From New York or Chicago flying time to Panama City is 5½ hours; from Atlanta 4 hours; from Miami 3 hours; from L.A. 6½ hours; and from Houston 4¼ hours.
Copa, a United partner, is Panama's flagship carrier. It operates flights from Boston, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Orlando, Toronto, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington Dulles. Copa also flies to many Central and South American cities. You can fly to Panama from Houston and Newark on United, from Atlanta on Delta, from Miami, Dallas, New York, and Newark on American, and from Fort Lauderdale on Spirit.
Air Panama is Panama's domestic carrier and serves destinations all over the country, including Contadora, Guna Yala, Bocas del Toro, David, and the Darién. Domestic flights usually cost $100 to $250 round-trip; you can buy tickets directly from the airline or through a travel agent. Air Panama offers charter flights as well, although these tend to be quite pricey.
American Airlines. 800/433–7300; 507/269–6022; www.aa.com.
Copa. 800/359–2672; 507/217–2672; www.copaair.com.
Delta Airlines. 800/241–4141; 507/214–8118; www.delta.com.
Spirit Airlines. 801/401--2200; 507/836--7701; www.spirit.com.
United Airlines. 800/864--8331; 507/265–0040; www.united.com.
Transportation Security Administration. Transportation Security Administration can answer any security question that might come up. www.tsa.gov.
Air Panama. 507/316–9000; www.airpanama.com.
Panama's main air hub is Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen (PTY), about 17 km (11 miles) northeast of Panama City. All scheduled international flights land here. The airport underwent a $600 million expansion in 2012 that included the addition of airy, glass-walled corridors; construction of a new terminal began in 2014. Tocumen has two tourist-information booths, shops, a few eating places, ATMs, 24-hour luggage storage, car-rental agencies, and a telephone and Internet center. Arrival and departure formalities are usually efficient. Minimum check-in time is two hours prior to departure; your airline may recommend longer.
Domestic flights operate out of Aeropuerto Marcos A. Gelabert (PAC), more commonly known as Albrook Airport, after the U.S. military base that once stood there. Albrook has a tourist-information stand, an ATM, a small food court, and some car-rental offices.
Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen. Av. Domingo Díaz s/n, Achutupo, 507/238–2761; www.tocumenpanama.aero.
Aeropuerto Marcos A. Gelabert (Albrook Airport). Av. Diógenes de la Rosa, 501--9272.
Customs and Duties
You may import 500 cigarettes (or 500 grams of tobacco or 50 cigars) and three bottles of alcohol duty-free. You can import duty-free up to $2,000 of various goods; customs is not overly strict on applying duty to items that are obviously yours for personal use. Prescription drugs should always be accompanied by a doctor's prescription.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 877/227--5511; www.cbp.gov.
Taxis are the quickest way into Panama City from Tocumen Airport. The fare is $30 to $40, depending on your hotel's location, but a few hotels offer a shuttle service. Only licensed operators are allowed to offer services as you leave the airport doors. The trip can take between 20 and 60 minutes, depending on traffic and your hotel's location.
The 15-minute taxi ride from Albrook Airport to the city center costs $4 to $6.
Public buses stop far from Tocumen’s terminal and take well over an hour to get into the city, so we recommend taking a taxi or shuttle, if your hotel offers one.
Transfers Between Airports
A taxi ride between Tocumen and Albrook airports can top $40, though if you're catching the cab at Albrook, you might be able to negotiate a cheaper price. The trip takes about 30 minutes. Alternatively, buses to both airports start and finish at Plaza Cinco de Mayo.