As my time in Guatemala City drew to an end, I returned to GUA Airport and checked in for my 737-800 flight to Panama City, my first-ever flight on Copa Airlines.
Copa Airlines 737-800 Economy Class Review
I booked my one-way ticket from Guatemala City – Panama City – Los Angeles for $327, which I thought was ridiculously expensive considering nonstop flights were half the price, but allowed me to use my United Airlines Plus Points to upgrade the PTY-LAX flight.
The check-in process was a bit chaotic. In our COVID-19 world, there are forms, forms, and more forms. Panama has a form that I was not aware of it. I had to fill it out, even though I was just transiting. There was a COVID-19 attestation form for the USA, even though the USA does not require such forms. There was exit paperwork to fill out to leave Guatemala.
All I can say is that I am glad I left plenty of time because it took over 20 minutes to check-in once I had reached the front of the line.
And then the agents wanted to take a picture of each document…on their phone. I didn’t object (better them than the unidentified U.S. officials in San Salvador) but I found the whole process so inefficient.
Finally, though I had both boarding passes in hadn and was on my way through security and to the gate.
With no lounges open, I lined up early to board. Boarding commenced 45 minutes prior to takeoff.
Copa Airlines (CM) 384
Guatemala City (GUA) – Panama City (PTY)
Wednesday, August 11
Duration: 2hr, 26min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat: 20A (Economy Class)
Onboard, it felt like…Continental Airlines. That’s hardly a surprise since Continental owned a portion of Copa until 2008. The purple checkered seats and cabin interiors felt like stepping onto an ex-Continental aircraft.
Seats are arranged in a 3-3 layout and feature 31 inches of legroom, 17 inch width, and a recline of four inches. No blankets or pillows were available.
Rows 5-8 are classified as “Economy Extra” and offer three extra inches of legroom.
IFE + Wi-Fi
Seatback IFE screens offered a selection of movies, TV programs, music, and games. The selection was very limited (about 30 titles) and had an eclectic collection of films from the last decade. Connecting gate information was also offered.
Disposable headphones were provided on a complimentary basis.
Wi-Fi internet was not offered.
Note that while the seats had no power plugs, there was a USB charger located on the IFE screen.
Food + Drink
Copa only serves meals on flights over three hours. In economy class a “meal” consists of a sandwich. As this flight was under three hours, a snack was offered instead (and the same thing to business class, by the way).
Four flight attendants appeared in the front of the cabin with two carts. One cart had complimentary snacks, the other had beverages.
I chose still water and was offered one sweet and one savory snack; potato chips and an Italian cookie with walnuts and chocolate.
For economy class on a two-hour flight, this is an appropriate snack. For business class on a flight of almost three hours, that’s another story…
The flight attendants were professional. While not friendly, they were efficient. I was addressed in Spanish and since I was just ordering a drink, did not have to switch to English.
I used the lavatory prior to landing and it was clean and well-stocked with soap and paper towels.
Approach Over Panama City
I found our approach to Panama City quite beautiful and was happy I had chosen a window seat on the “A” side.
After landing, we taxied for a bit before pulling up to our gate. My connection to Los Angles was only a few gates away and transit is very easy in PTY.
There’s really nothing special about Copa economy class, and that’s okay. The seat was comfortable, free snacks and drinks were provided, IFE was available with free headsets, and the service was fine. I arrived on-time with excitement over my 737MAX flight in business class to Los Angeles.
Yes, Copa is militant with paperwork requirement, even before the pandemic.
Was the Priority Pass closed in GUA? Its named Los Añejos.
Left side view in the descent to Panamá is nice, even better near sunset.
Los Añejos is open. I used it this week. Not sure if they accept Priority Pass, though.
The attestation form was required earlier this year, May 2021. For my travels in August of this year, no attestation form was required, although this requirement may have been skipped for me because I had finally downloaded VeriFly.
Link to CDC Attestation Form: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/pdf/attachment-a-global-passenger-disclosure-attestation-2021-p.pdf
“my first-ever flight on Copa Airlines”
Don’t you mean your first ever flight in Economy class on Copa?
No, this flight was before my other ones.
This article is a bit detached from the actual experience of flying Copa. Until recently Copa always that airline that looked really good on paper but the actual experience was very different. Now with no more free checked bags, no free seat assignments, and complimentary alcohol still missing, all the perks are gone. Technically on paper you can pay for a higher fare class that includes seat assignments and baggage.. but that’s quite deceiving as the price will be much higher than just paying for them separately. Even when Copa had those perks though, you always had to question if it was worth it. First of all, you need to get to the airport very early even if you’re not checking a bag.. the Copa check-in line is always the longest line at whatever airport you’re in by far. Don’t expect to be able to check in online, that’s rarely an option with Copa. Don’t expect to submit your covid test results online ahead of time, also not an option. If your flight is running late, don’t expect good communication about it. Then whenever you ever need to call customer service isn’t that a fun experience? All calls from anywhere in the world are rooted to Panama and the call quality is so poor it’s extremely difficult to hear the representative. You’ll also get numerous busy signals regardless of when or where you call from before you can even get into the queue to wait to talk to someone. Then recently Copa has come under fire for complete lack of mask enforcement as well. Perhaps the biggest drawback of all is that all Copa flights connect at PTY. An extremely congested airport with tiny hallways, tiny bathrooms, and the world’s most expensive Wi-Fi. If you need more than 30 minutes of wi-fi, you’ll pay more than a Panamanian makes in an entire day just to use the Wi-Fi for a couple hours. To say Copa is nothing special is far too generous.. To me the question has always been “How much cheaper does Copa need to be for me to justify choosing it ?”
thank u for sharing