Review of Copa Airlines flight Bogota Panamá City in Premium Eco

Airline Copa Airlines
Flight CM 658
Class Premium Eco
Seat --
Aircraft Boeing 737-700
Flight time 01:40
Take-off 03 Jul 13, 15:55
Arrival at 03 Jul 13, 17:35
CM   #28 out of 121 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 63 reviews
Chibcha
By 4066
Published on 17th December 2013
Hello everyone, this is the first part of a 5 flight series from BOG to ZRH and back. Routing: BOG-PTY-AMS-ZRH-CDG-BOG.

Background:

After arriving from my trip to Switzerland and France in May, I was greeted with the news that I had won a scholarship for a summer course in Bern. The scholarship covered my transportation from Colombia to Switzerland and I have a given amount to do so.

Candidly, I was practically budget free to plan my way to Europe. I had already tried LH, AV and didn't really want to ride on IB unless it was extremely necessary. KLM turned out with a very interesting offering routing me via PTY so I could try their service and then returning me more directly via CDG on AF's A343. There were other interesting options as BOG-PTY-AMS-ZRH-AMS-LIM-BOG, which really tempted me but I didn't want to miss the chance to fly on the A343.

Ever since I was a boy I dreamt with riding those white giants that floated over Bogotá in the afternoons and since their retirement is somewhat eminent I rushed to book on this flight so I wouldn't miss the A340-300 as I missed flying on the MD11, A300 and so on.
___________________________________

Now to what concerns us…

My mum was also flying that day so we arranged to meet at the airport and have lunch together, which meant I would be 5 hours before my SDT, but that is OK with me.

I was a bit worried that CM wouldn't check me all the way through to ZRH, thus forcing me to enter Panamá and checking in in PTY, but check in was rather swift and painless. My mum on the other hand had to battle herself in AV's lines, which where huge with the summer vacation mobs.

The night before I had tried to check-in online, but CM's page didn't allow me to go through because the other two flights were on KL. I still managed to secure a seat on the Business Class cabin, I don't know how or why. I would be OK riding regular Y class, specially since it would have allowed me to compare AV's product…but since I had the connecting flight it was better to be the closest to the door.

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After my lunch with my mum, I waved her off to her flight and spent my time spotting BOG's afternoon activity:

AA's afternoon 763 flight to MIA
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Avianca's A330s on Star livery, these were leaving to deep south america destinations (maybe one to JFK)
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Spirit's single flight to FLL, I really like this livery, the current one sucks.
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AA is ready to go
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This A332 was filled with Venezuelans going back to their homeland.
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In a quick visit to the toilet I saw something that really got to my nerves, the new terminal is not even a year old and it is already vandalized…
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AV's workhorse…don't recall where to.
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My plane after landing from PTY
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The gate was still occupied by AV's Airbus, so the plane had to do some sort of circle to let the AV plane out, BOG's new terminal is already small for the traffic it's receiving
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While the CM plane was sorting things out, AF's flight from CDG made it
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AV's flight to CCS good to go.
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Apparently KLM handles ground services for AF in BOG…but there isn't any KLM service to BOG (yet)…sigh
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I've always found A343s so gorgeous…in BOG's previous terminal they seemed huge, now they don't seem so big.
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TACA's A320 to SJO…catch them while you can.
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AV's afternoon flight to MAD
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AV's new livery on a wingleted A320
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Don't know why they weren't using the airbridge to service the plane.
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Jetblue operates 3 daily flights to BOG (2 from FLL, 1 from MCO), this one was leaving to Orlando filled with Mickey Mouse seekers
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Soon enough it was time to board
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The first thing that I noticed is that this particular 737-700 must have been one of Copa's oldest, secondly that this was an all economy flight (hence why I put premium economy)

Being in the bulkhead, legroom is okay. Seats were those huge leather sofa-like C-class seats that UA also has on their 737s
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View from my seat consisted of B6's A320
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The flight was full (lucky me that had front seat for the run in PTY)…but it was efficiently boarded so we were out in schedule
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Security briefing was via drop down screens, visibility was poor from my seat.
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Taxying to RWY 13R meant I could see BOG's terminal buildings…All of BOG's longhauls are operated on airbuses, on the European side by A340s
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As you can see, BOG is mostly airbus-land
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BOG's former terminal supporting CM's and LA's domestic ops, a pair of Satena Dorniers can be spotted too.
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RWY 13L, 3800 metres long, its supposed to be streched up to 4000 metres but I don't know what happened with that.
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An A332 being checked at the engine check zone
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We took off after an AV A320…

New terminal still at works at the time.
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This is one of Latin America's best liveries…a shame to see it go, hopefully AV does like AA is going to do and preserve some heritage liveries.
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BOG Cargo taken over by TAMPA and Avianca (they don't have where else to put their A332s while they're resting for their longhauls), AV's Puente Aéreo on the other side of the road.
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Some hangars…can you spot the bunch of black Diesel 9s? an interesting visitor from our sister nation can be seen too.
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Flights to Central America mean a eastward departure circling over southern Bogotá and then crossing western Colombia…this meant nice views of Bogotá:

Northern Bogotá, Titan Plaza in the middle of the picture is one of Latin America's biggest malls
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Bogotá's geographic centre is dominated by Simón Bolivar Park, biggest one in the city.
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Highrise buildings in Chapinero Borough, Chile Avenue CBD and Bogotá's posh district can be seen by the hills.
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El Campín football stadium and coliseum with Chapinero on the background.
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The Ciudad Universitaria houses Colombia's National University.
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Skyscrapers in the Centro Internacional
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South Bogotá
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VOR station where the city ends…I believe this one is SOACHA VOR
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An interesting bridge is being built in the countryside
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This town is called La Mesa, as it is located on a plateau, you can see the terrain difference at the left side of it.
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Banking northward now…
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Magdalena River Valley
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Over Tolima department, these lands were destroyed in 1985 by a lahar caused by the Nevado del Ruiz volcanic eruption, a whole town called Armero was whiped out.
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Can you spot the volcano?
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Fumes can be seen out of Arenas crater.
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Nevado del Tolima can also be seen further south
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Passing Nevado del Ruiz means we were over the city on its foothills, Manizales, capitol city of Caldas Department.
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By this time service begun, it consisted of a ham and cheese sandwich (2-bite size), cream filled cookies and a soda…nothing to write home about and not even worth of a picture.

Clouds had taken their cue and blocked the views all the way up to Panamá…we pass over the Chocó region, where it rains the most in the world.

These islands mean we're about to land in Tocumen international airport.
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And soon a lovely sunset arrival over Panamá City with the ships waiting to cross the Panamá Canal.
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Amador's Causeway is a breakwater on the entry to the Canal
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The Panamenian Goverment chose to built a highway and park around the historic district of Panamá City…foolish decision IMO.
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Sadly the mist blocked the view…one of Latin America's best skylines with most of the region's tallest buildings.
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Costa del Este
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Skyscrapers in Punta Pacifica, Paitilla and so on…
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The view was somewhat surreal, I liked it a lot.
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Touchdown in PTY's RWY 3R
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If BOG is Airbusland, PTY is Boeingland clearly dominated by CM. AV's red screaming out of the sea of blue…my ride to AMS can also be seen.
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IB's A343 ready to go back to Barajas. Even though I'm not thrilled with the idea of riding one of those planes (yet), one can't deny they're gorgeous.
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KLM 777-200 PH-BQD Darjeeling Railway waiting for me…(yeah sure)
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On our arrival gate on time, besides a company 738 with an EMB190 behind.
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As soon as I could I hopped off my seat, thanked the crew and ran to the gate where the KL flight was going to leave…

To be Continued…
See more

Verdict

Copa Airlines

6.8/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi3.0
Meal/catering6.0

Bogota - BOG

7.9/10
Efficiency10.0
Access7.5
Services7.0
Cleanliness7.0

Panamá City - PTY

4.6/10
Efficiency5.0
Access4.5
Services4.5
Cleanliness4.5

Conclusion

CM and AV enjoy an oligopoly (thus, an Star Alliance monopoly) on the BOG-PTY run (about 10 flights daily between the two), which turns it in one of the most expensive destinations ex-BOG (between 300-600 USD roundtrip, you can go to Mexico, Argentina or even Spain for that price). Their product is fairly similar on both carriers, but AV has the upper hand with the IFE offering.

On Copa Airlines:
The crew was courteous enough, nothing extraordinary but the situation did not demand further from them I guess. Catering was Ok, not the tastiest thing ever but not filthy either. The plane is clearly showing its age and looked really worn (sorry for the lack of pics). Being able to book a Biz class seat for free was a good deal though, but I still suspect it was a system glitch more than a commonplace occurrence.

On Bogotá Eldorado:
The new terminal is clearly a huge improvement over the previous one, but it is rather lacking considering that it is supposed to be AV's superhub for Latin America. It is a shame that people don't take care of it, and that the management doesn't keep it well neither.

On Panamá Tocumen:
It is great for connecting between CM flights...no so on the KL flight, but I will address this more thoroughly on the next FR.

Thanks for reading and happy new year!

Information on the route Bogota (BOG) Panamá City (PTY)

11 Comments

  • Comment 95892 by
    Numero_2 GOLD 9930 Comments

    Thanks for this new FR.

    I can't believe that you've been to Switzerland twice in three months !

    Looking forward to read your next reports, to see if KL and AF are a better option than LH and LX on the route from South America to Europe.

  • Comment 95901 by
    White 524 Comments

    Thanks for this report !

    PTY looks to be an efficient hub between North and Latin America.
    I saw some pics of CM's new metals (738) on A.net, and the cabin looks better than the old 737's cabin :
    http://www.airliners.net/photo/Copa-Airlines/Boeing-737-8V3/2270621/&sid=96a2875ddf27381444cf58d0a92c130d

    • Comment 285834 by
      Chibcha AUTHOR 432 Comments

      Indeed PTY is the most efficient hub (I would dare to say) in America considering the amount of possible connections. You can practically reach every part of the continent from there, kudos to CM!

      As you've said, CM is catching up and upgrading their product with enhanced IFE and so on...AV will have it a long way in order to compete with its in house rival.

  • Comment 95931 by
    Alcam 2072 Comments

    Thanks for this interesting routing, with nice pictures and beautiful views and explanations on what we see.
    Looking forward to reading the next one

  • Comment 95948 by
    KL651 TEAM 4492 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.
    Nice geographical explanations again.
    Too bad the PTY-AMS route isn't operated with MD11 anymore. I remember being at Schiphol, watching MD11 boarding (to PTY or YUL) wihing I was boarding that bird too.

  • Comment 95962 by
    lagentsecret GOLD 12419 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR

    A lot of great aerial pictures

    See you soon for the next leg

  • Comment 95973 by
    marathon GOLD 9566 Comments

    Spirit's livery is great, but I read recently that they have the worst seat pitch in the industry.
    I do not recall ever seeing a graffiti in an airport.
    No airbridge to service the plane ? Maybe because of the charge for using it, the reason why some cheaper airlines do that for boarding even though the plane is next to the terminal.
    Great pictures of Bogota and the landscape thereafter !
    I read (and experienced, in a distant past) so many bad reports on IB that I can't even like their livery.
    Great report, I'm looking forward to read about what happened next.

    • Comment 286338 by
      Chibcha AUTHOR 432 Comments

      I've tried NK on the BOG-FLL run, they weren't that awful but with the prices they have I don't see why spending your money on them if there are far more better options for even less.

      The plane was eventually connected to the airbridge, didn't get the logic of the move.

      Let's hope IB gets its act together and eventually we can those planes give us a smile!

      Cheers!

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