Panama Travel Guide

Air Travel

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.

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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 and remodel in 2012 that transformed the space into a beautiful glass-walled construction. 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 here. Albrook has a tourist-information stand, an ATM, a small food court, and some car-rental offices.

Airport Information

Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen (Vía Tocumen, Tocumen, Panama City. 507/238–2761.

Aeropuerto Marcos A. Gelabert (Albrook Airport) (Av. Gaillard, Panama City. 501–9000.)

Ground Transportation

Taxis are the quickest way into Panama City from Tocumen Airport. The fare is as much as $40, an expensive ride for Panama, so it's worth finding out if your hotel has a shuttle service. Only licensed operators are allowed to offer services as you leave the airport doors. The trip can take between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on traffic, and whether the driver takes the Corredor Sur toll road. Note that taxis are often scarce late at night.

The 15-minute taxi ride from Albrook Airport to the city center costs $3 to $5.

Public buses stop far from Tocumen's terminal and take well over an hour to get into the city. We recommend splurging for a taxi or taking a 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, but the trip could end up taking a couple of hours.


Copa, a United partner, is Panama's flagship carrier. It operates flights from Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JFK, Orlando, Toronto, 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 Guna Yala, Bocas del Toro, David, and the Darién. Domestic flights usually cost $100 to $200 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.

Airline Contacts

American Airlines (800/433–7300 in North America; 507/269–6022 in Panama.

Copa (800/359–2672 in North America; 507/217–2672 in Panama.

Delta Airlines (800/241–4141 in North America; 507/214–8118 in Panama.

Spirit Airlines (800/772-7117 in North America; 507/264-2330 in Panama.

United Airlines (800/864-8331 in North America; 507/265–0040 in Panama.

Domestic Airlines

Air Panama (507/316–9000 in Panama.

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