Copa Airlines has a fascinating business model.
World-class, it ain’t, but it is a uniquely efficient carrier focusing on what might be one of the most convenient hubs in the world. With the Panama Canal in its backyard, Panama City has always been a city geared toward global transportation, and in aviation it serves as the key midpoint between North America and South America.
You won’t get lie flat seats on Copa in Business Class – you’ll get recliners only a little bit more comfortable than a domestic First seat – but none of Copa’s flights are truly long-distance. The brilliance of Copa is that none of its flights are longer than seven hours, and most much shorter than that. Copa connects a number of cities in the U.S. and Canada (Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Washington Dulles, Montreal, and Toronto, with nonstops to Denver, Houston and Newark on partner United) to just about every destination imaginable in Latin America, and on top of that, has ridiculously abundant award space.