One of Latin America's most popular airlines, Copa Airlines provides a variety of useful connections between US cities and major destinations in Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and beyond. Every year, it's the carrier of choice for more than 13 million travelers, and could be an excellent choice for those headed to Latin American cities.
Founded in 1947 as Panama's national carrier, Copa has been running flights to the US since the 1980s and has since expanded its US roster to Boston, Chicago, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York JFK, Orlando, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington D.C.. It's now a great option for flights to Bogota, Rio de Janeiro, Quito, or Panama City.
Owned by the Panamanian group Copa Holdings, Copa has its main hub at Tocumen International Airport (PTY) and operates a fleet of 97 planes, the vast majority of which are variations of the Boeing 737. The company has a reliable safety rating, with very few incidents over its long history.
Copa is part of the Star Alliance of 26 global airlines, allowing travelers to earn air miles for international travel. It also allows travelers to join the ConnectMiles frequent flier scheme. Linked to the Star Alliance, this club includes lounge access, extra baggage limits, courtesy upgrades, and many other benefits.
The airline also has a strong reputation for efficiency, being ranked the second most punctual airline in the world by OAG. Over the years, it has performed well in SkyTrax awards, has an APEX five-star rating for passenger service, and scores well with FlightStats as well.
Copa Airlines provides a choice of ticket classes, with varying levels of space and on-board services. However, a high standard of service and comfort is guaranteed no matter which ticket class you choose.
Luxury is routine with Copa's Business Class tickets. Business travelers enjoy priority boarding, a wide range of fine wines (or a specially chosen "Rum of the Month"), gourmet meals, toiletry kits, and blankets if needed. Most Business Class seats have a 49-inch pitch and a 20-inch width - ensuring a relaxed voyage.
Economy Class seats have a pitch of 31-inches and measure 17-inches wide, so they are more limited than Business Class (but still extremely comfortable). All passengers enjoy access to on-screen entertainment or on their own devices via the Copa Showpass. Content includes new movies, live music, documentaries, kids shows and much more. Meals are also provided for all Economy travelers on flights between Panama and the USA, although there is no onboard WiFi.
Copa Club lounges are open for ConnectMiles or Star Alliance Gold members in Bogota, Guatemala City, Medellin, Panama, San Jose, and Santo Domingo airports. All feature WiFi, relaxing environments, business amenities, newspapers, and bar facilities.
Baggage allowances with Copa vary by ticket class and whether travelers are members of loyalty schemes, but flexibility is always part of the package. Passengers can check-in online for their convenience. Online check-in begins 24 hours before flights, and ends 1 hour prior to departure.
Business Class travelers can check in 2 bags, each one weighing no more than 32kg (70lbs). A $175 charge applies for any extra items.
Travelers can also take a single 10 kg (22lbs) bag on-board with them.
Economy Class travelers can check in 2 bags, each one weighing no more than 23 kg (50 lbs). Again, a charge applies for additional baggage.
As with Business Class, passengers may also take a single piece of carry-on luggage, weighing 10 kg (22 lbs).
The size of each item is the same in all classes. For checked luggage, items must not exceed maximum dimensions of 158 cm (62-inches).
The dimensions of carry-on luggage must not exceed 118 cm (46-inches), or dimensions of 56 cm (22-inches) x 36 cm (14-inches) x 26 cm (10-inches).
If luggage exceeds the weight or dimensions listed above, excess baggage fees will kick-in and carry-on items may be consigned to the hold. ConnectMiles members can check-in oversized sports equipment with no extra charges (although the number of items must fit in with general luggage guidelines). However, in all other cases, extra items like musical instruments or golf clubs will incur excess fees.
Any infants aged up to 23 months do not count as occupying a seat. Tickets cost 10% of the standard rate, and extra seats can be booked as needed. Child seats can also be taken on-board, providing they meet Copa's carry-on regulations.
It's also useful to know about baggage benefits for ConnectMiles members. Members of Copa's frequent flier scheme above Gold tier can add an extra checked item when flying internationally. They also receive preferential baggage handling, potentially reducing delays upon arrival.