Review of Copa Airlines flight Panamá City Barranquilla in Business

Airline Copa Airlines
Flight CM 675
Class Business
Seat 1F
Aircraft Embraer E-190
Flight time 01:10
Take-off 07 Jul 16, 11:50
Arrival at 07 Jul 16, 13:00
CM   #91 out of 142 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 63 reviews
NGO85
By 1043
Published on 8th July 2016
Background:

This series covers a weeklong trip to PTY and BAQ on CM, for a detailed background, please see Part 3.

Part 1 – LAX-SFO [AA 6047, Embraer ERJ-175, Main Cabin Extra] – No report
Part 2 – SFO-LAX [AA 169, Boeing B737-800, Main Cabin Extra] – Bonus to Part 3
Part 3 – LAX-PTY [CM 473, Boeing B737-800, Clase Ejecutiva] – Here
Part 4 – PTY-BAQ [CM 675, Embraer ERJ-190, Clase Ejecutiva] – You are Here
Part 5 – BAQ-PTY [CM 630, Embraer ERJ-190, Clase Ejecutiva] – Here
Part 6 – PTY-LAX [CM 472, Boeing B737-800, Clase Ejecutiva] – Here

This report will cover the flight from PTY to BAQ aboard CM in J. The lounge visit will be to the dreaded Copa Club. The bonus at the end will be of my day at the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal.



Pre-flight:

After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, I checked out and took a taxi to PTY at 8:30am. The agreed fare was the standard $30 ($25+$5 for tolls). The driver was very friendly and had a newspaper in the backseat for me to read (always good to start the day with headlines like this…).

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We had little traffic and I was dropped off in front of PTY at 8:55am.

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The left half of the check-in lobby is CM, the other side is the “others” with AV having the largest footprint.

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There are 4-6 PreferAccess lines and I was quickly helped. The agent confirmed I was staying in Colombia for less than 90 days, then handed me my boarding pass and baggage slip. She handed me a boarding pass for 1B, I had selected 4A online. I promptly asked her for a window seat. She gave me 1A instead. (The reason why 4A vanished will be explained later…)

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The DL and AA check-in counters. AV is in the far back.

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A view of the lobby from upstairs.

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Upstairs, there are some chairs and a bunch of hallways filled with offices.

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Nothing to see up there, so I went back downstairs and headed through the empty immigration/security line.

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Clearing security, the FIDS. My flight is showing on time departing from Gate 11.

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The concourse is lined with shops, but is pretty dark.

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I head towards the infamous Copa Club.

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The non-descript entrance that is wedged in between a coffee shop and chocolatier. This is why I walked by it 3 times last visit before noticing the small sliding door.

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Inside, my boarding pass is scanned. The agent notifies me of a gate change and hands me a new boarding pass. How my gate changed from the time I entered the terminal to the time I walked to the lounge, who knows.

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The pitiful buffett in its entirety. Your choice of water, hot water, decaf coffee, or coffee on the left. On the right is 3 types of cereal, yogurt, butter/cream cheese, and then some bagels and white bread on the far right. That’s all CM offers in its hub.

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My offering.

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There is also a bar around the back if you want a different drink than coffee or water.

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The lounge was packed. There was a soccer team heading to SJO that was occupying about half the lounge. I couldn’t tell what club it was. I took refuge in the empty business center. Interestingly, they still have UA’s MileagePlus on their speed dial.

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My boarding documents.

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After 40 minutes of the lounge, I decided to just leave and do some spotting.

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V0 ERJ-190.

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The usual suspects.

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DL B738.

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CM ERJ-190 in ConnectMiles.com special livery.

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CM B738 in BioMuseo special livery.

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Artwork on display in the terminal.

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AV A320.

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The walkway to the Gate 1-10 area.

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More CMs. The one in the front is in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal.

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CM B738 in *A special livery and a bug on the window.

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My sexy lady shows up at 11:15, we are not going to be leaving on time.

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The bathrooms in PTY are clean.

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————————-

Copa Airlines Colombia, CM 675
Equipment: Embraer ERJ-190 [HK-4454, delivered December 2006]
Departure: 11:50 (ATD: 12:10)
Arrival: 12:59 (ATA: 13:03)
Flight time: 0:53


The information for the previous flight (DL to ATL) is still being displayed at your gate causing some confusion (hence the mob around the desk).

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Everyone is assured this is the flight to BAQ and we board at 11:40am. The boarding was very orderly with no one crowding the entrance and priorities were respected.

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Stepping into the plane, I was shocked at what I saw. This cabin is in 2-2 configuration and not the 1-2 shown on the seatmaps. Even worse, there was a lady already sitting in 1B. There were only 3 rows of J (the 1-2 configuration has 4 rows), hence why I was bumped out of 4A at check-in.

The bulkhead seats.

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The seat pitch is excellent, I can’t even stretch and touch the wall. The seats may be the same as Y, but the pitch is very good in all rows.

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Seatback contents.

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The July issue of Panorama highlighting Havana’s “Militant Glamour.”

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The fleet info showing the 2 types of ERJ-190s they have.

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The route map for Copa Airlines Columbia.

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The safety card on this ERJ-190.

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PDBs offered (water or orange juice). So they give PDBs on PTY-BAQ, but not on LAX-PTY…

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The front door closed, so I moved over to 1F. The load was 4/12. 1A, 1F, 2E, and 2F were occupied.

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The seat pitch is the same over here.

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A peek into the galley.

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As we backup and PDBs are cleared, the FA introduces herself and addresses me as “Señor NGO85.” She explains the menu in Spanish; I only catch part of it. It was a chicken pizza or some sort of crepe. I asked for the crepe and asked for it to be served with a beer. Pretty impressive to have options on a 50-minute flight. I was expecting a generic snack for everyone.

Pushing back as the safety is done in English/Spanish.

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We have a 30-second taxi to the runway and wait for our Panamanian registered twin take-off.

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Aligning onto the runway.

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We lift up 20-minutes late over the CM hangar.

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Crossing the Rio Pacora.

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Turning east.

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Lago Bayano.

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As we disappear into the clouds, a brief seat tour. The seats are standard ERJ seats, the bulkhead tray table folds out from the side.

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Standard overhead fixtures.

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As soon as they are signaled, the FAs bolt into action. Hot oshibori are distributed.

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I sneak off to the lavatory, which is slightly less clean than I would like. The do not pour coffee sign is interesting, since it doesn’t pertain to passengers, only crews.

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Returning to my seat, everyone else has already been served and the cart is waiting for me.

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My tray as delivered.

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The main, a savory crepe filled with chicken, plantain, some sort of nuts, and maybe some other stuff I didn’t hear in the description or could identify. Sautéed vegetables served on the side.

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A small cake for dessert. Very nice to serve a cake and not some pre-packaged dessert.

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We were soaring over the Caribbean by the time meal service was underway.

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Customs declaration forms were distributed after the meal as the cabin was prepared for final descent.

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First sight of South America.

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Isla de Tierra Bomba.

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We cross right over Cartagena.

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The very green Colombian countryside.

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We touch down just a couple minutes late.

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AV A319 taxing to the runway.

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BAQ. Only an AA A319 is visible.

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As we turn back to the terminal, the AV A319 is lifting off.

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We pull into the gate next to the AA A319.

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BAQ is one of the ugliest airports I have seen in a really, really long time. This place is a concrete fortress.

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The FA came through and thanked each passenger for flying. Waiting for the knock.

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An equally ugly jetbridge.

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Concrete everywhere! Down to immigration, which was really long since the AA flight must have just beat us in. There were 4 officers, but the process was slow. I love how Colombia makes Canadians pay an $88 CAD fee to enter their country, sticking it to the man! (Retribution for Canada making Colombians pay for visas to enter Canada) You can read more about this here.

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The bags were already sitting there. The bags had 10 meters to travel; the plane was literally visible through the windows. Your bag gets x-rayed as you clear customs.

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I didn’t see any ATMs on the arrivals level (which is open air, it is not an indoor area). I went back to the departure’s lobby and found several ATMs. I grabbed some Colombian pesos and went back down to get a taxi. You go to the booth and tell them your destination and they give you a voucher with the amount you owe. My taxi to Zone 9 (NW Barranquilla) was 29,000 pesos (~$9.50). The ride took about 30 minutes and went though some very ‘scenic’ barrios. The driver was very friendly and even refused to accept a tip, insisting I only pay what the voucher said.

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And with that, I’ll leave off this series as I start my stay in BAQ.




————————-
Bonus: Miraflores Locks at the Canal de Panama.

The locks are accessible by bus ($0.25 from Albrook Terminal, or $10 by taxi [you have little to no negotiation power, but they will try to get you to pay $15-20 at first]). I took a bus there and a taxi straight to my hotel on the return.

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A view of the locks from the Observation Deck.

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Looking towards the Pacific Ocean.

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Looking towards the Lago Miraflores.

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The new locks that opened on June 26, 2016. I only saw one boat head towards those locks.

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Monuments to the men/women who built the canal. The museum part of the locks is quite poor, the museum in downtown Panama City is better. I do find the portrayal interesting, it is very pro-American. They often mention how the French started the canal, but quit and left it unfinished.

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I got there at 9:00am, but they announced the first ships wouldn't be arriving until 1:30pm since they were only traveling Atlantic to Pacific today. I waited all day (poured rain for about 3 hours) and finally at 1:00pm, the first ships were seen on the horizon.

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Phoenix Leader is a vehicle carrier that is currently traveling from Dundalk (MD) to Long Beach (CA). Even the US uses the canal for trans-continental transportation.

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It drops down 54 feet as MV Tønsberg, the largest roll-on/roll-off ship in the world, pulls into the other lock.

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Each ship is supported by 6 "tugs," that run on railroad tracks slowly pulling the boat through the locks and maintaining its lateral spacing.

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The water lowers for MV Tønsberg.

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The locks open.

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MV Tønsberg gets pulled through.

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If you are really cool, you can go down and get your picture taken with the boats^^

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The locks close.

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The lock is refilled, the whirlpools are where water is being rushed in.

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MV Tønsberg then follows Phoenix Leader out into the Pacific Ocean.

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As soon as they leave, the next pair of boats are already positioned to enter the locks.

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LOA is a cargo container ship traveling from Cartagena, Colombia to Guayaquil, Ecuador this week.

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She was followed through by PRT ACE, a bulk carrier traveling from New Orleans, USA to Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.

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And the cycle continues with more boats, but that's all I had time to watch. Each boat takes about 1 hour to pass through the locks.

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See more

Verdict

Copa Airlines

7.6/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Meal/catering9.0

Copa Club

3.8/10
Comfort4.0
Meal/catering1.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Services4.0

Panamá City - PTY

7.5/10
Efficiency9.0
Access4.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Barranquilla - BAQ

5.0/10
Efficiency6.0
Access4.0
Services4.0
Cleanliness6.0

Conclusion

Quite an unexpected experience on CM, on all fronts. The cabin was not what was promised, but the surprisingly good inf-light service and catering made me quickly forget about that.

Cabin comfort: The ERJ was a 10-year veteran, but still looked clean and well-maintained. The 2-2 cabin in J is absurd and placing 2 strangers next to each other when the cabin load was 33% is just poor customer service by check-in agents. That said, the seats are fine for a 50-minute hop and the legroom was excellent.

Crew: 2/2 on good CM crews, what is going on? The crew on this Copa Colombia flight was very friendly. They didn't speak English very well (can't blame them since they don't really fly anywhere English speaking). Addressed me by name, was attentive during service, and thanked me for flying.

Meal and catering: PDB offered. The choice of two hot entrees on a 50-minute flight is excellent. For a 50-minute flight, this tray exceeded my expectations. I was honestly expecting just a small plate with a cold snack on it, so the quantity/quality/presentation all surprised me.

Entertainment: No newspapers offered. Standard seatback literature. No IFE, only the views out the window. For a 50-minute flight, you'd only get ~20 minutes of IFE use anyways...

Related

17 Comments

  • Comment 356713 by
    757Fan 587 Comments

    Great report, Michael. When my wife and I visited Panama, we really enjoyed our visit to the Miraflores Locks. It looks like it wasn't too crowded during your visit; it was very busy when we were there, but great to see 3 ships pass through!

    Copa Columbia in Business looks pretty good for a very short flight. When we flew them from PTY-DAV-PTY, we found them to be quite good. On the very short (30 minute flight) from PTY to David, they did a full beverage and snack service in Y to a full cabin.

    Looking forward to your return trip!

    Matthew

    • Comment 357080 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "It looks like it wasn't too crowded during your visit; it was very busy when we were there, but great to see 3 ships pass through!"
      - There were a ton of school groups in the morning, but they didn't stay to when the ships were passing. I wish I had known the passing times in advance. The deck was only 2-3 people deep when the first boat came. By the time the second wave passed, there were only a handful of people left.

      "On the very short (30 minute flight) from PTY to David, they did a full beverage and snack service in Y to a full cabin."
      - It doesn't surprise me, my experiences have suggested that quality and length of flights is inversely related on CM ;) If I was you, I would have flown Air Panama out of Albrook Airport, those Fokkers looked really neat. My one regret on this trip was not flying them, but maybe next time!

      Thanks for your comments Matthew!

  • Comment 356888 by
    02022001 SILVER 4363 Comments

    thanks to share this FR !

  • Comment 356897 by
    jish.b SILVER 285 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this flight report!

    I intended on reading and replying to the prior flight reports that you've posted (at a very rapid pace, that too!). However, only the reading happened. The internet would conk off for hours every time I'd hit the 'send' button :(

    Copa Airlines looks like a fairly decent airline when it comes to service in the air. The same cannot be said about the lounge, unfortunately. Lovely pictures from PTY, and the shots from the eye! Surely that island looks like a very long and awkward thumbs up (when approaching into BAQ!) :D

    Lovely bonus pics of the Panama Canal too. I just saw Finding Dory, and all I could think about was how a fish would escape a lock like the ones in Panama!! :P

    Looking forward to more!

    Cheers.

    • Comment 357081 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      "However, only the reading happened."
      -Commenting is hard work, I know ;)

      "Copa Airlines looks like a fairly decent airline when it comes to service in the air."
      - Copa short haul is better than Copa "long"-haul. Since CM crews are soooo variable, a long haul flight quickly becomes miserable with a bad crew.

      "Lovely bonus pics of the Panama Canal too."
      - Glad you enjoyed it! It's well worth a visit.

  • Comment 356901 by
    Numero_2 GOLD 9911 Comments

    Thank you Michael !

    Quite a good flight with CM, but quite a bad lounge in P(i)TY. :P

    I love the bonus !

  • Comment 356920 by
    Chibcha 432 Comments

    Thanks for sharing!

    I find CM Colombia to have nicer crews than CM Panama, shame that they hand them the crappiest planes in the fleet. I'm also surprised how reduce their network within Colombia is now, they used to be the second largest airline in the country.

    Very nice views of La Fantastica, the island is called Tierra Bomba, not Tierra Bombero though.

    I hope now that BAQ finally has a master plan and concessionaire they can fix that place, because right now it is a dump!

    Enjoy your time in La Arenosa!

    • Comment 357082 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thanks for your comments Chibcha!

      "I find CM Colombia to have nicer crews than CM Panama"
      - This is a very accurate statement and the service standards seem to be higher and more consistent. I heard EasyFly is another carrier off the Aero Republica lineage, how are they?

      "Very nice views of La Fantastica, the island is called Tierra Bomba, not Tierra Bombero though."
      - Corrected^^

      "I hope now that BAQ finally has a master plan and concessionaire they can fix that place, because right now it is a dump!"
      - You'll find your answer in the next report, but I have yet to witness anything change from your report 2 years ago.

      "Enjoy your time in La Arenosa!"
      - It was all that I hoped for and more, saw a dead body on the side of the road heading back to the airport!

      • Comment 358043 by
        Chibcha 432 Comments

        "I heard EasyFly is another carrier off the Aero Republica lineage, how are they?"

        Yes, both airlines were founded by the same guy, Ricardo Ávila if I'm not wrong. I tried EasyFly between Medellín and Pereira last year and they were OK, here's the report: http://flight-report.com/fr/report/11499/EasyFly_EF_9058_Medell_n_EOH_Pereira_PEI

  • Comment 356933 by
    East African 1521 Comments

    Thanks for your sens of sacrifice as the bonus is simply awesome!

  • Comment 357075 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Nice spotting shots at PTY, CM surely has a lot of special liveries.

    Must've been a disappointment to see a different configuration for the worse when entering. Thankfully the seat pitch was excellent and that your flight was very short. Was your flight supposed to be operated by Copa Colombia (AeroRepública) or Copa?

    I'm glad you had a nice crew and great catering onboard.

    Fantastic aerial shots as always!

    Thank you for the great bonus, I find it to be very interesting.

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 357084 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "Nice spotting shots at PTY, CM surely has a lot of special liveries."
      - And there were even more new ones when I was there on the return flight. They really do have an extraordinary number of special liveries, but they also have a very large fleet and the number of planes they have is growing rapidly.

      "Must've been a disappointment to see a different configuration for the worse when entering."
      - Luckily the load was light so the crowding issue was quickly resolved.

      "Was your flight supposed to be operated by Copa Colombia (AeroRepública) or Copa?"
      - Copa Airlines Colombia, which used to be called AeroRepublica before CM acquired it. If you look at their fleet information, they have their own planes, but also lease some planes from CM proper.

      "Thank you for the great bonus, I find it to be very interesting."
      - Rotterdam may be more interesting, but from a historical perspective, the Panama Canal is one of the marvels of the modern era.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • Comment 357100 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    "The concourse is lined with shops, but is pretty dark."
    - It looks depressing. I assume that this part is the old terminal, right?

    "This is why I walked by it 3 times last visit before noticing the small sliding door."
    - Maybe they want to keep themselves "hidden" on purpose.

    "The pitiful buffett in its entirety"
    - The resemblance to ex-CO Presidents Club is uncanny. If only they could emulate SQ instead.

    "The seat pitch is excellent"
    - Lots of legroom for sure.

    "My tray as delivered."
    - Nice catering and the cake for dessert is a plus.

    Gorgeous bonus and shots as usual. Thanks for sharing Michael.

    • Comment 357667 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "It looks depressing. I assume that this part is the old terminal, right?"
      - It was the old part, and the part that doesn't have windows. You'll see when you are there, but most of PTY was fairly nice and pleasant to walk around.

      "Maybe they want to keep themselves "hidden" on purpose."
      - A hidden gem it is not, lol.

      "If only they could emulate SQ instead."
      - Baby steps ;) Since there is no place to go, but up for this lounge, maybe the future will be allow them to achieve 21st century UA status :P

      "Nice catering and the cake for dessert is a plus."
      - The dessert is definitely much classier than other desserts I've seen on short hops.

      Thanks for your comments Adan!

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