Air Travel

Panama Airports Guide [2022]: Navigating PTY & other airports!

Updated on:  
May 3, 2022
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Miriam Jaffe
Miriam Jaffe
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If you're traveling to Panama, you might be confused by the number of airports there are in Panama. Is it the PTY Airport or the Albrook Airport? Don't fret! We'll help you navigate which airport you'll most likely be landing at and how to get around places in Panama.

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Is your next bucket list destination Panama? Congratulations! Panama is a beautiful country known for the Panama canal but filled with beautiful forests, beaches, and wildlife! 

If you're planning your trip to Panama, it makes sense to look up the airport you'll be landing at. Frequently travelers have a horrible first impression of their destination because of their experiences navigating the airport. 

When you're booking your flights, you might notice a few different airports in Panama. Let me give you the insider scoop on how you can navigate the Panama airport, including all of the helpful tips to make sure your airport experience goes as smoothly as possible!

First, just exactly which airport will I be landing in?

Image Courtesy: Panama Tocumen

How many airports are there in Panama?

Before we dive into all the details, let's start with the basics. 

While there is one large international airport, Panama has over 100 airports that route domestic and international flights. 

As a fun fact, this makes Panama the country with more private airstrips per square mile than any other country in the world! Some of those airports are just small airstrips, and will likely not be an option for any large airline carriers, so you'll be limited to a handful of airports. 

Image Courtesy: Maps of the World

What is the major airport in Panama?

The largest major airport is called the Panama Tocumen International Airport. Panama Tocumen International Airport (IATA: PTY) is located in Panama City, the capital of Panama. If you are flying in from a different continent, chances are you'll be landing at the PTY Airport. 

Located about 30 minutes from the downtown city center, you're most likely to arrive at this airport if you're flying internationally. 

Image Courtesy: Tocumen International Airport

Two airports in Panama City

If you're headed to Panama City, you might see that there are, in fact, two airports there. 

In addition to Tocumen International, there is also Albrook "Marcos A. Gelabert" airport (IATA: PAC). Which should you choose? 

The decision will be made by where your flight originates. While both airports are international, Tocumen is larger and accommodates more flights and more prominent airlines. Albrook operates internationally with flights originating in Central America, so depending on how far you're traveling, you might not have a choice between airports.

Helpful Tip: When booking for flights to Panama, take a look at the airport code! It'll tell you which airport you'll be landing at based on the airline you fly with and where your departure is.

When comparing the two airports, Albrook is closer to the city center (only 4.3 miles vs. 12.4 miles when coming from Tocumen) and has a metro connection to the city center, which PTY Airport doesn't. 

Both airports only have one terminal, but as Tocumen is a larger airport, it also has more amenities. If the cost of getting to and from the airport is an important to you, Albrook airport will be cheaper if you're flying in from the Central American region. 

Image Courtesy: Viator

Getting from Tocumen International Airport to the City Center

While it's true that PTY Airport is a little over 12 miles from Panama City itself, there are a few ways for you to get there from the airport. 

Bus

If you fancy taking public transportation to get yourself to Panama City, the Metrobus will allow you to do just that. You'll have to purchase a prepaid card at the airport before boarding, but single fares can be as low as $0.25. You'll want to take the bus towards Corredor Sur to head in the direction of Panama City.

Metro mall

While it might not get you to Panama City, there is a free shuttle bus transfer from Tocumen to the Metro mall Shopping Center. These shuttles run approximately every 30 minutes from 10am-12pm Monday - Saturday, and then every hour otherwise until 5pm. 

These shuttles are run by the Panama Tourism Authority, located in the kiosks within the airport. 

Taxi

There are official taxi ranks located outside the airport where you can grab a cab to take you to where you're staying. The journey can take around 30 minutes, although it allows up to two hours during peak hours due to traffic. You can expect to pay approximately $30 for a taxi to Panama City from the airport. 

Uber

Uber also operates in Panama, so you can call an Uber if you would prefer to use that app. 

Car Rentals

If you're hoping to explore Panama by car, you can pick up a car rental at the airport. For the best deals, you should always book in advance. Here is a list of companies from whom you can rent at Tocumen Airport:

  • Budget
  • Sixt
  • Hertz
  • Enterprise
  • Europcar
  • Firefly
  • Alamo
  • Thrifty
  • ACE Rent a Car
  • Avis
  • Dollar
Photo by Christian Holzinger on Unsplash

Lounges in Tocumen Airport

If you have a long layover or are looking to treat yourself before your next flight, the PTY Panama Airport has three airline lounges you can explore. The three lounges are The Copa Club Lounge, The Lounge Panama, and The Royal Saloon. The Copa Club Lounge is only for individuals flying in certain classes of Copa Air, or you can pay at the door ($59).

The Lounge Panama and The Royal Saloon accept those with Priority Pass, or you can pay at the door for a fee of $45 for The Royal Saloon.

Covid-19 Restrictions

[COVID-19 Restrictions and Guidelines may change overnight. Please consult your local government for the latest up-to-date information]

Currently, Panama only requires travelers who are not considered fully vaccinated to show proof of a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of their arrival in Panama. This test can be either PCR or antigen. If a traveler doesn't present a test, they will need to take one at the airport before passing through immigration. 

A rapid Covid-19 test at the airport will cost you approximately $59. An airline can still deny you boarding without a Covid test if you require one. If the test is positive, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days in an approved hotel at your own cost. 

All travelers must complete and show an affidavit of health before boarding their flight to Panama. This can be shown in digital or printed format. 

Bocas Del Toro International Airport

While most international flights route you to Tocumen Airport, you may have seen Bocas Del Toro International Airport (IATA: BOC) if you're headed there. This airport is located in Isla Colón, one mile from Bocas Del Toro. 

The airport has one terminal and only flies to and from two cities. You can reach Bocas Del Toro from Panama City on Air Panama (departing from Albrook airport), or from San Jose de Costa Rica. 

If you're looking to visit Bocas Del Toro, it's recommended you fly into Panama City and then fly to Bocas Del Toro Airport on a domestic flight. You can also opt for an approximately 10-hour bus ride, but flying is definitely the faster way as the flight time is a little under an hour!

Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

To Panama, we go!

Now that you're familiar with the airports in Panama, you're ready to start planning your trip! Don't forget to use Pilot to keep all your trip planning and itineraries in one place. 

Pilot is your brand new travel planner that helps you discover and build travel itineraries connecting you to resources everywhere. Make the planning experience more fun by collaborating with your travel buddies! Pilot makes it fun and easy to share and relive your favorite travel memories with many useful features!

Did we mention that it's completely free? Try it out now!

Originally published on:  
May 3, 2022

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