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As I was in Panama this last week and needed to get to Cancun for this coming weekend, I decided to visit Havana. I have been here before, so just decided to stay for a few days. Please don’t get me started about the internet connectivity here.

LifeMiles Awards Ticket Success PTY-HAV

Beyond using my LifeMiles for getting from Bangkok to Buenos Aires (access the piece here), it did not usually make any sense to use miles from Oneworld or Star Alliance programs for travel within South/Central America. It has always been a better deal to purchase paid tickets and use the allowed stopovers and other flexibilities. [click to continue...]

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Copa Airlines based in Panama, which uses United’s MileagePlus as its frequent flier program, has launched double award miles promo for flights take between October 1 – December 31, 2014.

Copa Airlines Double MileagePlus Miles October 1 - December 31, 2014

All you need to do is to register for this offer and take one paid flight between August 1 – September 30, 2014, that has been ticketed after July 1 qualify for this offer. [click to continue...]

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Copa, the Panamanian Star Alliance airline, is offering double award miles from its flights from Brazil to all destinations served by Copa (some restrictions). Copa uses United’s Mileage Plus as their frequent flier program. This is derived from the past when the airline was partially owned by Continental.

copa-double-rdm-brazil-jpg

The double miles offer is valid to ALL Copa destinations from Recife, Manaus and Porto Alegre. The offer from all other Copa Brazilian destinations Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, and Brasilia is valid to all other destinations than those in the United States or Canada. [click to continue...]

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Copa, Star Alliance member airline based in Panama, has started to offer an option to bid for business class upgrades on its flights. This service if provided to the airline by Plusgrade. You can read more about this on Copa’s website here.

copa-plusgrade

Copa uses United’s Mileage Plus as its frequent flier program and grants complimentary status based upgrades on its flights for Mileage Plus elite members (GS/1K/PLT/1P and Silver). [click to continue...]

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I have never seen so many different airline related bonus promotions that Hilton would have run simultaneously. You cannot find any of these listed on Hilton.com as they were targeted to various frequent flier groups. These promotions are, however, open to anyone.

My personal favorite that I will take advantage of is the Hilton’s promotion with Virgin Atlantic. I won’t have that many stays with Hilton this quarter so 15K VS points that I will transfer along with the base miles to Hilton for 40K HH for 5 stays.

hilton-hhonors-virgin-atlantic-4th-quarter-offer

Hilton HHonors Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Bonus Offer – 15K Bonus Miles for 5 Stays

Here’s list of Hilton’s airline related bonus offer for the 4th quarter of 2012.

You can get bonus miles or points for American Airlines, JetBlue, United, US Airways or Virgin America for stays at Waldorf Astoria hotels. The bonus is based on nights and expire on December 31, 2012.

Waldorf Astoria: Nightly Bonus Miles & Points for American, JetBlue, United, US Airways and Virgin America

Conrad hotels are offering 1000 bonus miles per night for American Airways, United Airlines, and US Airways frequent fliers. Offer is valid until December 31, 2012.

Conrad Hotels: 1000 American, United, or US Airways Bonus Miles per Night

You can earn 250 Delta MQM’s and double SkyMiles for stays of 2 nights or longer between October 1 and December 15, 2012.

250 Delta MQM’s and Double Miles for Stays of 2 Nights or Longer at Select Hilton Family of Hotels

Hilton is offering double airline miles for American, Aeromexico, AviancaTaca, MultiPlus(TAM) and United on select hotels in Latin America until December 31, 2012.

Double American Airlines, AviancaTaca, AeroMexico, TAM/Multiplus & United Airlines Miles in the Americas on Hilton Family of Hotels

Hilton is offering maximum of 15K bonus Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for 5 stays. You can always transfer the bonus + base miles back to Hilton HHonors for total of 40K HH points. This promotion is valid until December 31, 2012

Hilton HHonors Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Bonus Offer – 15K Bonus Miles for 5 Stays

Hilton has a promotion with Miles & More (Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian etc) for up to quadruple miles until December 31, 2012.

Hilton HHonors Miles & More Promotion for Up To Quadruple Miles

You can earn 4000 bonus Emirates Skywards miles on your second stay. This offer is valid until December 31, 2012.

Hilton HHonors Emirates Skywards Promotion – 4000 Bonus Miles on Your Second Stay

You can earn 3000 Virgin Australia Velocity points per stay until October 31, 2012.

3000 Virgin Australia Velocity Points for Hilton Stays

Double Air Canada Aaeroplan miles until the end of 2012.

Hilton HHonors Aeroplan Offer: Double Miles Until December 31

Double Qantas points (2000) for Hilton stays between November 1 and December 31, 2012.

Double Qantas Points (2000) at Hilton Properties Worldwide

Conclusion

Hilton has numerous airline related promotions this quarter. You have to choose carefully the one that gives out the best return. In my personal case, it is the Hilton’s promotion with Virgin Atlantic. I will later transfer the points back to Hilton.

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It has been quite a year for the Star Alliance. Spanair went bust back in February and the parent of British Airways bought the BMI back in March. The BMI then left the alliance in April. TAM, the Brazilian airline, is expected to later withdraw from the alliance once the merger with the oneworld member LAN is complete.

star-alliance-avianca-taca-copa

Yesterday, Star Alliance welcomed three airlines to the alliance; Avianca and Taca, that both belong to the same AviancaTaca group, and Copa, an airline based in Panama  City.

aviancataca

Avianca

avianca

Avianca has its main base in Bogota, Colombia, from where the carrier serves destinations in Europe, Latin, and North America.

avianca-route-map

There is also separate Avianca Brazil that used to be OcenAir. This is not part of the Star Alliance, however.

I have not flown Avianca, but I have Avianca Brazil, when it was called OceanAir.

Taca Airlines

Taca has its main hubs in Lima, San Salvador, and San Jose. The airline operates a narrow body fleet in the North and South America.

taca-route-map

Couple of years ago, I took Taca from Mexico City to Havana via San Jose in business class. To my surprise the airline didn’t have dedicated lounge for its business class passengers in San Jose, but this might have changed. The flights and the service were both very good, however. I especially loved the dark rum Nicaraguan rum they served on board.

Copa Airlines

Copa is based in Panama City, Panama and was founded in the late 1940’s by Panamanian investor group and Pan Am

Late 1990’s Continental bought 40% off the company, but was fully divested by the mid 2000’s. Copa used Continental OnePass and now uses United Mileage Plus as its frequent flier program.

Copa has an extensive route network in Central and South America using its fleet of narrow body aircraft.

copa-central-america

copa-south-america

copa-north-america

Somehow I managed not to fly Copa yet. This is probably due to my somewhat limited travels in the Central America. My goal is to have couple of extensive trips in the Central and Northern South America later this year or early next year.

Conclusion

All of these three airlines are a welcome addition to the Star Alliance. They must, however, get Avianca Brazil to the alliance once TAM moves to the oneworld. Otherwise the Star Alliance has a huge black hole on South Americas most populous and economically important country, Brazil.