Tocumen International Airport (PTY IATA) is the main airport of Panama. It is in the San Miguelito District, 32 km (20 mi) northeast of Panama City (it's part of the San Miguelito district, which has been incorporated as a separate city but essentially exists as part of Panama City).
The airport began as an US airbase in the 1940s.
It has one terminal, cleverly named "Terminal 1". Terminal 2 is expected to open in early 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, Newark); 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, and 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.
Getting to the city center from Tocumen is not easy, as the metro does not yet serve it. Taxis cost $30, which can be reduced to $10 if you can find two other people to share with. Depending on traffic, the trip can take well over an hour.
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. Take the bus going to Albrook, from the bus stop that is across the street, farther from the airport, by the billboards. To get there 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 different 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. 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.
Getting back to the airport, you can catch a bus at 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.
Also, forget anything you may have heard about the red devil buses -- they no longer serve the airport, although they are still common in the city.
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.
- 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), ☎ , e-mail: resort@riandehotele. 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.