Published on November 16th, 2014 | by Mark Chesnut


AIRLINE REVIEW: Copa Airlines, Panama City to JFK (Boeing 737-800)

On my most recent trip to Panama City, Panama, I flew Copa Airlines, first from New York City/JFK to Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport (read my review of the NYC to Panama flight here) and then the same route on the return. This is a review of my travel experience on the way back.

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

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THE DEPARTURE: Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport is likely the largest and busiest airport in Central America, but it is for the most part an efficient facility, and a sizable hub for Copa Airlines. Unfortunately I forgot to take advantage of Copa’s web check-in and so I had to wait about 20 minutes at the ticket counter to check in (my recommendation: always do web check-in!). Since I had a few hours to kill, I decided to splurge and pay $50 for a day pass to the Copa Club, which has been recently expanded and has showers, free snacks and drinks. I found it to be well worth the price, since it also has eight work desks and lots of outlets, as well as free WiFi — as a result, my time in the airport was especially productive.

One aspect of the Panama travel experience at Tocumen International Airport is that, in addition to going through the usual security screening, a second level of security is enforced at the boarding gate, meaning that you have to put all carry-ons through yet another X-ray machine (this isn’t a situation specific to Copa Airlines; I’ve had the same experience with flights on other airlines from Panama).

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THE AIRCRAFT: The Copa Airlines Boeing 737-800 had one of the newer Sky Interiors, which provides soothing lighting options throughout the flight. The aircraft had two classes of services, and as usual I headed toward the back of the plane.

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AIRLINE SEATING: Economy class seating on this Copa Airlines flight featured seats with wings on the headrests (which I love) and each seat had a blanket sitting on it.

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INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: Each seat had its own seat-back video screen, complete with USB plugs and  an array of free inflight entertainment options.

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AIRLINE FOOD: A free hot meal was offered during the flight; entree choices were chicken ravioli or beef with rice. Both entrees were served with roll, cole slaw and Quaker oat cookies.

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THE ARRIVAL: We landed on time at JFK airport and deplaned at Terminal 4. Since I have joined the Global Entry program, my customs and immigrations process was swift, and before I knew it, I was on the AirTrain to head home.


WHERE I STAYED: I spent the first three nights of my visit to Panama City at the brand-new Hilton Panama. Read my review of the Hilton Panama hotel here!

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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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