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Google Flights is a very useful tool; it allows you to track airfares and alerts you to changes


     1.  Airport Information


You will have to fly into Panama City, the airport is Tocumen International (PTY) you will then fly onto David, and the airport is Enrique Malek (DAV).  We are about 1.5 hours from David heading west towards Costa Rica.  There are a number of car rentals at the airport; they are located across from the airport towards the right as you come out of the building. 


Flying from Panama City to David you have a few choices:


Copa is Panama’s national airline and flies (currently) 2 times a day from PTY to David and back. 


Copa flies out of many major airports in the States and out Canada from Montreal and Toronto they fly non-stop to Panama.


Copa also has a deal where you can do a “Stop Over” in Panama City if you fly into PTY onward to DAV but do keep in mind you have to reserve your ticket with Copa direct. For example, LAX to DAV, on the arrival or departure segment of your trip, you can stay in Panama City for up to 7 days with the “through” ticket instead of having to buy a separate ticket.


When your flight arrives, you will be in either Terminal 1 or 2.  Customs and Immigrations is always open in Terminal 2 in front of Gate 215 and 220, you will go downstairs and follow the signs, this too is where your luggage should be located.  (This does change from time to time, we have not yet picked up luggage here so not %100 sure of the process)  You should always allow 2 hours between connections to David or going back to PTY for connections out.


**If you are going on to David, after customs and immigrations you may have to check your luggage in at Copa.  You will exit the airport, you will want to go left, follow the side walk to the Domestic Terminal.   You will go through another screening there.  You will then be “Bussed” to the airplane.  The Airport has be expanding and they are still working on logistics, this is the process at the time of this report.  Basically, just follow the crowd. 



Flying Copa through to DAV you may be able to check your bags through to David if you are under a 12 hour layover in PTY, you will have to request this from the ticket agent at your departing airport.


Wingo flies out of Panama Pacific (BLB) is located about 30 minutes on a good day from Tocumen Airport.  We have never used them and know nothing about the procedures, refer to the link.


They fly only Fridays and Sundays it appears only 1 morning flight.


Air Panama flies out of Allbrook (PAC) located about 36 minutes on a good day from Tocumen Airport.  We have never used them and know nothing about the procedures, refer to the link.


They fly 3 times a day, every day.


While researching flights, consider the major hubs that Copa, Delta, United or American as some fly nonstop to PTY. This avoids overnight stays at connecting airports.  



One more important thing about PTY Airport….if you are flying from PTY to the States, (and we’ve heard also, this applies to Canadians now), you have to go through another screening/security check AT THE GATE.  You are not allowed to bring drinks or water, you will be required to take off shoes, jackets, unpack computers, show your ticket and passport and go through a metal detector.  They rope off the seating area about 45 minutes from departure, once in there you can leave to use the restroom, but you’ll have to be screened again.  Heads up people.


     2.  International Travel Tips

If you travel even 2 – 3 times a year State Side, it is really worth getting the TSA pre-check program, many credit cards even will pay for at least one person and be sure at that time to do the Global Entry program if your card will pay for it.  We’ve been in some airports where having the TSA pre-check really comes in handy.  It is only good for U.S. air travel however. 

If you decide not to invest in TSA or Global Entry, you may want to check out the FREE MPC (Mobil Passport Control) especially if you have a short connection at a major airport in the States.  Our understanding now is that Canadians also can benefit from this program.  This is an app which allows you to submit your arrival info to USCBP in advance; there is a separate line to expedite you though the customs process. This is not TSA pre-check, only for customs and immigrations in the U.S.
     3.  Panama City


Any visit to Panama should include at least a day or maybe two in the city. There is so much history, great restaurants, museums, culture it’s a must do and with the “Stop-Over” program that Copa offers and really does give you some flexibility to your trip to Panama. 


We use Uber all over the City, they are quick, cheap and you know before you go how much, and you don’t need to carry cash. 


If you do decide to just lay over only one night due to a late flight before heading to David, we stay at the Riande Hotel, they have an hourly shuttle or go ahead and taxi over but pay no more than $10.00 for this.   In the morning, take the shuttle back to the Airport, you’ll want to be dropped off at Terminal 2, you’ll check you luggage in at Copa.  **Refer to above about the Domestic Terminal.


If you do decide to stay a few days in the City here are some things to do and places to eat…some we’ve personally done, some we know of others who have done them and enjoyed the experience or are just highly recommended. Also check out Trip Advisor to find what may work best for you and your adventure level.


A hotel that we stay at when we have a longer layover is The Executive, not super special but clean and they do have a good restaurant, get the Cuban sandwich with waffle fries.

These are the 2 restaurants we've eaten at and have enjoyed, Assisi is an Italian restaurant with a lot of charm.  For lunch you can go casual and still be treated like a VIP....We have never had a bad meal here. 
El Trapiche is a Panamanian sit down that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Like many websites in Panama, this one doesn't work the way we are used to but it does show the different locations, this and Assisi are both in the San Fransico neighborhood.  


Casco Viejo

Panama Viejo

Punta Culebra-Smithsonian

The Amador Causeway

Miraflores Visitor Center (The Canal)

Historic Churches

Malls - As silly as it sounds, Panama has some huge malls, especially for us who come from smaller towns in the U.S.  Allbrook is our favorite, its fun to see those things we are comfortable with and reminds us of the States and seeing new things that are really unique to Panama. Multiplaza also has a Courtyard by Marriott Multiplaza Hotel which is very nice and right next to the mall.

     4.  Useful Apps to have on your phone

WhatsApp ~ this is really how everyone communicates here

Google Translate



Waze (if you are driving)

MPC (Mobile Passport Control)

     5.  Tips and Tricks and things to remember

  • a.  Retain your flight information into Panama.  Immigrations will ask you what flight you came in on.

  • b.  Make sure you fill out your (paper) customs form 1 per family, the airlines normally hands these out but sometimes they don't.  If not there should be a counter with the forms, they need to be filled out before going through customs.  If you don't see them, just go to customs window and they will hand you one to fill out but you have to leave the window to do so.

  • c. Your phone may need to be turned off and back on for it to work, happens to me often. 

  • d. Download these apps prior to coming, even if you don't use them you can delete them after going back home.

  • e.  Learn to say simple phrases and pronounce some of the names.  Trying goes a long way here and being nice will get you even further.        

Enjoy your research into your visit to Panama!
Airport Information
International Travel Tips
Panama City
Useful Apps
Tips and Tricks
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