The airport began operations in the 1940s just after World War II. The airport is in the San Miguelito District, 32 km northeast of Panama City, which has been incorporated as a separate city but essentially exists as part of Panama City.
The airport began as a US airbase in the 1940s. Terminal 1 was inaugurated in the 1970s. Terminal 2 opened in April 2019.
The airport is a hub for Copa Airlines, and is also served by American Airlines (Dallas/Ft.Worth, Miami Airport); Delta Air Lines (Atlanta Airport); United Airlines (Houston Intercontinental, Newark Liberty Airport); Avianca (Bogotá, Colombia, San José (Costa Rica), San Salvador and Managua). Most major Central American airlines, and several South American airlines and European airlines also fly here.
Tocumen is the biggest and best connected airport in mainland Central America.
- There are at least six daily flights to and from Miami Airport, two from Orlando and Atlanta, 5 weekly flights from Tampa, three daily flights from Houston, 1 from Los Angeles, two from Newark, and 1 from New York JFK.
- There are daily flights to Mexico City; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Caracas, Venezuela; Santiago, Chile; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Asunción, Paraguay; Havana, Cuba; Kingston, Jamaica, at least 7 Colombian cities (Medellín, Cali, Pereira and Bogotá included) and several international destinations.
- There's also service to Madrid Barajas Airport with Iberia and service to Amsterdam Schiphol with KLM.
- Air China operates a special twice-weekly flight to Beijing via Houston-Intercontinental on which, due to fifth freedom rules, the Houston-Panama City flight can be booked. This flight can be a great deal cheaper than other flights on this route, although the competition has caught on with its pricing. Nevertheless, a ride in a widebody with seatback screens and free meals can be much better than the narrowbody jets normally used.
There are metrobuses (modern, air-conditioned buses) which cost $1.25 to get to the city center from the airport, but these buses only accept fare cards, not cash. At the airport there are only machines to top up fare cards, but not to buy them. However, the bus is always full of people going to and from the airport, so you can probably find someone willing to pay your fare with their card and you pay them back in cash. Just ask one of the many people entering the bus. They might not have enough on their card though—just try the next person.
To get to the 1 bus stop follow the "public transport" sign by turning right as you exit the terminal, then follow the fence along to the right, cross the small parking lot, and follow the (mostly) covered sidewalk the rest of the way—or just follow people. It's no more than a 5-minute walk. There are at least two bus routes that go to the Albrook bus terminal; take the one marked Corredor Sur if at all possible for a half hour trip (depending on traffic), or take the local bus (Via España) for a slow (at least 1½ hr) trip.
As of Jan 2019, there are apparently also big local (former school) buses going to the city, which can be paid in cash. Just ask.
You can buy a fare card for $2 at the Albrook bus terminal once you get there. Albrook in turn is served by the metro. The bus fare to the airport is $1.25.
From Albrook Terminal, catch the bus at outdoor platform E, in the middle lane (Corredor Sur - Tocumen). Buses run all hours of the day and night with varying frequency.
From the 5 de Mayo station, head down the stairs in the pedestrian underpass to the bus station, and go left to platform 1, doors 'C' (Corredor Sur to Tocumen). At 4PM on a weekday there can be a substantial wait and the ride takes 50 min due to rush hour.
Regular taxis cost $30, which can be reduced to $10 (per person) if you can find two other people to share with. Depending on traffic, the trip can take well over an hour.
Uber and Cabify are big in Panama and offer inexpensive rides starting from $12 from the airport to/from the city center.
The airport is small enough to reach everything by foot. The two terminals are connected by a 170-m-long pedestrian corridor.
Eat and drink
- Tierra Firme
- Air Margaritaville Panama
Bars and cafes
- Bar 770
- Duran Coffee
- Black Coffee
- Cafe Maritano's
- The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
You have a choice of ten fast food places, including a food court on the second floor airside.
Over 40 stores would be pleased to take your money, including fashion, jewelry, gift, perfume, liquor, tobacco, and electronic shops.
The airport offers free, basic Wi-Fi for 30 minutes. Other paid plans are also available starting at $3 for an extra 30 minutes. Be aware, if you plan to use Uber/Cabify, wait until you are curbside to activate your free 30-minutes of WiFi or else you'll be forced to pay for the connection. (You could work around this by using a different device, or changing your phone's mac address.)
- Crowne Plaza Panama Airport, Ave. Domingo Diaz, Tocumen (1.9 km from the airport), toll-free: . Gym, outdoor pool, Jetstream Restaurant. From $110.
- Riande Aeropuerto, Via Tocumen, entrance to the Corredor Sur Panama (2.6 km from the airport), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Free shuttle to and from the airport every 30 minutes 24 hours a day. 4 restaurants and lounge bar, transfer to shopping centers, gym & health club. From $92.