COPA Airside at GRU

Old Sep 18, 18, 1:42 pm
  #1  
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COPA Airside at GRU

Hi, I will be flying from South Africa to Santiago, Chile next month. I will be connecting from SAA at GRU to Copa (UA award flights all in J between SAA & CM - All Same Ticket: CPT-JNB-GRU-PTY-SCL). There are 11 hours between the two flights, so we intend to stay airside and stay in the Transat Hotel (Tryp). We have Brazilian 5 year tourist visas if we need to go landside, but we would prefer not to as we wish to avoid the whole Yellow Fever questioning when we board Copa flight in Sao Paulo. Copa's own system says we should be exempt based on transit through Brazil and/or PTY (https://www.copaair.com/en/web/us/im...n-requirements), but I have been reading horror stories about denied boarding if gate agents don't read their own policies.

Copa offers Mobile Boarding passes, but is this enough to get to the gate at T2 and board the Copa flight? Or if not, is there an airside transit desk at GRU for Copa where we can get the Copa BP's printed? Or can we do this at the gate? Does anyone have any transit experiences that they can share at GRU with Copa?

As a point of reference our flight arrives into GRU at 17:10 and we depart at 04:00, so SA's reservation does not show the Copa flights for some reason (two different dates) even though the tix were issued as one routeing on UA ticket stock. I think we can at least get SAA to interline the bags so they go all the way through, but we're not sure if they can print Copa boarding passes due to the long connection time and different dates.

Thanks in advance!
yvr1971 is offline  
Old Sep 19, 18, 3:21 am
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I've flown round-trip between PTY and JNB several times. My recollection is that there is no transfer desk, but you will need a boarding pass at the light-security "re-check" point. If SA does not give you a CM boarding pass (I predict they will, and I also predict you will not be able to produce a mobile boarding pass for CM), you can probably just show a print-out of your itinerary.

I'll be flying JNB-GRU-PTY next week; I'll confirm the details.
YadiMolina is offline  
Old Sep 19, 18, 7:07 am
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Thanks YadiMolina for the feedback. It will be great to get a first hand account after you travel. I will have a printout of the itinerary all on one ticket. I though that it would be fairly straight forward to check in by mobile devise and get a BP is SAA can't issue, but the way my reservation works with the 11 hour layover I hope that its not too long in between SAA and CM flights. Looking forward to your feedback!
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Old Sep 20, 18, 10:59 pm
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I've do this trip multiple times a year in both directions, same ticket as you indicate. SAA should be able to provide you with the CM boarding passes in JNB or wherever you start your journey with them. The transfer at GRU is painless - just a light security check upon arrival, they either ask you for the BP or a printout of the ticket. SAA arrives at Terminal 3, Copa departs out of Terminal 2 - both are connected airside thru long corridors.

One item though if you plan to check luggage. Although possible thru interlining, Ive learned the hard way to avoid checking the bags from South Africa all the way to your final destination if your connection involves GRU. Have had luggage lost for several days. Possible reasons is because we are talking about a bag transfer between two different airlines, located at different terminals in a non-hub airport for either, that use different baggage handling companies with no overlapping working hours, and a long layover for your bag to be sitting around.

What I have done is ask SAA to tag the bag just to GRU. At GRU pick up the bag, and wait landside. At the time SAA's flight arrives, there is no one at immigration nor customs, so it is at most a 15 minute process from gate to arrivals hall. The caveat is that Copa's check in does not start until 2-3 hours before departure, so you would end up spending 8-9 hrs with your luggage at hand. While bearable, waiting landside is much more interesting than waiting airside at GRU Terminal 2, which is a dump airside. Ive used the hotel outside arrivals in Terminal 2 (Copa's terminal) where you can book rooms on hourly basis or overnight. Great place to leave your suitcase, rest and shower. In any case, by picking up the bags at GRU, reduced the chances of lost/delayed bags have saved me lots of stress/grief at the end of a long journey.
Regarding yellow fever certificate, Copa has never asked me for one, especially given that you're not entering Panama and are just transferring thru there. Even when my final destination is Panama, never been asked to produce one. They can check the itinerary that I did not started my journey in Brazil.
marcuswelby is offline  
Old Sep 21, 18, 2:32 pm
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Originally Posted by marcuswelby View Post
I've do this trip multiple times a year in both directions, same ticket as you indicate. SAA should be able to provide you with the CM boarding passes in JNB or wherever you start your journey with them. The transfer at GRU is painless - just a light security check upon arrival, they either ask you for the BP or a printout of the ticket. SAA arrives at Terminal 3, Copa departs out of Terminal 2 - both are connected airside thru long corridors.

One item though if you plan to check luggage. Although possible thru interlining, Ive learned the hard way to avoid checking the bags from South Africa all the way to your final destination if your connection involves GRU. Have had luggage lost for several days. Possible reasons is because we are talking about a bag transfer between two different airlines, located at different terminals in a non-hub airport for either, that use different baggage handling companies with no overlapping working hours, and a long layover for your bag to be sitting around.

What I have done is ask SAA to tag the bag just to GRU. At GRU pick up the bag, and wait landside. At the time SAA's flight arrives, there is no one at immigration nor customs, so it is at most a 15 minute process from gate to arrivals hall. The caveat is that Copa's check in does not start until 2-3 hours before departure, so you would end up spending 8-9 hrs with your luggage at hand. While bearable, waiting landside is much more interesting than waiting airside at GRU Terminal 2, which is a dump airside. Ive used the hotel outside arrivals in Terminal 2 (Copa's terminal) where you can book rooms on hourly basis or overnight. Great place to leave your suitcase, rest and shower. In any case, by picking up the bags at GRU, reduced the chances of lost/delayed bags have saved me lots of stress/grief at the end of a long journey.
Regarding yellow fever certificate, Copa has never asked me for one, especially given that you're not entering Panama and are just transferring thru there. Even when my final destination is Panama, never been asked to produce one. They can check the itinerary that I did not started my journey in Brazil.
Thank you for your detailed reply. This really helps me understand the whole process. We may just go landside then if Yellow Fever certificates are not an issue for boarding.
yvr1971 is offline  
Old Sep 25, 18, 5:39 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
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Confirming Dr. Welby's experiences above. SA printed out my CM boarding passes checking in at MPM. A few other notes:Security at the intl xfer at GRU is just by a contracted clerk checking to ensure you really have a connection. Not an immigration official. Flying PTY-GRU-JNB, CM printed out the SA boarding pass. However, the Star Alliance lounge had an SA agent appear a few hours before flight time announcing everyone to re-check-in and print new boarding passes for the SA flight.The Star Alliance lounge got jam packed--people standing--by 6 pm after the SA flight lands at 4:30. Not as bad during the day before the 6 pm SA departure. CM business class gets you access to the Gol lounge in T2--even though nothing advertises such outside the Gol lounge.

The long hall between T2 and T3 is a lonely one. The SA<>CM connections really stink since CM cut some flights during Brazil's downturn a few years ago.
YadiMolina is offline  
Old Sep 26, 18, 1:39 pm
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Originally Posted by YadiMolina View Post
Confirming Dr. Welby's experiences above. SA printed out my CM boarding passes checking in at MPM. A few other notes:Security at the intl xfer at GRU is just by a contracted clerk checking to ensure you really have a connection. Not an immigration official. Flying PTY-GRU-JNB, CM printed out the SA boarding pass. However, the Star Alliance lounge had an SA agent appear a few hours before flight time announcing everyone to re-check-in and print new boarding passes for the SA flight.The Star Alliance lounge got jam packed--people standing--by 6 pm after the SA flight lands at 4:30. Not as bad during the day before the 6 pm SA departure. CM business class gets you access to the Gol lounge in T2--even though nothing advertises such outside the Gol lounge.

The long hall between T2 and T3 is a lonely one. The SA<>CM connections really stink since CM cut some flights during Brazil's downturn a few years ago.
Thanks for the additional details. Sounds like this will all work - either airside or landside. YadiMolina, can you advise if you checked bags all the way through from South Africa to Panama City, and if so did the bags arrive at PTY without any issues? Sounds like Dr Welby has had at least one issue with bags not arriving in this direction.
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Old Sep 26, 18, 8:05 pm
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Originally Posted by yvr1971 View Post
YadiMolina, can you advise if you checked bags all the way through from South Africa to Panama City, and if so did the bags arrive at PTY without any issues?
I have never checked bags on that route, but a colleague in S. Africa said he has done it with no problems. However, I would give much consideration to marcuswelby's advice.

One other thing: T2 at GRU is still bad, but much better than it used to be. At least there are now full-service restaurants at the end that were open up to my 1:30 a.m. departure.
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