Review of Copa Airlines flight Los Angeles Panamá City in Business

Airline Copa Airlines
Flight CM 362
Class Business
Seat 4A
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 06:25
Take-off 13 May 16, 22:10
Arrival at 14 May 16, 06:35
CM 69 reviews
NGO85
By 1658
Published on 17th May 2016
Background:

There were issues with the photos form the previous series, so I’ll start this one in the meantime.

This series will cover a quick weekend mileage run on CM down to UIO. I saw a cheap $380 round-trip fare in “E” fare class, which earns the full 100% mileage with OZ (5.2 cents/mile). This will be my first time flying CM, my first flight with split scimitar winglets, and my first trip to the South America. The routing was picked to leave Friday evening after work and return Sunday night as to not burn any vacation days.

Part 1 – LAX-PTY [CM 362, Boeing B737-800, Business] – You are here
Part 2 – PTY-UIO [CM 829, Boeing B737-800, Economy] – Here
Part 3 – UIO-PTY [CM 828, Boeing B737-800, Economy] – Here
Part 4 – PTY-LAX [CM 302, Boeing B737-800, Business] – Here

This report will cover the trip from LAX to PTY. I received an op-up to J on this flight, which made this brutal red-eye a little bit better. CM operates 3x daily service into LAX, I picked the earlier of the 2 red-eyes in order to catch an earlier PTY-UIO connection.



Pre-flight:

After work, I drove to LAX and arrived at Terminal 6 at 18:45 after some grueling traffic. Terminal 6 is primarily AS with some DL flights.

photo 1.

Having received notification in the morning that I was upgraded on this segment to J, I didn’t need my TK card to utilize the PreferAccess lane. Unfortunately, CM does not reopen its counters until 19:00 so there was a wait to check-in. I was second in line in the PreferAccess line and was quickly handed my boarding passes and sent on my way since I was not checking bags.

photo 2.photo 3.photo 4.

There is no priority lane for security, but the line was not too bad at T6 and I was airside within 15 minutes.

photo 5.

Instead of using the AS Board Room in T6 (where CM sends its customers), I took advantage of the new link from T4 to TBIT to use the *A Lounge. I swiped my boarding pass and was welcomed in. The lounge is always a little crowded given the number of heavies leaving every night to Asia, but the food offering is worth it. My dinner offering.

photo 6.photo 7.photo 8.

After dinner, I went to the outdoor terrace to enjoy some champagne and the limited spotting. Just a VA B77W and NK A320.

photo 9.photo 10.

20 minutes before the boarding time, I went back to T6, which is ~15 minutes by foot. Enroute, you pass through AA’s territory.

photo 11.

Foreshadowing the next series?

photo 12.

Back at the decrepit T6, I head towards Gate 69A.

photo 13.

There are a number of AS and DL transcons getting ready to leave so it is crowded in the waiting areas.

photo 14.photo 15.

The only plane visible, an AS B738. Doesn’t AS have Dash8s? Why do they flaunt they are “Proudly All Boeing”?

photo 18.

FIDS.

photo 16.

Boarding documents.

photo 100.



——————————-

Copa Airlines, CM 362
Equipment: Boeing B737-800 [HP-1849CMP, “ConnectMiles.com” special livery, delivered September 2015]
Departure: 22:08 (ATD: 22:28)
Arrival: 6:34 (ATA: 6:17)
Flight time: 5:49

Our gate tonight.

photo 19.

35 minutes to departure, boarding is started with pre-boarding. This is followed by PreferAccess passengers. Boarding was surprisingly orderly with no one crowding the gate until they were called to board. The FA in the galley gave me a “buenas noches, bienvenido” as I turned into this shiny new cabin. There are 4 rows of J in 2-2 configuration.

photo 20.

The large leather seats.

photo 21.

My seat, 4A. 4B would be the only unoccupied seat in J, the outbound load was 15/16.

photo 22.

The seat pitch is 50” in the new CM cabins (guaranteed on all LAX/JFK routes).

photo 23.

An obvious downside is the lack of underseat storage for these seats.

photo 25.

BSI accents the CM color scheme.

photo 24.

Pre-placed on the seats were a Y-esque pillow and packaged blanket. CM also uses the UA long-haul Y headphones in J.

photo 26.photo 27.photo 31.

The FA then came by and asked me if I wanted water or juice for a PDB in Spanish. I requested juice. The orange juice definitely was artificial and very sweet.

photo 28.

The center console.

photo 32.

Power outlets on the front of the center console.

photo 33.

USB and headphone ports.

photo 29.

Seat controls.

photo 30.

The FA came through and distributed amenity kits in some jazzy patterns. A large omission is ear plugs, but I always pack my own.

photo 34.photo 35.

The seatback contents.

photo 36.

Panorama

photo 37.

The safety card for this B738.

photo 38.photo 39.photo 40.

Our neighbor AS B738 gets pushed back for BWI.

photo 41.photo 42.

The FA came through and took orders. There were no menus for this flight. I could hear her get weaker row by row. By the time she got to my row, she asked me what drink I wanted with my snack and if I wanted “eggs or pancakes” for breakfast. I heard her explain the menu to Row 1 so I knew it was actually an omelet or French toast. This just highlights the apathy to CM’s service.

Some cabin shots during push back.

photo 43.photo 44.

DL B767 as we taxi out.

photo 45.

Good night LAX.

photo 46.

There is no wait and we are quickly off as we soar towards the coast.

photo 47.photo 48.

Leveling off, I whip out the IFE. Given CM’s longest flights are 7 hours, they have a decent selection of about 30 movies and 20 TV shows. The size of the IFE is the same as Y. The 2-minutes of ads before each show are annoying.



The FA is very quick to distribute the snacks, which is at least a good point for them (although they were probably just in a hurry to sit back down to play on their phone in the galley).

The stained tray table with some sort of red juice.

photo 53.

No linens are laid, it is just a covered tray. The meat/cheese plate is average, but the asparagus is points for unique.

photo 54.photo 55.

Snacks were already cleared by the time we were leaving the Gulf of California.

photo 58.

Flying past Hermosillo(?).

photo 56.

Water bottles were distributed and the cabin was plunged into darkness.

photo 57.

I slept for 2 hours until I was awoken by some violent turbulence around Mexico City.

photo 59.

The lavatory was clean and unremarkable.

photo 64.photo 65.

I fell back asleep until the mood lighting was turned on again near San Salvador, 1.5 hours to arrival.

photo 61.photo 62.

My empty glass is still sitting there, so the FA was clearly not very attentive to clean up the cabin while people were sleeping.

photo 63.

Breakfast service started with a vanilla scented oshibori.

photo 66.

The drink/meal cart arrives.

photo 67.

The tray is laid down with a fruit plate, hot roll, and yogurt.

photo 68.photo 69.

The salt and pepper “shakers.”

photo 70.

My fruit plate is cleared when I’m finished and my main is brought out. This was actually quite surprising visually and it tasted very good (and not too sweet). It had nuts and raisins on top with some poached apples. The only negative is the portionsize, which is rather small.

photo 71.photo 72.

Some coffee to sip as we coast into PTY.

photo 73.

Sunrise over Panama as we dip into PTY.

photo 76.photo 75.photo 77.

We cross through the clouds.

photo 78.

The Panama Canal.



Stunning sunrise over PTY.

photo 82.

We coast by Panama City as we approach Tocumen from the west.

photo 85.photo 86.

Final descent into PTY.

photo 87.photo 88.

We touch down early into PTY.

photo 89.

CM runs the show at PTY.

photo 90.

Our “ConnectMiles.com” twin as the windows fog on this hot/humid morning in PTY.

photo 91.

We cozy up next to 2 UA B737s in the nearly identical livery.

photo 92.

The mess left behind by the passengers in this cabin.

photo 93.

The FA at least thanks me for flying as I head out into the glass jetbridge. I finally get a glimpse of my plane as I head into PTY.

photo 94.

I’ll leave off this series here as I begin my layover in PTY. Tune into the next segment for a look at the Copa Club and CM’s Y service down to UIO.
See more

Verdict

Copa Airlines

6.5/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew5.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering6.5

Star Alliance Lounge Business Class Section

8.9/10
Comfort8.5
Meal/catering9.5
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Services8.5

Los Angeles - LAX

8.4/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Panamá City - PTY

8.4/10
Efficiency9.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

My first time on CM. It’s a very functional airline. I would say the hard-product is one of the best I’ve seen on a narrow-body, but the apathy of the crew just leads to an unremarkable experience. I really want to like CM, but it’s just an average experience. I would probably pick them over UA in the future on *A routes into Central America. Never flown AV so can’t really comment on how they stack up to their rivals.

Cabin comfort: The brand new B737s with BSI are clean and comfortable. The seat pitch is really generous with very good recline (28 degrees) on these J recliners. The Y pillow and blanket and headphones are notable deficiencies.

Crew: Not very friendly. They do the bare minimum and that’s it. Any extras you have to request. They never came through the cabin between services; they just sat in the galleys playing on their phones. Good English ability for this crew.

Meal and catering: I’ll commend them for at least serving a snack and meal on a 6-hour red-eye. The snack was average and breakfast was above average. The main for breakfast was quite good, but quantity was too small. No menu.

Entertainment: No newspapers offered. Standard seatback literature. The IFE had an acceptable selection, but the screen was not very responsive and you had to press several times to make your selection.

Information on the route Los Angeles (LAX) Panamá City (PTY)

17 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 348824 by
    lsmick3 35 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this report! I've been anxious to have another Copa J report to compare my miserable experience last year to. The cabin is a huge improvement...

    "Boarding was surprisingly orderly with no one crowding the gate until they were called to board. "
    -- LOL...we travel to South America quite often and I always have to smile at (or else be frustrated with) the perceived chaos as a North American that is ubiquitous with Latin American carriers.

    "By the time she got to my row, she asked me what drink I wanted with my snack and if I wanted “eggs or pancakes” for breakfast. I heard her explain the menu to Row 1 so I knew it was actually an omelet or French toast. This just highlights the apathy to CM’s service." -- During our ASU-PTY/PTY-IAD flights last year we experienced the same "declining" service as our FA made his way back to us. We, too, seemingly had to ask for everything and the crew does a consistently poor job expecting needs. The fact that they didn't clear anything away while you were sleeping is classic.

    The IFE that comes with the updated cabin is a huge improvement...and I'm glad to hear that the cabin crew keeps themselves entertained with their phones... It was rather unprofessional of our FA's playing so MUCH with their phones in the galley...

    P.S....great choice with the Stone IPA. Their east coast brewery is here in RIC where I'm based.

    • Comment 349160 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      "The cabin is a huge improvement..."
      - It's a shame they don't offer this to all their US/Canadian destinations. I can't imagine a flight from YYZ in the older cabin.

      "During our ASU-PTY/PTY-IAD flights last year we experienced the same "declining" service as our FA made his way back to us."
      - It's quite pitiful considering the size of the cabin. Also, why on earth were there not menus to hand out? There were menus on the other flights...

      "It was rather unprofessional of our FA's playing so MUCH with their phones in the galley..."
      - I've never seem FAs as bad the CM crews. I've seen other crews on their phones in the galleys on TPACs or TATLs, but they normally immediately put it away as soon as you walk into the galley. The CM crews barely give you a glance when you walk in.

  • Comment 348846 by
    Numero_2 10036 Comments

    Merci Michael !

    737 with BSI -> The Swiss Bank ? lol

    Unfortunately CM isn't impressive at all, a US carrier could even provide a better onboard service...

    I can't imagine what's served in Y !!!

    • Comment 349161 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Merci Clement^^

      "Unfortunately CM isn't impressive at all, a US carrier could even provide a better onboard service..."
      - Average on CM is the same as bad on UA. It's not a great product, but with J fares only slightly higher than UA Y fares, it is a good option. You just have to have low expectations ;)

      "I can't imagine what's served in Y !!!"
      - It might be better than J^^

  • Comment 348866 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5656 Comments

    That is an awesome price to South America. I really need to find a weekend where I can do one of these runs, there are good prices on every alliance.

    "After work, I drove to LAX and arrived at Terminal 6 at 18:45 after some grueling traffic."
    - Welcome to LA ^^ There's pretty much no good way to get to LAX except by car. And nobody takes the train because it takes a weird route through some rough parts

    "The only plane visible, an AS B738. Doesn’t AS have Dash8s? Why do they flaunt they are “Proudly All Boeing”?"
    - Mainline fleet they are all Boeing. The Q400s are Horizon Air (though, they are an AS subsidiary), and the CRJ700s and E175s are SkyWest operated.

    The new fresh cabin is a pleasant surprise. And that seat pitch! It's not a true long-haul Business class product, but way better than Domestic F. Too bad this configuration is not on all aircraft--the vast majority just have a domestic F like product. I wonder if they'll be updating all aircraft to a 50" pitch or if it's just on the newly delivered 737s for longer routes?

    Not impressed with the quality of the pillow, blanket, and headphones--very Long-haul Y or Domestic F. Only water or orange juice for PDB also very domestic F. This is a 6 hour flight--it's as long as many TATL flights!

    "I heard her explain the menu to Row 1 so I knew it was actually an omelet or French toast. This just highlights the apathy to CM’s service."
    - Pathetic. And taking people for idiots too

    "but the asparagus is points for unique."
    - Or random...

    "My empty glass is still sitting there, so the FA was clearly not very attentive to clean up the cabin while people were sleeping."
    - Laziness. Especially since you had an empty seat next to you so it's not like it was hard to reach.

    The breakfast looks decent. All in all a mixed bag. Decent seats with a good pitch, but definitely not a true long-haul J product for this 6+ hour flight. The Boeing Sky Interior always looks good.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 349324 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "There are good prices on every alliance."
      - They come in cycles, I saw a $210 round trip to LIR on AS, but passed since I was moving that weekend. A lot of times, the fares show up last minute so I just do some random ITA searches every couple days to see if anything pops up.

      "Mainline fleet they are all Boeing."
      - I guess technically Alaska and Horizon are sisters under the same Alaska Air Group so that statement is quasi-accurate, but still feels misleading.

      "I wonder if they'll be updating all aircraft to a 50" pitch or if it's just on the newly delivered 737s for longer routes?"
      - Not sure, what they really need is to pick up some B788s for these routes. There is clearly enough demand on LAX/JFK/GRU routes and that would enable them to install a more comfortable J product. AV sends wide-bodies to the US ex-BOG so it's not that unreasonable a proposition...

      "This is a 6 hour flight--it's as long as many TATL flights!"
      - Yeah, AA offers the long-haul pillow/duvet on transcons that are shorter. Maybe you can request champagne? Don't know and didn't really try and get on the crews bad side even before we close the front door, lol. I'll try next series to ask for an alcoholic beverage.

      "And taking people for idiots too"
      - More importantly, where are the menus??? CM has menus, yet they magically didn't appear on this flight...

      "Laziness. Especially since you had an empty seat next to you so it's not like it was hard to reach."
      - FAs were coming back and forth from the Y cabin, so it's not like it was out of their way to pick it up on their way.

      "All in all a mixed bag."
      - Yep, that summarizes it perfectly.

      Thanks for all your comments Kevin!

  • Comment 348868 by
    tn92 BRONZE 173 Comments

    "There were issues with the photos form the previous series, so I’ll start this one in the meantime."

    Thanks for starting a new series! I continue to look forward to the previous one - it's so interesting!

    "full 100% mileage with OZ (5.2 cents/mile)"

    This seems really cheap!

    "The routing was picked to leave Friday evening after work and return Sunday night as to not burn any vacation days."

    I totally understand this and will soon be doing this extremely often...

    "Foreshadowing the next series?"

    Will it be a series featuring oneworld? :P

    "Why do they flaunt they are “Proudly All Boeing”?"

    If we include Virgin America's fleet, AS will really no longer be "proudly all Boeing". Haha.

    "The seat pitch is 50” in the new CM cabins (guaranteed on all LAX/JFK routes)."

    It looks nice for regional/domestic flights. Feels very similar to the J seats MH has on their B738s. The lack of storage under the seat however is a huge disadvantage.

    "The 2-minutes of ads before each show are annoying."

    Were you able to fast forward through those annoying ads?

    "Although they were probably just in a hurry to sit back down to play on their phone in the galley."

    This seems to always be the case even for many other airlines.

    "My empty glass is still sitting there, so the FA was clearly not very attentive to clean up the cabin while people were sleeping."

    Imagine if some of those glasses fell on to the floor because of the violent turbulence? Sounds like it'd be really dangerous..

    "Sunrise over Panama as we dip into PTY."

    Woah! It must be some really breathtaking views looking at this sunrise from the aircraft! Amazing photographs, thank you!

    Thank you Michael, for sharing this! I can't help though, but to say that... I kinda miss your reports ex-NGO now. ): These reports are still great of course! But having transited via Tokyo a few days ago (which is also my first ever time stepping foot on Japanese grounds), I really think Japan is a great place - can't wait for my longer layover in NRT tomorrow, I'm gonna get out of the airport to take a look at Narita.

    Thank you!

    • Comment 351967 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "I totally understand this and will soon be doing this extremely often..."
      - Vacation days are not so plentiful in the US so you have to be crafty to make the most out of weekends and holidays.

      "It looks nice for regional/domestic flights. Feels very similar to the J seats MH has on their B738s. The lack of storage under the seat however is a huge disadvantage."
      - It makes the bulkhead the row of choice since it is also the only row where no one reclines into your face. Given the huge recline of these seats, it is a little hard to get out if you have a seatmate and the person in front of you in full recline.

      "Were you able to fast forward through those annoying ads?"
      - You can, but it is still extra work!

      "This seems to always be the case even for many other airlines."
      - I find some carriers not to be as excessive as others. Most US FAs will be on their phones, but put them away as you approach them as opposed to treating a passenger as an interruption.

      "Sounds like it'd be really dangerous.."
      - I've only ever seen one glass ever break on a plane. The lack of any motivation by the FAs to do any work is the more egregious act.

      "These reports are still great of course! But having transited via Tokyo a few days ago (which is also my first ever time stepping foot on Japanese grounds), I really think Japan is a great place - can't wait for my longer layover in NRT tomorrow, I'm gonna get out of the airport to take a look at Narita."
      - Narita is a decent town, there are some temples you can easily access from the airport. The only problem with NRT is that it is in the middle of nowhere^^

      Thank you for all your comments!

  • Comment 348873 by
    Rl 777 806 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this great FR with us!

    The cabin looks pretty clean and the seat pitch looks great. No underseat storage is disappointing IMO.

    Considering this was almost a 6 hour flight, I'd expected more quantity in the catering department.

    Unfortunately you didn't have the best crew on this flight.

    Absolutely fantastic aerial shots before arrival at PTY!

    Holy crap, that's quite a mess at the end.

    Thank you once again for sharing this interesting FR with us!

    Have a good one, see you.

    • Comment 351968 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "The cabin looks pretty clean and the seat pitch looks great. No underseat storage is disappointing IMO."
      - The CX new regional product technically also has the same problem, but these are much worse since there is no side-seat storage either.

      "almost a 6 hour flight, I'd expected more quantity in the catering department."
      - It's a redeye, so you "should" be sleeping. But the catering is the same on the return so your point is valid overall :)

      "Unfortunately you didn't have the best crew on this flight."
      - This will be a recurring theme on CM unfortunately... I've never seen an airline with such a consistent crop of bad crews. Kind of makes UA look good. They are never directly rude, they just seem completely uninterested in doing their jobs and will do the bare minimum to skate by.

      "Holy crap, that's quite a mess at the end."
      - People just have a lack of respect for others.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • Comment 348961 by
    767 traveller 48 Comments

    Great report, thanks for sharing!
    The hard product in the new 738's looks great, however I understand that on a +5hs flight it may start to feel uncomfortable.
    Pity that the rest of the experience is far from Premium.
    Cheers!

    • Comment 351969 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      "The hard product in the new 738's looks great, however I understand that on a +5hs flight it may start to feel uncomfortable."
      - You do start to feel it near the end, but since I was able to sleep most of the flight I didn't notice it on this leg. The return to LAX in Part 4 was much more noticeable since it was a daytime flight.

      "Pity that the rest of the experience is far from Premium."
      - The CM J experience is quite far from Premium, but it is still better than Y^^

  • Comment 348986 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Thank you Michael for sharing this latest series on CM with great shots as usual.

    It's great that you were able to go to the *A lounge before your trip. The new connector between AA and TBIT is a blessing and had the LAX experience more bearable.

    From your experience i am not impressed with CM's inflight product and this confirms the perception that I have had about this carrier. I was matched to their Platinum status last year but I have yet to fly with them, in part because their flights from SJO to SFO involve an ungodly hour or require an overnight stay in PTY. However from my experience with them over the phone, they have always been very professional and solve any issues quickly.

    The amenity kit looks nice and the cabin seems comfortable. Unfortunately the service was not up to par, especially leaving the empty glass by your seat. I haven't tried AV but when I flew TA down to SJO I found the crew to be friendly and professional, so I would expect this to be the same now that they are AV.

    • Comment 351970 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "It's great that you were able to go to the *A lounge before your trip."
      - Thankfully the UA terminal is really far from TBIT to help deter people from migrating. But you can enter TBIT if you check-in online and directly access the lounge to cut down on the walking times.

      "this confirms the perception that I have had about this carrier."
      - It is pretty inline with what I have read about them too. It's pretty no frills because of disinterested crews. If they had practive crews, the overall experience would be must better since they really do have one of the nicer narrow-body hard products out there (minus transcon A321s).

      "The amenity kit looks nice and the cabin seems comfortable."
      - An amenity kit is really a nice touch, but the missing menu is inexcusable. I think this is probably a result of the apathetic crew since the menus definitely exist and are often recycled since they contain all the routes.

      I don't blame you for never using your CM status. I hear they are very generous with upgrades to their own elites, but going out of your way to fly them just for the chance to get an upgrade is probably not recommended^^

      Thanks for your comments Adan!

  • Comment 349307 by
    757Fan 608 Comments

    Another great report! Looks like you had a nice flight with Copa.

    My wife and I went to Panama last year, and loved our vacation there. We flew Delta to and from ATL, but inside the country, we flew Copa on a round-trip flight to and from David City. We found the service to be quite nice on the short flight from PTY.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 351971 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "My wife and I went to Panama last year, and loved our vacation there. We flew Delta to and from ATL, but inside the country, we flew Copa on a round-trip flight to and from David City. We found the service to be quite nice on the short flight from PTY."
      - The service level on the CM short-hauls is much better than their long-haul service standards. Looking back at your ATL-PTY report, the DL experience is not surprisingly superior to the CM experience (and the LAX-PTY flight is much longer!) I'll be flying CM again in a couple of weeks to actually spend some time in Panama, KevinDC was just there so you might get even more comparisons on routes into PTY!

      Thanks for stopping by Matthew!

  • Comment 475130 by
    STAR-ALLIANCE-FLYER 48 Comments

    Hey

    Air Canada had just transferred from T2 to T6, how long does it takes you to walk form T6 to TBIT? Do you think it's hard to find? Or do you gave to clear security once again?

Login to post a comment.