Published on November 30th, 2012 | by Mark Chesnut
Airline Review: Copa Airlines Boeing 737-800 (Economy Class)
Pondering an economy-class flight in Latin America? Here’s what you might get when you fly on a Copa Airlines Boeing 737-800 (at least this is what I experienced on a recent trip).
THE ROUTE: Panama City Tocumen International Airport to New York/Kennedy (4 hours, 55 minutes)
THE AIRPORT: Since I was able to use the Copa Airlines Web check-in feature, I already had my boarding pass when I arrived at Tocumen airport. There was no line whatsoever for the bag check at the Copa Airlines ticket counter, and a minimal line for security. Upon arrival at gate 32, all passengers had to go through a second security check, which required us to take off our jackets, shoes and hats, and place all carry-ons in an X-ray machine, as as security agent frisked each passenger by hand.
I was happy to find that Tocumen now offers two hours’ worth of free WiFi connection (they ask for first and last name, e-mail address and nationality), although it was rather slow. Copa’s economy-class boarding procedure is by row number, rather than zone or group, beginning with the back of the aircraft.
THE AIRCRAFT: The airline seating aboard the Boeing 737-800 featured headrests with wings (a plus in my book), and a blanket and pillow was waiting in each of the airline seats. Free headphones were distributed before takeoff, for use with the in-flight entertainment, which ran on overhead screens (in this case, the latest entry from the “Ice Age” movie franchise, followed by short-subject programming and sitcoms). Since the aircraft featured the new Boeing Sky Interior, blue mood lighting was turned on following the safety video.
THE SERVICE: The free hot airline meals included a choice of chicken with rice or beef with potatoes and carrots, accompanied by a small salad, roll and pre-packaged Emperador-brand sandwich cookies for dessert (I chose the beef, which was not bad, and served in a rich sauce). The service included real, non-plastic utensils, which made me feel as fancy as all get out. About one hour before landing, flight attendants walked through the cabin with cups of water and orange juice.