Airlines

Published on January 17th, 2018 | by Mark Chesnut

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AIRLINE REVIEW: Air Panama Fokker 50, Panama City to Bocas del Toro

During my most recent trip to Panama, my husband and I took a three-night side trip to one of our favorite places: Bocas del Toro, the archipelago near the Costa Rica border. It’s an ideal getaway from the bustling Panama City, providing elements of a Caribbean beach vacation with lots of water sports, nature, and small-scale hotels, restaurants and bars.

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Getting to Bocas del Toro is part of the fun — unless you take a long trip by land, you need to fly Air Panama (the only airline serving the route) from Panama City to Bocas del Toro. The flight provides a scenic introduction to the destination. Here’s a review of our Panama flight experience.

THE ROUTE: Panama City/Marcos A. Gelabert Albrook International Airport (PAC) to Bocas del Toro/Isla Colón International Airport (BOC); 55 minutes; Fokker 50; economy class.

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THE DEPARTURE: We took an Uber from our hotel (the Veneto Hotel & Casino — find out how Simon Cowell ruined our visit here). We arrived nearly two hours before departure time. Albrook Airport is small but clean and sufficient. There was no wait for check-in at the Air Panama ticket counter, and it was free to check one bag.

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The airport has a tiny food court as well as the usual rental car offices and a Panama tourism desk. Security processing was fast, after which we sat in the one boarding gate waiting area. You need to go outside and walk up a flight of stairs to board at this airport, so make arrangements if you have accessibility needs. Our flight departed 30 minutes late.

THE AIRCRAFT & IN-FLIGHT SERVICE: The Air Panama Fokker 50 felt a bit vintage but was clean and comfortable enough, with two seats on either side of the aisle. I was surprised to see not one but two flight attendants on board the small airliner. They even served us some free airline food — well, really, it was just a snack, but better than what you get on many smaller planes in the USA. We indulged in Bokitas de Queso  Blanco and non-alcholic beverages.

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The plane made one intermediate stop in Changuinola, a town that is actually further away from Panama City than Bocas del Toro. We spent more time on the ground in Changuinola than in the air on the second leg — it was an eight-minute flight, with lots of lovely scenery below, to get from Chaguinola to Bocas del Toro.

The Bocas del Toro airport is quite small, and the baggage claim consists of two doors in the wall, through which the baggage handlers throw luggage.

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About the Author

The founder and editor of LatinFlyer.com, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.



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