So I should have started my Panama series with a post about Traveling to Panama before I started diving into the things we did in Panama like Fishing in Panama or Visiting the Panama Canal, but I got carried away by the excitement of the other two posts, and so I didn’t. But here I am to make things right, especially because there are some important things about traveling to Panama that I want to share with you.
Traveling to Panama – How to Get There from the US
If you are traveling to Panama from the United States, you should know that you can get a direct flight from one of the following airports:
- New York
- Washington DC
- Los Angeles
- Las Vegas
- And others depending on the season
As you can see it’s rather easy to get to Panama from the United States, and so if traveling to Panama is something you have been thinking about, you have one less excuse now.
In terms of airlines, you can use almost all major airlines when traveling to Panama. Notice that I said almost all, as per in our case, the airlines we use for most of our traveling doesn’t fly directly to Panama yet, but you can always use partner airlines to collect your miles.
I know for a fact (as of summer 2019), the following airlines fly to and from Panama:
- Copa Airlines (United Airlines Partner)
- American Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- KLM (from Amsterdam)
- Iberia (from Spain)
- Air France (from France)
Traveling to Panama: Our Itinerary
In our case, traveling to Panama from Alaska, we had to go to Los Angeles first, then to Panama. I’m always looking for the cheapest, shortest, best combination of airlines and layovers for our trips, and in this case, the best choice took us to do an Anchorage – Seattle – Los Angeles – Panama.
Yes, it’s a lot of travel, but it made sense when I booked it, especially because least all the flights were going in the right direction, towards Panama. I really hate it when flights take you to the opposite direction of where you are going at the end.
Also, I was maximizing the miles I could get with Alaska Airlines since they don’t fly to Panama yet. I’m going to go out on a limb and say yet.
The plan was simple. We had plenty of time in Seattle to make our connection and in Los Angeles to pick up our luggage and check back in in the international terminal: Tom Bradley.
After all, it is not like he hasn’t done things like did before. We just did something similar while going to Sydney in February, but through San Francisco and we had no problems at all. Also changing from Alaska airlines to the international terminal.
What can go wrong when Traveling to Panama?
That it’s actually an interesting and loaded question.
Normally I would have said: what are you talking about… nothing can go wrong. After all, I’ve been blessed with really having smooth travels in general, even when I do crazy and complicated schedules; however, when you have this many connections as we did for this trip, you should know that there is always the probability of something going against your plans.
It’s funny because a few hours before going on this trip I still hadn’t packed my luggage which is not usually who I am, but maybe I needed to listen to the universe more?
This was literally a picture I posted on Facebook at 9 pm the day before we left for Panama.
So to get to the point here, and you are probably guessing it by now, our luggage didn’t make it to Panama, and when I said didn’t make it, I mean never made it.
Where is Carmen & Ben’s luggage?
When we were in Anchorage all checked in and just waiting for our 10 am flight out of Anchorage to Seattle, giving us a 2 hour connection in Seattle to then go to Los Angeles where we had another 3 hours connection, we realized through the app (While at the bar) that our flight had been delayed.
The first time was no big deal because the adjusted time still put us in Seattle with enough time to make the connection. Since we travel so much we know the Seattle airport like the palm of our hands.
However, we still went to the customer service counter and made sure that was the case.
Knowing that we had some extra time to kill we went back to the bar.
And then the flight gets delayed once again.
At that point, let’s face it, I’m an expert traveler and I knew there was no way we could make it to Los Angeles because we would miss our flight from Seattle to Los Angeles.
So we rushed to the customer service counter again, and there we met Heidi, the most amazing Alaska Airlines customer service representative, and we explained to her our dilemma and she spent like 45 minutes trying to get us to LAX on time for our international flight from Los Angeles to Panama with Copa Airlines which is the Panamanian Airlines.
Full Disclaimer here, I’m sure it helped that we are both Gold Members with Alaska Airlines, although she didn’t mention that.
So, because I’m a world traveler, I was throwing ideas at her, even trying to see from which other airports we could fly out with Copa, whom I had on the phone but since we have no status with them, the change fees and fare difference were outrageous. So, a tip here is that whenever you can, you should be loyal to an airline, because when you rack up the miles you get treated better, and you might even have perks.
At the end of the day, what happened was that to make it doable, I decided to pull out our bags in Anchorage, and have my friend Freddie pick them up because I knew there was no way we can get to LAX, get the luggage, and get to the Copa flight on time.
So our luggage never left Alaska.
So, Now what?
Ben was of course not very comfortable with my quick decision to pull out the luggage without even brainstorming about it, but I reassured him that everything is always working out for us.
Let me tell you a story, curiously enough, and I swear this is true, the night before we got a check for $847 from the escrow account and I mobile deposited it right away. My initial thought was, oh… I can go shopping a bit when I come back.
Well, the truth is that shopping in Panama is very affordable, I just never make time to go shopping when I go back home because my time gets consume with visiting family and friends and touring my kids and husband around.
So taking the time of our already short getaway to go shopping seems more like an opportunity cost than a smart move… Except for this time, we had no choice, and this was the silver lining of the story.
Seriously this was a no brainer. we got the money that we weren’t expecting the day before, I knew exactly where to go shopping and things are super affordable in Panama as I mentioned before.
Isn’t that awesome?
Sorry for my excitement, but I was actually very happy and excited about it because life is always working out for me.
And sidetracking here the reason that is so, is because I always look at the bright side of things.
You know… that’s my life philosophy and I invite you to start thinking that way.
As the entrepreneur that I am, I actually teach people how to manifest whatever they want in life in my coaching practice and If you have questions on how to start embracing that way of thinking check my other website at CarmenBenton.com
At the end of the day, yes we had to go shopping… boo hoo hoo (like my 4-year-old fake cry sounds like)
But I got to get new clothes, new bathing suits and shoes with money I wasn’t even counting I had the day before… Seems like a win-win to me, and it only took 3 hours of our first day, and to all honesty is not like I wasn’t going to take Ben to the mall to show it to him at all.
Yes, our experience while traveling to Panama got a little bumpy, but that could have happened with any other travel and the most important thing I want you to remember from this post is how you react to distress.
What you take out of the experience and how you come out successful out the other side of any crazy curve life in general is throwing at you, will determine the outcome of any experience, no matter how bad it looks at the beginning there is always a reason for your delays in travel or bumps along the way.
Just be positive and welcoming to the adventure that traveling is.
So, when you are traveling remember to be flexible, be hopeful, grateful, thankful be happy. And above it, all, keep traveling always. Because life is your getaway and you want to make it a fun one!