Copa Airlines Club: What’s With The Food?

Copa Airlines Club: What’s With The Food?

36

During my time in Panama, I had the chance to check out the brand new Copa Club in Terminal 2, which the airline has been heavily promoting. While I’ll have a full review soon, I wanted to talk about the aspect of the lounge that really could use a bit more effort.

The new Copa Club Panama is beautiful

Let me start on a positive note — the new Copa Club Panama Terminal 2 is beautifully designed, and a massive improvement over the old Copa Club in Terminal 1. It’s a good size, spacious, has some cool features, and is nicely decorated. Admittedly it gets very busy over peak hours, since Copa has a heavily banked network, but physically the lounge should impress.

Copa Club Panama seating
Copa Club Panama seating
Copa Club Panama seating

The Copa Club Panama has awful food

Looking at comments online about the new Copa Club, the single most consistent point of feedback is that the food selection leaves a lot to be desired. Before I visited, I figured “well maybe these people should visit a lounge in the United States, and see what bad lounge food really looks like.”

Well, I was wrong. The Copa Club Panama will make you yearn for an American Admirals Club. There are two issues.

The first issue is that the lounge has the capacity for 420 guests, and gets very busy, yet there’s a single buffet that’s not very big. The only food that you can eat is located on that small island you see below, and people crowd that area like vultures.

Copa Club Panama buffet

The bigger issue is what’s available with the buffet. The selection is… not great.

For breakfast, there were stale bagels and cream cheese, pan bon, yogurt, fruit, cereal, granola, and oatmeal. That was it.

Copa Club Panama breakfast
Copa Club Panama breakfast
Copa Club Panama breakfast
Copa Club Panama breakfast

Okay, I’d say breakfast was only moderately underwhelming, as it’s lunch where it gets really sad. Lunch consisted of a few kinds of (not very appealing) finger sandwiches, three types of veggies, ranch dressing, hummus, bread, chips, and cookies.

Again, up to 420 people are supposed to eat from the things you see in the three below pictures below. Of course everyone wanted hummus — they might as well just have a hummus fountain, based on how quickly that bowl emptied out.

Copa Club Panama lunch
Copa Club Panama lunch
Copa Club Panama lunch
Copa Club Panama lunch

Soup or something that doesn’t look like it’s from Fyre Festival? What do you think this is, an Olive Garden? Also, I’m pretty sure Copa Airlines and American Airlines share their pimento sandwich recipe, because it looked might familiar (there was no sign of a “turkey” sandwich, though).

Copa Club Panama food

I’m not sure what was worse — the quality and selection of food, or the hygiene of this whole thing, as you have endless people all congregating in the same place, coughing, sneezing, and picking their nose, and then touching serving utensils. Copa has worse lounge catering than any US airline, and that’s saying something.

Bottom line

While the new Copa Club Panama has a great hard product, the soft product leaves a lot to be desired. I saw complaints about this online before I visited, and figured it wouldn’t be that bad. Nope, it is that bad — Copa’s lounge catering is among the worst I’ve seen for a carrier’s “flagship” lounge. Here’s to hoping that Copa can do something with this feedback.

Has anyone else experienced the delights of Copa Club catering?

Conversations (36)
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  1. Thrawn Guest

    And thats so much better than what they offered in their old lounge last year. Sooooooooo much better.
    Thats definitely the worst "flagship" lounge of any airline worldwide.

  2. Ciaran Fitzmaurice Guest

    Been at the club twice in the last month. Yes, the food selection is minimal but thats not of concern. Seems,to be a lack of concern for cleanliness and an apparent issue with running out of food. Add to this the club seems to attract a lot of slobs piling their plates with food snd then using the furniture like they are in on their own living room. Additionally the bathrooms need more and constant...

    Been at the club twice in the last month. Yes, the food selection is minimal but thats not of concern. Seems,to be a lack of concern for cleanliness and an apparent issue with running out of food. Add to this the club seems to attract a lot of slobs piling their plates with food snd then using the furniture like they are in on their own living room. Additionally the bathrooms need more and constant cleaning. Appears as though they are short staffed. Funny thing is i find the original club in terminal 1 to be much more civilized, better run and quieter than the open air club in term 2. In Copas defense they actually serve a hot meal in coach on the flight from pty to Miami and the onboard service is quite good. Just need to bring this culture to the club

  3. T- Guest

    Airline reviews tend to be about food now-a-days, sadly. An Airline is about getting one to their destination safely, as scheduled. The lounge is a bonus. If your so worried about the food go to a restaurant. Than review the restaurant & the quality of food.

  4. Simon Scott Guest

    I totally agree and I told the staff at the entrance desk that the quality and selection of the food on offer was akin to a 1 or 2 star hotel. And if you want fruit juice you need to go to the bar. I am amazed the management were unaware of how poor the food offering was.

  5. iamhere Guest

    This makes the Delta Sky Club beef chili and mixed salads look like high end dining.... Oh wait then there's the lounges in Middle East and Asia.

  6. Kevin Guest

    l was there the day the new lounge opened. Everyone at Copa seemed so excited and the hard product was great. But the food was *exactly* the same as the lunch service here. This was two months ago! The lack of any stores or food in the whole terminal other than a Krispy Kreme was also true then. I assumed the problem was that the terminal was only half open, but it appears that they...

    l was there the day the new lounge opened. Everyone at Copa seemed so excited and the hard product was great. But the food was *exactly* the same as the lunch service here. This was two months ago! The lack of any stores or food in the whole terminal other than a Krispy Kreme was also true then. I assumed the problem was that the terminal was only half open, but it appears that they are actually going to spend a huge amount of money on a giant terminal that is way too big for the number of gates, then provide the same food and services I got at a midrange West African airport. Such an odd choice, and for an airline flagship!

  7. Steve Guest

    Copa disappoints every time I fly with them. Last week they stranded me at PTY for six hours. The lounge food was exactly as described -- pathetic. I am a Star Alliance Gold traveler, so I know what to expect.
    When you mention to their personnel, from gate agents to lounge desk, that the level of service is sub-standard, they just give you a blank stare. They clearly don't know any better.

  8. Stephen Morrissey Guest

    You are Lucky that you have not recently endured the British Airways lounge at Gatwick.

    Mind you, as bad as the food was there, it did not make me as sick as the inflight meal to Tenerife did.

  9. dwondermeant Guest

    @ The Copa
    did they cater the food from a nearby jail?
    Scary stuff

  10. JustaTraveler Guest

    I also noticed this recently, flying from LAX to GRU via Panama City, but it seems that people were picking up the food that was offered. No Michelin star for the lounge in the near future.

  11. Andy Diamond

    I've been many times to the old Copa Club in Terminal 1, but not yet into the one in Terminal 2. It seems to be a vast improvement in terms of space, but also food. Most of the time the food at T1 was only prepacked cookies ... so the abundance of food (no irony!) is amazing.

  12. Roberto Guest

    For what I see in your article the breakfast is an improvement over the post-Covid offerings in the old lounge which consisted of packaged snacks and sweet bread.
    Pre-Covid the Copa Lounge in Terminal 1 used to have better food options (say the United Club would be better) but the current options are barely acceptable.
    The Copa Club in San José, Costa Rica is a lot better.

  13. Alex Guest

    As bad as this is IT IS A MAJOR IMPROVEMENT compared to their original Club...which NEVER did i see any food offerings other than tiny bags of snacks and the bar offering two kinds of beers and at times Red or White wine. HOWEVER TO ME...as you mentioned the LACK OF HYGIENE STANDARDS WAS SHOCKING (NOTE all of my nine visits were during peak of Covid period)
    My only visit to the new CLUB...

    As bad as this is IT IS A MAJOR IMPROVEMENT compared to their original Club...which NEVER did i see any food offerings other than tiny bags of snacks and the bar offering two kinds of beers and at times Red or White wine. HOWEVER TO ME...as you mentioned the LACK OF HYGIENE STANDARDS WAS SHOCKING (NOTE all of my nine visits were during peak of Covid period)
    My only visit to the new CLUB was the day after the Grand Opening and my thought was GROWING PAINS....obviously it is their STANDARD OPERATING PROCEEDURE

  14. Rico Gold

    It's not just the lounge. My first trip to Central America was to Panama. I was expecting some kind of exotic tropical cuisine with international influences due to peoples of the world passing through the canal. Boy was I wrong. The food was bland and about as exotic as what you had in the lounge plus fried corvina as the fish option.

  15. Jerry Guest

    This article is almost a non-click. South America is about the destination, never the journey.

  16. Holly Guest

    We get 2 passes a year from United. Before Covid theur club at Newark was pretty good, then mostly packaged snacks but always a good bar and great coffee.Now it serves real food cafeteria style, that my husband gave good reviews,snacks and wraps I didnt like. The bar is great.
    At JFk no United lounge but we could go to any partners and chose air India which was small but had great food and...

    We get 2 passes a year from United. Before Covid theur club at Newark was pretty good, then mostly packaged snacks but always a good bar and great coffee.Now it serves real food cafeteria style, that my husband gave good reviews,snacks and wraps I didnt like. The bar is great.
    At JFk no United lounge but we could go to any partners and chose air India which was small but had great food and quiet.
    We only go to Copa lounge in PC to sit in comfort before our flights pickup a few bags of pretzels, drink espresso and crackers.

  17. Donna Diamond

    This place does the absolute minimum to check the box that they actually have a lounge. Do any of my fellow OMAAT readers take terminal food into lounges? I’ve done it a few times and received the stink eye from the gatekeepers but nothing was said. Am I the only one who noticed an almost absolute absence of protein in these food offerings? This swill makes the OMAAT AA Crab Cake look like gourmet dining. Thanks Lucky for taking one for the team.

    1. hp12c Member

      I often take terminal food into Admirals Clubs. Tortas Frontera at ORD is basically adjacent to the Admirals Club entrance and 1000000x better than what's served in the lounge. I've frankly never even thought about what the gatekeepers think about it. AA as a company should be pleased that I am foregoing their slop and saving them money.

    2. Sam Guest

      I brought A&W into the KNO priority pass lounge last month. To their credit, they had a couple of proteins. I was just tired of them after a bit of time there.

  18. RF Diamond

    Wow that is really terrible.

  19. hbilbao Guest

    I can say that pre-pandemic food offerings at the T1 club were even worse. The only fruit I remember seeing were some bananas. No sandwiches at all. The breakfast spread used to consist of mere bagels and cream cheese. If you wanted a can of soda you had to ask the bartender for one, as nothing was self-serve (except for the coffee). The lack of sneeze guards really troubles me. In pre-pandemic times it wouldn't...

    I can say that pre-pandemic food offerings at the T1 club were even worse. The only fruit I remember seeing were some bananas. No sandwiches at all. The breakfast spread used to consist of mere bagels and cream cheese. If you wanted a can of soda you had to ask the bartender for one, as nothing was self-serve (except for the coffee). The lack of sneeze guards really troubles me. In pre-pandemic times it wouldn't have been an issue as there were no exposed food at all (and pretty much no real food to begin with besides some packaged biscuits on a tray...)

  20. Duck Ling Guest

    After my first ever visit to Aeromexico's 'Flagship' Premier Lounge at MEX last week the COPA food selection looks absolutely lavish lol.

  21. Terence Gold

    I kept wondering, between the interior and seats of their 737-800, the stunning lounge with insubstantial food catering, how much CM resemble CO/UA. The previous partnership/ownership has a long lasting impact, to say the least ;)

  22. iv Guest

    Last time I was there they had individual packaged cheese. The bartender would only serve one glass of wine per person. If you wanted to get wine for a companion who was seated that was a no no. The passenger needed to be present to be served.

    People seems to accept this standard because it is in Latin America and that is the problem.

    1. hbilbao Guest

      This is an issue of Copa and not a "Latin American" issue. I've visited a number of lounges in different countries in South America and things are substantially better.

  23. Long Way Around Guest

    The food choices are equivalent to Qantas Club launches in Australia. Another glimpse into the abyss in which Qantas keep digging away...

    1. Jake212 Guest

      So after a Qantas club launch what are they like a month or two after? Why would Qantas only put out lousy food options when it launches?

  24. Mark F. Guest

    The lack of sneeze guards at the buffet would be questionable pre-Covid. But the fact that this is a new lounge without the same health safeguards as an old Golden Corral is a real head scratcher.

    1. Max Guest

      Airborne viruses are pretty harmless when eaten. From a medical standpoint it would make way more sense for everybody to wash their hands before going to the buffet.

  25. FrustratedCopaFlyer Guest

    It might look nice from the outside but SO many flaws... go try and take a shower...no hot water since the grand opening...fixtures literally falling off the wall and ALL (yes, all 8 showers) the soap/shampoo dispensers are broken (supposed to be motion activated but are cheap pieces of crap) you literally need to take the top off and dip your hand into it to get anything out...not to mention there is no ventilation and...

    It might look nice from the outside but SO many flaws... go try and take a shower...no hot water since the grand opening...fixtures literally falling off the wall and ALL (yes, all 8 showers) the soap/shampoo dispensers are broken (supposed to be motion activated but are cheap pieces of crap) you literally need to take the top off and dip your hand into it to get anything out...not to mention there is no ventilation and since Panama is always hot and humid it's like a being inside a stuffy shoebox and you'll be sweating in no time (if there was a way to upload pics here I would)...but none of this is a surprise, just like the right after the second expansion was built before this new terminal, nothing functioned properly (i.e. broken AC, broken moving walkways etc) Unfortunately everything involving Copa is substandard (minus the on board service usually, as Lucky mentioned in his review) because there is really a lot of potential there.

  26. DC Guest

    It's like a vaudeville joke:

    The food was terrible, terrible! Bland, tasteless, unappetizing, disgusting- and there wasn't enough!

  27. AdamH Guest

    On one hand that doesn’t look good so I think the post is valid but on the other I am not sure when lounges had to start offering full meals just because it was a meal time vs some snacks for before you get on the plane.

  28. Austin New Member

    Honestly, I'm surprised they even had food. I visited the Copa Club (albeit the old one) in April of this year on a trip to/from Panama, and the only food available were bags of chips. Additionally, the "bar" was serving I believe just two separate cans of beer? The whole experience was really perplexing.

    1. Nic Guest

      Flew PTY to ORD in April 2022. The lounge is a a joke: overcrowded, horrible food. But the in flight food is worse…I took one look at it and put the foil back on. This airline consistently disappoints.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Donna Diamond

This place does the absolute minimum to check the box that they actually have a lounge. Do any of my fellow OMAAT readers take terminal food into lounges? I’ve done it a few times and received the stink eye from the gatekeepers but nothing was said. Am I the only one who noticed an almost absolute absence of protein in these food offerings? This swill makes the OMAAT AA Crab Cake look like gourmet dining. Thanks Lucky for taking one for the team.

4
DC Guest

It's like a vaudeville joke: The food was terrible, terrible! Bland, tasteless, unappetizing, disgusting- and there wasn't enough!

4
JustaTraveler Guest

I also noticed this recently, flying from LAX to GRU via Panama City, but it seems that people were picking up the food that was offered. No Michelin star for the lounge in the near future.

2
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