Review: Copa Business Class 737-800 (PTY-LIM)

Review: Copa Business Class 737-800 (PTY-LIM)

FROM: PTY
TO: LIM
CABIN: Business
DATE: September 2022
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: This Copa business class experience left a lot to be desired, between the old and worn interiors, the lack of power ports and Wi-Fi, and the odd inflight service.
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The next stop on my two trips to the Southern Hemisphere was Lima, Peru. I had flown Copa’s Boeing 737 business class from Miami to Panama, and then I connected on the same type of plane from Panama to Lima. However, this plane didn’t have refreshed interiors…

How I booked my Copa business class ticket

Copa Airlines makes quite a bit of award space available, so I ended up booking the following itinerary in business class for 50,000 Air Canada Aeroplan points plus $49.40 in taxes & fees (and I took advantage of a transfer bonus from Amex, so I needed even fewer Amex points than that):

9/15 CM227 Miami to Panama City departing 5:59PM arriving 8:10PM
9/16 CM493 Panama City to Lima departing 3:43PM arriving 7:17PM

Initially my first flight was supposed to be operated by a Boeing 737 MAX 9, featuring Copa’s flat bed business class, while the second flight was scheduled to be operated by a Boeing 737-800. Unfortunately there was a plane swap at the last minute, so both flights ended up being operated by a Boeing 737-800.

Copa 737-800 business class cabin & seats

My flight was departing from gate 121 in Terminal 1 — Copa of course has the exciting new Terminal 2, but both of my flights operated out of Terminal 1, which isn’t ideal. Boarding was scheduled to start at 2:43PM, one hour before departure, and sure enough that’s when it started. Those needing extra assistance were invited to board first (which seemed to be a quarter of the plane), followed by business class.

The seating configuration for this flight was identical to what I had on my previous flight, so I was expecting the same interiors. Nope, this flight was operated by a 737 with Copa’s “original” interiors, as they hadn’t been updated. These interiors were more or less identical to what you’d find on Continental Airlines back in the day, since Copa piggybacked on Continental’s order at the time.

The plane featured a total of 16 business class seats, in a 2-2 configuration.

Copa Boeing 737-800 business class cabin
Copa Boeing 737-800 business class seats

Legroom was pretty good, as there was 38″ of pitch.

Copa Boeing 737-800 business class seats

I had assigned myself seat 3F, the window seat on the right side in the third row.

Copa Boeing 737-800 business class seats

Unfortunately the plane has seen better days — the seats were in bad shape.

Copa’s tired business class seats

There was a center console with a small tray that could be extended for drinks. Unfortunately much like on the last flight, the tech on this flight was awful — there were no power ports, personal televisions, Wi-Fi, or even streaming entertainment.

Copa business class center console
Copa business class center console

The plane did have overhead monitors, though there wasn’t much in the way of programming, aside from destination-specific ads.

Copa business class overhead monitors Boeing 737-800

The monitor above my seat also didn’t retract fully, so even during takeoff and landing it was half down.

Broken screen in Copa business class

The tray table extended from the far armrest, and could be folded in half.

Copa business class tray table
Copa business class tray table

The overhead consoles were also a throwback — for whatever reason it gave me American Airlines MD-80 vibes from back in the day.

Copa business class overhead console Boeing 737-800

Since the interior hadn’t been updated in a long time, the plane also didn’t have Boeing’s signature mood lighting or updated bins.

Copa business class overhead bins Boeing 737-800

Copa 737-800 departure from Panama

The flight was pretty full — every seat in business class ended up being occupied (after upgrades), while there were around 30 empty seats in economy. During boarding the business class flight attendant, Guillermo, came around with pre-departure water or orange juice, and also to take meal orders.

Copa business class pre-departure drink

Our departure was off to a good start, as the main cabin door closed at 3:35PM, nearly 10 minutes ahead of schedule. About five minutes later the captain came on the PA to tell us we’d be leaving shortly, and that our flight time was three hours.

Prior to pushing back Panama Airport (PTY)

There was no movement or further announcement from the cockpit for 25 minutes. Finally at 4:05PM the captain announced that we were delayed due to aircraft spacing enroute to Peru, and he didn’t yet know when we’d be able to take off. We ended up pushing back a moment later, though.

Pushing back Panama Airport (PTY)

At 4:20PM we started our short taxi to runway 3L. However, we then just stood short of the runway.

Taxiing Panama Airport (PTY)

At 4:30PM we lined up on the runway, only to taxi down it and then take the first exit — clearly we were blocking the way for another plane wanting to take off, and needed to make room.

Taxiing Panama Airport (PTY)
Taxiing Panama Airport (PTY)

At 4:35PM the captain announced that we should have clearance within 10 minutes. It ended up taking a bit longer than that, but at 4:55PM we finally took off, about an hour behind schedule. At this point there was some heavy rain not far from the airport, which made for some pretty views.

Taxiing Panama Airport (PTY)
View after takeoff from Panama Airport (PTY)
View after takeoff from Panama Airport (PTY)
View after takeoff from Panama Airport (PTY)

We had a smooth climb out, though did briefly end up in some heavy rain.

View after takeoff from Panama Airport (PTY)

As usual, it was a beautiful afternoon above the clouds.

View after takeoff from Panama Airport (PTY)
View after takeoff from Panama Airport (PTY)

The seatbelt sign was turned off around 10 minutes after takeoff.

Copa business class meal service

Dinner was served on this flight, though the inflight service was a bit different than on the previous flight (the flights were roughly the same length, with this one being marginally longer). Meal orders had been taken on the ground, with the choices described as rice and chicken or ravioli with cheese. I went with the latter.

On this flight there was no snack mix or drink served before the meal. Rather the meal was just served 50 minutes after takeoff on a tray.

Copa business class dinner service

There was a small side salad, with some lettuce and cherry tomatoes.

Copa business class dinner service

The ravioli as such was pretty tasty, better than I was expecting.

Copa business class dinner service

There was also a side of packaged crisp toast. Is this really the best Copa can serve, especially in terms of presentation?

Copa business class dinner service

While this might be a blessing in disguise, I was confused by the lack of dessert? The previous flight had dessert, and most airlines serve some sort of a dessert with meals, yet that wasn’t the case here.

I had sauvignon blanc with my meal, and then ordered another glass after the meal. At this point I was offered some snack mix.

Copa business class dinner service

After that glass they ran out of white wine, just over an hour into the flight. So yeah, the soft product here definitely wasn’t as good as on the previous flight.

Copa business class service

The business class flight attendant on this flight was pretty friendly. He wasn’t quite as attentive as the flight attendant on the previous flight, though, and as mentioned above, I found the service flow to be strange.

My very strange fellow passenger

Seated two seats over from me in 3B was a guy who was pissing off just about everyone in the cabin. I’m not sure what exactly his deal was, but:

  • During the delay he kept yelling at the flight attendants, as if it was somehow their fault that we were delayed; as we held short of the runway he yelled to the galley to say he wanted to talk to the captain… lol
  • The guy listened to music the entire flight with headphones in, which is great, except he tapped his foot with great force for the entire flippin’ flight (so you would constantly feel it), would sing maybe 20 seconds at a time, and would fake “play” the drums with his fingers

Ordinarily I’d politely say something in situations like this, but I felt like it wasn’t really my place, as I wasn’t seated next to him. Just about everyone in the cabin gave this guy angry stares, yet he didn’t seem to get the message. I’m not sure if the flight attendant just didn’t notice, or why he didn’t say something.

Copa 737-800 approach to Lima

Given the lack of other inflight entertainment, I sure appreciated the gorgeous views enroute to Lima. This was my second evening of enjoying sunsets from Copa flights, and this one was especially beautiful…

View approaching Lima Airport (LIM)
View approaching Lima Airport (LIM)
View approaching Lima Airport (LIM)
View approaching Lima Airport (LIM)

At 7:25PM the captain made his pre-landing announcement, and told the flight attendants to prepare the cabin for arrival. That’s despite the fact that our descent didn’t start for another 10 minutes, and flight conditions were good.

We ended up touching down in Lima at 8PM, and there was clapping throughout the cabin. From there it was a 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we pulled in next to an American A321neo.

Arrival gate Lima Airport (LIM)

From there I headed through transit security and to the lounge, prior to my LATAM redeye to Miami.

Bottom line

This Copa business class flight left a bit to be desired. The plane had a very old and poorly maintained interior, the amenities were limited (no Wi-Fi, power ports, personal televisions, or streaming entertainment), and the meal service was strange (no dessert, they ran out of wine, no drink service before the meal, etc.). On the plus side, the flight attendant was quite friendly, and the sunset was pretty.

I gave my last Copa flight three stars, so I think it’s only fair to rate this a little lower, given the even older interior and not-great soft product.

Conversations (13)
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  1. Steve Guest

    I flew bussiness class with my wife and daughters last year on November 26th to UiO, and it was the worst business class experience of my life. The flight attendant was rude, they gave us a bag of pretzels as tbe meal and a small bag of cookies and I got a bad look from the flight atgendant when I asked for more water. It was just economy with better seats. Copa has gone down...

    I flew bussiness class with my wife and daughters last year on November 26th to UiO, and it was the worst business class experience of my life. The flight attendant was rude, they gave us a bag of pretzels as tbe meal and a small bag of cookies and I got a bad look from the flight atgendant when I asked for more water. It was just economy with better seats. Copa has gone down hill. I hate traveling via Copa. They need to go to Lufthansa and Emirates to get some training and to see what real business class looks like.

  2. michsel James matos Guest

    I'm surprised by your experience. I fly Copa MIA-BSB regularly. I have been on a Max once. The rest have been 738s. I have never had a poor aircraft. always have had seat back entertainment and power. My experience in business class has always been good with the exception of the guy who brought small children in business, where they proceeded to cry or cause havoc for 6 hours. Sorry I'm that guy who thinks...

    I'm surprised by your experience. I fly Copa MIA-BSB regularly. I have been on a Max once. The rest have been 738s. I have never had a poor aircraft. always have had seat back entertainment and power. My experience in business class has always been good with the exception of the guy who brought small children in business, where they proceeded to cry or cause havoc for 6 hours. Sorry I'm that guy who thinks no one under 10 should be in business class. Even worse when the people think that the other passengers think their children are cute and don't contain them.

  3. Maria Guest

    This summer I flew to PY to fly back with my parents, they are both disabled. I requested we be seated together. That is Xtra charge. I requested the seats at the partition, for the leg room and seats in no front. Those seats are Xtra. Price varies from 120 to 3oo dollars, each seat. Seats are so tight and the food was so poor
    My parents flew back on their own, I requested...

    This summer I flew to PY to fly back with my parents, they are both disabled. I requested we be seated together. That is Xtra charge. I requested the seats at the partition, for the leg room and seats in no front. Those seats are Xtra. Price varies from 120 to 3oo dollars, each seat. Seats are so tight and the food was so poor
    My parents flew back on their own, I requested wheelchair for both. In Panama, they were almost left behind along with another woman also needing a wheelchair. There were plenty of employees around. No wheelchairs came, every body boarded and employees starting to disperse. A young man came out of the ramp area, he went over to them and asked if they need help. They told him they are on this flight but need chairs. He jumped to action. He got co workers and got them 9n the plane. Door closed behind them

  4. Guillermo Gomez Guest

    Gosh, my least favorable airports PTY and LIM, plus one of my least favorable airline CM ... obviously nothing good would come out of it.
    Catering/Inflight product and Service Delivery are quite weak.
    I appreciate your accurate review.

  5. Steven M Jacoby Guest

    We love Panama, and have visited twice in 2017 and 2018. Unfortunately, our love for Panama does not extend to COPA. We flew r/t IAD-PTY. Judging by your photos, we had the same plane. Business class was marginal. The service(?) was abominable and nasty. The flight attendants on our return flight in 2018 spent most of the flight ignoring passengers while they applied copious amounts of makeup. The Canals are fab. The Marriott Buenaventura was...

    We love Panama, and have visited twice in 2017 and 2018. Unfortunately, our love for Panama does not extend to COPA. We flew r/t IAD-PTY. Judging by your photos, we had the same plane. Business class was marginal. The service(?) was abominable and nasty. The flight attendants on our return flight in 2018 spent most of the flight ignoring passengers while they applied copious amounts of makeup. The Canals are fab. The Marriott Buenaventura was excellent. Twice in Panama was enough, given COPA.

  6. Jerry Diamond

    Copa is beating AA on price, and since they have a business class, they're beating AV for 'premium' traffic. I doubt this lousy product will ever improve. When AV, TA, and CM flew these routes I think things were a little bit better, but probably not much.

    1. XPL Diamond

      The Latin American aviation market is very price conscious. What people from elsewhere would call a lousy product, the local market sees as inexpensive transportation. That's why there are multiple ULCCs but no premium carriers based here.

  7. David Guest

    COPA is crazy cheap compared to other ways to get to Lima. And almost always on time. But yes their food sucks and right now T2 in Panama is garbage there is literally nothing there except the lounge. No stores, not even a single restaurant.

  8. Mick Guest

    I love flying but this is a pretty brutal trip. Two terrible copa flights then redeye back to Miami lollllll. Doesn’t sound incredible.

  9. hotintx Guest

    @Ben Nice review of a somewhat lackluster product. I'm curious, and I mean no ill-will by the question, but do you consider this as "seeing" or "visiting" Lima? I'm not sure if you have ever been or not, but if not, does this check it off your list? Always debated on whether I've "been" somewhere when just connecting through an airport. Certainly appreciate the dedication to your craft, but I don't see how flying into...

    @Ben Nice review of a somewhat lackluster product. I'm curious, and I mean no ill-will by the question, but do you consider this as "seeing" or "visiting" Lima? I'm not sure if you have ever been or not, but if not, does this check it off your list? Always debated on whether I've "been" somewhere when just connecting through an airport. Certainly appreciate the dedication to your craft, but I don't see how flying into PTY, briefly sleeping in an airport hotel, spending all day at an airport, only to fly to another airport just to fly home is enjoyable. I get ultimately it is a business and you trade your time for money the same as me sitting at a computer, so, I guess joke is on me? Have a great day!

    1. Alvin | YTHK Diamond

      Man's not flying in to enjoy, this is his full-time job...

    2. Mick Guest

      I agree. And I love an emirates review (and flight) as much as the next person. I just positioned my family of five to fly the a380 from Düsseldorf to Dubai because there were biz seats available. I know the copa got downgraded but this trip seems pretty miserable and kind of ugly lollllll. No disrespect but for 50k aeroplan I’d be pissed.

    3. DCAWABN Guest

      This is the $100,000 question. I feel like a lot of bloggers claim they've been to X-hundred countries which, while true, is a misrepresentation of what's being presumed by the reader because bloggers want to generally sell you on the fact that they've not "paid" for those flights to that incorrect number of places. They've physically been there, yes, but they haven't done anything touristy to get a feel for the place. Ben isn't nearly...

      This is the $100,000 question. I feel like a lot of bloggers claim they've been to X-hundred countries which, while true, is a misrepresentation of what's being presumed by the reader because bloggers want to generally sell you on the fact that they've not "paid" for those flights to that incorrect number of places. They've physically been there, yes, but they haven't done anything touristy to get a feel for the place. Ben isn't nearly as bad as some other bloggers who claim BS things in their blogs but generally travel bloggers rely on nonsensical statistics to ply their trade - affiliate links.

      As a non-blogger, I've *been* to 68 countries at last Global Entry count a year ago, while I've visited about 61. For instance, I just transited Brussels. I didn't leave the airport grounds though technically I left the airport as my layover was ~11 hours so I got a hotel room at the airport Sheraton. While I've been to Belgium once before, about 10 years ago, for a short shopping day-trip from The Hague, I would never tell anyone that I'd "been" to Belgium. But that layover would absolutely count as "having been" there for many a travel blogger.

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.

Alvin | YTHK Diamond

Man's not flying in to enjoy, this is his full-time job...

8
DCAWABN Guest

This is the $100,000 question. I feel like a lot of bloggers claim they've been to X-hundred countries which, while true, is a misrepresentation of what's being presumed by the reader because bloggers want to generally sell you on the fact that they've not "paid" for those flights to that incorrect number of places. They've physically been there, yes, but they haven't done anything touristy to get a feel for the place. Ben isn't nearly as bad as some other bloggers who claim BS things in their blogs but generally travel bloggers rely on nonsensical statistics to ply their trade - affiliate links. As a non-blogger, I've *been* to 68 countries at last Global Entry count a year ago, while I've visited about 61. For instance, I just transited Brussels. I didn't leave the airport grounds though technically I left the airport as my layover was ~11 hours so I got a hotel room at the airport Sheraton. While I've been to Belgium once before, about 10 years ago, for a short shopping day-trip from The Hague, I would never tell anyone that I'd "been" to Belgium. But that layover would absolutely count as "having been" there for many a travel blogger.

2
michsel James matos Guest

I'm surprised by your experience. I fly Copa MIA-BSB regularly. I have been on a Max once. The rest have been 738s. I have never had a poor aircraft. always have had seat back entertainment and power. My experience in business class has always been good with the exception of the guy who brought small children in business, where they proceeded to cry or cause havoc for 6 hours. Sorry I'm that guy who thinks no one under 10 should be in business class. Even worse when the people think that the other passengers think their children are cute and don't contain them.

1
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