Many Canadians and Americans come into Panama every day. Panama Roadrunner Secure Transport offers airport transfers from Tocumen airport to every city hotel, Gamboa Rainforest and beach resorts. Tocumen is a small but very busy airport - here are a few tips to help you out!
When you get off the plane you will first make your way to customs/immigration. Make sure you have your form filled out that they gave you on the plane. Also keep your passport handy. There are two line ups at customs. There is one for residents and one for non residents. The non-resident line up is usually fairly long. It took Neil and I about 18 months to get our residency cards; the first time I came back using it I got into the resident lane. I didn't expect there to be NO line up so I didn't have it ready. The Spanish attendant was insistant that I go get into the other longer line up until I finally pulled out my resident's card.
When you get to the customs booth, simply hand them your form and your passport. Expect to be fingerprinted and have your picture taken. This has been the practice in Panama for about a year now. After you go through customs you will collect your bags and proceed to security. The customs attendants do not speak English so its a good idea to be prepared with your passport and papers.
Security is simply a bag scan through an xray machine. If there is something in your bag that looks suspicious or too solid to scan, they will pull you into a little room and manually search your suitcase. This happened to me once when I was coming home from Canada. I had several bags of red licorice which was too dense to scan. It had been a long day with flight delays and the security guard kept squeezing the licorice so finally I took a bag, opened it and told him it was candy and he ate it and let me go!
After security there are two exits to the non secure area. Both doors are not always open, but when they are we encourage our guests that the best way to go is to take the exit to the left to avoid the crowds. Our drivers will wait for our guests in the meeting area adjacent the mens washroom. The driver always holds up a bright orange sign that says "Panama Roadrunner" on it. Our business license is on the reverse side of the orange sign.
One day we had eight or nine drivers at the airport at once. We had a large group coming from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and I was taking six of that group to the Royal Decameron in Farallon. We had been in contact via email and they knew I was a Saskatchewan Roughrider fan back to the days of George Reed and Ron Lancaster (ok that tells you how old I am LOL). It was almost 100 degrees that day and for some reason the airport was especially warm. I suspected the air conditioning was out that day. Anyways, these wonderful people came out with a woolen Saskatchewan Roughriders logo scarf and toque for me! 100 above and I'm running around the airport organizing people but I had my green scarf and toque on!
Our drivers get a great deal of positive feedback when the customers come out from behind security. They are tired of traveling and if they are going out to the beaches they have a 2 hour drive ahead of them. There are vending machines for snacks, pop and water near the area where we meet them. We encourage them to stay hydrated for the heat of Panama.
We have taken guests to Colon to the cruise ports, all city hotels, Riu Playa Blanca, JW Marriott, Decameron, Sheraton Bijao, Gorgona, Coronado and El Valle from the airport. People seem to enjoy knowing that they are getting into a reliable, air conditioned vehicle with our Canadian and American drivers who are well trained in the layout of the city and traffic patterns. Panama Roadrunner offers safe, secure transport within Panama! See Panama on your own terms!