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.
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.
i wonder which airline is this.
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.
Arriving at TBIT.
*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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Star Alliance Lounge Business Class Section
Los Angeles - LAX
Panamá City - PTY
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.
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