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.

I was arriving in Panama City on an early morning flight, so upon arrival at 8 am, I proceeded to the lounge.

First Impressions

On first look after checking in at the reception desk, what I saw was a very spacious Club, with a mix of seating, depending on your needs. You could choose the simple tables and chairs in the snack bar area; the plush, comfortable chairs that are plentiful throughout the club; the high chairs (and small tables) in the bar area; or, if you really need to get down to business, you've got workstations with computers, fax service, a photocopier, and phones.

My favorite spot? The plush seats by the large windows that offer a great view of the airfield.


Regardless of where you settle in, you'll find a TV somewhere within viewing distance. They seemed to be generally set to news (CNN), but if you want to watch sports, head over to the bar, where there are three TVs (two of which had sports, one of which had news).

Wi-Fi and Other Amenities

Wi-Fi is available throughout the lounge. No need for a password – the connection is open.

You'll also find telephones set up throughout the lounge. And if you need to plug in your laptop or recharge your cell phone, don't worry – there are power outlets at all the seating areas.

Reading Material

Though I've become accustomed to getting much of my news on the Internet, I still opt for printed newspapers whenever I can find them. This Copa Club lounge had two Panama City daily papers on hand, La Prensa and Panama America. There were also plenty of copies of the airline's magazine, Panorama, readily available throughout the lounge, as well as Latin Trade magazine.


Though I did have breakfast aboard my flight, I was in the mood for a coffee and a snack.

The snack bar featured coffee, teas, juice, three types of cereal, apples, yogurt, bagels, and muffins. The highlight for me was the selection of fresh bagels, in different flavors (something impossible to find in much of Latin America). So along with my coffee, I enjoyed a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese.

Second Visit

On my return visit, I passed through the lounge in the afternoon. At this time, I didn't see any food at the snack bar, but coffee and tea was still set out. In any event, I wasn't hungry, having had a very nice meal aboard my flight.

No, at this time (3 pm), I was more in the mood for a “refreshment”. So, off to the bar.

The Bar

I really liked the layout of the bar area. It's very classy, with quite a few small, high tables, and chairs. As a workspace, these smaller tables may not be ideal, though I had no problem setting up my MacBook while enjoying a Cuba Libre made with Ron Abuelo rum. (I think these tables are more suited to someone just wanting to enjoy a drink and watch a ballgame.)

As I already mentioned, the bar has three TVs. At this point – a Sunday afternoon – I was able to watch two Major League baseball games. The third TV was tuned to CNN.

And yes, you'll find a wide selection of complimentary drinks at this bar. Personally, I recommend Ron Abuelo, the very excellent rum of Panama. It's a quality rum, and it's difficult (if not impossible) to find outside Panama (the only other country where I've found Ron Abuelo is in neighboring Colombia, though I'm told the company does export its fine product to a handful of other countries).


If you're coming into the Copa Club lounge but don't speak Spanish, don't worry. The helpful staff in the lounge and at the front desk can assist you in English as well.


So how do you get in to the Copa Club lounge? Well, you've got complimentary access if you're a Copa (or Star Alliance) business class/clase ejecutiva passenger; same goes for Gold, Platinum, and Premier 1K MileagePlus customers (the frequent flyer program shared by United Airlines and Copa). Star Alliance Gold members are also welcomed free of charge.

Addtionally, you can get in with your United Club membership or simply by purchasing a day pass.

Final Thoughts

If you find yourself passing through Tocumen Airport, I highly recommend checking out the Copa Club. Though I enjoy the amenities this airport has to offer (notably a large number of Duty Free shops and a cool food court with a Carl's Jr.), it's always nice to sneak away from the masses and find a relaxing spot that offers a very pleasant atmosphere in which to have a drink, check your email, or just chill out before your flight. (I should also note that the Copa Club deserves bonus marks for its very elegant restrooms -- far nicer and cleaner than the ones you'll find elsewhere in this airport ... or any other airport for that matter.)

Two thumbs up to the Copa Club flagship lounge at Tocumen International Airport.

Related post:
Aeromexico Salon Premier ... or How to Avoid Screaming Children at the Airport


  1. Great review, just I was looking for!

  2. Thanks for this review. Their own website has very little information. Pictures were a great help also.