Whenever I talk with my well-traveled friends about flying, they always rave about how much better airlines are abroad than here in the states. Naturally, I’m eager to test the theory!

When booking my flight to Aruba, I found an option through Copa Air that would give me a one-day stop in Panama City on each end — bingo. 

Of the major U.S. carriers, Copa is most similar to JetBlue. Giving you:

  • 2 bags up to 23kg in free checked luggage (note to last-minute travelers: 60 minute advance check-in rule, unlike U.S. standard 45)
  • Seat assignments
  • TV’s on the seat backs
  • Extended leg-room in main cabin flights (I’m 5’7” with the majority of that height below the hips, so my knees look for things like that)
  • Choice of at least two full meal options plus snacks (MIA to PTY is 3 hours… do I really need all this food?)


  • Wine + spirits on the free

Here I thought Porter Airlines’ complimentary cappuccino lounge in Toronto was a perk.

Some of this is standard in upgraded fares on U.S. flights but quite frankly… *ahem,* Delta where you at? Not even my beloved Virgin America has free wine, and I’m an evangelist and a Premium card holder! 

flying_copa_airlines_meal flying_copa_airlines_isthatzucchini

Is that zucchini on my hot turkey sandwich? From a stewardess?

I flew Copa 4 (albeit short) legs: MIA-PTY, PTY-AUA and back with equally pleasant experiences each time. Leaving Aruba I skipped what looked like at least 45-minutes of line-waiting just for flying Copa instead of any other airline out of AUA. Airport perks, timely boarding, solid in-cabin experience. They were even friendly with my Spanish. (¿Mas vino por favor?)

Moral of the story, to Central and South America through Copa I go. 

PERK: Visit Panama is currently running a promotion to extend your layover on any Copa flight within a few days at no extra cost. Check it out here.

Which airline outside of the U.S. is your favorite?