Panama to Cuba
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Feb 18, 2013 1:15 AM Last Post By: johnabbotsford
Dec 1, 2012 7:32 PM
Dec 1, 2012 8:13 PM
1Panama is a great departure point. Copa is a decent airline offering lots of flight options. Documentation is the very same as anywhere else... Passport and Tourist Card, no big deal.
Dec 1, 2012 9:06 PM
Dec 2, 2012 6:05 AM
Dec 2, 2012 6:07 PM
Dec 3, 2012 2:15 AM
5COPA is a decent airline. Beware of the overbooking factor (check in online, if not get there very early) because their policy on overbooking is...erm...impressive. The other thing you may need to know is that given that COPA is a jumping point for people coming from several central and south american countries (including Colombia), you may be subject to more controls than usual by Cuban authorities. In 4 flights this year from Panama to Havana, I was singled out in 3 occasions and in two of them had to undergo a drug test, which meant a stall of over 2 hours in the airport, along with just about every other single male and relatively young traveler on the plane, mostly Colombians (in the last occasion, 3 of them were deemed to have used drugs themselves and were apprehended). Never happened when flying with TACA, including flights originating in Colombia, for some reason COPA flights seem to be the favorites of anti-drug officers at Jose Marti Airport.
For the rest, COPA hardly ever has delays, the service is rather good and do not forget to collect your miles, they're part of the Star Alliance program, which is very generous (although if you have a TACA card, it's even better and more flexible).
note: overbooking troubles are mainly on the return flights, meaning those originating Havana. If you have not checked in online and you arrive say only 2hrs before departure, you are running a very high chance of not flying, in which case you will be diverted to Melia Cohiba along with other screaming passengers, for a free stay, including taxi transport, a 3 minute phonecall home and all meals.
Dec 3, 2012 5:13 PM
Dec 4, 2012 1:37 AM
7Yes, drug tests. You are asked if you have used drugs the past 2 weeks and then you are given sort of a tablet, where you put your finger on, then your body fat (?) is analyzed and within half an hour they know if you have used drugs or not in the past few days, or that's what they claim. Your baggage is also thoroughly checked, both by men and dogs, you are "interviewed" etc etc. A very nice experience, although it's even better in Colombia: last time I flew out of Colombia I was stopped right as I was boarding the plane (the whole flight was stalled!), along with a 65yo Spaniard, we were taken into a room for a short interview and then we were taken into a booth that looked like MRI, our whole body was scanned (mainly intestines), where supposedely they were convinced that we had not digested plastic bags with drugs. Then we were taken back to the plane and everyone was happy to fly to Cuba and undergo other drug controls once again...
I fly Air Canada tonight, let's see if I get singled out this time. Last time I was told that the reason for this is that...once (two years ago) I flew out of Cuba only for a day to come back the next one (it must have been a visa run) and since then my passport (which has changed twice since... so even a new passport won't do miracles) rings bells. Anyhow, this is all irrelevant to this duscussion.
Yes, COPA is good, do collect your miles, do check in online other wise get 3 hrs beforehand at the airport, especially for the return flight.
And hello to everyone again!
Dec 4, 2012 3:18 AM
8Hi Yorgos, let me be the first to welcome you back to the TT.
we were taken into a booth that looked like MRI, our whole body was scanned (mainly intestines),
Good thing it wasn’t Toronto because the wait time for a MRI is 3 weeks ….;-)
since then my passport (which has changed twice since... so even a new passport won't do miracles
The good guys don’t track the bad guys with passport number. They track you by name and date of birth.
Dec 4, 2012 6:12 PM
Dec 17, 2012 4:37 PM
10Ok, so this post freaked me out. Several questions from an American:
1) Is the COPA return flight, Havana to Panama City, really that unreliable? I have the 10 AM flight out of Havana on a Monday morning and don't want to be delayed, rebooked, or held up, as I have a flight in Panama City the next day and would be royally screwed by a delay. Are COPA flights out of Havana that delayed? Are they unreliable? Do they leave on time? Do I need to get there at 5AM in the morning?
2) I've heard from a different travel blog that Panama City DOES NOT stamp your passport leaving to fly to Havana but they DO stamp everyone flying back into Panama City. Is this true? Just trying to get all my stamps to "line up" if I can.
3) Anyone try straight up asking the Panamanian customs guy to not stamp?
4) If the US customs dude asks "Where have you been?", should I straight up tell him Cuba or leave it out?
Dec 17, 2012 5:03 PM
11#10, Copa is very reliable and has 3-4 flights daily. If you are not going to Panama you don't go through immigrations. you simply change planes in transit.
#7, I have flown in and out of Colombia to Cuba 3 times this year and usually 4-5 times a year. I have never seen or heard of something like this happening. When did it take place?
Feb 6, 2013 2:21 PM
12Just curious, as I can't seem to get an answer from Copa & I'm hoping as a regular traveller on this route you might be able to help...
I'm travelling to Havana from Panama in about a month & am wondering if the process of obtaining a Cuban Tourist Card at Panama Airport is as easy as people have said? I've read that you can purchase it for $25USD after checking in - is this correct?
The Cuban embassy here in Australia provides the Tourist Card for $100, however I can't be without my passport in the lead up to my trip because I'm a flight attendant. $100 also sounds very expensive compared with how easy I've heard this process is in Panama. Can you perhaps shed some light?
Feb 6, 2013 3:46 PM
Feb 18, 2013 12:34 AM
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