Just ask Copa!
There is not a better airline to fly to Panama than Copa [unless you’ve got big bucks and are flying from Dubai on the new Emirates route!] If you are flying a Copa flight, one actually operated BY Copa and not by United [Why Copa got in bed with United I will never know: United is as bad inflight as Copa is good] you will enjoy … even in coach/economy! … comfortable seats, free drinks including alcoholic drinks, actual food in coach [United gives you zip! Will sell you chips for $6 a can, but not even peanuts!] Copa’s food is old-style “airline food” in coach, but it is food and you don’t have to starve, free movies, music and entertainment [Of course United charges … for everything!]. friendly and attentive staff who seem to enjoy their jobs. [United? You’ve got to be kidding!] So whenever possible I’ll choose a Copa flight operated by Copa.
[Parenthetically I’ll include this … it’s an ad for Emirates, not Copa, but it’s such a great ad and the stereotypical US airline flight attendants – the ad nails it. It’s a good and funny ad and worth watching, although it’s a cruel put down from the rich & famous to those of us who struggle to afford coach/economy … but it’s still funny! Obviously they are not panning United flight service because United does NOT offer even peanuts!]
Back to Copa ….
So how is it that the BEST airline in the air is the WORST on the ground?
Let’s just say that when it comes to technology and a functioning Web site and call centers, Copa is in the dark, dark ages! Their call centers … doesn’t matter when you call … will always promise a 10-minute wait, during which you are bombarded with scratchy announcements about how great Copa’s Web site is and how much they care about making your life easier … and if you are lucky enough to get connected with a person, after going through eight menus with eight more sub-menu choices … you will have endured being on hold and listening to announcements … that sound something like the old trucks driving around Panamanian neighborhoods selling fruit, vegetables and fish, shouting garbled messages on cheap roof-mounted PA systems … you will have been left hanging for 20 minutes or more, not the promised 10 minutes … because you are such a “valued customer.”
The Web site usually isn’t functioning properly. The other day I spent over eight hours … literally … trying to make a reservation for my wife to accompany me on a cruise assignment. I had requested Copa and the cruise line actually complied, so I had to get my wife’s arrangements on the same flights. As of this writing the Web site still isn’t functioning properly after over 24 hours. I really don’t get it. I’m so impressed by Copa in the air that I bought stock which has kind of tanked because of currency problems in Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia, three of Copa’s big markets, but the technology is so, so bad, I’m starting to wonder. They put the “F” if “FUBAR” when it comes to Web technology and functionality and customer telephone service. They have designed a system where it is impossible to contact them … and maybe that’s their idea.
And ground staff … forget it! No smiles. No “Thank you for flying Copa!” Checking in is always a hassle so you get on the plane exhausted and angry because of the incompetence on the ground. The airline has grown so fast that nobody knows for sure the policy of day. Copa flying from David to Tocumen sounded good, but it is just a convoluted process it’s almost easier to fly to Albrook and take a cab.
The Latest issue Nikki and I flew to Panama to do a speaking assignment and I had to change MY return flight, not Nikki’s. So I explained … phone agent said it would cost $6 to change … later I found out it was $26, not $6 and she changed both reservations, mine and Nikki’s because she didn’t know enough to separate the one PNR into two PNRs before making the change. She also promised to confirm via email, which she never dd. So the day before I called Copa to confirm only to find out she’d moved us both to the new date and there was no space on the flight for Nikki! Thank goodness Air Panama is still an option!
So flying to SFO next week, booking Copa all the way it’s a little over a 9 hour trip, changing planes in Panama City, then sitting back to enjoy Copa in the air. Booking through Expedia and United [flight operated by Copa], I don’t have to deal directly with Copa’s reservation system and I still get Copa direct flight in the air. I check my bags in at David and endure the usual Copa inefficient and unfriendly check in “welcome” but only have to run that gauntlet once.
One can only hope that Copa gets it together … and that my Copa stock rebounds. [Unfortunately, that was probably a mistake.]