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Friday 1 September 2023

My First Experience on the Boeing 737 MAX 9 (PTY-SCL)

 Welcome to my Copa Airlines trip report part 2! 

This is Copa Airline's HP9920-CMP, my ride to SCL, in the test flight stage before the aircraft gets painted into the airline's corperate livery. (Photo: Powwwiii)


Flying on Copa Airlines was in my mind especially after coming across the great offer and I knew that I need to fly on the airline's 737 MAX 9 as this aircraft model is rare in Asia. 

Ever since I booked this itinerary about 10 months before the date of departure, there had been numerous changes including this flight and at one point the aircraft type was changed to the 737-800. Thank goodness, it was changed back to the MAX 9. Like my LATAM flights, I get to experience both the old and new Business Class products so once again you get to compare the old and new business class seats and you can decide for yourself whether this airline is worth flying and even if you are flying on Economy Class, I will share with you what I observe on these 2 flights especially on the MAX 9 as I managed to take a quick walk to the rear of the aircraft to observe the cabin. So let's get started! 

About PTY Airport 

Tocumen International Airport (PTY) is the primary International airport of Panama City and is a main hub for Copa Airlines which flies to many destinations around the capital of Panama. It all started in 1947, just after the world war 2 ended. In 2006, Tocumen S.A. went ahead with the airport expansion and upgrade to increase the capacity and making the airport more competitive. 

This airport is well connected to the carribean, South, Central and North America and have expanded recently with the opening of a new terminal, terminal 2. In addition, this airport consists of 2 terminals and 2 runways (03R/21L and 03L/21R) and play hosts to around 20 airlines. With the expansion of the terminal, Copa Airlines can expand its network especially with more aircraft entering the fleet, making it a competitive threat to Avianca and LATAM. 

The terminal 2 was built along with the new taxiways and roads connecting to both the cargo terminal and the airport's adminstration building and the construction of this terminal was offically completed by April 2019 and started operation in June 2022. 

About the airline's Boeing 737 MAX 9 

The airline (currently) - June 2023 has 2 types of configuration for the Boeing 737 MAX 9. 

Type 1: 16J 24W 126Y - HP-9901CMP to HP-9913CMP

Type 2: 12J 24W 138Y  - HP-9914CMP to HP-9925CMP (August 2023 update) The airline is currently taking in more deliveries of this aircraft model. 

The 737 MAX 9 that I will be flying on is with the type 2 seating configuration.  

Airline's mobile app

If you see the 'Dreams' stated on the seat map, you know you be flying on the 737 MAX 9 aircraft. 

After arriving from Bogota, I went to explore the terminals. I had about 7 hours to spare, there was an earlier flight but it was operated by the Boeing 737-800 and only the evening flight was operated by the 737 MAX 9, so no brainer there. I won't mind walking around this airport as I have no idea when would be the next time I be back here. 

PTY Terminal 1 

My flight from Bogota arrived at this terminal.

This terminal has Copa Airline's lounge but I decided to go to the newer one. 


Plenty of shops and eateries. 

There were a good number of flights departing at that time. 

Terminal 2 

This terminal is not fully opened as there are some shops still sealed up, opening in the near future. 

Copa Airlines' lounge is just above the Newsshop. 

The terminal looks nice with a good amount of natural light shining in. 

I find the terminal to be quite spacious and pleasant to walk about.

I spotted some interesting traffic! 

This is Venezolana MD-83! 

It is very rare to spot a Boeing 727 in 2023. This is Aerosucre's Boeing 727-200F. 

One of Copa Airlines' many 737s at the airport, this one was being prepared for departure. 

The natural light certainly brightens up the atmosphere of this terminal.

After the visit of the lounge, it was time to head to the gate. For the review of the Copa Airlines' lounge, click here.

Night time at Terminal 2 

Soon it was boarding time, I walked around a bit to burn some energy off. 

I wonder how the airport looks like when all the shops are opened. 

This is where my flight was departing from. 

I was glad the airline didn't do a last minute aircraft change. 

Here I am, I was about to board my first Boeing 737 MAX 9. 

My ride: HP-9920CMP (Photo: Dennis Gonzalez)

Boeing 737-9 MAX (Owned aircraft)
Configuration: C12 W24 Y138
Engines: 2 X CFM Leap 1B 
8424th Boeing 737 built 
Built in Renton (RNT)
Age: Less than 1 years old (June 2023)

Flight route: PTY-SCL

Miles: 2,974 

Date of departure: 7th June 2023
Airline: Copa Airlines 
Flight: CM277 
Flight route: PTY-SCL 
Aircraft type: Boeing 737 MAX 9
Registration: HP-9920CMP
Seat: 3A (Business Class)
Gate: 211
Load: 100% (J Class)
Terminal: 2 
Schedule departure: 2112
Boarding: 2023
Pushed back: 2120 
Take off: 2133
Flight time: 6 hours 
Actual flight time: 6 hours
Schedule arrival: 0441 
Actual arrival: 0433 
Departure runway: 03R
Arrival runway: 17L

My Flight Experience

Boarding was on time and I was one of the last J class passengers to step onto the aircraft that means I wasn't able to get a clean shot of the cabin. Once on board, the female crew in charge of our cabin came around to introduce herself to every passenger. The nice and friendly welcome I received from the crew during the boarding process has certainly given me a good impression. 

The seat was comfortable and I was able to stretch comfortably. I know I have to enjoy this because this would be my last J class experience for this trip. About an hour after departure, the meal service was served and it wasn't a rushed service, which is good. The flight wasn't turbulence during the time I was awake but I know one thing, after the lights went off, I had a good rest for most parts of the flight, I could have missed the light meal but it didn't matter. 

Usually I don't sleep a lot on flights and this was a first for me especially on a narrow-body. I have to say that my experience on the Boeing 737 MAX has been positive so far. 

After waking up, there was only 30 minutes left of flying and we landed early. I have to say that even though the product is not perfect, but it is still comfortable for such long flights. Do I recommend this product? Yes, especially if the airline offers competitive airfare. 

Economy Class 

There are 138 seats in this cabin and it is arranged in a 3-3 configuration. The seat width is around 17 inches and havd a legroom space of 30 inches and for the emergency rows, 38 inches. Only USB-A socket is available. In addition, no IFE TV screen for this class and only streaming entertainment system (personal mobile device is required) is available. 

Economy Extra 

There are 24 seats in this cabin that features a seat width of 17 inches and extra legroom space of 34 inches. What makes this more unique is that there are IFE Screen available on these seats, also USB-A socket plus shared AC power socket are included in this section.

Dreams Business Class 

I chose seat 3A for this flight. (Photo: Aerolopa.com)

Some information of the seats 

These are the Collins Aerospace Diamond leather upholstered seats arranged in a 2-2 configuration. For this aircraft, it has only 3 rows. The seat width of each seat is 20 inches and can be converted into a fully lie flat bed with 84 inches of space. The business class product also comes with 16 inch HD touchscreen display, universal AC power and USB-A socket. 

Blanket/Bed Cover and Pillow are provided for each passenger. 

The screen size is just right for me.

As the space below the ottoman is small, I wasn't able to put my haversack in it.

While boarding was still going on, I was watching the commercials. 

The entertainment system is not bad, it features a good selection of movies. Unfortunately I didn't explore the system much as I spent most of the time sleeping on this flight. 

There is this divider blocking part of the window view, I had to lean forward to be able to view outside. 

At my seat, I had 3 windows for myself. 

Using the remote control was easy, I was able to navigate without difficulty. 

I noticed the footrest at my side seems smaller than the other seat (aisle). (Below)

There should be a divider between both seats. 

The position of the usb and power port is convenient. 

This product beats the old recliner seats any day.

For narrow-body aircraft, the window seat passenger gets no aisle access in premium classes. 

Overall I enjoyed the flight.

At this point, the crew switched the IFE system off as we disembarked. The aircraft would rest for 7 hours before returning to Panama City as flight CM498. 

The crew knew I was an aviation enthusiast as one of them asked me whether I like to fly. :)

I did a lavatory check on the 737 MAX cabin at the back of the aircraft so that I could snap some photos of the Economy Class cabin. 

I don't like the smaller size of the lavatory. 

The features of the seat

USB-A socket and Power socket

The literature holder and remote control 

This is where the foldable tray is stored. 

It is easy to take out. 

I find the seat to be quite comfortable.

I did a spot check on the cleanliness, so far so good. 

Once the dinner meal service was completed, not long after that, the cabin lights were turned off. At this point, I reclined my seat to bed mode and fell asleep not long after! I slept for more than 4 hours and only woke up about 30 minutes prior to landing. 

That's me, enjoying the Dream product from Copa Airlines! This is definitely better than the old product. 

This is my favourite mood lighting colour, I think it represents sunrise as it was time for us to wake up to prepare for arrival at Santiago (SCL) Airport. 

How time flew past so quickly on this flight. This has to be the fastest flight I experienced in all my years of flying. 

What's provided for each passenger?

Safety card 

Blanket/Bed cover 


I found both pillows and blanket to be comfortable. 

Amenity kit 

Inside contains 

Once we settled down into our seats, we were provided with a bottle of water and a hot towel. 

When the meal service started, we were served by one course at a time. I can't remember what were the options, if only a menu was provided. I chose the chicken option as I was quite hungry at that point. The lounge was supposed to provide some nice food but unfortunately that wasn't the case. 

I had a glass of champagne with some nuts to go along with it. 

I can't remember what soup is this but it was delicious. 

This is the chicken pasta, it was ok. 

I was given a few options for dessert and I chose the ice cream option. 

In-Flight Entertainment System 

I find the system to be responsive and user-friendly. I was able to navigate through the pages without issues. In-Flight WiFi for internet connectivity is not available. 

Window shot photos 

I had 3 windows for myself

We entered runway 03R for departure. 

As compared to the 737NG, the take off roll was very quiet. 

V1... Rotate! 

At this point, we landed at Santiago and taxing to our assigned gate. 

Jetsmart is the next airline that I would be flying on from this airport to AEP (Buenos Aires), trip report coming up next. (Check the link below) 

My flight summary 

Welcome back to Santiago (SCL) Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport!

This time, I was exiting the airport. 

After some routine questions from the immigration officer, I was given the clearance to enter the country. 
Before exiting the air side, we were told to fill up a form before handing it to the security. Once that was done, we were cleared to enter the land side. 

Since my flight landed at a very early hour of the day, I went to a cafe at a shopping mall first before heading over to my accomodation. 

This is the land side of terminal 2. 

It was foggy in the early hours. 

Fortunately, the weather cleared up but it was quite cold at that time. 

I headed for the bus terminal where I catch a bus to town as it is cheaper than taking Uber. The one-way ride costs 3,000 Chile Pesos (U.S $3.50)

This is the bus terminal. 

On the way to town! 

This is Estacion Central - Pila de Ganzo 

More photos of the city in my next trip report (Jetsmart). Stay tuned! 

My thoughts on the Old and New J Class cabin! 


- Fully lie flat bed 

-IFE Entertainment System 

- Footwell for leg rest 

- USB and Power socket 


- Small footwell space especially on the window side 


-Wider seat width (by 1 inch) 


- No USB and Power Socket

- No IFE System 

- Reclined seat, limited legroom space 

- No Privacy 

- No footwell or legrest support

Which product is better? The new J class is the obvious winner. While the old seats have its own merits, it is outdated in today's standards. The Dream seat product is certainly a welcome upgrade to the old product and certainly makes it more competitive against it's rivals. Fortunately the older aircraft featuring the old Business Class seats will be replaced by the newer aircraft in due course so one day when all the 737 MAX from the current order are delivered, you can expect a consistency in the Economy and Business class products but for now you need to keep a fingers cross on the aircraft type as equipment change can take place at the last minute. 

My ratings 

Airline's website/mobile app: 3/5
Airport staff at PTY airport: 4/5 
In-Flight Service: 4/5 
In-Flight Experience: 5/5
Cleanliness of the cabin: 5/5
In-Flight Entertainment System: 4/5
In-Flight Meal: 4/5 
Punctuality: 5/5 
Seat Comfort: 4/5 
Cabin interior: 4/5 
Overall rating: 42/50
Percentage: 84%


Copa Airlines offers a competitive J class product on the 737 MAX 9 and as the airline is still taking delivery of this model, there are some popular routes operated by the 737-800 which is configured with the older J class, recliner seat product. So it is better for you to check first before booking. However, for those planning to fly on Economy Class, do check out Economy Extra as it offers a couple of upgrades (IFE Screen and better legroom space) over the Economy class. 

Overall, I enjoyed both flights with this airline. It is certainly an eye-opener experiencing the old and new products in a different cabin that I normally don't fly on. If you readers enjoy reading these type of blog posts, please let me know. I would love to do more of such flights when possible. 

For my previous trip report (Part 1: Copa Airlines 737-700 BOG-PTY), click here

For the Copa Airlines Lounge visit at PTY airport, click here

Next trip report: Flying Jetsmart from SCL to AEP, click here.

Thanks for reading! 

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