Review of Copa Airlines flight Panamá City Washington in Business

Airline Copa Airlines
Flight CM304
Class Business
Seat 3B
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 04:55
Take-off 02 Aug 15, 09:16
Arrival at 02 Aug 15, 15:11
CM 65 reviews
By 2854
Published on 7th August 2015
Welcome to the report of the fifth leg of my journey from Richmond, Virginia USA (RIC) to Asunción, Paraguay (ASU) and back!

Leg 1: RIC-ORD with United Express 3346 (ERJ-145)
Leg 2: ORD-GRU with United 845 (777-200)
Leg 3: GRU-ASU with GOL (737-800)
Leg 4: ASU-PTY with Copa (737-800)
Leg 5: PTY-IAD with Copa (737-800) THIS REPORT
Leg 6: IAD-RIC with United Express 3588 (Q300)

Thanks for tuning in to this leg of my family's journey from ASU to RIC! If you've been keeping up with my previous posts, you'll know that I already have an overly sarcastic and humorous view of Copa because, frankly, it has been the worst on-board experience (tied with TACA) I've ever experienced.

After our exhausted arrival in PTY, we decided that we needed some real breakfast and a place to maybe even take a quick nap while the kid entertained herself. So, we started to sleepwalk over to the Copa Club.

Apparently there are no choices in coffee at PTY…no cream…no sugar…

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If you've ever flown through PTY you know how aggravating it is that all their departure monitors scroll…they don't have a bank of monitors so you can see everything at one time…got a pain in my neck from looking up and waiting for the end of the list to come up.

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Main hall with abundant shopping. Didn't do any browsing but another brother in law did pick up a nice camera on his last trip through.

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Found our way to the club and were swiftly admitted…

Disclaimer: I was beyond zombie like during this layover and did not get the amount of pictures I should have for a proper flight report. My most humble apologies; I hope I can craft my words to describe the scene in the club as best as possible.

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After taking a look around, the place looked ok. Nothing distinctive at all. Right by the check in desk there was coffee and water available along with Froot Loops and some other standard flake like breakfast cereal.

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The bar area was open and was attended to–but we really were just looking for something warm to eat and a place to get some rest. Upon doing two laps around the club, I then realized that the only food they had was the breakfast cereal and toast that we had seen when we arrived.

REALLY?! My husband and I laughed this horrible level of service off and had a cup of the crappy coffee and ice water. Keeping it classy.

When we realized that this club experience would, indeed, NOT be a club experience, we piled ourselves into the Family Room, put on Disney's Doctora Juguetes (on repeat) for the kid and put up our feet for a nap.

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At least the kid was satisfied…

I wasn't able to sleep so I thought that in lieu of rest I would refresh by taking a shower. I wandered my way to the main desk to ask and was abruptly told that the showers were not in service.

Methinks they just didn't want to clean them.

So, after two hours in the livestock corral…uhh I mean lounge we went down to our departing gate, walked our way through secondary security and waited for our on-time boarding.

After our previous flight from ASU, I had little to no expectations about this flight. In fact, I was a little excited to see how much a mess this flight would be! Upon boarding, our FA shook all of our hands and welcomed us rather warmly. A great sign!

I was really excited because the seat next to mine was unoccupied…or was it…because that is clearly a butt imprint.

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After sitting in my own seat I then realized that the seats were so well-sat in and hard that the butt imprint on the other seat was pretty much permanent.

Despite the broken down, old generation seats, at least we have ample leg room…

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…and this time I knew the Copa way to get a pre-flight drink: JUST ASK.

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A look towards the front…

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My husband and daughter are settled in…

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Our FA distributed the menus and explained in great detail everything that was going to be available on today's flight. Hmm–maybe this service will be better!

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After placing my order, the menus were promptly collected and we were in the air in a few minutes. Once again–my pre-departure drink turned into a taxi and takeoff drink (I do like this policy…)

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About 35 minutes after takeoff, warm mixed nuts and another cocktail were distributed…at the same time the seat's uncomfortableness really kicked in. At least the liberal pours of alcohol dulled some of the pain.

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The appetizer of smoked salmon, warm bread and the salad came right out. There was more dressing than salad–it was really only three leaves of lettuce. The cucumbers on the salmon were seasoned with dill and was okay. I barely touched the salmon–had the consistency of chewing gum and was not fresh.

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90% of the time I will order the fish dish on board so I was anxious to try this concoction with a chimichurri sauce.

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Whereas on the previous flight an 8 year old was in charge of the catering and service, on this flight a university student was in charge:

1) The drinks were made very strong.
2) The seats were from IKEA…or a second hand store.
3) The food was in the form of a frozen microwaveable meal.

What this fish jerky dish lacked in moisture it made up in salt. The sauce was basically a salty glue that held the fish product together. The rice was fine–but how the heck do you screw up rice? Oh yeah, by putting canned mushrooms right beside it. Sigh–at least I can still look forward to some ice cream for dessert.

Copa apparently freezes their ice cream and the ice cream dishes using liquid nitrogen. This was the hardest ice cream I've ever had on a flight…and I realize and acknowledge that the ice cream and dishes are usually pre-served on the ground and that the entire tray is frozen on board…but this was like a small vanilla stone.

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To prove to you how hard this ice cream is, when trying to scoop out the ice cream, the ice cream dish broke…

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After the entire cabin had been served dessert–and most of us had finished it–our FA then came with the dessert trolley with ice cream toppings and aperitifs. Great timing!

At this point I gave up and finally fell asleep.

Perhaps my views of our experiences on Copa had been skewed from our lack of sleep, but I was really shocked at the low standards.


We arrived to IAD on time and navigated through immigration in about 20 mins. We waited 35 minutes for the first bags from our flight to arrive to the claim area. Even though we had priority tags, all of the business class bags were the LAST to arrive.

After waiting in line for customs for another 15 minutes, I was happy that we made it through with about 45 minutes until our connecting flight to RIC…tight but manageable.

There was no agent from United on the other side of customs to take our checked-through luggage…tags were good to go to RIC and we had boarding passes for our last leg already. We were told we had to take our luggage to the United counter in the main check-in hall…which is always a mess. After running all the way up there, the contracted agent at the United counter would not accept our bags and demanded we had to check in again…even though we had valid boarding passes with seat assignments. He asked us why we hadn't given our bags to the United rep in international arrivals…and we had to explain the entire story of there was no United rep there and another contractor told us we had to come up here. After some very strong words from me, he finally took our luggage and put it on the conveyor belt. Magically, it did show up at our final destination with our flight.

In order to get through security to make our connection we had to tell an agent that our daughter was about to pee her pants. We made it to our gate, breathless, to discover that our connection to RIC was late (this is a United connection after all…) Just then, I got a text message alerting me of our now late departure.
See more


Copa Airlines

Cabin crew5.0

Copa Club


Panamá City - PTY


Washington - IAD



Copa should play Ellie Goulding's Love me like you do from Fifty Shades of Grey on repeat as part of their IFE...the entire time I was thinking that I should be experiencing pleasure from all the roughness in both their hard and soft products.

Do not fly Copa. And, if possible, never have a connection at IAD. If you ever have to do either of these, just keep humming Love me like you do to remind yourself that no matter how bad a travel experience hurts, it actually brings you great pleasure.



  • Comment 143879 by
    SKYTEAMCHC GOLD 8571 Comments

    Tanks for your reports ! Before redingote thème I Gad a pretty positive opinion about Copa but that was before !

    • Comment 322947 by
      lsmick3 AUTHOR 35 Comments

      Yes, our experiences with Copa were very disappointing. After reading some other reports about Copa on this site, our findings are in alignment with everyone else. But, travel is our passion so even a bad experience is really a wonderful experience as we have the memories.

  • Comment 143967 by
    airtraveladdict 119 Comments

    Oh god. Now I know to avoid them. That is terrible! How can they call this business class? I've seeing better meals in economy class on the Asian airlines.
    Don't these airlines invest in quality product and service? I suppose they don't care.
    Copa is miles behind its Star Alliance partners thats for sure.

    • Comment 322986 by
      lsmick3 AUTHOR 35 Comments

      Yes, its always fun to try new airlines as its always possible to find a hidden treasure. Though we had a bad experience, I'm still glad we tried Copa out. We already are laughing about the trip and have some insider jokes!

    • Comment 323002 by
      airtraveladdict 119 Comments

      AT least you can laugh about it, thats a good experience.
      I agree with you though, I like to try out different airlines too, but I am glad to read your experience because it is a good warning if I ever consider flying Copa! :)

  • Comment 143991 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5503 Comments

    Ah, you've graduated from an 8 year old caterer to a Culinary college student! I'd say that's good progress :-P
    In all seriousness, visually, the meal does look better than on the ASU-PTY leg...although, almost anything looks better.

    I do love that Ellie Goulding song...thanks for ruining for me :-P

    Sorry, you've had such a sh*tty experience with Copa, but on the bright side it made for some very entertaining reports and fun travel memories!

    Thanks for sharing and I look forward to your next series of flight reports! I wonder what the destination will be ;-)

  • Comment 144083 by
    Caribel 113 Comments

    Ah, the long awaited conclusion to this comedy of errors. Like Chespirito's character on the El Chavo del ocho used to say:Lo que molesta no es lo mucho, es lo seguidito.

    Calling an airline lounge a corral: priceless. A selection of two cereals is called a spread in many Latin American households. :)

    Passing the ice cream toppings long after finishing the ice hockey pucks is the stuff of movie parodies. It's a good thing you were not raised in a Latin country. Otherwise, you may have been tempted to show the crew were to put the entire cart. ;)

    The song that came to mind was Basilio's, Me estoy muriendo por dentro.

  • Comment 149904 by
    757Fan 604 Comments

    Sorry to hear about your experiences with Copa. My wife and I flew them back in September on two domestic flights within Panama, and found the service on both those flights to be quite good!

    It definitely looks like they could improve some things up in their Business cabin. I'm sorry to hear about your ice-cream - how frustrating!

    Thank you for sharing!

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