Review of Copa Airlines flight Los Angeles Panamá City in Economy

Airline Copa Airlines
Flight CM 473
Class Economy
Seat 17D
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 06:40
Take-off 22 Oct 16, 11:30
Arrival at 22 Oct 16, 20:10
CM   #92 out of 139 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 62 reviews
jetsetpanda
By 1015
Published on 7th November 2016
Hello and welcome to another series that will take me to SJO to visit some relatives and allow me the opportunity to try a new airline - COPA.

As some of you know, I was matched to CM's Connectmiles Platinum level some time ago and I was looking forward to this new experience. I guess if you are an aviation geek trying any new airline will be an exciting event.

My schedule will be as follow:

SFO-LAX on AA F - will not report.
LAX-PTY on CM Y - you are here.
PTY-SJO on CM J - click here.
SJO-PTY on CM J - click here.
PTY-LAS on CM J - click here.
LAS-SFO on B6 Y - click here.


I bought my CM ticket as two one way LAX-PTY-SJO and SJO-PTY-LAS. Part of the reason was because I wanted to visit the *A lounge in LAX which I have read so much about and this gave me the perfect excuse to pay a visit. in order to get to LAX I bought a one way SFO-LAX on AA and was upgraded on the day of dept. when I tried to standby for an earlier flight. I will not write a FR on that segment since I spent most of the time trying to sleep. Instead I will share a few pictures of the sunrise during take off and landing in LAX. My return from LAS-SFO will be on B6 as another separate ticket but this flight will prove to be problematic and I will report on how B6 handled this situation.

Dept. SFO-LAX on AA.




Landing in LAX.





Spotting.

photo aa 6043 sfo-lax 26 - copy

i wonder which airline is this.

photo aa 6043 sfo-lax 27 - copy


We arrived at the remote terminal where we had to wait for the shuttle buses to take us to either T6 or T4. It's a mess and there are two huge lines of people anxious to connect. The line to T6 is shorter, so I chose to go there and trek my way to TBIT. After about 15-20 min. I get on the bus and I am finally on my way. We are dropped at T6 and have to climb some stairs in order to access the terminal. Not the most convenient way to transfer.

I make my way to TBIT by going through several connecting tunnels between terminals.

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Arriving at TBIT.

photo dsc04811 - copyphoto dsc04844 - copy


*A Gold Lounge.

I arrived at the reception desk outside after 09:15A and the agent tried to scan my home printed boarding pass but the machine doesn't read it, so she has to manually enter the information. She reminds me to keep an eye on my dept. time since T6 is quite a walk from where we are. I inquired about a shower and she tells me to go all the way to the end and to take any free shower suite if there are no agents there.

photo star alliance lax 1 - copy


Upon entering the lounge I come across many different seating sections. I soon find the showers and takes the one at the end of the hall.




Showers.

First impression is good when I entered the shower suite. There are plenty of towels and the place looks clean and fairly spacious but soon I come across a few glitches. The handle for the shower feels loose and the hot water does not come out until a good 5 min. wait. (an excessively long time). At one point I felt like leaving and switching to another room.




After a refreshing shower I set out to explore the patio area. It's empty except for two employees cleaning the place. It is a nice outdoor area but i am sure that it's more enchanting during the evening when the fireplace is lit. I was expecting this area to be bigger.




Back inside to get some breakfast. There are several choices including Western & Asian items. There is a separate noodle station which is a big plus, especially for the Asian passengers on flights departing in the morning and midday.




I start with the Western choices.

photo star alliance lax 27 - copy

i arranged all the ingredients for my noodle soup and when i get ready for the broth the container is empty. I wait for a while and nobody seems to replenish it and I saw at least one agent inspect the empty container. At this point I can't wait any longer and leave for T6 for my flight. I must say that compared to the Oneworld lounge, the latter is better run and more proactive when it comes to the buffet set up.

I finally arrived at T6 and look for my gate 65B. There is 65A being used by AS and that created a lot of confusion since 65B is nowhere near there. It so happens that it is on the other side past a restaurant. At the gate I ask one of the agent to have my boarding pass reprinted and presents her with my Connectmiles card. She proceeds to question me about my return trip. It's on a separate booking and she asked me for it. I didn't have it with me off the top of my head and I told her to look it up using my frequent flyer number. She replied that she couldn't look it up that way and I suggested her to use flight #, date and my last name. There was something about this interaction that started to bother me. Perhaps it was the condescending tone of the agent talking to me like an inexperienced traveler but that really irked me. I'm the last person on earth who would pull out the "DYKWIA" card and has always treated others like the way I want to be treated, but when I don't feel valued as a loyal customer and on top of that you give me the round around, then it really gets the best of me. I eventually find a piece of paper in my wallet with the other reservation written on it, but I let the agent type and research all the information while I stand there waiting. Finally she returns my card saying that all the information is in the record and hands me my new boarding passes. I thanked her and proceed to the priority line and get in line with the other passengers. It goes without saying that this interaction was documented in the survey that CM sent me to ask about my experience flying with them.

Gate.

photo cm 473 lax-pty 1

Boarding begins with priority given to passengers in wheelchairs and families. A FA at the door welcomes me aboard and I proceed to take my seat. There is plenty of room around the EMERG EXIT row.

photo cm 473 lax-pty 2 - copyphoto cm 473 lax-pty 3 - copyphoto cm 473 lax-pty 4 - copy


After everybody boards and the door is closed, a FA walks around the cabin with a piece of paper and stops by my side. He gives me a personal welcome as a PLT member and thanks me for flying CM. He mentions that if I need anything i should let him know. A nice touch indeed.

i was in an EMERG EXIT row and a FA came to confirm that we understood our duties in case of an emergency. There was an English speaker on the other side and the FA addressed him in English and allowed him to keep his seat. I find it strange that NGO85 was changed to another seat when the FA found out that he couldn't speak Spanish while occupying the EMERG EXIT row in his FR.

We taxied out and in a matter of minutes took off. Service started with the beverage cart followed by lunch. There was a choice of chicken or beef and I had the chicken. CM has an unique drink which is guava with pineapple juice and I ordered that to accompany my meal. i should mention that liquor was free in the back.

photo cm 473 lax-pty 5 - copyphoto cm 473 lax-pty 6 - copy


Lunch.

The meal was average and reminded me of a U.S. carrier meal with the salad as an appetizer and the package of cookies for dessert.

photo cm 473 lax-pty 7 - copyphoto cm 473 lax-pty 8 - copy

Coffee or tea was offered after the trays were picked up. During the flight FA's made a pass with water.


As far as entertainment there was IFE but the selection of programs feel limited and could have been better. Free earphones were distributed at the beginning.


Here comes a surprise. At about 1.5 hrs before arrival a beverage and snack service was conducted. This time there was a choice between chicken empanada or beef sandwich. I had the empanada and it was served warm with the empanada sticking to the wrapper. While the execution was less than ideal, it was appreciated that CM offered something extra for those in the back, not to mention a choice of 2 items.



We landed in PTY a few minutes later than anticipated and ran to my connecting gate.
See more

Verdict

Copa Airlines

7.9/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Meal/catering7.0

Star Alliance Lounge Business Class Section

8.3/10
Comfort9.0
Meal/catering7.5
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Services7.5

Los Angeles - LAX

7.8/10
Efficiency7.0
Access8.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.5

Panamá City - PTY

6.8/10
Efficiency6.0
Access7.0
Services6.5
Cleanliness7.5

Conclusion

My first experience with CM got off to a shaky start. My upgrade did not clear and the incident at the gate left a slightly sour impression. I have read that CM flights to and from LAX are the hardest to upgrade so my expectations were in check. What I did not foresee was the "attitude" of some staff members on the ground. While they were not outright rude in the truest definition of the word, the air of condescend and indifference when spoken to was bothersome, especially to a supposedly valued elite member in their program. Hopefully this was a one "off" incident and I did not see this again dealing with agents in PTY or SJO.

The crew on the other hand were efficient and professional, if not overly friendly. I was referred by name and the personal welcome as a PLT member in their program was a nice gesture.

During the meal service alcoholic drinks were available along with soft drinks. Meals were OK but at least they provided a choice between two proteins instead of one protein and a vegetarian. The second snack was a surprise and it was a generous touch.

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

15 Comments

  • Comment 373269 by
    Drewj21 21 Comments

    Having flown in CM, I can tell you that the level of service is superb, even for Y! Its great to see meals provided. Most airlines don't do that anymore. Also notice the Similarities between CM and CO/UA in seats and branding. Continental owned half of CM before the merger and brought them into the *A. After the merger, UA sold most of it's shares back to CM. UA only owns about 35% of CM now, compared to 51% owned by Pre Merger Continental

    • Comment 373435 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2295 Comments

      Yes, the similarities between the former CO and CM are uncanny. They were like twins. Legacy Latin American carriers still serve meals as opposed to most U.S. carriers.

      Thank you for that information and your comments.

  • Comment 373325 by
    757Fan 583 Comments

    Good report, Jetsetpanda! Looks like you had a nice flight with Copa. It's good that they still serve free meals in Coach, and free drinks as well too. I only flew them on a short flight between PTY and David, Panama back in September last year, but we got a snack and a drink on the very short flight, and the service was quite good. Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 373381 by
    KL651 TEAM 4456 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.
    From the reports of Chibcha I didnt have a good impression of CM but this FR shows on the contrary a really nice product for a flight of this duration compared to what you'd get on a US airline.

  • Comment 373390 by
    joaointhesky 69 Comments

    Good FR! CM operates in the city I live, and It seems it is a great way to go to the USA or Caribe.

    "i wonder which airline is this."

    This is N254MY, that operates for Dynamic Airways. Its tail, however, has its last operator livery - Paraguay Airlines.

  • Comment 373430 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Thanks for the FR, we were ships passing in the night at LAX that morning.

    You were wise to depart from LAX since you are guaranteed this new cabin, I'd hate to be stuck on the IFE-less B738s on a 6-hour daytime flight. The catering isn't very compelling, with a tray reminiscent of old UA/CO catering. The pre-arrival snack is a very nice touch from CM and it similar to what they offer on their short 1-2 hour flights (had something similar on the PTY-UIO-PTY sectors). I'd have to rate this catering pretty high since it is more than you'd get on a LAX-SJO direct flight.

    The exit row issue might be related to the nature of the flight. When I was kicked out of the exit row PTY-UIO and UIO-PTY, that was traveling between 2 Spanish speaking countries. Maybe they have different policies for flights into English speaking countries? Or the crew just didn't care to enforce the company's policy since online it did say that Spanish-language was required when I double checked.

    • Comment 373439 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2295 Comments

      Hi Michael.

      My understanding is that SFO gets the new 738 because it is one of the longest route on CM's network. we'll see on Thu.

      Perhaps the exit row issue is governed by the dept. country as you said, but if it is clearly stated on their website then it is a matter of enforcement.

      Thanks for your comments.

      • Comment 373455 by
        NGO85 1622 Comments

        "new 738 because it is one of the longest route on CM's network"
        - Distance has nothing to do with it. YYZ gets old planes too. If you read the fleet info page in the magazine, it has a footnote stating which routes are guaranteed the new cabin. The rest are just a crap shoot.

        • Comment 373457 by
          jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2295 Comments

          I've been looking at the seat map on my flight out of SFO and I've read that if row 11 is missing, then it's the new configuration. My flights do not have this row.

          • Comment 373508 by
            NGO85 1622 Comments

            "if row 11 is missing, then it's the new configuration"
            - Makes sense since the J cabin should be longer in the new configuration with the increased seat pitch. The fact that they can't guarantee the new cabins on all their US/Canada routes is just poor since they seem to regularly deploy them on regional flights.

  • Comment 373484 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Stunning aerial shots and great spotting shots from LAX!

    Nice pictures from the lounge. No hot water for 5 minutes? I hope they fix that soon.

    The updated cabin looks nice IMO.

    Catering services don't look bad on this flight.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 373511 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2295 Comments

      Hi RI777.

      "No hot water for 5 minutes? I hope they fix that soon."
      - I hope so too. That is a long wait for hot water. On top of that the broth for the noodles was not quickly replenished. Is this the lounge that so many fans rave about?

      Catering on any legacy Latin carrier is better than the U.S. ones for this route.

      Thanks for your visit.

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