New Panama Airport Terminal 2: Impressive(ish)

New Panama Airport Terminal 2: Impressive(ish)

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One of the things that I was looking forward to most about my Copa Airlines trip was checking out the new Terminal 2 at Panama Tocumen International Airport (PTY). This terminal opened just a few months ago (it was delayed by around five years, as it was first supposed to open in 2017), and marks a huge transformation for the airport. So, just how good is the new terminal, and how does it rack internationally?

Below are some thoughts…

Panama Airport Terminal 2 has great architecture

Physically Panama Airport Terminal 2 is remarkably nice, especially by standards for the region (Central America doesn’t exactly have great airports). The terminal is airy, has a huge amount of natural light, and feels spacious (after all, it’s 1.25 million square feet). Below is a picture that gives you a sense of the exterior architecture.

Panama Airport Terminal 2

Let’s do a “tour” of the terminal. Copa Airlines is the primary airline at Terminal 2, and the check-in hall is huge. I imagine this never gets too busy, since most passengers at the airport are connecting. Note that while Copa operates out of both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, check-in is exclusively at Terminal 2.

Panama Airport Terminal 2 check-in hall

Copa’s check-in area is well organized, with a separate premium check-in counter, and also lots of self-service kiosks.

Panama Airport Terminal 2 check-in hall
Panama Airport Terminal 2 check-in hall
Panama Airport Terminal 2 check-in hall

Security and immigration were well organized, and there was a Gold Track for Star Alliance premium passengers.

Panama Airport Terminal 2 security
Panama Airport Terminal 2 priority security

Below is a model of the airport that’s located in the terminal, to give you a sense of the layout. As you can see, the terminal is widest in the center, and then in each direction it narrows the further out you get, like a wing. There are a total of 20 gates in the new terminal.

Panama Airport Terminal 2 model

As you can see below, the terminal ceilings are really high, and there are floor-to-ceiling windows.

Panama Airport Terminal 2 layout
Panama Airport Terminal 2 layout
Panama Airport Terminal 2 layout
Panama Airport Terminal 2 layout
Panama Airport Terminal 2 layout

Panama Airport Terminal 2 & Terminal 1 are connected airside

Terminal 2 and Terminal 1 aren’t connected landside (you’d need to take a bus), though they are connected airside. Once you’re in Terminal 2, just turn left and keep walking, and eventually you’ll find yourself in the connector to Terminal 1. It’s 172 meters long, and there are moving walkways most of the way.

Panama Airport Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 connector
Panama Airport Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 connector
Panama Airport Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 connector

Panama Airport Terminal 2 is a massive improvement over Terminal 1

Terminal 2 is even more impressive when you consider just how bad Terminal 1 is. Panama Airport’s Terminal 1 is not only pretty ugly architecturally, but it’s horribly maintained. There are trash bins throughout the terminal — not for trash, but for leaks.

Panama Airport Terminal 1
Panama Airport Terminal 1
Panama Airport Terminal 1
Panama Airport Terminal 1
Panama Airport Terminal 1
Panama Airport Terminal 1

Panama Airport Terminal 2 is rough around the edges (for now?)

Panama Airport Terminal 2 is gorgeous in terms of architecture, but it’s lacking otherwise. We’re talking about a brand new terminal, but there are almost no outlets anywhere. That’s even worse when you consider that many Copa planes don’t have outlets in any cabin.

Panama Airport Terminal 2 layout

The only charging station I could find was the one below, which also… isn’t terribly practical or aesthetically pleasing.

Panama Airport Terminal 2 charging stations

Similarly, at least for now, concessions are lacking. There’s a Starbucks and a Krispy Kreme, but not much else. And even if you’re a premium passenger, don’t expect much from the food in the Copa Club. It looks like some stuff is under construction and will open eventually, but even for the areas that list who the future tenant will be, I wouldn’t get too excited.

Panama Airport Terminal 2 still under construction

The big problem with Panama Airport Terminal 2

You know the saying “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” or whatever it is? Well that’s a major issue with Panama Airport. Copa Airlines almost makes it sound like it exclusively operates out of Terminal 2 — it’s claimed you have to check-in and go through security at Terminal 2, baggage claim and immigration are at Terminal 2, etc. However, that’s not the reality.

A large percentage of Copa flights continue to operate out of Terminal 1 — my flight into and out of Panama both operated from Terminal 1. Just look at the below departures board, as the flights in purple are out of Terminal 1.

Panama Airport departures board

This limits the practical benefit of Terminal 2 having opened. Many Copa passengers are having to walk a lot further to get to their gates than they used to, whether they’re originating in Panama or connecting. This new experience would be much more useful if Copa actually managed to consolidate operations in one terminal.

I get there are limitations, but the reality is that for a large percentage of Copa passengers, Terminal 2 isn’t the extent of their experience.

Bottom line

I’m happy I had the chance to check out Panama Airport’s new Terminal 2. It’s a massive improvement over the old terminal in terms of design and general upkeep. There are still some things that seem to be lacking, like power outlets and concessions.

The biggest issue with the airport experience is that Copa still splits its operations between Terminal 2 and Terminal 1. And while the two terminals are connected airside, many Copa passengers aren’t getting a seamless Terminal 2 experience, but rather are just having to walk a lot more.

What do you make of the new Panama Airport Terminal 2?

Conversations (45)
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  1. Gerald Rico Guest

    Question, how long would it take to walk from one end of terminal 2 to the other end at senior citizen speed and approximately how many meters is it.

    Thank you

  2. Guillermo Birmingham Guest

    My main gripe is that if one flies into terminal 2 and has a rental car reservation, one has to drag all their luggage outside, get on a bus, and drag your bags back into Terminal 1 to get to the auto rental counters. Pitiful.

    1. Vega Guest

      Exactly. I dropped my hubby off at terminal 2 with all the bags. Drive the rental car back to terminal 1 then demanded a shuttle ride back to terminal 1. That does not make any sense. Built mutli million $ airport w/o thinking about transportation for the ppl

  3. Jennifer Guest

    If we are flying into PTY on Copa from DAV and land at 9AM would we be able to make a noon international flight to the US? Ive heard differing opinions on how difficult it is to navigate the Panama city airports but since both flights are from the same airport I am thinking it might be ok.

    1. Andre Guest

      Yes. I connected through PTY the other day on a 45 minute layover without issues. You may have to go through an exit check leaving Panama, but three hours is more than enough, particularly since COPA pads their schedules quite heavily so they're virtually always on time.

  4. Matt W Guest

    I’m considering Copa for SFO-PTY-LIM.
    Today, SFO-PTY arrives in T1 / PTY-LIM departs from T2.
    The layover time is 0h48min.
    Q: is the 48min adequate to:
    1) transfer from T1 arrival to T2 departure?
    2) get checked bags from T1 to T2?

  5. Amelia Boyer Guest

    I traveled to Panamà on Feb 3 on Copa the walk to trough terminal 2 to immigration and baggage claim is ridiculous.

  6. Denis Houle Guest

    Hard to know if a flight arrives at Terminal 1 or 2. Somebody knows for Copa 423 Montreal and American Airlines 2317 Miami on March 19. For now, I just have received contradictory information.

  7. Clark W Griswold Guest

    I would like to add something about Terminal 2. If you are flying on Copa domestically within Panama you have to check-in and/or drop your checked bags at the new terminal 2. However, their domestic flights don't fly out of the main terminal 2. You have to walk back outside, turn left and follow the entry road to a little annex shack that is attached to the side of terminal 2. It's about a 5...

    I would like to add something about Terminal 2. If you are flying on Copa domestically within Panama you have to check-in and/or drop your checked bags at the new terminal 2. However, their domestic flights don't fly out of the main terminal 2. You have to walk back outside, turn left and follow the entry road to a little annex shack that is attached to the side of terminal 2. It's about a 5 minute walk outside.

    Then when you get to this little annex building you have to clear security (not a friendly crew at all by the way). Once through security there are no cafes, no convenience stores, no kiosks, nothing to buy if you need a drink or a snack.

    Since I am a foreigner/visitor in Panama I had a digicel *local" prepaid SIM card in my mobile phone. It worked everywhere in Panama EXCEPT for in this little annex shack. They had wifi in the annex shack but it was chargeable -- no free access at all. So you're stuck there with no internet, no cell reception and no place to charge your devices either.

    They have a bathroom that looks like it was built by the prison authority - everything in the bathroom is either concrete or stainless steel -- even the urinals and toilets are stainless steel -- just like you see in prisons on TV.

    I can't believe a beautiful country's flagship carrier operates out of gates like this. It really reminds me of airport terminals in small cities back in the 1970's -- not a world class city like Panama City in these times.

    They build a new terminal in Chennai India about 10 years ago that had gobs of corruption and public funds being misappropriated and even that airport is nicer than this terminal 2 annex.

    It pains me to write this because I really like the rest of Panama City and Panama. Great country and very nice people but this terminal doesn't live up to their standard.

    1. Ron John Guest

      Clark, thanks for this detailed description. How long it took from your arrival going through customs in T2 and get to the domestic Copa gate?
      I have a trip in March and want to take the flight to David, the time between arriving to PTY and flight TO DAVID is 1hour. I only have a carry-on with me so no need to retrieve checkedin luggage, hoping is enough time.

    2. Jonathan Guest

      Were you able to make it? Have a 75 minute layover flying into PTY before flying to DAV coming up soon.

  8. Fernanda Guest

    Do you have a map with the gates? We just had a great problem now in jenuary 2023 with Copa our flight connection was in a short time and there was a big distance between the terminals and gates. I would like to know the distance precisely.
    By the way, food services were not enough and very busy and internet was terrible, only 30 min. of free wifi.

    Thanks

  9. Paul Guest

    I’ve recently arrived in Panama City, I arrived at T1, I went to collect my Bag, but was told, no, you need to collect your bag at T2, there was nothing to say this at the arrival gate or at my departure location. So, I walk to T2, you go down at Gate 204, where there is a sign, (Albeit a bit late) where you enter Immigration. After immigration, you enter the baggage area, watch...

    I’ve recently arrived in Panama City, I arrived at T1, I went to collect my Bag, but was told, no, you need to collect your bag at T2, there was nothing to say this at the arrival gate or at my departure location. So, I walk to T2, you go down at Gate 204, where there is a sign, (Albeit a bit late) where you enter Immigration. After immigration, you enter the baggage area, watch out tho, as if you have been there for some time, the baggage list won’t have your flight on it, a quick whizz around the belts located my Flight No. The Terminal is really modern, it’s just a shame it’s not a seamless system. Another problem I found, my Flight details said T1 arrival, so my transport was waiting for me there, luckily I managed to get hold of my local rep and they came to T2 to collect me. This is the reverse for departures as well apparently, as my colleague had to drop at T2, although her flight went from T1. So, come on Copa Airlines, get your House in Order!!!

  10. Paul Guest

    I’ve recently arrived in Panama City, I arrived at T1, I went to collect my Bag, but was told, no, you need to collect your bag at T2, there was nothing to say this at the arrival gate or at my departure location. So, I walk to T2, you go down at Gate 204, where there is a sign, (Albeit a bit late) where you enter Immigration. After immigration, you enter the baggage area, watch...

    I’ve recently arrived in Panama City, I arrived at T1, I went to collect my Bag, but was told, no, you need to collect your bag at T2, there was nothing to say this at the arrival gate or at my departure location. So, I walk to T2, you go down at Gate 204, where there is a sign, (Albeit a bit late) where you enter Immigration. After immigration, you enter the baggage area, watch out tho, as if you have been there for some time, the baggage list won’t have your flight on it, a quick whizz around the belts located my Flight No. The Terminal is really modern, it’s just a shame it’s not a seamless system. Another problem I found, my Flight details said T1 arrival, so my transport was waiting for me there, luckily I manage to get hold of my local rep and they came to T2 to collect me. This is the reverse for departures as well apparently, as my colleague had to drop at T2, although her flight went from T2. So, come on Copa Airlines, get your House in Order!!!

  11. John Pineiro Guest

    Copa needs to get it's act together as well as the PTY airport board

    The connecting terminals are horrendous as well as inoperable moving walkways

    They need to provide better infrastructure or trolleys

    Recently came into Gate 223 and outbound was gate 112. With 1.5 hour connection and inoperable walkways it to 55 minutes

  12. Leon Guest

    Totally agree, same experience you had. Recently I flew back in from Costa Rica and the Copa lounge there, whilst not as visually appealing did have a good food selection which the flagship lounge in Panama lacks.

  13. Villel Guest

    This is the only airport that I have been and there was no return rental cars sign available. I got lost looking for the return car rental sign for 45 minutes.

  14. Manish Khushani Guest

    Lacks restaurants. Or you have to walk off to terminal 1 to grap food and snacks. Starbucks is worst takes over 20 mins to get your turn. Wass not worth opening if these facilities were not ready. It's the same what I before Covid times 2020. No change.

  15. Bob Guest

    What would I rather do? Walk a little faster to get to Terminal 2 for a flight leaving on time or waiting 4 hours for a crew to get to the departure gate in O'Hare. The first time I landed in Tocumen was in 1959. Been there many times after and saw a constantly better airport. Terminal 2 will get it together far faster than Denver did.

    1. Sam Guest

      25 year old joke dude. DEN was delayed 18 months, PTY over 5 years and it’s still not 100% running.

  16. Cindy Miller Guest

    I flew out on March 12th. We paid for the WiFi. But, none was available in the new terminal. I hope they fixed this problem. Our plane was delayed 6 hours. Not being able to charge our phone was very inconvenient. Why do you have to go through security twice? I went through the first security. Bought a water bottle , that I could not take through the security at the gate. Even though it...

    I flew out on March 12th. We paid for the WiFi. But, none was available in the new terminal. I hope they fixed this problem. Our plane was delayed 6 hours. Not being able to charge our phone was very inconvenient. Why do you have to go through security twice? I went through the first security. Bought a water bottle , that I could not take through the security at the gate. Even though it was bought at the airport. This may doesn't make any sense. No other country I have flown out of had two security checks. It's redundant.
    In addition to our flight being delayed, they waited several hours to issue food vouchers. By the time we got all the way over to the food court, only two restaurants were still open. They ran out of food.

  17. Daniel Guest

    I agree with with almost everything you comment, with a couple exceptions.
    First of all COPA needs both terminals since it operates in a hub/bank basis, meaning 40-some flights arrive in a relative short period of time, and 1 1/2 hours later those same airplanes leave, again in a short period, giving just time for passengers and their luggage to change planes ( whithout going through inmigration nor customs). It is one of COPA's...

    I agree with with almost everything you comment, with a couple exceptions.
    First of all COPA needs both terminals since it operates in a hub/bank basis, meaning 40-some flights arrive in a relative short period of time, and 1 1/2 hours later those same airplanes leave, again in a short period, giving just time for passengers and their luggage to change planes ( whithout going through inmigration nor customs). It is one of COPA's formulas for success. There is no way to fit over 40 aircraft in just 20 gates.
    Secondly I have to point out that to go between terminals groundside there is a free bus service that runs every 5 minutes.
    There is no need to take a taxi.
    Greetings.

  18. Felipe N Guest

    The terminal 2 actually is pretty nice. But if you are going to Grab a coffee get prepared to do a 20 min line at the only Starbucks. PTY Lacks of good places to grab a bite.

  19. Carol Storch Guest

    My flight from Miami to Panama was slow this on top of a slow disembark from the plane only gave little time to walk from Termal 1 to terminal 2. I did not expect this. I had to actually run and just got to my gate as they were closing the door.
    There was only 1 hour of time between flights which is little time for passengers to walk these distance especially with any delays.

  20. H Sierra Guest

    Ahh the short commings in the number of bathrooms on the gates area. I counted only two sets as it is difficult to navigate amidst throngs of people arriving departing or just connecting. And then they are very small .

  21. Michael Guest

    @lucky

    " It’s 172 meters long, and there are escalators most of the way."

    I think you mean moving walkways, not escalators.

  22. iamhere Guest

    The real issue is you expect it to be a first class kind of airport when it is not. You need to have realistic expectations with the situation and environment. Surely the lounge has outlets by the way.

  23. M Johnson Guest

    I'm surprised you didn't comment on the totally underwhelming domestic gates. Whoever approved this travesty should be fired.

    1. D. Wilson Guest

      Since the only domestic flights there are to David, and only 1 or two per day, the gate is actually a big improvement over the old gate in terminal 1. We were able to board the plane without the bus ride like from terminal 1.

    2. Clark W Griswold Guest

      D. Wilson, it doesn't change the fact that the customer experience in the domestic gate is total garbage. Even if it has improved it is still absolutely horrible.

      Just make the domestic gate be part of the main terminal 2 and share that infrastructure and leverage that investment.

      I'm sure COPA must get a much cheaper gate fee from the airport administrators for that crappy annex gate then it does in the main...

      D. Wilson, it doesn't change the fact that the customer experience in the domestic gate is total garbage. Even if it has improved it is still absolutely horrible.

      Just make the domestic gate be part of the main terminal 2 and share that infrastructure and leverage that investment.

      I'm sure COPA must get a much cheaper gate fee from the airport administrators for that crappy annex gate then it does in the main terminals. It comes at the expense of us passengers though. Our flight was delayed as it took connecting passengers on international flights a lot of time to clear inbound immigration, locate/reach the annex and then clear security again.

  24. brteacher Guest

    I'm curious how the extension of the Metro to Tocumen is going. Anyone know?

    When it's connected, it will definitely make getting to any from the city much easier.

    1. H Sierra Guest

      Ahh the short commings in the number of bathrooms on the gates area. I counted only two sets as it is difficult to navigate amidst throngs of people arriving departing or just connecting. And then they are very small .

    2. KingBob Guest

      Per the Wikipedia article, not opening until 2035 or 2040.

  25. Foxbat25 Guest

    I traveled Copa SFO-PTY-GRU in mid-July and GRU-PTY, then in mid-August GRU-PTY with 3 night layover then PTY-SFO. All PTY flights we were on only used T2. The concessions were all under construction so no food outside the Copa lounge which itself seemed undersized if it is the completed lounge. Signage inbound from SFO for connections was inadequate, as it was from GRU to claim luggage for our long layover. Not sure if the signage...

    I traveled Copa SFO-PTY-GRU in mid-July and GRU-PTY, then in mid-August GRU-PTY with 3 night layover then PTY-SFO. All PTY flights we were on only used T2. The concessions were all under construction so no food outside the Copa lounge which itself seemed undersized if it is the completed lounge. Signage inbound from SFO for connections was inadequate, as it was from GRU to claim luggage for our long layover. Not sure if the signage is a work in progress. T2 looks very nice otherwise, and yes, a big improvement over T1. Next through in December and January and I hope the construction is complete by then and we get to see if they have identified and corrected the things that did not work as anticipated.

  26. skimegheath Gold

    Ben do you what the process is to connect to another international flight? Am flying EZE TO PTY then onto to Ecuador.

    Are you going to review Hotel La Compnie in PTY. Am booked to stay there on my way back to PTY and keen to see a review.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ skimegheath -- You don't have to clear security or anything, so you just have to go to the gate. It's pretty straightforward. I did spend a night in Panama, but stayed at the Crowne Plaza at the airport. Hotel La Compañia looks awesome -- I hope to check it out next time. Enjoy your stay!

  27. Nathan Guest

    Is security still at the gate? That drives me crazy in PTY (and SIN)! I would rather get through and bring a few liters of water..

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Nathan -- There's a central checkpoint, and even in Terminal 1 it's at a central checkpoint, as far as I know (it must be, since they're connected airside). I'm guessing there's some extra security for US-bound flights, though? That's always annoying in terms of liquids...

    2. Nathan Guest

      I'm sure you are right that it is only for US bound flights.. unlike SIN! I have only ever connected in PTY so I wouldn't have experienced the central check in area.

    3. Roberto Guest

      There's always an additional security check before boarding U.S. Flights in Panama. This is due to number of passengers connecting from South America and the Caribbean. It's an pain in the neck for those passengers who do go through security in Panama to have this extra check.

    4. skimegheath Gold

      Singapore has water taps inside the gates. BYO water bottle and fill up for free.

    5. John Wade Guest

      For all the expats that live in Panama, the domestic flight connecting to int'l is pretty sad..PTY is the hub between the Americas but the effort given to domestic service so you don't have to transfer to the Albrook airport is disappointing.

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.

Jonathan Guest

Were you able to make it? Have a 75 minute layover flying into PTY before flying to DAV coming up soon.

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Gerald Rico Guest

Question, how long would it take to walk from one end of terminal 2 to the other end at senior citizen speed and approximately how many meters is it. Thank you

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Andre Guest

Yes. I connected through PTY the other day on a 45 minute layover without issues. You may have to go through an exit check leaving Panama, but three hours is more than enough, particularly since COPA pads their schedules quite heavily so they're virtually always on time.

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