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Copa, the Panamanian Star Alliance carrier, has long been part of United’s MileagePlus program. That relationship will end June 30, and Copa ConnectMiles will launch on July 1, 2015.

Copa has released two award charts in anticipation: one for flying Copa and one for flying Star Alliance partners.

The charts are nearly identical to United’s award charts. Compared to United, the only value I see is in economy on the Copa-only award chart.

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  • You need 17,500 United miles to fly to Panama, Central America, and the Caribbean. You only need 15,000 Copa miles to fly Copa flights there. (Cuba anyone?)
  • You need 20,000 United miles to fly to Colombia and the rest of Northern South America. You only need 15,000 Copa miles to fly Copa flights there. (Peru anyone?)
  • You need 30,000 United miles to fly to Southern South America. You only need 25,000 Copa miles to fly Copa flights there. (Argentina anyone?)

These are really nice deals, though only valuable for people for people who live in a city served by Copa. Copa flies to 10 American destination and adds New Orleans on June 24, 2015.

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The rest of the award charts really disappoint me though–not because they are bad, just because they are a copy of United.

The ideal situation would have been underpriced award charts, but since everyone creating a new loyalty program can see everyone else’s award charts online (except Delta’s), I don’t think we’ll get new award programs that are substantially underpricing their awards. At a minimum though, I want a new award chart or way of pricing awards.

If Copa’s award chart showed half of the awards cheaper than United and the other half of the awards at triple the price of United awards I would have been ecstatic. I don’t need each program to be the best for every award; I just want each program to be best for some awards. That way we can use many different programs for their best awards and really maximize our miles.

Unfortunately Copa’s Star Alliance award chart is identical to United’s partner award chart. I don’t see any reason to redeem Copa miles for partner awards compared to United miles. Even Copa’s Business Class award chart for Copa flights is identical to the prices United would charge for such awards, at least from the United States.

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The bottom line on the new award charts is that I am mostly disappointed because they are nearly identical to United’s, meaning no new sweet spots for us to enjoy. The exception is on the economy award chart for Copa flights where you can save 2,500 to 5,000 miles each way, compared to United’s prices, as long as you live in a city served by Copa.

Getting Copa Miles

No co-branded credit cards or partnerships with transferable points have been announced. I’m sure that information will come out soon, and partnerships could be the game changer.

Remember how these miles are almost identical to United miles?

How excited would you be if Citi ThankYou Points, AMEX Membership Rewards,  or SPG Starpoints transferred 1:1 to United miles? I’d up my valuation of each one if they could transfer 1:1 to United.

Copa miles are basically going to be the same thing because of the identical award charts, so I’d be equally ecstatic if any of those three programs partnered with Copa.

Are you excited about possible partnerships with Copa ConnectMiles? Which points would you most like to transfer?

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