miles based on distance — not revenue — even under the new post-March MileagePlus rules.
The same remains true for other partners, of course. If you buy a Lufthansa ticket and fly Lufthansa, and then credit the flight to United, you’ll earn points based on distance.
That’s why you should buy your transatlantic flights on United’s partners, and avoid flying United, unless you are looking to have the spending on your tickets count towards United elite status, or you’re looking to use United miles or other instruments to upgrade non-full fare tickets.
The special thing about COPA of course is that even though MileagePlus is their airline’s frequent flyer program they are in fact a separate airline and fall under the rules of partners, not under the rules of United.
Of course, this presents the option for the best of both worlds, for folks buying tickets costing more than 20 cents per mile flown, just buy those tickets from United to get them issued as United tickets and have your points calculated based on fare.
It’s a new, more complicated world with more and more opportunities for arbitrage and gaming.. which is fairly ironic for a move to a ‘simpler’ revenue-based program.
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