hile Copa Airlines isn’t the flashiest, and doesn’t feature a true first-class cabin, their business class product is solid all around and their hub in Panama makes it a convenient option for traveling to the Caribbean or South America.
This flight review was of Copa Airlines long haul business class, which was a significant improvement over the Copa Airlines short haul flight from Sint Maarten to Panama we had taken just hours before. Even though both were Boeing 737-800’s, the long-haul aircraft came equipped with individual IFE screens, charging outlets, seat controls, champagne, actual menus and amenity kits.
Airline: Copa Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800 (738)
Flight #: CM 456
Route: Panama City, Panama (PTY) to Las Vegas (LAS)
Date: November 17th, 2019
Departure Time: 7pm
Arrival Time: 11pm
Duration: 7 hours
Cabin: Business Class
Seats: 2A, 2B
Miles Used: 30K United miles each
Taxes & Fees: $5.60 each
Typical Cost to Purchase: $1,500 (SXM-PTY-LAX)
Value: 5 cents/mile
How We Booked Business Class from Sint Maarten to Las Vegas
This was the second flight of our two-flight trip home from the Caribbean. We visited several islands including Martinique, St. Barth, Saba and Sint Maarten! Each island is stunning in its own way, but it was St. Barth that stole our hearts.
Of course, Saba and Sint Maarten were beautiful as well 😊
We used a total of 30K United miles each to travel from Sint Maarten to Las Vegas (with a connection in Panama City). We had the option of doing an overnight layover in Panama, but we had spent one night there last year and saw the Panama Canal so we decided to pass on that opportunity. Always keep in mind on international award flights, connections <24 hours usually don’t break up into separate award flights. That makes for great opportunities to visit new cities.
It can be difficult to travel to the Caribbean on points and miles, especially in business class. The trick is to be flexible on both dates AND routings. Also keep in mind only certain islands in the Caribbean have airports that offer direct flights to and from the United States
Remember most Copa flights don’t feature lie-flat seat. You will get something that looks like domestic first class within the United States.
Check In at Panama Tocumen International Airport
Well since we were just connecting, there was no actual check-in at the Panama airport. We actually had about four hours to enjoy the airport lounges. Much more relaxing than our previous fiasco at the Panama airport last year.
Panama City, Panama Airport Lounges
There are three airport lounges at the PTY airport. The Copa Club, Tocumen Royal Saloon and The Lounge Panama by Global Lounge Network.
Access to Copa Club is a little confusing but essentially for:
• Business class or first class passengers traveling same day on Copa Airlines or an internationally on a Star Alliance member
• ConnectMiles Gold, Platinum or Presidential members traveling same day on Copa Airlines
• United Club members
• Priority Pass, Lounge Key, Lounge Club, Diners Club
• Passengers who purchased a same day pass
• A few other ways such as passengers flying KLM/Air France who are traveling business class or have KLM/Air France elite status, Aeromexico Premier passengers traveling on Aeromexico flights, Iberia Plus Elite or Infinita passengers traveling on Iberia flights
Access to Tocumen Royal Saloon is for:
• Iberia passengers traveling business class
• Iberia Platinum or Gold
• Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire passengers traveling in economy on flights operated by Iberia Group
• Priority Pass, Lounge Key, Lounge club, Diners Club
Access to The Lounge Panama by Global Lounge Network is for members who have access through
• Priority Pass, Lounge Key, Lounge Club or Diners Club
• Purchase a same day pass (when available) for ~$30
In short, The Lounge Panama by GLN was by far the nicest lounge. It had beautiful white modern décor with improved food and drink. It was a little smaller, but was actually less crowded then then Copa Lounge.
The Copa Lounge was dated and extremely crowded. While we were there, every seat was taken for the entire two our period. We finally decided to leave and check out The Lounge Panama by GLN and didn’t regret our decision for a second.
Boarding Copa Airlines 738
Boarding went smoothly, but again we were only offered predeparture water or orange juice. Last year we had flown a similar flight from Panama to Los Angeles and they were serving pre departure Cava.
Copa Airlines 737-800 Business Class Cabin
The current business class cabin on most Copa aircraft features 16 recliner seats in a 2-2 configuration over four rows.
Copa 737-8 Business Class Seat
Each business class seat has 49 inches of pitch and 20-21 inches of width. These is a similar width to most domestic first-class seats, but with a better recline and more legroom. For comparison the previous Copa short haul flight we were on only had 38 inches of pitch.
On each seat there was a small (not very comfortable) pillow and a blanket (also not very good quality)
The tray tables are located in each outer armrest.
The center shared armrest has two international charting outlets, the reclining seat controls, and houses the IFE monitors.
The very small and outdated IFE monitors are standard for Copa (when you’re lucky enough be on an aircraft that has IFE monitors and charging ports). The touch screen monitor was horribly unresponsive and the movie selection was pretty abysmal (see the selection of all 4 of the new releases available). But I guess it was better than no IFE monitor.
The sound quality of the headphones was ok, but felt low quality for business class. There was no noise cancelling feature.
One disadvantage to the charging outlets and the IFE screens was the box under the seat that took up some legroom. At least it was positioned in the center, so each passenger could still have their own legroom.
The amenity kit came in a blue sort of Mayan themed pouch. Included were an eye mask, earplugs, toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, hand lotion and socks. No slippers were included. This was decent enough for a 7 hour, non-red eye flight.
Food & Beverage Copa Business Class
About 30 minutes after takeoff, we were offered a glass of champagne and warm salty snack. The cava was very good for the price range and runs ~$15-20 a bottle on the ground. In this price range, I appreciate when the airlines choose a good Cava or Crémant.
There was one menu for the Panama to Las Vegas route and a separate menu for the Las Vegas to Panama route. We had two choices for mains, either the chicken or fish. Both Jess and I chose the chicken.
We started with the pumpkin and ginger soup, was phenomenal. It was delicious, flavorful, and not too creamy with a hint of ginger on the end. The salad was a little plain, and the leaves were browning.
The main was a breaded chicken parmesan. It was actually tender and flavorful. I enjoyed it over the mashed potatoes and overly cooked mixed vegetables.
The dessert was classic Copa, but fantastic. It actually remains one of our favorite deserts on any flight. Vanilla ice cream, caramel, walnuts, Bailey’s and a glass of Remy Martin, what’s not to love?
Meal service was a little slow and ended 3 hours after departure.
It was interesting the lights were turned off immediately for departure and for about the first 1.5 hours of the flight (including the first 45 minutes of meal service). You would think that since it was only 4pm in Las Vegas at the time of departure they would keep the lights on to try and keep passengers up to help with the jet lag.
Our seven-hour flight from Panama City to Los Angeles was comfortable and enjoyable. We had a great overall experience and appreciated the staff at the check-in counter being flexible and allowing us to check bags before our passports arrived at the airport.
Now that Copa has lie-flat beds on certain routes, I would try to book those if possible, especially for a red eye flight. The recliner seats we had on our flight were comfortable enough for short nap though. Either way, Copa Airlines remains a convenient way to travel to many spots in the Caribbean and South America for Star Alliance travelers.