Skift Take

Between its status match program and its Star Alliance reach, Copa is a strong consideration for any savvy American business traveler.

The flag carrier of Panama is making inroads into the North American market — and it’s not just through new routes.

Just last week, the blog One Mile at A Time discovered that Copa Connect, the loyalty program operated by Copa Airlines, is offering status matches to well-traveled customers from competing carriers. Those with top tier status in airlines such as American, Delta and United Airlines can openly apply to the matching program and once approved, receive equal top tier status in Copa Connect.

Elite benefit or “status” matches like these are common among air carriers when one particular airline needs to build up or fortify its loyalty program and compete with other airlines. American Airlines, for example, has been particularly open to status matches this year, perhaps because it realizes business travelers may be wary of its merger with US Airways.

What’s unique about Copa’s most recent effort is the broad net that the airline is casting and the speed with which the status matches are taking place. Many readers in the One Mile at A Time comment section report that Copa is matching status in a matter of hours or days, often over the phone and from a broad spectrum of competing carriers.

The effort may be tied to an initiative to quickly populate Copa Connect’s upper loyalty program tiers. As the airline’s loyalty program is only three months old, it’s likely that few of Copa Connect’s loyalty program members have put in the requisite mileage to earn elite status.

The status match push also comes at a critical time in Copa’s growth across North America. Just last week the airline launched a direct route from San Francisco to Panama City, while USA Today reports that Boston, Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa were all recently added to the Copa network.

On top of the new routes, Copa appears to be pushing a rather aggressive fare sale. Both Flyertalk and The Flight Deal, two airfare monitoring sites, have been reporting numerous fare sales from the airline over the past week.

As an aggregate, Copa appears to be delivering a comprehensive package for US-based travelers on business to central and South America. Combined with a strong partner network with United Airlines and the Star Alliance, it should provide solid regional competition to Delta and American.


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Tags: copa airlines, loyalty

Photo credit: A Copa Air plane leaving Los Angeles International Airport. Aero Icarus / Flickr

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