Review of Copa Airlines flight New York Panamá City in Economy

Airline Copa Airlines
Flight CM 807
Class Economy
Seat --
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 05:25
Take-off 20 Apr 14, 01:45
Arrival at 20 Apr 14, 06:10
CM 69 reviews
By SILVER 4841
Published on 5th May 2014
Hello everyone,

This is the 3rd installment of my trip to NE USA last Easter, previous trips, all on Copa Airlines are:


My time had come and I had to return to Colombia. My GF would stay till the 21st but I couldn't skip work and the only flight I found on the 20th was this one. I thought, well, at least I'll have the whole sunday for resting and going nice and crisp to work on monday…how wrong I was (HWIW) #1.

My e-ticket stated that my flight was due to depart at 0210am, but doing a re-check in order to plan my trip from the apartment we rented in Hoboken and JFK I noticed CM moved my flight earlier. No warning whatsoever by CM of this apparent schedule change. I thought, OK no problem, I'll get earlier to JFK and enjoy a last burger on the shake shack..HWIW #2 Thankfully my in-laws were not willing to let me go without having eaten so we had a last supper of sorts, really nice, and then off to my public transport odyssey to JFK.

NY's public transport can be really complicated when not used to it (in Europe they're way more simple IMO), but eventually you manage to get it. My main job at the moment was to document my trip well for my in-laws to do the same trip when they left to JFK, as they were not willing to shove USD $100+ on the cab ride to the airport. The first part was OK, a straightforward trip between Hoboken and 33rd St. on the PATH. Then the walking part to Penn Station (I wondered how were these guys to do with all their baggage, I only carried a backpack), but it was just one block's walk, doable. Last time I went to NY I used the E train to JFK and was OK, but the trip was horridly long. Thankfully MTA had a great fare on the LIRR for the weekends, so I chose to ride on the LIRR (just a pair of bucks more expensive than riding the subway). I almost missed my train as a silly girl was fruitlessly trying to buy her fare with her card, but it was not working. After I made myself notorious to them, they paid in cash and ran. I followed suit. I barely made it to the train but found a seat and space for my bag and all. The train ride was quick and OK (I overheard some WTF conversations between random people…talking about shootings and stuff) , but I do think those trains are not appropriate for riders with significant amounts of baggage. I made it to Jamaica and then on to the AirTrain, which took a long time to get to the station.

Waiting for the AirTrain.
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When the AirTrain finally picked us, I watched the city's lights for the last time and then made it into the Airport, it looked awkwardly still.

Copa flies from Terminal 4, which was practically deserted, apart from our flight and a AV flight to Bogotá, Caribbean seemed to have significant ops at the time, I reckon they were about 3 flights, including a 767.
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Check in was a breeze, the Copa people were cordial and smiling, I thought I was in for Copa's making up for their lousy flight between PTY and IAD HWIW #3

Security was cleared in less than 10 minutes, and now I was ready for my ….burger?

photo IMG_6222

Only a pair of Hudson News stands were open and for dinner…Mickey D's, I only wanted a Shake Shack burger, but they were shut. So with much resignation, I bought a pair of over priced chocolates and ice teas at the Hudson News and went to my gate.

The Caribbean 767, bound to Port of Spain and Georgetown if I'm not wrong.
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My gate was equipped with the latest in entertainment, forget the PS3s at CDG, better to have a throwback at the Arcade!
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An Virgin A333 sleeping before its flight to the UK, so long for the 4 engines 4 long haul I guess
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The most lively thing on the building at the hour
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Then…a pair of hours looking and listening to this apparently full flight's passengers, most of then hailing from my motherland (it's really impressive how many Colombians use CM)…everyone speaking loudly, all trying to brag about what an amazing time they've had in the USA . Eventually boarding was called, and hell broke loose, specially because of my countrymen and women, what a shame. But the gate agents were strict about enforcing the boarding order, and with a sly grin I passed before the disobedient crowd.

Upon entering the plane, disappointment hit as I noticed that our 737-800 was in the old configuration. A hard seat awaited, albeit with a rather decent legroom, not as great as the one on the 737-700 though. I cached up with some work in the meanwhile, 'till boarding was completed
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I was seated besides a big guy who was exactly to Brad Garrret and thus quite large. So Brad, kept brushing his arm against mine and was not willing to share the armrest with me. To make things merrier, my seat was dispossessed of a window-side I was to rest my arm against…myself.

The LCD screens were passing some ads whilst boarding took place. Then security video was passed and no more of them until 4 am (Panamá time).
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We taxied out of the gate on time, then taxied to RWY 31L. I noticed the pilot communicated with the crew in English with a way too American accent (maybe he was indeed American…or Canadian). He also made some sharp stops during the taxi, was he lost? We took off in no time, and then total darkness…
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The crew was not to be seen for the next 3 hours…I didn't noticed it at first, but then it hit me. The sheer cold, it was freezing. I cannot fathom any idea as of why CM failed to hand blankets, but this was the most uncomfortable (attempt to) sleep I've ever had (not even sleeping on the floor at ZRH, or a 9h bus ride between Lisbon and Seville were so awful), I was so cold that I preferred to move closer to Brad so his body heat could make the ordeal more bearable.

Around 4am, the smell of cinnamon woke me up, my belly began to make noises and request some food…and the cold, kept me awake waiting for the food. In order to make sure we were all well awake and wouldn't miss breakfast, the lights were lit…it felt rather rude.

The crew was very sleepy too, sloppily handing out the breakfasts. By the time they got to our seats the female FA (who was really hot…but equally rude) tried to nicely tell us that the options where either eggs or…eggs. Brad's wife asked then why the guys before were given French toasts, she made a mediocre attempt to lie, stating that they were reserved for the passengers in the back. I don't know what Brad's wife said afterwards, but the girl made a I hate you look and said to her mate no luck, we have to get the rest… and sure they took their time to prepare the toasts. When they got back to our row, I don't know why but Brad's wife chose eggs. The girl was about to burst…when she asked my I gingerly asked for toasts and OJ.

My Breakfast consisted of french toasts, strawberry yoghurt and a rock solid bread…all really good but for the stone passing as a bread. I regretted not requesting for seconds on the OJ, I always wake really thirsty and the cheapo glass I was served surely wasn't enough, but I wasn't ready to face the kindness of our hot FA.
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IFE consisted of a really crappy movie featuring Ben Stiller…again, as in the PTY-IAD the headphones were useless, so I just watched the thing while eating, and when done I went back to sleep.

By that time we where already on approach pattern and crossed Panamá into PTY's RWY 03R.
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Landing was a bit hard, nothing too horrible, and then we parked just on the gate next to the one for my BOG flight. I exited the plane and for the first time didn't thank the crew, not much to thank for…and landed myself on a seat and waited for my much hoped for flight home.
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Copa Airlines

Cabin crew1.0

New York - JFK


Panamá City - PTY



Plain simple: my worst flight ever. Copa's lame service standards showed off in their worst on this flight. Even the breakfast (Catering is CMs strong point) was marred by the meagre portions.

Things would have been very different if they changed some stuff: i.e.: remove the crappy crew, put people who enjoy their job or at least treat in a respectful way their passengers; I would have preferred a small sandwich just after take off, and then being able to doze all the way to PTY instead of being woken at 4am. Another big detail, don't be so cheap and hand everyone a blanket...for god's sake it's a 5h and a half flight during night, isn't it reasonable to expect people to sleep? AV hands blankets on 3h flights in the middle of the day...and as far as I know, the food service is just after takeoff so you can sleep the most on the JFK-BOG flight that departs at the same time.

But thanks to this experience, I promise to myself not to choose or recommend CM for a 3h+ flight unless they are the cheapest option by a LOT of money. Travel with dignity and chose AV or LA, or even an American carrier, they can't be as bad as CM (ok maybe NK can...but not even on NK I felt so disgraced as on this flight).

Additionally, the extra legroom is not as significant as to justify the awfulness of not having an armrest on the windowside.

JFK at midnight is heaven if you loathe crowds, queues and waits...but it comes at a price, you won't find anywhere to buy a last hour souvenir or a meal before your flight. Getting to JFK is either pricey, or complicated if you use public transport. I do enjoy the ride, it feels like an adventure against the urban jungle, but I guess it's not that fun when you're travelling with children and lots of bags.

PTY...was OK, being parked just at the gate besides your next flight's gate is an awesome treat by destiny after such a horrible flight.

Stay tuned for the final part, and thanks for reading.


Information on the route New York (JFK) Panamá City (PTY)


If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 108300 by
    KL651 TEAM 4518 Comments

    Thanks for this expected FR.
    It really looks like the meal protocole was planned by a sleepless executive in Panama...

    If you say the FA was that rude, I find it very funny that Brad's wife forced her to get the other option ready, and not take it after all.
    When you're having such a bad flight, this is the only small revenge you can get.

    • Comment 294034 by
      Chibcha SILVER AUTHOR 479 Comments

      Yeap, I didn't get that neither...maybe they had had a girl-rouse before and I didn't notice. Maybe she complained about the cold or asked for a blanket, and the FA barked back at her something nasty.

  • Comment 108340 by
    Caribel 113 Comments

    Glad to read your NYC visit built some lasting memories with your fiancee. The airport shuttle from NJ to JFK can be reserved for $15 at several hotel front desks. It may had made the trip more comfortable for the future in-laws to designate the daughter to carry all the luggage in the shuttle van and the rest of the group travel by public transport.

    I rolled on the floor laughing trying to not form a mental image of you snuggling against Bret G. lookalike for body warmth:).

    The catering service charges significantly less for the rock solid frozen breakfast trays than any other type of meal service. Therefore, the idea to hold the meal service towards arrival saves the carrier significantly over a year's time.

    It is commendable that when confronted with the FA military service style you did not ask her if it was that time of the month for her.

    Gracias por compartir de forma amena tus peripecias del viaje!

    • Comment 294035 by
      Chibcha SILVER AUTHOR 479 Comments

      New York was great, it's my favorite city so I always have a blast. Sharing that time with them, was even better. I came to realize that the Airporter would have been a great option for them when I got to Bogotá, but my GF had bought about 20 bucks in MetroCards for the AirTrain. So that's why they ended up riding on the LIRR. They didn't have any problem though, they're really hardcore and don't whine much.

      What you say about catering makes sense considering how cheap CM management is.

      Gracias por leer!

  • Comment 108344 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    What a flight from hell and the ungodly departure time does not help either.

    I guess your charming FA forgot to take her Valium. There is no excuse for rude service, although what you experienced is nothing compared to this report that I came across from another site.

    Thanks for sharing and hopefully your experience in NY was more positive.

  • Comment 108345 by
    Avionero 77 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this nice FR about a not so nice flight.
    Didn't you ask the hot FA to heat up the cabin? I mean if you asked her to increase the cabin temperature... :P
    After reading your FR, I'll never fly Copa in my life. It's ironic that CM has some of the highest fares from Argentina to Central America or USA. Sometimes much more expensive than Avianca or Lan. Talking about Lan, when you fly with them you must be ready to feel Antartica's weather in a cabin...

    • Comment 294036 by
      Chibcha SILVER AUTHOR 479 Comments

      Not really, I wasn't on the mood to confront that girl, I just wanted to sleep and that was it.

      I guessed CM would be cheaper in other parts of LatAm, but I really don't understand why shoving extra bucks for riding in old style cabins with crappy service. Of course, CM has a great operation in PTY, a lot of flights to everywhere an so on....but BOG and LIM are also making their job. And now with the new terminal @BOG, the connecting experience is not as crappy as it must have been before.

      ¿Does LAN hand blankets to all passengers? I wouldn't care about the cold if I had a blanket on top.

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