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Old Aug 16, 12, 1:33 am   #1
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
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Copa, PTY connection questions.

I generally fly OW airlines and know little about *A airlines/hubs. I am considering Copa for an upcoming trip because I can stopover in PTY and I can add some miles to my UA Mileage Plus account. My questions:-

What is PTY airport like for connections? The COPA flights I am looking at have a two hour connection in PTY is this sufficient?

Does PTY have a good duty free store, I'm primarily interested in liquor not cosmetics or tobacco.

Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks.

Last edited by startpacking; Aug 16, 12 at 1:49 am.
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Old Aug 16, 12, 2:14 am   #2
 
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2 hours is more than sufficient. Personally I regard PTY as one of the most transfer friendly airports I've ever seen. You can walk through the whole place in 10 minutes, there's no extra security check (they do perform a gate check if you're boud for the US though) or immigration.

Lots of duty free shops, actually the place looks more like a shopping centre with a runway. I'm not impressed with the selection of liquor though. Put that might just be me.

Ah, at peak hours it can be very cramped.

Bottomline is you won't be bored, and 2 hours is more than enough.
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Old Aug 16, 12, 2:26 am   #3
 
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PTY is easy. You simply walk off the plane into the waiting crowd, find a monitor for your next gate, and the walk is most likely less than 10 minutes. No separation of arriving/departing passengers, no security for transit. US-bound departures will have extra security (and liquid confiscation) at the gate.

Having the typical equatorial weather with afternoon showers and a simple airspace and airfield layout, PTY has no complicated weather/capacity issues like NYC. Copa itself sells a lot of 45-minute connections and can manage them well.
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Old Aug 16, 12, 9:40 am   #4
 
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Originally Posted by HkCaGu View Post
No separation of arriving/departing passengers, no security for transit. US-bound departures will have extra security (and liquid confiscation) at the gate.
I agree with all that is said in the prior posts. I transit all the time, and would be comfortable even with a 45 minute connection. One warning: Not all announcements are made in English, especially for flights to non-English speaking countries, and the ones that are made in English are hard to understand. If you don't speak Spanish, keep a close eye on the monitors and what your fellow passengers are doing.

To expand on the liquid confiscation, when you are getting on a US-bound flight you will go through a hand luggage inspection and pat-down at the gate. They will deny boarding to any liquids except for duty-free stuff that you will get on the jetway.

Therefore, unlike the US, you cannot carry on a drink that you bought on the concourse. Also, if you buy a liquid at the duty free at your originating airport, you cannot carry it on your US bound flight in PTY. You won't have access to your checked luggage, so you will be out of luck. For example, if I were to buy booze at the Medellin duty free when flying MDE-PTY-IAD, I would lose it at the gate. There is no size exception, so even a small bottle of perfume would be lost. I am not sure what they do about medical stuff.

Note: Many of the store operators have multiple stores. In one case, I shopped at a store that was not the closest to my gate. When I went to check out, I was told that I had to make my purchase at their store closest to the gate, as that location did not service my gate. Annoying, especially since "my" store was closed due to an electrical problem.

If you are headed to your Latin America destination, they will actually give you your stuff in the store to carry out. As far as I know, the classic duty-free system of collecting your stuff on the jetway only applies to North America-bound flights.
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Old Aug 16, 12, 9:53 am   #5
 
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I like this airport and you should have no problem whatsoever with the connection. Lots of Duty Free stores though most are quite small.
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Old Aug 16, 12, 10:13 am   #6
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Thumbs up Super Easy!

PTY has got to the the best/easiest international airport I have ever connected through. No security/customs/immigration recheck or clearance required.
Airport is well laid out & easy to navigate.

Word of warning though; Copa likes to Pre-board SUPER early!!! Two weeks ago we were flying PTY>UIO. Departure time was 7:05pm, they started the pre-boarding at 6:05pm. Wasn't an issue as we were at the gate already.

If you are flying in Business, make sure you try their Rum of the Month. Had a rum from Panama & one from Costa Rica, DAMN FINE STUFF (-:
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Old Aug 16, 12, 10:28 am   #7
 
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Many thanks for the helpful replies and all the tips.
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Old Nov 18, 13, 11:32 am   #8
 
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I'm looking at a J award IAD -> GIG via PTY with a connection time of 33 min. Too close?
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Old Nov 18, 13, 12:46 pm   #9
 
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Tricky. I have a really good on time performance with Copa, I cant remember ever being late and I surely never missed a connection in PTY, but 33 minutes is risky.
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Old Nov 18, 13, 4:43 pm   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirD0c View Post
I'm looking at a J award IAD -> GIG via PTY with a connection time of 33 min. Too close?
I agree 33 minutes is tight but doable. I would probably risk it but be aware that I might misconnect.

That's an awfully long time to be in those seats though. No availability on UA metal?
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Old Nov 18, 13, 5:07 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
I agree 33 minutes is tight but doable. I would probably risk it but be aware that I might misconnect.

That's an awfully long time to be in those seats though. No availability on UA metal?
World Cup

It's UA C or Copa J.
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Old Nov 18, 13, 6:56 pm   #12
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Originally Posted by AirD0c View Post
World Cup

It's UA C or Copa J.
Sorry, but why would you even consider picking Copa J over the UA lie-flat? Especially since IAD-PTY is on the old 737-700 with a domestic F seat? UA has its problems, but the international BF hard product absolutely blows Copa away.
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Old Nov 18, 13, 7:12 pm   #13
 
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Sorry, but why would you even consider picking Copa J over the UA lie-flat? Especially since IAD-PTY is on the old 737-700 with a domestic F seat? UA has its problems, but the international BF hard product absolutely blows Copa away.
Sorry typo! UA Y or COPA J. Of course I'd fly UA biz if they had seats but they're being stingy around WC- I was stalking for months before they were released, still nothing.

Anyway I think the 33 min. is too close. Alternative is 7 hours but might be nice to spend the afternoon in Panama City on route to GIG.
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Old Nov 24, 13, 1:40 am   #14
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Thumbs up Normally No...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milkman View Post
Tricky. I have a really good on time performance with Copa, I cant remember ever being late and I surely never missed a connection in PTY, but 33 minutes is risky.
BUT if its PTY, then YES, I would go for it (-:
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Old Nov 25, 13, 10:39 am   #15
 
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try the canal

Quote:
Originally Posted by AirD0c View Post
Quote:. Anyway I think the 33 min. is too close. Alternative is 7 hours but might be nice to spend the afternoon in Panama City on route to GIG.
The canal is nearby (you can see it when landing) and was recommended to us as an interesting site to see during a layover. We didn't do it for various reasons so I can't comment, but it looked doable and appealing.

There are also beaches, jungles and downtown Panama City within taxi distance, though given the country's developing world status (e.g. the airport's power went out just as we arrived) you'd have to be pretty confident in your travel skills to go there.
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