This year several friends mentioned a way to do it via the internet, and someone even gave us an email address to reach that office. But when the email wasn't answered after a day, we became impatient and tried to find a phone number to the office. We searched online and dialed #120 directory assistance for all of Panama but any number given to us was for United Airlines International, and not that specific office. Since it's Panama that offers the discount and NOT the airlines it's self, it has to be done through this office.
Since we have plenty of time we jumped into the car and drove into Panama City. Once we found the office on Avenida Balboa we even managed to find a parking spot right outside the door. We were waited on immediately once inside the door, and just like last year the clerks were very nice, professional and even spoke English. It was toward the end of the transaction when another clerk came out of her office and looked over the shoulder of the woman waiting on us. She seemed to recognize us from our passport photos and stopped to ask, "didn't you email me," she asked? Clyde explained that yes we did but made the drive anyway being impatient and not wanting the fare prices to change since we placed them on a "fare lock," which we paid extra for.
The sweet woman explained in English that next time after choosing an itinerary hit the "pay cash" button, send her an email and she will adjust the price from her office, eliminating the need for us to drive to her. She also suggested that we sign up for their "mileage plus" program for save a little more money in the future. I asked about a phone number and she explained that while there is no phone into the office for the public they can call us if necessary. But it was nice to know there's a real person on the other side of that email address that really will take care of our needs, next time around.
Everywhere we go clerks chuckle when we hand over our credit card since our photo is proudly displayed on the front. It's customary here for the clerk to ask for ID when using a card, but when they see our photo they tell us "never mind." In the end the airline office adjusted the price of our tickets to result in a savings of over $300. It's kind of nice that Panama is willing to pay us for living here, just one of the many perks of being retiree's here. And in case you forgot from previous posts the following is a general list of benefits for those of us living here with "pensionado" status. And that simply means that we've proved we have money coming in from outside of the country, through either a private pension or social security and are not allowed to work here in Panama.
Under the pensionado program we're entitled to :
- 50% off entertainment, such as movies, theater, concerts, and sporting event
- 25% off restaurant meals, 15% on fast food
- 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
- 25% off airline tickets
- 50% off hotel stays Monday through Thursday, 30% off on weekends
- 15% off hospital bills
- 10% off prescription medicines*
- 20% off medical consultations*
- 15% off dental and eye exams*
- 20% off professional and technical services
- 50% off closing costs for home loans
- And more…
Now if we could only get them to discount our grocery bill since that seems to be where most of our money goes. But I suppose that we can't have everything, even though we all want it that way....along the gringo trail.