Connecting the Americas is this airline’s focus, and no one does it better with such reach and depth than Copa Airlines. It competes directly with major carriers in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Peru, but holds its own thanks to its unique geographic niche smack in the middle of the two continents. Copa maintains a vibrant and robust network with close to 80 cities across the two continents. The airline often offers the fastest way between two points in the Americas and between many city pairs, it operates multiple frequencies.
airline’s hub at Panama City - in the heart of Central America - gives it an advantage that few other carriers have since it can reach its entire network using narrowbody planes. While consumers may find this less comfortable than the big airlines, it has paid dividends to Copa over the years. Its fleet of Boeing 737s stretch to the far northern and southern corners of both continents and to secondary and tertiary cities to create a network that is unbeatable.
Copa has its own loyalty program known as ConnectMiles allowing its members to earn and redeem miles on its flights and those of the carrier’s partners. Its membership to Star Alliance gives it nearly two dozen airline partners with whom passengers can earn and redeem miles for their flights including Air Canada, Air India, All Nippon Airways, Austrian, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, SAS, Swiss International, Thai and United. There is also the opportunity to codeshare with these airlines - travellers can fly multiple Star Alliance airlines on the same ticket. Star Alliance Gold members from other partner airlines can enjoy special benefits when flying Copa, even if in economy class.
Historically, Copa had a special relationship with Continental Airlines, which later merged with United. That is why the aircraft livery and many of the inflight services from the lounge to the seats are similar to what Continental used to offer.
Panama City operates one main hub in Panama, the “hub of the Americas” as Copa likes to call it, and while the airport has been growing to accommodate the airline’s expansion, it is not particularly entertaining. The shops are adequate, and the solo Copa lounge is disappointing. It is more like a U.S. lounge with basic packaged snacks. There is little hot food besides bread in the toaster, but the open bar helps to make up for it.
For those starting their trip in Panama City, priority lanes for check-in and security are available. Passengers can head directly for the lounge. Those connecting will not have far to walk, and there is no need to re-clear security unless their final destination is the United States where a secondary check is necessary.
When it comes time to board, Copa does a good job separating the priority lanes from main cabin boarding expediting the process for Business Class passengers. A fast transit is what most people want, and with a majority of Copa connections being well-timed, that is easy to do.
Copa Airline’s fleet consists exclusively of Boeing 737-800 and 737 MAX 9 aircraft, all in a 2-2 narrowbody configuration, but with very different seats - so be sure to check the seat map for your flight.
The newer Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft provide by far the most comfortable journey for Business Class passengers. The seats, which Copa has branded as “Dreams” come with power outlets, a 16″ touch screen in-flight entertainment monitor, and recline into a fully-flat bed. Some aircraft offer 16 seats and some 12. The same B/E Diamond seats can be found on American, Delta, United as well as many other airlines.
Copa operates some long sectors, and the new seats certainly help ease the long journey. In fact, Copa operates the longest sectors on a Boeing 737 with its flights from Panama City to deep South America including cities like Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Santiago.
The Boeing 737-800 aircraft offer recliner seats that are similar to domestic U.S. first class seats with decent recline and ample legroom. The leather chairs also have adjustable headrests, but for flights more than a few hours, they are not the best. The only seat storage space is the traditional seatback pocket in front of you. Power and USB outlets are available. The tray table folds out of the armrest with ease, and a modest leg rest extends from below the seat cushion, but it is hardly a substitute for a flat bed.
Seat assignments are free of charge when making a reservation.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes images, videos and seat maps for most airlines and aircraft Search results also include details such as seat pitch, width and recline. This way you can see the seat and cabin configuration of the flight in which you are interested, before making your choice.
After takeoff, flight attendants visit each passenger to offer them a beverage of choice served with a ramekin of mixed nuts and a printed menu that details the onboard service. This soon follows with a tray with the appetiser, salad and bread. Table cloths are not used on Copa, but the trays are lined with cloth to make them appear nicer. The trays can still easily slide around on the tray table.
The main dish is typically a choice between two items and sometimes there is no vegetarian choice. It is typically beef or chicken and seafood. Dessert is hand-delivered after the meal tray is removed and is either a sweet cake or a made-to-order ice cream sundae.
Depending on the length of the flight and time of day, a second meal is served before landing.
Special meals are available for pre-order, which can be done online or via phone including vegetarian, low-calorie or children’s meals among others. If you want a vegetarian option, this is an important step to take before a flight.
There is no dine on demand service, and on some flights, the meal is not served right after takeoff. The airline oddly times its meals to the dining schedule of the destination meaning some meals can be served several hours after takeoff, which is not the best setup for passengers that may want to sleep on their body clock. Those with short connections may be hungry, and the Copa lounge is not an ideal place to satiate your appetite.
The best plan is to ask the crew when they plan to serve each meal so you can schedule your work or rest accordingly.
For example, a mid-afternoon flight from Panama to Argentina may include a light snack after takeoff and a full, hot meal two to three hours before landing - often disturbing passengers while they have fallen asleep.
The airline typically does not offer pre-departure beverages, which is a letdown, especially on longer flights. Once in the air, the first drink quickly arrives with a ramekin of mixed nuts. The printed menu outlines what is available from the bar.
This usually includes one white wine, one sparkling wine and one red wine served in small glasses. With such compact galleys, the stock the airline can carry is limited. Chandon Delice is the sparkling wine usually on offer in addition to several international beers and a list of spirits and liqueurs including Hennessey Cognac or Tanqueray Special Dry gin. Juices, soft drinks, coffee and tea complete the service.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on which Champagne is served in Business Class and First Class on many airlines. We do our best to keep track of any changes, but feel free to let us know if there is something we missed.
Service is friendly, but can vary between conversational to indifferent. Do not expect regular passes through the cabin to check on passengers or offer refills so if you want something push the call button.
Passengers lucky to fly on the Boeing 737 MAX 9 have access to inflight entertainment on a 16″ touch screen monitor. Noise-cancelling headphones are provided and work well. The system is responsive and easy to use, with movies, TV shows, music, games, moving maps, connecting gate information, and even the Copa magazine. Sadly, the selection is very limited.
Tucked into the armrest on some Boeing 737-800 planes are fold-out television screens with touch-screen capability for a similarly limited selection of movies, sitcoms, documentaries and music. The screens are not very responsive, but on some planes, remote controls make them easier to manoeuvre. On other aircraft, passengers are left to having to watch the pre-chosen option on overhead monitors. That is hardly what travellers want on flights of five or six hours, and it is not possible to tell what style of entertainment is on offer before boarding the plane.
A moving map display is available, but inflight wireless internet is disappointingly not on any Copa aircraft. There is a wi-fi network called Copa Showpass, but it only exists to offer streaming videos and music, no internet connectivity. The airline’s Panorama inflight magazine offers ample diversion though.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on WiFi and inflight entertainment.
Copa offers basic amenity kits, which include simple toiletries, socks and eye shades. On flights offering the "Dreams" Business Class experience, Copa provides a plush pillow and blanket with "Dreams" branding. On other aircraft, simple pillows and thin blankets await at each seat.
The lavatories have no bonus amenities, and there is no snack basket available between flights. Bassinets for infants are not available on Copa flights.
Families travelling with infants can request a bassinet on long-haul flights to use at certain seats.
On short flights, a one-tray meal service is based on the time of day with an open bar and pre-plated dessert. These flights typically do not include a printed menu. Short flights are generally operated by Boeing 737-800 aircraft with recliner-style seats, and for these flights, they are quite comfortable.
Since 2018, the airline has reduced its energy consumption by 43%, and Copa is constantly working to improve that number. Recycling programs on board and in the lounge and fuel reduction programs are ongoing efforts for the airline. The installation of winglets helps it to reduce fuel by at least 5%, and constant washing of its planes helps to reduce drag. Onboard weight reduction of supplies and equipment plus single-engine taxing are additional ways the airline reduces its carbon footprint.
Copa Airlines is committed to the well-being of every Panamanian community, and the airline is involved in numerous local initiatives. For more than twenty years, Copa Airlines has also been supporting cancer awareness and prevention initiatives, inlcuding operaring “Pink Flights” for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and holding awareness-raising events for employees.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on CO2 emissions for each flight. Our quality algorithms also give a higher score to flights operated by the most modern and environmentally friendly aircraft.
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