Getting to Panama  by air from most Central American capitals generally means taking the “milk run” down the Central American isthmus; expect to make at least one stop en route, possibly more.
Advance-purchase round-trip fares to and from most places are around US$500–700, though prices vary quite a bit and deals are often available through the airlines’ websites.
There are plenty of nonstop flights between Panama City and San José, Costa Rica . For such a nearby destination and popular route, prices can be steep. Advance-purchase fares are about US$350–500 round-trip, with the cheaper fares available through website deals and other promotions.
The flight takes about an hour, or closer to two on a small plane. Note that Costa Rican time is always an hour behind Panama time.
Copa has the most flights between the two capitals—five daily each way. Air Panama, which is primarily a domestic airline, flies three times a week between Panama City and San José.
There are also several flights between San José and David , in western Panama. Air Panama flies three times a week. Grupo TACA makes the trip four times a week. More flights may be coming.
Travel to and from other parts of the Caribbean generally requires flying through Miami or doing some island-hopping by small plane after arriving at one of the gateway islands.
A visit to Cuba is a popular add-on for travelers to Panama. Standard round-trip air fare from Panama starts at around US$550, but package deals that include airfare, three nights’ accommodation, some meals, airport transfers, and tours are widely available and popular.
European and Canadian visitors sometimes route their trips to Panama to include a visit to Cuba on the way over or back. There are severe restrictions on visits to Cuba by U.S. citizens.
Air Caraïbes (www.aircaraibes.com ) flies to the French-speaking islands of the Caribbean. It’s possible to fly to Aruba or Curacao on Avianca, but this requires going through the airline’s hub in Bogotá, Colombia.