Today’s post is about my flight on Copa Airlines:
In the past, I have always flown American Airlines from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to either Quito or Guayaquil. However, American Airlines is now in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, which requires a financial restructuring both within the airlines and with vendors, and generally concessions from workers. The repercussions of yet another economic dislocation in the United States included the threat of strike about the time I explored purchasing my flight tickets; and with numerous media reports on how the union workers were deliberately, and in my opinion, self-defeatingly causing slow-downs and delays in flight arrivals; I decided to explore other flight possibilities. In the past, I never had any problems with American Airlines. Compared to Delta, which in my opinion has been the worst airline, American was a pleasure to travel.
However, I had a few expat friends suggest to me that Copa was a fine airline and much more reasonably priced than most airlines. Sure enough after checking on the Internet, I discovered I could get a round trip flight from Quito to Chicago on Copa with a $400 savings over American Airlines. Further, there was no charge for the first two cargo bags. American had charged me twenty-five dollars for each of my first two cargo bags when I last traveled to Chicago in May of this year. Since then, American has changed its policy. The airline does not now charge for the first piece of cargo luggage, but will charge seventy dollars for the second piece of luggage. If someone like me generally takes two pieces of cargo luggage, then I am paying a twenty dollar increase in cargo luggage fare with American than I did during my previous flight with them last May.
Copa also had a two-hour layover in Panama City’s Airport, and only a one-hour layover on the return flight from Chicago to Quito. I very much liked the Panama Airport, as opposed to the Miami Airport, which usually involved longer flight layovers due to customs, and is extremely large in which to get around. Miami added a train system in the airport about two years ago, but the last two times I flew into the Miami Airport, the system was down each time. The actual flight time from Quito to Chicago via Panama City also was more geographically beneficial to me and lessened the total flight time.
Copa airplanes were equally as nice as American’s. The service and amenities aboard Copa were of a higher quality. If one wanted to listen to music or watch a movie, Copa flight attendants distributed the audio head-phones. On American, one has to bring their own set from a previous flight or pay for a set of head-phones. On the American flight, the short part of the trip to one’s stop-over would find the traveler provided with a small bag of pretzels and something to drink. The Copa Airline attendants provided a choice between a chicken or beef sandwich serve on elongated buns, a bag of chips, four wrapped Oreo cookies, and a drink. Both airlines served dinner on the longer portion of the flight. I found the attendants on Copa to be more professional, dressed classier in their uniforms, and young and attractive, the way flight attendants use to be in the United States.
Since my first entry into the United States did not take place until I arrived in Chicago. I did not have to allow the additional time it would take to go through my port of entry in Miami or Houston. I also found that with Copa, once I went through immigration at O’Hare, I was able to step right out to curb service at the airport. Prior arrivals at O’Hare meant very prolonged walks to the baggage area, and then long walks to the bus terminal.
On my return flight, each passenger had the screen on the back of the seat in front of them, which is a new feature many airlines are incorporating. Unfortunately, not everybody’s screen was working. This malfunction was the only negative with Copa for me, although I had no interest in watching the movie or other programming anyway. I did notice that Etapa was their Internet connection server. Considering Etapa’s reputation in Cuenca for terrible service and serious speed and connectivity problems, I would only suggest that at Copa’s first opportunity officials will find a better Internet company with which to do business.
I would strongly recommend Copa to fellow travelers. Of course, whether or not Copa is right for you will depend upon your particular travel needs, and whether Copa services air terminals close to your location, provides the necessary connections, and/or access to your final destinations. I never heard of Copa until I came to Ecuador. No one I talked to back in the states was familiar with the airline. It does have a surprisingly large number of flight routes, although they basically serve between South America and North America, as well as flights to Spain. If Copa meets your travel needs, you're not likely to be disappointed.