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Good time to book fall travel: flights to Panama City for $300 or less

April 24, 2022
6 min read
Sunny Panama City skyline
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For so many travelers, vacation plans are getting firmed up and the travel industry is preparing for a busy summer like none we’ve seen since the pandemic started. With prices on the rise though, we’ve been noticing some better fares if your trip can wait until the fall – and that’s especially true in some fares we saw this weekend on flights to Panama.

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Panama City is full of incredible sights, from historic landmarks and museums to beaches near town, and of course, the Panama Canal – one of humankind’s most incredible achievements, and one I’ve long wanted to see myself.

Panama Canal (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

While round trips originating from plenty of U.S. cities to Panama can range anywhere from $400 to $600, you can book flights out of a number of cities for $200 to $300 for a few months this fall and into early 2023.

Your options span several airlines, which is in part thanks to expanded flight options to Panama City we’ve seen of late; for example, Delta Air Lines announced three new routes to the city just last year.

These deals include options not just from the eastern U.S., but throughout the country including multiple departures out of California.

Related: Exploring Panama City during a mileage run

TPG first learned of these deals from Scott’s Cheap Flights, which offers a premium membership that alerts readers on discounted fares for a subscription starting at $49 per year for economy class deals and $199 per year for an elite membership, which also includes first, business and premium economy deals.

Deal Basics

Airlines: American, Avianca, Copa, Delta, Spirit and United

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Routes: ATL/DCA/IAD/IAH/JFK/LAX/MCO/MIA/ORD/SFO to PTY

How to book: Directly through the airlines or through Google Flights

Travel dates: September through March 2023, excluding the holidays in most cases

Sample Flights

We took note of deals under $300, but many and in fact closer to the $250 mark or even less for flights out of East Coast cities.

While you can certainly find some cheap options on this route here and there over the summer months, the deals become widely available around early to mid September. Generally, you can find these deals throughout the fall and into the winter months of 2023. The one exception tends to be the holidays, when the prices (as is to be expected) tend to rise.

Here are just a few itineraries we found:

  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Panama City (PTY) for $299 on American
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Panama City (PTY) for $266 on American
  • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Panama City (PTY) for $242 on Delta
  • New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Panama City (PTY) for $242 on Delta
  • Houston-Intercontinental Airport (IAH) to Panama City (PTY) for $296 on American

There are plenty of options departing from the West Coast as well as the East Coast. That being said, many of the options out of San Francisco are going to either require you to make two stops in both directions, or have an overnight layover in your connecting city.

In the interest of avoiding a hotel stay, I would chose the two-stop option on American, but that's up to you. The itinerary below includes brief layovers in Charlotte (CLT) and Miami (MIA) on the outbound trip, with layovers in Miami and Los Angeles (LAX) on the way back.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

The itinerary below on American out of Los Angeles is a bit more straightforward, with LAX being an American hub. You stop in Miami in both directions.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

On the East Coast, many of the routes involve a flight out of or connecting in New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), so let’s start there. For $242, I found direct flights to Panama City, which range from 4.5-5 hours.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

You may also end up connecting at JFK if you’re leaving from the Washington, D.C., area. I found a round trip for $256 on Delta, which involves a flight out of Dulles International Airport (IAD) with a layover in each direction at JFK.

This itinerary is also noteworthy because although we noted that this deal is not generally available during the holidays, this round trip spans the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. so it could present an affordable getaway that week.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

Finally, I’ll highlight an option out of Texas. American regularly has round trips for under $300 this fall out of Houston-Intercontinental Airport (IAH). These trips generally involve layovers in Miami.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

Maximize your Purchase

Pay with: The Platinum Card® from American Express for 5 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), the Citi Prestige® Card for 5 points per dollar on airfare, the Citi Premier® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve for 3 points per dollar on air travel, the American Express® Gold Card for 3 points per dollar on airfare when booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for 2 points per dollar on travel.

Bottom line

If you’re looking to travel this year but want to avoid high-priced summer fares, traveling during the fall months could be your best bet. This deal presents a great opportunity for people in numerous U.S. cities to get to Central America for some sightseeing this fall.

Featured image by (Photo by Gualberto Becerra / Shutterstock.com)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
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  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees