Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Copa Airlines' New and Improved Clase Ejecutiva

The new look 737-800 seats.

Over the past year, I've had a number of opportunities to fly business class (Clase Ejecutiva) aboard Copa Airlines (the national airline of Panama which connects the Americas via its hub in Panama City).

And for comparison purposes, I've done so on all three models of aircraft they operate (Boeing 737-700, 737-800, Embraer 190). Regardless of which plane I've been on, I've received top notch service.

But yesterday, I made a pleasant discovery – Copa has been upgrading the business class cabins aboard their newest 737-800 jets.

Plenty of space, blankets, and personal TVs.
New and Improved!

These jets already have Boeing's new futuristic Sky Interior look, making them a favorite of mine. But now, the airline has made the Clase Ejecutiva service even better on these jets.

To begin with, the old drop-down TV monitors are gone, replaced by personal TV screens that fold out of the middle console. No more having to watch the one movie everyone else has to watch. Copa's new audio-video options include a handful of comedies (including two of my favorites, Big Bang Theory and Modern Family), dramas, movies, documentaries, music, and video games.

The other big improvement is the seats themselves. While Clase Ejecutiva seats on their other jets are certainly larger and more comfortable than the standard economy seats, these new seats are a step above those on the other jets in the Copa family. They feature a legrest/footrest, and they recline considerably more than the older style seats. There are four comfort control levers to make adjustments to your seat.

With the added recline, I noticed that there also seems to be greater seat pitch (the space between your seat and the seat in front of you). Even when the passenger in front of me reclined his seat fully, I was still left with plenty of space in which to get up and out of my seat.

Also, I found that the new tray tables have greater stability, thanks to a slight ridge they rest on in the middle console. A minor, but good improvement.

Also noteworthy is the addition of electrical outlets and USB slots for your personal electronics.

The Rest

Beyond these improvements, if you're flying Clase Ejecutiva with Copa, you'll be treated to an excellent level of service regardless of the plane you happen to be on.

It starts when you board the plane, and your flight attendant offers to take your coat. Soon after – and still during the boarding process – they'll be by to offer you water or juice.

The always delicious salmon.
And before you know it, they'll return to explain your meal options. First, you're offered a drink and a bowl of hot nuts. Next, your meal service will typically begin with a salad, a starter item, and bread (and another drink). Then, you generally have two choices for your main course. My personal favorite thus far has been the salmon and rice, though I've been pleased with all the choices I've received.

In fact, only once have I received something that caused me to wonder, “What is it?” It was a starter item that appeared to be a large, strange, alien-like blob, with a rubbery texture. (Which I poked at it with my fork, took photographic evidence, and subsequently filed a report with the National UFO Reporting Center.)

Hot nuts (bottom left), and the alien-like food (right).
Based on a bit of investigation, I determined that it was some sort of gigantic mushroom. Whether it was of this planet or not, I was not going to ingest it. But the mystery alien mushroom was the only exception for me, and really, the airline does offer very good food choices in Clase Ejecutiva.

Desert generally brings a choice of cake or ice cream. If you choose ice cream, you can get it topped with strawberry, caramel, or chocolate syrup, and almonds. I also once received cheesecake. If they have that, go for it – it's smaller than Cheesecake Factory size, but of equal delicious quality.

Oh yes, and that's real china you're getting your food on. Drinks (you name it, you got it) are served in real glasses. And that after dinner coffee will also be served in a real cup, not plastic.

(And speaking of drinks, at this point, I feel the need to put in a plug for the 12-year old Ron Abuelo rum. It's the national brand of Panama, and it's highly recommended. Kudos to Copa for making it available in their bar service.)


Those are the basics of Clase Ejecutiva service on board Copa. Of course, you'll also get a pillow and a blanket, priority boarding, and your flight attendants will address you by name – a nice touch.

But even before you do get on board the plane, remember, as a Clase Ejecutiva customer, you're entitled to visit the VIP lounge. If you're in Panama City, Guatemala City, or Santo Domingo, you've got a Copa Club lounge. Elsewhere, it'll be a United Club lounge or a partner lounge where neither United nor Copa have their own facilities (like in Mexico City, where you'll have access to the Aeromexico Salon Premier).

So if you've got the chance to fly executive class with Copa Airlines, that's what you can expect.  And if you happen to get on board one of the new 737-800 Next Generation jets, it's a bonus experience.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Musical Genius, Magic, and Fun Fun Fun ... The Beach Boys Live

The famous bandmates: (L-R) Brian Wilson, David Marks, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine
(Calgary, Alberta) -- It's not everyday that I get to see a true creative genius up close, but on Wednesday, I had such a rare opportunity.

This musician and his band came to Calgary to put on a little concert during the Calgary Stampede.

The man in question is Brian Wilson, and his band of course, is the Beach Boys.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

And the Winner is ...

(Aeromexico Salon Premier, Mexico City Int'l Airport) -- I had originally intended to write a post endorsing a candidate for the Presidency of Mexico, during these, the final days of the campaign.

But instead, I'm simply going to make some observations on the things I've seen.

When I wake up on the morning of July 2, the first song I expect to hear on the radio is Huey Lewis and the News' “Back in Time”, from the Back to the Future soundtrack.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Inside the Copa Club Lounge - Panama City

On a recent trip through Panama's Tocumen International Airport, I had the chance to try out a new airline VIP lounge – the Copa Club.

Tocumen Airport in Panama City is Copa Airlines' primary hub, so naturally, this is the airline's biggest lounge (they also operate Copa Clubs in Guatemala City and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic).

I've become a regular customer of this very good airline (which is now a member of the Star Alliance), but this was my first time trying out their flagship lounge. As a business class customer, I was able to try out the lounge twice on this trip, so I got a taste of what it's like both in the morning as well as the afternoon.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mexico's Goofy Political Campaign Signs (Part II)

After already having fun ridiculing some of the silly campaign signs I've seen in Mexico City, I thought it was only appropriate to continue the fun with part II today.  There's just so much good (or bad) material to choose from.

Isabel Miranda Wallace - Candidate for Mayor of Mexico City

I think Ms. Miranda is a fine lady, but her people have come up with some unusual advertising for her campaign.

And by “unusual”, I mean “not good”.

Here, we see an ad plastering a bus.  "Aqui viaja mi futuro gabinete" -- "Here travels my future cabinet."  I know her campaign is trying to play up that she's an "ordinary citizen", as opposed to a professional politician.  But this ad looks too phony.

Besides, many people I see on the bus scare me.  I don't want them being in anyone's cabinet.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mexico's Goofy Political Campaign Signs

For all the money Mexican politicians spend on their election campaigns, it's a wonder that the advertising you see is so amateurish.

Are there not professional public relations and marketing specialists in Mexico who can lend a hand to the propaganda efforts of these folks?

While out on a walk this morning, I snapped random pictures of some of the more interesting signs I saw.

Below are four that caught my attention. And I must say that this is just a quick sampling - there are many other worthwhile targets I could make fun of. (And I probably will in a future post.)

Mario Delgado – candidate for Senate

When I see this sign, what's my immediate reaction? If you were my neighbor, I wouldn't even trust you to feed my cat while I'm away. And if you knock on my door, I will hide.

This is possibly the worst message I've ever seen on a sign. Translated, it says, “Do you know what a senator does? I'll explain it to you!”

In other words, what he's really saying is, “I think you, the voters, are morons. You couldn't possibly understand why only I am smart enough to do the job of a Senator.”


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reseña: Gimme the Power

Siguiendo con el tema de películas mexicanas (ya escribí sobre Colosio: El Asesinato - ver abajo), hoy quiero decir algo sobre otra película con un tema político – Gimme the Power.

Esta película documental se trata de dos temas que más me interesan – política y música, y la conexión entre los dos en México.

Durante la hora y media de este documental, aprendes un poco más sobre la evolución de las protestas políticas por medio de la música popular en el país, empezando en los años 60.