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Published on October 21st, 2014 | by Mark Chesnut


AIRLINE REVIEW: Copa Airlines Boeing 737, JFK to Panama City

During my most recent trip to Panama, I flew Copa Airlines nonstop from New York City to Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. Copa is based in Panama City, and has more flights to this Central American capital than any other airline; in addition, the carrier offers extensive connections throughout the Americas via its hub airport, which it has dubbed the Hub of the Americas (take a look at the route map and you’ll see that Panama City is one of the most centrally located airports in the hemisphere). This airline review summarizes the services on board and on the ground, and my overall flight experience.

THE ROUTE: New York City/John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Panama City/Tocumen International Airport (PTY); Boeing 737-800; 4 hours, 40 minutes; economy class.

DON’T MISS: 2014 LF Awards: 10 Best Hotels in Panama City, Panama

THE DEPARTURE: Copa Airlines operates out of Terminal 4 at New York’s JFK airport, and I took the efficient AirTrain service to get there from the New York City Subway system. Check-in was rather efficient, and I was able to use the shorter “Web Check-in” line, since I’d checked in online.

THE AIRCRAFT: The Copa Airlines Boeing 737-800 had two classes of service. I sat in economy. Seating is relatively spacious for economy, and the aircraft was well-maintained and clean.

DON’T MISS: Panama Travel Tips: The Best Shopping, Restaurants & Hotels in Panama City’s Casco Antiguo

AIRLINE SEATING: Copa Airlines economy class seating on this flight was equipped with pillows on all seats, and blankets on some. All seats had “wings” on the headrests, which I love.

INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: Video screens were overhead, and earphones were distributed for free before takeoff. A movie and some promotional destination videos were shown.

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AIRLINE FOOD: Unlike an increasing number of flights operated by U.S. airlines in Latin America, Copa Airlines tends to offer a fairly extensive array of inflight airline meals and refreshments (Copa Airlines even served hot food on recent short flights I took between Cancun and Panama City, and Panama City and Costa Rica). Snack and drink service took place soon after takeoff, consisting of small bags of Snyder’s pretzels and free soft drinks and free alcoholic beverages. Less than two hours later, flight attendants served a free hot lunch, which consisted of a choice of either chicken breast with rice and vegetables or beef ravioli — both of which were served with a dinner roll, salad and dessert, as well as additional beverage service.

THE ARRIVAL: Tocumen International Airport in Panama City continues with its expansion and upgrade, and I made good use of the moving walkways. The wait at immigration was a bit long (possibly because they are upgrading that area), but customs was quick and the private transfer I’d organized with the Hilton Panama hotel was waiting just outside.


WHERE I STAYED: I spent the first three nights of my visit at the brand-new Hilton Panama. Stay tuned to for my complete hotel review!

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About the Author

The founder and editor of, 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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