Though I had flown separate from my husband and daughter down to Paraguay, we all flew back together on the way back to the U.S. Having experienced both above expectations and at expectations service on the way down on UA and GOL, I was excited and interested to try a new airline: Copa. I've read mixed to negative reviews both on this website and other travel blogs, so I went into the flights with a very open mind. I had read quite a bit about recent cabin renovations and a new Business Class product which includes personal IFE's and new seats with foot rests.
With a departure time of 0109 (EEEEEEKKKK), we made our way out to the Airport around 2230 after a wonderful family dinner.
Upon entering the airport you get bombarded by young men wanting to wrap your luggage in plastic wrap. Its a very South American security thing–and you see them all over MIA as well. My in-laws always do it…we just lock our luggage and have never had any problems. Here are the kiosks where they do the wrapping…
Though ASU is not necessarily a busy airport for passenger traffic…it is an extremely busy airport in terms of the Paraguayan tradition of bringing your entire extended family to the airport to see you off… In fact, we had a party of 5 to see my little family of 3 off! As you'll notice from the pictures below, there are a LOT of people in the airport and the overwhelming majority of them are not traveling but do an awesome job of blocking access to lines, standing in lines they don't need to be in, and just generally being in the way.
Got in to the Premier Access line…along with scads of people who didn't belong there…
A few overnight departures…
After a dreadfully slow check-in process, we ended up only having about 40 minutes until boarding time. Our cohort of 8 then shoved our way over to the line for security and passport control. As you can see, the line looks really bad…but its actually just people standing around blocking the entrance…
After shoving our way past all the people standing around, we then waited in the line to get through security. There were only two screening stations–one for crew and one for passengers. The process went painfully slow; luckily, after about twenty minutes of waiting, we were pulled out of the line and put through the crew line…probably because we were traveling with a child…even though other groups with children were not given the same luxury.
Passport control went pretty quick and we made our way to the departing gate
We made it just as they started priority boarding…
…and my daughter was really excited to get settled in for the night.
Upon boarding, we were greeted by the FA who gave us a warm welcome…and we settled into our seats…into our non-updated cabin, non-updated seats….
These are the most upright J seats I've ever been in…and they have definitely been sat in a lot as they were very hard.
The pillow (oversized cotton ball) and blanket were waiting for us…
Though it was late (or early–however you see 0100), I was really looking forward to my pre-departure drink. Our FA came around to distribute menus and I waited for him to finish describing our menu choices. He then promptly took the menus back from us and moved on to the next row…and I was wondering, Hey, how about something to drink!?
Apparently its well known on Copa that they don't offer anything extra–you ask. After I asked for a vodka rocks, about four other passengers asked for wine as well!
Before takeoff, I visited the lav which had steaming hot, old coffee water in the sink…at least I'm assuming it was old coffee water…and hoping it was old coffee water.
There were no special amenities in this premium cabin lav…in fact, there was already urine on the floor and toilet paper everywhere. I got out of there quick.
One upside to this disaster is that our FA did not collect our pre-flight drinks for take off. It was nice to finish my rather liberally poured drink during takeoff!
Most of the cabin went right to sleep but I was anxious to try out the snacks and to see what the IFE from the overhead monitors would bring us. Another FA fought with the IFE touchscreen controls for about 15 minutes before just leaving it like this…
So, no IFE–which was fine as I intended to sleep after the snack anyways.
Our FA came around to give the snack to anyone still awake and offered refills on drinks…
OK. Where do I even start. Looks like a 8 year old is in charge of catering and they thought everyone would really enjoy an Oscar Meyer Lunchable for an inflight snack (Take a look at this website if you're unfamiliar with Lunchables: http://www.walmart.com/c/ep/lunchables)
If you think the yellow cheese looks like Kraft American Singles (the really bad american processed cheese-style food product that comes in slices that are wrapped in plastic), you would be correct. They literally took a piece of processed cheese that was a square, cut it into triangles, and stacked the slices. The white style cheese was another heavily processed cheese food–think an exotic white Velveeta variety. Both of these cheeses would have paired very nicely with some Kool-Aid.
The salami was ok–nothing to report there. The pinkish circle under the salami was a turkey-like meat…still not quite sure what it was exactly… The bruised grapes, 1.5 walnuts and olives just took up valuable real estate on the plate. And the bread…think American style Wonder Bread but brown. The kind that kids make into balls and throw at each other.
After this embarrassment of a snack, I asked for a bottle of water for the night. The FA went right to the galley and brought back an entire case of 12 bottles of water wrapped in plastic, used a knife to break the plastic wrap in the middle of the aisle and then gave me two bottles of room temperature water. Refrescante!
At this point in the flight, my sense of humour and sarcasm has kicked in high just so I could laugh at the entire travel experience.
I wedged the oversized cottonball behind my head, reclined as much as I could and attempted to get some sleep in this domestic first recliner inspired seat…
…at which time my seatmate thought it would be a great idea to cuddle. I fought off her head on my shoulder…I almost fought her off my lap. It was literally like she owned the entire row.
I ended up getting a few minutes of sleep before the cabin lights were turned back on. I woke up rather quickly in anticipation of the hot mess of a breakfast I was about to receive.
The fruit was actually good–I love Papaya and its a treat anytime I get it. There were even some seeds (which I like eating) at the bottom of the cup. The Yogurt was a typical South American style, which is more liquidy than North American or European varieties–its drinkable. Not bad other than it was very heavily sweetened. The purple pancakes kind of threw me for a loop…because I had ordered the cheese and bacon wraps. But after being presented with purple pancakes I thought to myself, Now, I realllllly gotta try this… The purple pancakes also continued the 8 Year Old Catering Theme that inspired the Lunchable snack. They turned out to be blueberry, were only a bit thicker than a crepe and the taste was ok. Finally, the bread–nothing really to report here.
After breakfast I remembered that we had never received an amenity kit…so, in Copa fashion I askedfor one!
I actually like the museum themed bag and it was full of lime-flavored and lime-scented amenities.
After an uneventful landing, we had a short taxi to our gate. My daughter had slept on the flight but my husband and I were both exhausted. We were looking forward to going to the Copa Club for some real breakfast and some rest!
Asunción - ASU
Panamá City - PTY
ASU airport has doubled their capacity over the last couple of years and they have made dramatic improvements to their services and activities. Paraguayans are very loving and friendly people. Because of this, be sure to arrive early to the airport simply to get around the throngs of people that are there to see friends and family off. Security and immigration functions in their own world, working at their own pace. There are no priority access security lines but they will pick out individuals for special treatment.
Copa Airlines seems to be trying to be a big player but it still behaves like TACA. They have a perfectly situated hub in Central America and PTY isn't bad at all. The cabins that have not been updated are in desperate need of updating. The Business Class product we experienced was a Premium Economy product at best when compared to other airlines. There needs to be significant investment in T&D for FA's along with a reevaluation of catering.
The next time we make this trip I will make a point of not flying Copa.
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