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Tocumen to David starting July 1st

The David to Panama air corridors are in transition.

At the end of May Air Panama began to fly it’s new Fokker jets on the David to Albrook route.

On “May 30,2011, Air Panama’s Fokker Jet carried passengers for the first time. Today they are using the jet for the 8 am and 5:15 pm flights along the David – Panama City Albrook route.”

Now Taca has been the first to announce you can book direct flights on Taca to David. Starting July 1 you can fly Aeroperlas from either Albrook or if you are on an international flight you can book Tocumen to David. source

It had been reported earlier that Air Panama under the Copa banner will also be flying the same Tocumen to David route begin July 1. I have not seen any external confirmation of that recently.

Good news for weary travelers

At the Jazz Festival I noticed an ad for one of the sponsors, Air Panama. The ad said they were flying a Fokker jet, I had never seen a Fokker flying Air Panama. After some research I discovered that Air Panama acquired two Fokker 70/100 jets from Ford Motor company. Ford’s loss is our gain. These flights will cut travel time from David to Panama City to under thirty minutes.

Here is some video of one of the planes before repainting.

Pilots and crews are being trained and they will probably in the air with passengers before April.

Another tidbit is in process, Air Panama has not announced it yet, but before this year is over Air Panama will be flying connecting flights for Copa direct to Tocumen. This translates to check in at David Airport and a direct flight to Tocumen without needing to deal with immigration, taxis, baggage and Panama City traffic for connecting flights again.

Without wanting to be quoted on the time line, this is scheduled for mid year.

Road Trips from Boquete Panama: Day One San Jose Costa Rica

When traveling by air from Boquete Panama you have some options. You can fly, drive or take a bus from David Panama to either Panama City or San Jose, Costa Rica. For our Christmas adventure Heather and I decided to fly from David to San Jose and once in San Jose to board a non stop flight on Taca to the frozen land known as Canada.

The last time I flew from David, Taca had a flight from David to San Jose that connected seamlessly into other Taca flights. Sadly Taca abandoned David as a destination because travelers never embraced the offering. Now there is only one option, Air Panama, three days a week. If you are flying only to San Jose Air Panama is a breeze, fast and efficient. If you are traveling with only carry on luggage the San Jose connection is a fast gate change no immigration or customs. If however you are insane enough to fly to the land of snow and sled dogs in the middle of winter carry-on only, is a bit of a challenge.

While in David we inquired of both Air Panama and Taca, Aero Perlas if there was a way to retrieve our luggage and connect without having to pickup our bags, go through immigration and customs, pay a departure tax in San Jose and check in again at Taca. The answer was no, no way. Upon arriving in San Jose I walked over to the Taca assistance counter and met an angel. My angel listened to our situation and said, “No Problema!” She took our Air Panama baggage tags, checked us in to our Taca flight, gave us Taca tags and sent an employee to retrieve our luggage and check it into Taca.

The moral of this story is angels really do exist, at least in customer service at Taca in San Jose Costa Rica. You just need to ask for one.

Given the gift of time and saving payment of a second exit fee for the day, we looked for lunch. San Jose airport in Costa Rica might easily be mistaken for San Jose airport in California. It has been years since I have been to San Jose California airport but I can imagine, Burger King, Churches Chicken, Shlotskeys and Papa Johns pizza are there also. I can also imagine the prices in US dollars, the currency in California, but not in Costa Rica. Perhaps I have been gone too long but I have trouble imagining a burger, fries and coke costing from US$7 to US$10 there, Here in Costa Rica bring US dollars and get ready for sticker shock.

Still the burger tasted good and the sign said it was USDA inspected beef; where am I again?san-jose.jpg

Trip Day Six – San Jose to Panama City

Another travel day. A shuttle from the Best Western Irazu in San Jose to the Airport and then waiting. We chose to fly Air Panama to save a few hundred dollars, I expected the worst for my decision I was wrong. A friend left San Jose on Taca for a nonstop flight to Tucomen at the same time. We arrived in town hours before him, Taca lost his luggage and he waited until they found it.

There are some lessons if you follow in our trail. In the San Jose airport gates are fluid. After we paid our exit fee from Costa Rica we looked for Air Panama’s gate, there was none. We were told they would appear between Delta and Condor and they did indeed.

We discovered free wireless Internet at gate 5, nice.

The flight to David was smooth sailing and 45 minutes long. David is the International Port of Entry and I was surprised how smooth things went. Immigration and customs and the cute drug sniffing Cocker Spaniel all in about 30 minutes.

We re-boarded and did the next 45 minutes to Albrook, painless.

Next Copa Air  to Buenos Aires after a day  enriching the merchants at Multiplaza.

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