It's Possible

April 15, 2014
We've been back home for a few days. We had the best time in Ecuador. There is little information out there about traveling the country, since most who visit come for the Galapagos Islands. So, we really didn't know what to expect. All we knew for sure what that we were in for an adventure! It did not disappoint; in fact it exceeded all my expectations. I have much to share and plenty of photos.

I thought I'd begin by telling you about Copa Airlines. I had never heard of them until I started planning this trip, but they are a major airline based in Panama that services the Americas. Our flights were very reasonable, $599 roundtrip. We left McCarran at 6am, and arrived in Panama five hours later. The flight was pleasant. I secured us seats with extra legroom in the first row (directly behind business class). Shared TV's played movies and television shows. We received breakfast with waffles, fruit and yogurt. Plus, lunch of our choice of chicken or beef sandwich. The chicken was better than those you get from Jack in the Box. We also, had a snack of cookies and Caribas (natural plantains by Frito-Lay; we were instantly addicted).

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We only had a forty-minute layover in Panama. We were nervous about making the connection with so little time, but we put our faith in the airline. They run this route all the time so it must work out. And it did. The connection was seamless, I've never encountered one so smooth. We departed from the same gate we arrived; there was no need to pass through immigration. We attempted to use the free WiFi but too many users made it slower than molasses, but we were boarding for the final leg of the trip in no time. The flight to Guayaquil was only two hours. This flight we were seated in a regular row, it was fine for the short ride; but it would make for an uncomfortable long flight.

Arriving in Guayaquil was a breeze. We collected our bags and went through immigration; like Cancun, Mexico there is a button you press to see if you're selected for a random search. We were not chosen, so we proceeded on and met the gentlemen from the car rental company (that too was painless).

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The airport in Guayaquil was very nice. WiFi was readily available. We ended up upgrading to business class on Copa Airlines for the flight from Panama to Las Vegas. 24-hours before departure you check-in and select your seat assignments. It worked flawlessly on our way out; but we ran into snags for the return flight. For whatever reason we could not choose our seats for the second flight, which is also the longest. We ended up calling and speaking to a representative that secured us seats, but they did not have extra legroom. Frank decided to bid on seats in business class ($150-$300 per seat) the higher your bid, the better your chance for the upgrade. We rolled the dice and hoped a low bid was enough. The following morning (the day of the flight) we were notified that we were indeed upgraded. It cost an extra $300, but we felt it would be well worth it. Anything to avoid nightmares like we had on our return flight from Italy.

We received priority check in, and our bags were marked with priority tags. Once in Panama we had access to the Copa Club. Which is located on the second floor, it took us a bit to find it. The facility offers a variety of seating and WiFi, business center, snacks and beverages, toilets, showers, and play area for kids. It was packed when we arrived. We circled twice before finding open chairs. Our layover was so short that we didn't have time to enjoy the amenities, but we did load up on Caribas chips.

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Upon boarding, we were a little disappointed we weren't on one of the new planes. We rode on one from Guayaquil to Panama. They have a more sleek design and passengers have their own tv, and business class offers leg rests. Business class was roomy, though, and that's what we were after. We've never experienced anything like it. We recieved hot towels and a toiletry bag full of goodies. We had a special menu that listed meals and liquors.

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Once up in the air, we were served a cocktail and nuts. Our drink order was confused and we ended up with cocktails with dinner and diet coke with our welcome snack. The nuts were delicious. I wanted more, but resisted the temptation to ask.

A short bit later, dinner was served. We started with salad, roll and chickpea soup. Frank and I both selected the pork loin entree and he chose ice cream for dessert while I had keylime pie.

Everything was quite good. I think we could get used to this. Frank seemed right at home, lol.

Toward the end of flight, our snack was a meat and cheese plate with grapes (the biggest ones I've ever seen).

We landed at home right on time, and since we were first bunch off the plane we had no wait at immigration. That part was wonderful! We made it to baggage claim so quickly we had a fairly lengthy wait for our bags. It was 11:30 Saturday night so McCarran might have been short staffed for baggage handlers. I see it as no fault of Copa Airlines. I would not hestitate to fly with them again. I'd consider the business class upgrade again, too. It was a nice way to fly! Like their ads say "It's Possible" to find great airlines (it's unfortunate that too few are US based).


KathyinNY said...

So happy that you had a wonderful trip. I look forward to reading and seeing more pictures about your trip to Eucador.

Kellee said...

Plenty to come... I'll be getting to it slowly, but surely.

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