Why To Fly Copa Airlines

The Pros and Cons of Copa Airlines

For most international flights, I choose a major carrier, but for my trip to Colombia, in order to find decent connection times, I opted for Copa Airlines.  I have used the airline for intra-South America flights, but it had a been a while, and I wasn’t sure what to expect flying from Denver International Airport.

Copa Airlines began operations in 1947 as a domestic airline in Panama.  Over time, it dropped its domestic flights and expanded to international flights in South America.  Before Continental merged with United, Continental was a 51% owner of the airline.  Copa flies 737s and while it generally focuses on South America, it has expanded into additional North American cities and even to a few European destinations.  With only one crash with fatalities, its safety record seems better than many airlines.

Copa Airlines is a member of Star Alliance and code shares with United.  Given Denver is one of United’s hub, I didn’t know if I would be checking in at the United counter or if Copa had its own counter.  It turns out, that Copa Airlines has its own counter and check-in starts three hours prior to departure.  No one was at the counter upon my arrival, so I joined the many customers waiting in line.

Looking back on my experience, below are the pros and cons I see for traveling in economy class on Copa Airlines.  I’ll start with the cons first and end on a positive note.


Checkin – Extremely slow (over an hour) in Denver though very good in Cartagena

In-flight Entertainment – On my six-hour flight to Panama City, only one relatively recent movie was shown on drop down TV’s and no wi-fi was on board.  In addition, no charging stations are available, so it is important to have all devices well charged and to have a back-up battery available if digital entertainment is your entertainment of choice. (Business class includes in the seat entertainment and charging stations).

Food – The dinner was fair.  The sandwich snacks included pressed meat which to me were disgusting.  I recommend bringing snacks.

food on copa airlines


Magazine – Surprisingly, the magazine includes interesting articles on health, science and destinations.  It  is written in Spanish and English, so it’s a good way brush up on language skills too!

copa airlines magazine

Flight Crew – The flight attendants were very friendly which is a nice change from many airlines.

Fares – Less than major airlines

Baggage – Internationally, both my checked and carry-on bags (one of each) flew for free

Frequent Flyer Club – It only takes four paid segments to become a preferred member!

Member of Star Alliance


The leg room on these 737’s is spectacular!  In addition, the window seat is close enough to the side fuselage that it is easy to rest against it.  ETB

legroom on copa airlines

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Published by

Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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