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] – Here Part 2 – PTY-UIO [CM 829, Boeing B737-800, Economy] – You are 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 PTY to UIO and a stop at the Copa Club. CM operates 5x daily service PTY-UIO so they have a strong presence in Ecuador. In case you don’t read the report, do NOT select an exit row seat on CM unless you are fluent in Spanish.
After arriving off my LAX-PTY flight, I went straight to the Copa Club. It was not very easy to find and I walked past the entrance three times before I finally noticed the small sliding door wedged in between some shops. Checking in upstairs was the standard affair. I hand over my boarding pass, she comments “you are only *A Silver,” then I slide over my TK *A Gold card and she scans me into the system.
There are two showers in the lounge and I notice one is free so I ask to use it. I’m escorted in and left to freshen up after the redeye. The shower room is acceptable by apopearance; however, there was no hot water…
After a cold shower, I went to stop by the buffet for a snack. The buffet was pitiful (pictures will be in Part 4), it was worse than any US domestic lounge. There was some cereal, yogurts, toast, and packaged fruit. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a hotel’s continental breakfast look worse than the Copa Club’s offering. My scavenged snack:
After 5 cups of coffee, I headed off to stretch my legs and look at some planes.
CM B738 in a special livery for the Panama National Team.
CM’s Columbia operations with planes operated by Aero Republica.
PTY was clean, but a little on the crowded side.
My steed today, a CM B738 in “Sao Paolo FC” special livery.
Copa Airlines, CM 829 Equipment: Boeing B737-800 [HP-1831CMP, “Sao Paolo FC” special livery, delivered March 2013] Departure: 9:35 (ATD: 9:51) Arrival: 11:35 (ATA: 11:39) Flight time: 1:48
I missed the boarding call when I was walking around so I was the last of the PreferAccess people to board before the general boarding started up. The nice glass jetbridges in PTY.
The threshold of the plane. The FA in the galley was pouring PDBs and ignored passengers boarding.
The cabin aboard this UA, I mean CM, B738.
My reserved seat, 18A, an exit row seat.
Seat pitch is generous as expected in the exit row.
As boarding was wrapping up, this is when things went downhill. A FA approached me and just started saying something very quickly in Spanish. When he was done, he said in English “What did I just tell you?” I shrugged my shoulders and said that he was explaining the exit row instructions. He said, “No,” then told me that I can’t sit there unless I can follow his instructions in Spanish. He told me to grab my things and walked me to the back of the plane and put me in 33A, the last row of the plane. This was all done with a cabin full of passengers staring and watching the entire exchange. Could this have all been handled a lot more professionally? I think so.
My newly acquired row. The final quarter of the plane was pretty empty.
The pitch seems better than the 31” they list on seatguru, and this seat does recline (seatguru says it doesn't).
The nostalgic CO checkerboard fabric.
As boarding completed, the FAs came through and handed out Ecuador arrivals forms.
The safety card on this B738.
The route map and fleet for CM.
This plane has the new CM cabins and therefore all of the seats have personal IFE. The content was the same as I had in Part 1. I only used the moving map.
Our Purina tug drives off.
As we taxi out, we cross the CM B738 in Panama National Team special livery.
Good thing this plane has AC, otherwise we might be melting… Where on earth did they put this temperature sensor? Also note that this journey will be starting from sea level.
We turn onto the runway and are off.
The sexy split scimitar winglets as we cut through the cloud layer.
The majority of this flight is over the Pacific Ocean.
The snack is handed out.
This looks a lot like a Hot Pocket. It was meat and cheese inside and served warm.
It was also served with plantain chips.
Drink service immediately followed. I just asked for water.
I always get nervous when the plane starts to veer away from the final destination midflight.
The captain came on and said there was heavy storm systems off the coast so we were taking a detour around them.
We eventually arrived at Quito.
The clouds finally broke and Quito was visible below.
We looped around the southern side of the city to approach UIO from the south. Ecuador has a stunning topology of mountains, plains, and valleys. Unfortunately, due to the high altitude, it is a very bumpy descent into UIO as the pilots struggle to maintain altitude and speed.
The Ruta Viva as it crosses over the Chiche River Valley from downtown Quito.
You almost feel like you are landing into the river valley as you dip into UIO.
We crash down and hit the brakes hard. We arrive slightly late due to the detour in our route over the Pacific Ocean.
UIO is at an altitude of 2.4km (~8000ft).
Taxing past an EQ A319.
It’s very quiet at UIO, with no other planes at the international side of the airport.
Views of the cabin deplaning.
The Movistar sponsored jetbridge.
Immigration is fairly quick. The officer was friendly and gave clear instructions regarding the customs declarations forms.
Welcome to Quito.
I head straight out through customs (all bags have to be x-rayed). I was surprised to see a complete lack of taxi vultures exiting the baggage claim. I went up to the counter and arranged a taxi to my hotel. All of the taxis are flat rate depending on the part of town; it is $26 to the Historic Center (~40 minutes). I’ll leave off this series as I start my stay in UIO. As a word of advice, although Ecuador uses the USD, $20 bills are not common in Ecuador and most people expect you to pay with small bills ($1 and $5). Every $20 bill was scrutinized for authenticity.
Panamá City - PTY
Quito - UIO
CM offers a pretty good product, but it is just marred by poor crews since the hard product and catering was pretty good for Y standards.
Cabin comfort: The brand new B737s with BSI are clean and comfortable. The seat pitch is pretty good in Y.
Crew: Continuing the trend of mediocrity, this crew was no different than before. The handling of the exit-row issue was not handled professionally, the rest of the crew was very passive.
Meal and catering: A pretty good snack offering on a 1.5-hour flight. Only negative is that they don't offer any hot beverages (coffee/tea).
Entertainment: No newspapers offered. Standard seatback literature. Personal IFE in Y on a short flight is definitely good.
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