In 2015, Panama based Copa Airlines formed their own frequent flyer program, called ConnectMiles. Previously they used United MileagePlus as their frequent flyer program, given their history with Continental which dates back many years.
Even though they formed their own program, in many ways ConnectMiles is still similar to MileagePlus, and I feel like we haven’t seen too much innovation from them. They’ve tried to sell miles at a discount, though they certainly haven’t offered any promotion that I’d consider to be lucrative enough to actually bite.
Yesterday I received an email regarding Copa ConnectMiles Plan, which is an innovative new concept from Copa.
Here’s how Copa describes ConnectMiles Plan:
Introducing ConnectMiles Plan, a new way to get more miles and take the trip of your dreams – for less. Sign up to purchase a set amount of miles each month at a discount. Before you know it, you’ll have the miles you need to take your next vacation.
Okay, I’m sort of digging this concept, for the novelty if nothing else. We see airlines offering bonuses on purchased miles all the time, so why not make it a monthly subscription?
With this plan you receive a certain number of miles every month, and then you receive a further quarterly bonus. Copa suggests this also helps keep miles active and alive, which is certainly true. The issue is with the pricing.
Here are the options for Copa’s ConnectMiles Plan:
Let’s look at the cost you’re paying per mile by plan:
- 15K Plan: 2.24 cents per mile
- 24K Plan: 2.25 cents per mile
- 32K Plan: 2.25 cents per mile
- 72K Plan: 2.2 cents per mile
- 120K Plan: 2.2 cents per mile
As you can see, no matter which quantity you choose, you’ll be paying about 2.2 cents per mile. That’s not a good price for buying miles, at all.
When I first saw the idea behind this promotion I was excited and thought they were smartly targeting the mileage-obsessed folks out there. When you think about it, it’s smart for an airline to sell you miles that they deposit into your account over time. During promotions, many people buy exactly the number of miles they need for an award, and then redeem them right away. A program can still make money that way, but they’d much rather you’re not using your miles quite that efficiently. Presumably a program’s redemption costs go down significantly if they’re awarding you miles over time, and therefore they should be offering a discount.
That’s not what Copa is doing, though. Instead Copa seems to be going after the crowd that loves financing everything, and views this as an opportunity to buy 120,000 miles for $220 per month, without actually crunching the numbers. There’s simply no reason to pay $2,640 for the privilege of having 120,000 miles deposited in your account over the next 12 months, when we have no clue what kind of changes they’ll make to the program over that time.
So I say it’s a creative concept, but not at all compelling. I’d love to see other programs offer something like this, though the pricing model will have to be improved significantly.
What do you make of Copa’s ConnectMiles Plan?