the Pensionado Visa and Airline Discounts

Yes, it works! I just bought our first airline tickets using our pensionado visas. First, I went on line and chose the flights I wanted to buy. The good folks at the Copa office could help you with this, but I thought it was easier to walk in knowing what I wanted.

These are already very good prices compared to what I have paid in the past. And, Copa now has direct flights from Panama City to San Francisco, exactly what we need. There is a difference in price because of dates. Joel is staying only a week but I am staying longer (new grandbabies coming soon!).

I took my info and went to the Copa office in downtown David, and came back with tickets.


As you can see, the tickets were $422 and $414, a savings of $190! (only the ticket price is discounted, not the taxes and fees so it’s not -25% off the bottom line). This more than covered the additional tickets I will need to go Seattle during my US trip.

I am still researching which airlines honor the discount. Copa, a Panamanian company, will for sure and I have been told that their partner United will as well. I’m not sure about other airlines that fly into Panama or how one would go about arranging that. The good people at Copa told me though that they can’t help me with my flights on Alaska Airlines between California and Seattle, which made sense to me.

As retirees in Panama we also get discounts on hotels, restaurants, medicines, and a number of other things. There is an article HERE with details.  I recently got about $1 discount on some cough medicine at the pharmacy. We don’t eat out much and I wouldn’t ask for a discount at a little local eatery (the restaurant has to eat the cost) but at a chain restaurant or more expensive place, I would use it. The only hotel stay we have had, they declined the discount because we had booked at an already discounted rate. I know friends have saved money on hotels though.

How do you get this wonderful visa? It is a process involving various documents and a lawyer. I wrote some posts about it HERE (the application) and HERE (the success). I think if you like life in Panama and plan to stay it’s worth getting residency, and this type of residency has some definite benefits along with your legal status.


About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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19 Responses to the Pensionado Visa and Airline Discounts

  1. I am on that new flight to SFO this Friday.


  2. oldsalt1942 says:

    The “already discounted” response is simply a ruse to keep from giving people a lawful discount for their Jubilado status.


  3. Gary Moore says:

    Your comment “This only works on Copa Airlines though. Copa is a Panamanian company. An airline from the US or another country is not going to honor a Panamanian discount.” is incorrect and you should edit your post.

    If you purchase the airline ticket in Panama from ANY airline office in Panama, they are obligated to give you the discount by law. Look up the law if you doubt this. It is on the airfare portion only and is easy to pre-calculate, I get my discount on United for example.

    The United office here suggests to log into the site and indicate you are booking from Panama location, is important. Then make your reservation which will lock the price in, that can change in minutes. Indicate that you will pay and pickup your ticket at the “City Ticket Office”, withing 24 hrs. That locks your fare in and when you purchase and pay for the ticket the office on Ave. Balboa will apply the discount quite happily.


    • Really?! That was not what I was lead to believe. I figured United would work since they are partners with Copa and fly in and out of Panama. Does this also work with American Airlines or others who fly to Panama?
      Are you talking about a Copa ticket office? I’m in David, not Panama City so not familiar with Ave Balboa. What I needed though is Alaska Airlines from California to Seattle. The good people in the Copa office told me they could not help with that.
      Thanks so much for the info and help! I really appreciate it. This is my first time buying tickets with discounts so I’m just starting to learn.


      • Anonymous says:

        Any and all airlines flying from Panama must by law offer the discount. So if you can get all on a united ticket you get the discount


        • United I understand since they are partnered with Copa. But, American, Delta, etc. if they leave from PTY do they have to offer the discount too? How/where do you but tickets for them?
          Thanks for the info!


  4. I live near S.F. (94565) and would be happy to taxi you both from Airport to your destination. No charge (I’m NOT a taxi, or a seller), I do have a 2011 Toyota 4-Runner. I’m open on your arrival (Nov3rd), however, I’ll be on vacation myself on your departure.

    Been reading you for a long time. Your family will probably be picking you up, I just thought I’d offer in case you needed a free ride. Was in Boquete, Panama earlier this year (loved it), and would like to get my Visa before I retire in 2 1/2″ years.

    PS: Bring some water, we need it here. LOL. Perry F.


    • Wow, thank you so much for your kind offer! I really appreciate it. I’m headed to Santa Rosa and if one of the kids can’t pick me up, they’ll probably send the other grandparents/in-laws. Maybe our paths will cross though if not in CA, then here in Panama 🙂


    • PS Yes, I heard about your drought and fires. We’re not getting our usual rains here but nothing like what you all are suffering.


    • wow, that is such a sweet and unselfish offer, and it warms my heart to read this offer… we need more people in the world like this….

      i too am so sorry about the drought/droughts and the dwindlingn water supplies.. yes kris, you (and all passengers!) should take water to california! when el nino dumps the world’s rain water supply on ecuador and peru, we’ll try to send some up there!


  5. Laureen says:

    Wowie…..that is a great price for airfare to the west coast U.S.A. I’m so looking forward to expatriating and getting our pensionado visas!
    Have a fun trip and enjoy the family ☺️


  6. ron o says:

    Hi Kris:
    I was interested to read about your Pensionado process. I called the consular office in Los Angeles (Long Beach) and they advised me to get a lawyer. I was surprised that that’s all the help they could offer. I have two questions for you about this; 1; How much were the legal fees? (total, in U.S. dollars if possible; and 2. You said you had lived in Panama for two years before you applied for your Pensionado card. May I ask how you did that? Did you have some kind of visa other than just a tourist visa? That was all the consular office here seemed to offer, which would mean that I would have to leave the country every 90 days. Any advice and explanation?
    Many thanks,


    • Hi RJ
      Yes, you will need a lawyer. I wrote about our process here and Legal fees seem to run $1500-3000 depending on who you get and if it for a single or couple. I think something under $2000 is probably a fair price, and remember more money doesn’t mean better service.
      We were here for 2 years on a tourist visa which meant we had to leave the country every 6 months for the visa, but every 90 days for the drivers license (sometimes things don’t always make sense here). We went to the USA every 6 months where I have family I wanted to visit anyway, and we’d take a weekend getaway to Costa Rica between times for the drivers license. I know people who have been doing these border runs for years, making airline reservations as needed for reentry into Panama and then canceling the reservation as soon as they are back. It’s a bit of a hassle if you don’t want to travel but it certainly can be done.
      And about border runs – I’ve heard they don’t always ask for everything required but you never know so you have to be prepared.
      It’s nice to be a resident though because you don’t have to worry about any of that any more.


      • ron o says:

        Thanks Kris – very helpful and greatly appreciated. One more question: How long does the Pensionado application take from start to finish? I will undoubtedly have more questions as my move draws closer. When I get to David, either to visit or as a permanent move, lunch or dinner is on me.
        Thanks again.


        • First you have to gather all the necessary documents and submit the application, and you will get your temporary card at that time. It took about 3 months for our application to be processed which I think is fairly fast. I’ve heard as much as 6 months. Once that is done then you go to Panama City and get your permanent card.


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