Bidding Based Upgrades Coming to Copa (Plusgrade)


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 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).

It is interesting to see, how this development is going to affect the upgrade success of Mileage Plus elite members. Are these Plusgrade upgrades processed AFTER all eligible elite members have been cleared to the business class cabin OR are they prioritized over these complimentary upgrades.


There are two companies OptionTown and Plusgrade that provide these bidding for upgrade-systems for the airlines.


I just hope that Copa does this the right way and only clears these paid upgrades after all upgrade eligible Mileage Plus members have been upgraded.

Here are the frequently asked questions by Copa about this product:

1. How does the option to purchase upgrades to Business Class work?

Copa Airlines offers the opportunity to be upgraded to Business Class and provide the best in-flight experience! To be able to participate in this program:

  • The passenger must have purchased a valid ticket.
  • The passenger must have an available email in the reservation.
  • The flight must have seats available in Business Class after all MileagePlus® and Business Class passengers have been accommodated.
  • Fare class previously approved.

If these requirements are met, the eligible passengers on the selected flights will receive an email to the address provided in the reservation inviting them to participate for the submission of a possible purchasing price for an upgrade to Business Class.

Copa Airlines invites you to enjoy the benefits of flying with us in Business Class.

2. Who is eligible?

  • Passengers who have a valid ticket.
  • Passengers who have a paid ticket and traveling in economy class.
  • MileagePlus passengers not eligible for upgrade.
  • Passengers who have a valid email address in their reservation.

3. How does it work?

If there is a possibility that the flight will have empty seats in Business Class, the passenger will receive an email seven days before departure with an invitation to participate. If the passenger accepts, he will be redirected to the page for purchasing upgrades. Then, the passenger will decide how much he/she is ready to pay for this upgrade, in the path or segment of the specific flight. The passenger will receive an email confirmation that his offer was received.

Taking into consideration the MileagePlus upgrades, 23 hours before the departure of the flight, the passenger who made the offer will receive an email indicating whether he obtained the upgrade or not. The passenger who obtained the upgrade will be charged what he/she offered, plus applicable taxes. The passenger who did not obtain the upgrade will not be charged anything and will travel with his/her original reservation.

4. Are all my flights eligible?

All flights with Business Class are eligible, depending on availability of each one. The passenger will receive, via email, the flight information or flight path available for an upgrade.

For example, if you fly from Bogota to Miami, with a stop in Panama, it may happen that only one segment of the flight will be available for this program or it could be both. It all depends on the availability of each segment.

5. Can I offer a different amount for each flight segment?

You have the freedom to offer the amount you choose for each segment of the flight, where availability permits it.

6. What happens if I participate and don’t obtain the upgrade?

If you don’t obtain the upgrade, you will receive an email 12 hours before your flight’s departure indicating your failure to obtain the upgrade; there will not be a charge and you will travel according to your original reservation.

7. I received an email indicating I did not receive the upgrade; can I make a new offer?

Once the passenger receives this email, he will not be able to make an offer for this segment.

8. Can I offer a higher or lower amount than I already offered?

You have the freedom to offer the amount you choose for each segment of the flight, where availability permits it.

9. I accidentally canceled my offer, but I want to participate again. How can I do this?

Refer to the original email you were originally sent as an invitation to the program and enter again.

10. Will I earn miles as a MileagePlus passenger?

Only if your original ticket allows you to accumulate and will only accumulate the miles determined in your original ticket, but not as a passenger in Business Class.

11. Do I have the benefit of free baggage allowance for Business Class?

You keep the baggage allowance you had in the air ticket you originally purchased. You will have the same baggage allowance as your original ticket. For more information, visit our baggage policy.

12. What are the benefits of flying Business Class?

Copa Airlines passengers in Business Class will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Special check-in lines at airport counters and boarding gates.
  • Privacy and personal attention in the 10 passengers cabin (Embraer 190), 12 passengers cabin (Boeing 737-700) and 16 passengers cabin (Boeing 737-800) with leather seats.
  • Fine dining with exquisite offerings from our chef, along with the best wines and spirits.
  • Access to Copa Clubs, United Clubs and VIP lounges available all over the world, in the cities that offer them.

For more information visit our Business Class section.

13. I received an email to obtain an upgrade to Business Class, but I prefer to use my miles for an upgrade. What should I do?

In this case, you should contact United Airlines Service Center.

14. When I obtain an upgrade, will I be able to choose my seat?

When you receive confirmation of your Business Class upgrade, you will be able to choose your seat when you use Web Check-In, depending on seat availability.

15. Can I offer a single amount for all the different segments of my flight?

You should make an offer for each segment separately.

16. Which documents should I present at the Copa Airlines counter at the airport to get my boarding pass?

You must have a valid passport and the email which confirms that you have obtained the upgrade.

17. Could I also do Web Check-In?

You can do your Web Check-In from the moment you receive the email with the confirmation of the upgrade obtained up to 2 hours before the departure of your flight.

18. Who should I contact in case I have any questions/complaints/recommendations?

For any questions/complaints/recommendations regarding this program, please send your email to

19. What do the color bars mean?

  • Red bar – poor offer: very unlikely to be upgraded
  • Yellow bars – offer below past successful offers: unlikely to be upgraded
  • Green bars – offer is in the range of past successful offers- moderate chances!
  • Dark green bars – good offer: high chance to be upgraded – no guarantee

20. What are the criteria for determining an upgrade to Business Class?

Upgrades to Business Class are not guaranteed. They will first depend on the seats availability after all courtesy upgrades of Premier Members have been given. And, afterwards, on the offers that are received.

21. Do I have to pay any additional charges for using this program?

Participation in the upgrade program does not cost anything. It’s only when you receive the upgrade that you will be charge the amount offered for such upgrade. In addition, you will also be charge for the taxes applicable to such transaction.

22. I know someone else who is flying on the same flight I’m taking, and he/she received an invitation, but I did not. Why not?

There can be several reasons for this. The main reason could be that we do not have your email address, but other conditions apply. The categories mentioned below will not receive an email:

  • Bookings using promotional fares
  • Business Rewards®
  • Redemption ticket
  • Free tickets (Non-Revenue, Buddy Passes, among others)
  • Bookings already upgraded using miles
  • Traveling with infants
  • Passengers with tickets purchased within 24 hours or less of your flight

23. Do the rules that apply to my original ticket apply to the upgrade?

The same rules that apply to your original ticket also apply once the upgrade is obtained. The rules of your original ticket regarding minimum or maximum stay, changes, cancellation, penalties, refunds, baggage allowance and others, stay the same once you have obtained the upgrade.

24. What happens if I received the upgrade and I canceled my trip for personal reasons?

If you cancel your trip, your upgrade to Business Class is also canceled and the amount you paid for the upgrade is not refundable. Regarding the amount you paid for the original ticket, all the rules of such ticket apply in relation to refunds due to voluntary cancellations.

25. Will I receive a text message to my cellular phone (SMS) to tell me whether or not I obtained my upgrade?

You will only receive an email to inform you whether or not you obtained your upgrade.

26. I have been notified I obtained an upgrade to Business Class. However, I do not see the email with my new seat number.

You can Web Check-In or go to one of our agents in the Business Class line for your new seat assignment.

27. I received my confirmation for an upgrade. Will the special meal I requested in economy class be served in Business Class?

We are committed into providing the best service, which is why we will attempt to satisfy all meal requests for upgraded passengers.

28. What will happen if the flight to which I obtained an upgrade has been canceled?

In the event that your flight is canceled, we will try to accommodate you in a future flight with your upgrade, but if we do not have availability in that flight, we will provide you with travel certificate that will be handed to you at the airport. And, you will travel to your destination with your original booking.

29. I have several people under my booking, but I only want some of them to have an upgrade, is it possible to do this?

The offer for the upgrade is based only on the reservation, this includes all passengers within the reservation.

30. When will the credit card be charged?

Once you have received an e-mail confirmation for your upgrade, you may verify with your bank you’re your card has been charged with the amount you offered. Your card will not be charged if you do not receive the confirmation of your Business Class upgrade.

Here are the terms and conditions of this product:

The following terms and conditions (“Terms and Conditions”) will apply to any offer (“offer”) made by you (“the passenger”) to Copa Airlines (“Copa Airlines”), for an opportunity to upgrade from the service of economy Class that was originally purchased by you for travel with Copa Airlines to the Business Class (“Upgrade”). This Upgrade will not apply to Code Shared flights or flights operated by a different airline.

1. The person submitting the offer must be at least 18 years of age. The entitlement of the Upgrade is individual and non-transferable.

2. The offer will only be applicable to the flight segment that is described in the email you received to opt for the Upgrade.

3. If there are several passengers in your booking, you will have to submit a possible purchasing price for the Upgrade to all of the passengers independently. The purchasing price you accept will be on a per passenger basis.

4. The below categories will not receive the invitational email:

  • Booked using promotional fares
  • Guest seat rewards
  • Redemption ticket
  • Free tickets (Donations, Non-Revenue, and others)
  • Booking already upgraded using miles
  • Travelling with an infant
  • Passengers with ticket bought in the 24 hours before flight departure

5. If you receive an Upgrade to Business Class, you will be entitled to use the following services and benefits:

  • Check-in at Business Class counters
  • Priority boarding
  • Copa Club Access at the airport, as well as United Club access and participating Star Alliance® affiliated airport clubs worldwide (at airports that have these clubs).
  • Flight seating and service in Business Class.

6. If you receive an upgrade the ticket conditions will remain in accordance with the original ticket reservation, before the Upgrade. This includes minimum and maximum stay conditions, cancelation, penalties, changes and baggage policies. MileagePlus® miles will be credited in accordance with the original class and not the upgraded class.

7. The baggage conditions for the original ticket you purchased will remain in effect and will be applicable even if your offer has been accepted and you have been upgraded.  Please visit our on baggage policy for more information.

8. If special meals were requested at the moment of purchasing your original ticket, Copa Airlines will make every possible effort to comply with your request.

9. If you receive an upgrade, Copa Airlines does not guarantee specific seat number in the Business Class. Your seat number will depend on availability.

10. From 23 hours prior to the scheduled time of your flight, the system verifies Copa availability in the Business Class and reviews your offer. You will be notified if you received the upgrade through the provided email.

11. If you receive an upgrade, the charge will be made to the card that was used when submitting your offer. There should be a single payment to this Upgrade, combination of more than one card is forbidden. If your payment is rejected, you will automatically lose the Upgrade and it will be allocated to the next successful proposal. We will not disclose the price paid by the passenger who receives the Upgrade, nor will we enter into any discussions about the level of the price for the purchase of the Upgrade.

12. The total price you offer for the Upgrade will not include any taxes or fees. Additional taxes and fees from the offer will be charged separately from the original ticket.

13. If you want to cancel or change your offer for an Upgrade, the cancellation or change should be made 24 hours before the scheduled time of your flight and no charge will be applied. This cancellation or change should be made using the link of the reservation confirmation provided via email.

14. Once and if your offer is received, the cancellation for your Upgrade made within 24 hours prior to your flight time is not allowed, if the passenger does not show for the flight there will be no reimbursement.

15. The upgrade charge is not refundable.

16. In the event Copa Airlines cancels a flight Copa will try its best to re-accommodate you on to another flight into Business Class. If there is no availability in another flight the passenger will receive a DBC (denied boarding compensation) or what the compensation rules apply for the scenario. If re-accommodating to Business Class is not fulfilled the passenger will travel in the Class that originally purchased; any offer you made in relation to the original booking may not be transferred to the new flight. If you have any complaints or suggestions please contact us at:

17. If you change, cancel, or miss your flight due to personal reasons or force majeure, there will be no refund for your Upgrade charge, even if your original ticket is refundable. This Upgrade cannot be transferred to another flight or to another passenger.

18. Copa Airlines reserves the right to amend the above conditions at any time at its discretion. Notification of any significant change in the conditions will be sent via email to all passengers listed for this service at the time the change is made.

19. The passenger must accept all term and conditions in order to participate in the upgrade program.

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