BUSINESS INSIDER reports on RAVE reviews on air travel within PANAMA.

https://www.businessinsider.com/copa-airlines-panama-economy-review-2024-5?r=MX&IR=T#if-i-could-avoid-a-lengthy-layover-for-future-trips-to-and-from-panama-id-book-the-carrier-again-in-a-heartbeat-24

I flew economy on Copa, Panama’s flagship airline. My only regret was not booking it for a long-haul flight home.

The exterior of the Copa Airlines plane.
The exterior of the Copa Airlines plane. Monica Humphries/Business Insider
  • Copa Airlines is Panama’s flag carrier.
  • The airline offers flights across the country and to more than 30 destinations.
  • I took a domestic flight with Copa and regretted not booking it for my longer, round-trip flight home.

Once you arrive in Panama, the experiences are endless.

In Panama City, visitors can explore historic neighborhoods, try new cuisines, tour the impressive Panama Canal, and dance nights away on rooftop bars.

Outside the country’s capital, tourists can head to destinations like Boquete for coffee farm tours and lush rainforest hikes.

It’s a country sandwiched by oceans, so pristine beaches and ritzy resorts dot the coastline.

When it came to booking my nine-day trip in April, squeezing in as many experiences as possible was key. And to cover the most ground, I decided to hop on a flight from Panama City to David.

This also meant traveling on an airline I’d never experienced before. Copa Airlines, a member of the Star Alliance, offers both domestic and international flights with headquarters in Panama. Founded in 1947, the airline now services more than 30 destinations.

About a month before heading to Panama, I booked my round-trip Copa Airlines flight between Panama City and David.

A Copa Airlines plane from the author's plane window.
A Copa Airlines plane from the author’s plane window. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

The Enrique Malek International Airport in David offered easy access to rainforests in Boquete and beaches on the Pacific Coast.

The Enrique Malek International Airport in Panama.
The Enrique Malek International Airport in Panama. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

The airline flies between the destinations every morning and afternoon, with flights leaving Panama City at 7:52 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.

A screenshot of the flight options between Panama City and David, Panama.
A screenshot of the flight options between Panama City and David, Panama. Google Flights

I chose the morning flight. Copa has only two cabins: economy and business. However, travelers can book different fare types, which include perks like checked bags, refunds, and seat selection.

A view of the airline's different cabins and fare types.
A view of the airline’s different cabins and fare types. Copa Airlines

I picked the cheapest ticket, basic economy, which cost $167 for the round-trip. I headed to the airport early on my third day in Panama.

The exterior of Panama City's Tocumen International Airport.
The exterior of Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport. RODRIGO ARANGUA/Getty Images

Since I didn’t have a bag to check, I breezed through security.

Tocumen International Airport in Panama City
The Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. STR/AFP via Getty Images

My basic economy ticket included a standard carry-on bag, and a checked suitcase would have cost $40. However, other ticket tiers include at least one free checked bag.

Copa Airlines baggage sizers.
Copa Airlines baggage sizers. FEDERICO PARRA/AFP via Getty Images

I arrived at my gate about an hour before boarding. The flight was on time, and like most airlines, Copa uses boarding group numbers to welcome passengers on board.

A screenshot of the author's boarding pass.
A screenshot of the author’s boarding pass. Copa Airlines.

After hearing my group number, I hopped on a bus that brought passengers to the aircraft’s ramp.

The author's view of the aircraft from the bus.
The author’s view of the aircraft from the bus. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

The airline has a few aircraft in its fleet, but I was on a Boeing 737-800 for my domestic flights.

The author was riding a Boeing 737 with Copa Airlines.
The author was riding a Boeing 737 with Copa Airlines. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

After walking the ramp, I boarded the plane.

Passengers walk along the ramp and onto the Boeing 737.
Passengers walk along the ramp and onto the Boeing 737. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

I walked past the business-class seats and into the economy cabin.

Passengers in Copa's business-class cabin.
Passengers in Copa’s business-class cabin. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

Then, I snuggled into my window seat.

Copa Airlines economy seats.
Copa Airlines economy seats. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

The seats were an upgrade from the budget airlines I typically fly. They were slightly cushioned with a flexible headrest.

The economy seats on Copa Airlines.
The economy seats on Copa Airlines. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

But there weren’t many amenities beyond that. I didn’t spot an outlet or USB plug, the seats only slightly reclined, and the legroom felt standard.

The author's legroom on the Copa Airlines flight.
The author’s legroom on the Copa Airlines flight. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

The seats also didn’t have individual screens. Before takeoff, small TVs came down and played a safety video.

A screen drops down with the safety video.
A screen drops down with the safety video. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

Flight attendants came by about halfway through the ride with complimentary snacks and beverages.

Flight attendants served snacks and drinks during the flight.
Flight attendants served snacks and drinks during the flight. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

Tortilla chips were the only free snack offered to economy passengers. For drinks, I picked from the typical slew of juices, sodas, teas, and coffee.

Passengers in economy received tortilla chips and a drink.
Passengers in economy received tortilla chips and a drink. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

And in just over an hour, the flight was landing in David.

A view from the author's plane window.
A view from the author’s plane window. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

The experience was seamless, and as I spoke to Panamanians, they all raved about their beloved airline.

The Copa plane.
The Copa plane parked at the airport in David, Panama. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

I later learned that the airline has continuously won awards for being the best airline in Central America and the Caribbean, and it’s also known for its punctuality.

Part of the Boeing airplane.
Part of the Boeing airplane. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

Source: Copa Airlines

But the biggest reason I’d book Copa Airlines again is for its nonstop route between Panama City and my home city of Denver.

Passengers board their Copa Airlines flight.
Passengers board their Copa Airlines flight. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

My flight home could’ve been just 6.5 hours, instead of the 9.5-hour journey I booked.

The exterior of the Copa Airlines plane.
The exterior of the Copa Airlines plane. Monica Humphries/Business Insider

If I could avoid a lengthy layover for future trips to and from Panama, I’d book the carrier again in a heartbeat.

The author outside of the Copa Airlines plane.
The author outside of the Copa Airlines plane. Monica Humphries/Business Insider
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