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Topic: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: NachoJFX
Posted 2012-12-11 17:20:56 and read 12057 times.

Good day everybody, this is my first post on Airliners.net!    I would like to share a Trip report I did this summer.  


This is the first part.

_______________________________________________________________________________


background


Cheap gas and hot girls. probably the first words that comes to mind when the average person is asked about Venezuela, and perhaps, in most recent times, the image of crime and a certain politician. Caracas is a vast, dense, sometimes frustrating, but never dull city. Capital of one of the most countries in Latin America, and, without doubt, one of the least understood.


The preparations


It's that time of the year, time to book my awaited trip to Caracas! as always, booking starts with looking at the best fares. We did not want to fly with stops, so we limited our options to the 3 airlines that fly MIA-CCS: SBA Airlines (3-4x daily w/757) American Airlines (4x daily w/757), and LAN (2x week w/763).

Although we usually fly SBA Airlines, this time I managed to find a Business class ticket on LAN for only $200 more than SBA and AA, so it was a no brainer to take it! We were just about to book when we found an obstacle: LAN does not allow pets to travel in the cabin. as owners of a tiny dachshund dog who will be flying for the first time, we decided to drop that option and fly with someone who allows pets in the cabin. The answer now was simple: SBA it will be! Booking was quickly done personally by the staff through the main Miami office located at walking distance from our house.


At the airport


The day had come! After a quick breakfast at home we quickly made it to Miami International Airport's outdated Concourse F, from where SBA flies from. Although our flight was due to depart at 11:15am, we arrived at MIA around 7:30am, before the check-in counters opened, to be one of the first to check-in. In front of us there were already about a dozen passengers, mostly middle-aged couples with few bags. We lined up and a nice elderly lady began chatting to us about her grandson and how much he has grown up since the last time she visited him in Miami, despite us not even knowing the lady. Typical Venezuelan attitude!   

At 8:00am the staff finally started checking-in passengers, within just a few minutes our turn came, everything was going as planned: I got my requested window seat at 13A, checked my luggage, etc... Then, when we thought we were ready to go, it turns out that our dog's kennel was too big for the overhead bins (something we did not know as it was our first time traveling with pets). Out of any options, my mother had to run to the nearest pet store and buy a new kennel so Maya could travel with us. The check-in lady told us to come straight to her without making any lines as soon as we get the kennel, so we can finish checking her in.

It was only 8:40am. Reasons like this is why we get early to the airport!... In the meantime we just walked around the airport and watched as the check-in line was getting bigger and bigger with people of all colors, races, ethnicity, culture, social status, etc... creating a very diverse load on today's flight, as diverse as the country it belongs to.

Around 9:30am, my mom came back running from the pet store with a $90 kennel (the only one they had, so there were no cheaper options) and we finished checking our dog in. We had more than an hour before the departure of the flight, so we decided to spend some time at the duty free shops before heading airside (where I bought an overpriced 1:500 scale Lufthansa A380    )

By 10:00am, we decided to head airside. As our flight was the only flight departing from the concourse at the time (plus a Cayman Airways 737), the security line was almost empty, with only about 5 people in front of us, including a very good looking flight attendants who seemed to fall in intense love with our dog! Our flight was due to depart from gate F17, which meant we had to walk all the way until the end of the concourse.



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/banner1-1.jpg



I knew in advance, thanks to a friend at the airline, that my flight was to be operated by YV450T, infamous for its fading paint scheme that gave it a bleached pink-ish look. Popularly known as Lavansan after a Venezuelan-branded cleaning bleach!


I got to gate F17 and there she was already, YV450T, who has had a long history with British Airways, Cebu Pacific, Air Slovakia, and currently SBA.
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0446copia.jpg

http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0447copia.jpg


Someone is excited for her first flight!
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0449copia-1.jpg



Flight: S3-1516
Route: Miami - Caracas
Airline: SBA Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200 - YV450T
Seat: 13A
Load Factor: Approximately 90%
ETD: 11:15am / ATD:11:30am
ETA: 2:00pm / ATA: 2:10pm



View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Philip B Hosking
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Luis H Aular




Just about to beging boarding. I'm off to Venezuela!
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0463copia-1.jpg


Around 10:35 they began boarding, as usual beginning with business class pax, frequent fliers, women with small children, senior citizens or people with disabilities. Then the back of the Y cabin and from there up to the front. As I was seated in row 13, a few rows behind the first rows of Y, I decided to just seat down and relax as everybody lined up at the gate regardless of the fact that they have to wait to be called by rows.


Walking down the jetway
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0464copia.jpg


Getting there
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0465copia.jpg


Bienvenido a bordo!
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_04671copia-1.jpg


We were greeted at the door by a smiling, young, all-female crew. We were given a warm welcome in Spanish and handed local newspapers, then I proceded to my seat a short walk away from the door.


Great to see pillows on 3 hour daytime flights!
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0468copia.jpg


Already in my seat
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0470copia.jpg


Obligatory legroom shot. More than perfect.
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0471copia.jpg


The view from my seat
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0479copia.jpg


Inflight magazine + local newspaper. Of course he had to be on the headline
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0481copia.jpg


Doors were closed at approximately 11:15am, our ETD, but we stood in the ramp for a few more minutes for unknown reason until we were finally pushed back. A welcome announcement was given in both Spanish and English.


Taxiing to the runway
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0485copia.jpg


http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0492copia.jpg


Rocketing like only a 757 knows how to!   
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0501copia.jpg


http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0513copia.jpg


http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0514copia.jpg


Reaching cruising altitude.
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0520copia.jpg


As soon as we reached cruising altitude, the crew began distributing the immigration forms
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0523copia.jpg


http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0526copia.jpg


Cabin shot
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0531copia-1.jpg


Soon after, meal service began. So I moved to an empty seat near my mother and sister to "spend lunch" with them  

.
"good afternoon, would you like to eat?"

- yes, please

"Today we have chicken and beef"

- May I have the chicken, please

Sure sir!


My chicken. I gotta admit it did not taste bad, the vegetables were well boiled and the mashed potatoes and chicken did not taste bland. I did not eat the salad. As I don't like cheesecake, I did not try this one either, although my sister said it tasted good. Not a bad meal for a 3 hour flight.
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0533copia.jpg


Soon after the meal trays were collected, I began chatting with the girl seating next to me. It turns out we have many friends in common in Caracas! How small is the world sometimes.


After about 45 minutes of talking, I headed back to my original seat where I just sat down, relaxed, and listened to my iPod


I lost notion of time and before I even noticed, I heard the announcement I was waiting to hear: Ladies and gentlemen, we will shortly begin our descent into Simon Bolivar international airport in Caracas" followed by a "cabin crew prepare for landing" by the pilot. a feeling of excitement invaded my body and the announcements were received by a round of applause by a group of noisy American youth missionaries going to a religious meeting of some kind (or so I heard) and more than one passenger  


Initiating approach
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0541copia.jpg


http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0546copia.jpg


Terra firma!
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0560copia.jpg


Touchdown  http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0563copia.jpg


T-tail paradise
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0567copia.jpg


Local traffic
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0571copia.jpg


I hunted for blue Avior for months at MIA in vain, now I finally get her at her home!
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0572copia.jpg


A great highlight: Air Tahiti Nui A340-300 flying for Conviasa to Buenos Aires and Madrid  http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0575copia.jpg


http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0576copia.jpg


A boring Copa
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0580copia.jpg


I had waited so long to see this!   
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0582copia.jpg


As we parked at the gate something very... bizarre, I guess we could say and something I had never seen before on a plane, happened.

When the crew turned the seatbelt signs off, a guy in his twenties who came with the group of American religious missionaries and was seated in the first row of economy, stood up, blocking the only way to the door, raised a bible and with a clearly Dominican voice said something like this:


"Ladies, gentlemen, children... I know that in this aircraft there must be someone with emotional issues, maybe economical issues... perhaps a loved one is dying... well for those people I want to pray. Is there anyone here who wants to pray too?"

About 90% of the senior ladies on board, plus everybody in his group and a couple other passengers raised their hands and, as the guy said, began praying on board. Some people began repeating his prayers, others made comments such as "this guy is crazy" or How weird this is, or one I heard more than once what we should so is pray for Hugo Chavez to leave!... The guy and the others kept praying until a man uttered, clearly angry, ... at that time the man sort of stopped and let everyone pass. It was a bizarre situation to say the least.


...As I walked to the door, after receiving a "God bless you" from the aforementioned character , I decided to ask one of the Flight Attendants whether it be possible to get a shot of the cockpit. She told me to hold on and went to ask the captain. She exited the cockpit and gave me an approval thumb-up   I grabbed my camera, exchanged a few words with the crew, thanked them for the good flight and made my way out.



"Lavansan's cockpit
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_05841copia.jpg


Making my way out!
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0585copia.jpg


Good bye 450T!
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_05861copia.jpg


I couldn't miss the chance to get a close-up of the Aerolineas Argentinas A340, so I asked a lady at the gate if I could walk down the empty aisle to get a picture, to which she said yes    So I made my way down the gates


So beautiful!
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0588copia.jpg


http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_05891copia.jpg


http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0591copia.jpghttp://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0592copia.jpghttp://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0593copia.jpghttp://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0595copia.jpg


To my pleasant surprise, more than 80% of the immigration desks were open, and about half my flight had already gone through it! So in less than 3 minutes I was already being stamped by an indifferent officer who did not ask any questions at all


and yet another pleasant surprise! My luggage was already on the belt, so I just made my line and 3 minutes later I was out!  Welcome to Venezuela!



This is the end of part 1. I hope I did good for my first time   Part 2 coming up!

Thank you all for reading! Feedback is greatly appreciated

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: Widebodyroga
Posted 2012-12-11 19:41:05 and read 11695 times.

Hey NachoJFX,

A great start to your TR-writing career!    I really enjoyed it.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
I knew in advance, thanks to a friend at the airline, that my flight was to be operated by YV450T, infamous for its fading paint scheme that gave it a bleached pink-ish look. Popularly known as Lavansan after a Venezuelan-branded cleaning bleach!

Man, this livery is bad-ass! True, they need to paint the aircraft again but the design itself is one of the best I've seen. I'll keep an eye out for it when I'm in MIA next week.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
Obligatory legroom shot. More than perfect.

Pardon me for asking but how tall are you? I need to put this into perspective. This appears to be an awfully generous legroom. Good stuff!

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
noisy American youth missionaries going to a religious meeting of some kind (or so I heard) and more than one passenger

They are everywhere these days... Don't they have anything better to do than saving people's souls?

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
"Ladies, gentlemen, children... I know that in this aircraft there must be someone with emotional issues, maybe economical issues... perhaps a loved one is dying... well for those people I want to pray. Is there anyone here who wants to pray too?"

You know, there is a time and place for everything. What this guy did was unacceptable. I'm a non-confrontational person but if this fella and his mambo-jumbo were blocking my way to the exit I would have simply walked up to him and told him to get the hell out of my way.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
So beautiful!


Another superb Latin American livery. Too bad that the airline itself is less than superb  .

Thanks for putting this together for us. As I said, this is a great start and I'm looking forward to part 2.

Widebodyroga

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: NachoJFX
Posted 2012-12-11 20:09:23 and read 11637 times.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
Hey NachoJFX,

A great start to your TR-writing career! I really enjoyed it.
Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
Thanks for putting this together for us. As I said, this is a great start and I'm looking forward to part 2.

Thank you very much Widebodyroga!  Glad you liked my Trip Report

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
Man, this livery is bad-ass! True, they need to paint the aircraft again but the design itself is one of the best I've seen. I'll keep an eye out for it when I'm in MIA next week.

I gotta agree that their livery is really an eye-catcher!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
Pardon me for asking but how tall are you? I need to put this into perspective. This appears to be an awfully generous legroom. Good stuff!

I'm 5.5! Not really the tallest. We could say I barely ever have legroom problems. 

Once again thank you for the reply!  

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: flymia
Posted 2012-12-11 20:28:24 and read 11598 times.

Great report. Enjoyed the pictures. I didn't notice in the MIA shots but from CCS shots yea that 757 is basically pink!

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: debonair
Posted 2012-12-11 23:58:33 and read 11333 times.

Great TR, nice pictures and an "exotic" airline - well done!

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
it turns out that our dog's kennel was too big for the overhead bins (something we did not know as it was our first time traveling with pets).

Hopefully without the dog inside... 
Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
a guy in his twenties who came with the group of American religious missionaries and was seated in the first row of economy, stood up, blocking the only way to the door, raised a bible

Really weird situation- thankfully this happened after landing and not during take off!

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-12 04:18:13 and read 10944 times.

Very nice report, thanks for posting! The colours on the SBA plane are great (although it's a shame about the fading). Aerolineas Argentinas also looks fab!

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
Not a bad meal for a 3 hour flight.

Not bad at all

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):

When the crew turned the seatbelt signs off, a guy in his twenties who came with the group of American religious missionaries and was seated in the first row of economy, stood up, blocking the only way to the door, raised a bible and with a clearly Dominican voice said something like this:
"Ladies, gentlemen, children... I know that in this aircraft there must be someone with emotional issues, maybe economical issues... perhaps a loved one is dying... well for those people I want to pray. Is there anyone here who wants to pray too?"
About 90% of the senior ladies on board, plus everybody in his group and a couple other passengers raised their hands and, as the guy said, began praying on board. Some people began repeating his prayers, others made comments such as "this guy is crazy" or How weird this is, or one I heard more than once what we should so is pray for Hugo Chavez to leave!... The guy and the others kept praying until a man uttered, clearly angry, ... at that time the man sort of stopped and let everyone pass. It was a bizarre situation to say the least.

Ok, so he was holding people hostage so he could pray at them? Imagine if this guy was praying to Allah...he wouldn't have lasted long before ending up in prison on terrorism charges. People should leave their religon at home, and definately not foister it on the general public. Crazy indeed!

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: CrimsonNL
Posted 2012-12-12 04:28:39 and read 10921 times.

Hi NachoJFX and welcome to Airliners.net! Great job on your first TR, it's very nice to read something about SBA which is quite rare in these forums. Even with the fading livery that is still one gorgeous 757! I'm looking forward to part 2.

Regards,

Martijn

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: aerdingus
Posted 2012-12-12 04:43:16 and read 10881 times.

Well done on your first trip report.   I do have a little obsession with SBA, I think they have a great livery. Pity this poor bird has been left to fade! Lavansan is an apt name though, haha. I was surprised to see pets allowed in the cabin, as I thought they all had to go in the cargo hold. Cute dog! Very nice that you got a meal on this flight, I would´ve went for chicken too! I was also surprised that the agent let you walk down the empty gate to take pictures, as I thought CCS was very heavy on security. But great that they allowed it, the AR A340 is beautiful, in the new livery.

Gracias!

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: lychemsa
Posted 2012-12-12 11:15:43 and read 10262 times.

Very interesting and funny. I think the color scheme is awful but the service is better than what one would get on a US carrier.

I wonder what Tahit Nui is doing? Maybe a leased aircraft.

[Edited 2012-12-12 11:16:56]

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: globalflyer
Posted 2012-12-12 11:56:37 and read 10163 times.

Really great TR! I love the SB livery even if it is faded! It is nice to get a meal on a flight. I bet AA serves nothing ontheir flight to CCS? I may be wrong? Glad your puppy could fly inside the cabin with you! You all are spoiled in CCS getting all of those old and unique aircraft. I would be in heaven. OK that is just odd that the missionary would be allowed to stand up and preach. If it were inflight I bet they would say it is interference with the crew! Still odd!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
noisy American youth missionaries going to a religious meeting of some kind (or so I heard) and more than one passenger

They are everywhere these days... Don't they have anything better to do than saving people's souls?

My mission is to save Stojan's(Widebodyroga's) soul!   The holy water will be beer and wine soon!  

Excellent report! Thanks for sharing! Cheers, Will

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: Widebodyroga
Posted 2012-12-12 12:06:44 and read 10135 times.

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 9):
My mission is to save Stojan's(Widebodyroga's) soul!   The holy water will be beer and wine soon!  

Haha, if there's beer involved then I'm willing to discuss the possibility of offering my soul for saving  

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: Superfly
Posted 2012-12-12 12:25:33 and read 10099 times.

Where are the photos of the nice girls?

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: NachoJFX
Posted 2012-12-12 12:45:00 and read 10054 times.

Quoting flymia (Reply 3):
Great report. Enjoyed the pictures. I didn't notice in the MIA shots but from CCS shots yea that 757 is basically pink!

Thank you!

Quoting debonair (Reply 4):
Great TR, nice pictures and an "exotic" airline - well done!

Thank you, Debonair!  
Quoting debonair (Reply 4):
Hopefully without the dog inside...

I meant to say it was too big to travel in the cabin Hahaha  I don't know why I said overhead bins, must be that I just got used to it :P

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 5):
Very nice report, thanks for posting! The colours on the SBA plane are great (although it's a shame about the fading). Aerolineas Argentinas also looks fab!

Thank you, Gabriel!  
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 5):
Ok, so he was holding people hostage so he could pray at them? Imagine if this guy was praying to Allah...he wouldn't have lasted long before ending up in prison on terrorism charges. People should leave their religon at home, and definately not foister it on the general public. Crazy indeed!

I bet had that been the case, we would be hearing about it here for sure! :O

Quoting aerdingus (Reply 7):
Well done on your first trip report. I do have a little obsession with SBA, I think they have a great livery. Pity this poor bird has been left to fade! Lavansan is an apt name though, haha. I was surprised to see pets allowed in the cabin, as I thought they all had to go in the cargo hold. Cute dog! Very nice that you got a meal on this flight, I would´ve went for chicken too! I was also surprised that the agent let you walk down the empty gate to take pictures, as I thought CCS was very heavy on security. But great that they allowed it, the AR A340 is beautiful, in the new livery.

Gracias!

Thank you very much Aerdingus! 
Quoting CrimsonNL (Reply 6):
Hi NachoJFX and welcome to Airliners.net! Great job on your first TR, it's very nice to read something about SBA which is quite rare in these forums. Even with the fading livery that is still one gorgeous 757! I'm looking forward to part 2.

Thank you for the feedback and the welcome Crimson! 
Quoting lychemsa (Reply 8):
I wonder what Tahit Nui is doing? Maybe a leased aircraft.

The Air Tahitu Nui was flying for Conviasa to Madrid and Buenos Aires  
Quoting globalflyer (Reply 9):
Really great TR! I love the SB livery even if it is faded! It is nice to get a meal on a flight. I bet AA serves nothing ontheir flight to CCS? I may be wrong? Glad your puppy could fly inside the cabin with you! You all are spoiled in CCS getting all of those old and unique aircraft. I would be in heaven. OK that is just odd that the missionary would be allowed to stand up and preach. If it were inflight I bet they would say it is interference with the crew! Still odd!

Thank you, Globalflyer! I don't know about AA, as I haven't flown them between MIA and CCS, however I've flown Delta to ATL (longer flight) a few weeks after flying another SBA from MIA and as you can see in these pictures, the meal difference is vast! Delta early morning flight vs. SBA midday flight.

SBA


Delta


About the old planes, we are a little lucky indeed 


Part II coming up  

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: NachoJFX
Posted 2012-12-12 15:31:53 and read 9841 times.

Part II - The city


Soon after getting picking up our luggage, the next thing to do was to find a taxi to the city. With the airport located behind the Avila mountain, the trip from the airport to the city takes from 40 minutes to sometimes 2 hours depending on traffic and weather. As with all latin american countries, non official taxi cabs must be avoided. We made our way to the official SVMI taxi line, which uses a fleet of black Ford Explorers, and bought a (slightly expensive) fare to the city, as there's no taximeters.

http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/banner2-1.jpg


Caracas, known as "La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera", or The city of eternal spring, with a dense population of almost 6 million people is undoubtly the most populated of the country. Usually associated with Danger and Violence, the metropolis is not as bad as they say (though it is true that some zones must be avoided). Surrounded by the "Avila", a beautiful mountain that covers all the valley, gorgeous women, excelent gastronomy, architectural jewels are everywhere...as well as an incredible contrast between Socialism and Capitalism (oh, and how could I forget? 8 cents/gallon gas   )

I'll let the pictures speak by themselves. Feel free to skip this part if all you wish to see are airplane pictures  



Typical Caraquenian middle-class suburban scene
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0606copia.jpg



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0610copia.jpg



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0618copia.jpg



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0620copia.jpg



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0631copia.jpg



A chilling evening at the pool
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0616copia.jpg



A shantytown
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0634copia.jpg



Suburban houses with the Avila Mountain in the background
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_06411copia.jpg



City overview, always witnessed by the almighty Avila Mountain
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0665__3.jpg



Downtown Caracas
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0659copia.jpg



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0674copia.jpg



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0680copia.jpg


Density
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0668copia.jpg



A Cessna Citation jet on approach to "La Carlota" airport
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0671copia.jpg



American Embassy
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0669copia.jpg



More suburbs
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0676copia.jpg



I wouldn't wanna be stuck in there
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0683.jpg



A high-class home with view of the city
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0684copia.jpg



Yep, we're still in Caracas.
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_06861copia.jpg



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_06881copia.jpg



"El Hatillo" a popular pintoresque zone in the southeast.
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_06961copia.jpg



Colors are everywhere
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_06981copia.jpg



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_07061copia.jpg



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0710copia.jpg



Taking the cable car to the top of the Avila
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0754.jpg



The lonely and once exclusive Humboldt Hotel at the top of the mountain
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0755.jpg



A tiny town at the other side
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0757.jpg



Local wildlife
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0769copia.jpg



The people
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0791.jpg



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0761.jpg



The unoccupied Humboldt Hotel, symbol of the golden days of Caracas, when even the Concorde had regular flights to SVMI.
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0792.jpg



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0786copia.jpg



La Carlota Airport, currently used as an Air Force base
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0774.jpg



http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0804.jpg



More buildings
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0796.jpg



Concrete Jungle
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0807_2.jpg



Abstraction
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_0810copia.jpg



And one last picture...
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/lugoc380/DSC_08172copia.jpg



Hope these pictures have been of your enjoyment!


Part III, the return, coming up 

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-12-12 16:56:56 and read 9733 times.

Great photos of Caracas!

Might be a good idea to post the return flight in a new thread. If you just tack it on the end after a load of replies, a lot of people won't see it.

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: 767747
Posted 2012-12-12 18:44:20 and read 9600 times.

Thanks for sharing your report on SBA Airlines! I don't think I've ever read anything or see anything about them before. I really like your photos as well - were you using a fish eye lens? I love the shots from the aircraft.

Food looks really good as well!

Best,

Matthew (767747)

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: NachoJFX
Posted 2012-12-12 20:38:17 and read 9511 times.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 14):
Great photos of Caracas!

Might be a good idea to post the return flight in a new thread. If you just tack it on the end after a load of replies, a lot of people won't see it.

Thank you, Gabriel! I will take your advice and post the return on a new thread, although I do not have as many pictures of it.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 15):
Thanks for sharing your report on SBA Airlines! I don't think I've ever read anything or see anything about them before. I really like your photos as well - were you using a fish eye lens? I love the shots from the aircraft.

Food looks really good as well!

Best,

Matthew (767747)

Thank you very much Matt! I was using a fisheye lens indeed  

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: adamspotter
Posted 2012-12-13 09:24:32 and read 9104 times.

Hi NachoJFX,

First of all, Welcome to the forum and what a great way to start!
Great report on an airline we dont see here all to often with many nice pictures!
SBA Airlines looks very decent, love that livery just like I love Aerolineas Argentinas new livery!
Great pictures of Caracas you made there too!

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
Someone is excited for her first flight

Very cute dog you have there!

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
My chicken

A good looking tray, well done SBA!

Looking forward to your return journey!

cheers,

Brendan

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: capicua
Posted 2012-12-13 12:15:32 and read 8981 times.

Hi NachoJFX,

Welcome to the forum and congratulations on your great first TR! You don't hear much about SBA on here.

They look pretty decent but their on-time record apparently has a lot of room for improvement.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
To my pleasant surprise, more than 80% of the immigration desks were open, and about half my flight had already gone through it! So in less than 3 minutes I was already being stamped by an indifferent officer who did not ask any questions at all

Man, you were either terribly lucky or picked the right time to arrive! I have a much different story to tell...


Thanks also for the nice pictures of Caracas. It is always good to look at one's hometown through others' eyes.

Quoting NachoJFX (Reply 13):
Typical Caraquenian middle-class suburban scene

You barely missed my place!


Quoting NachoJFX (Reply 13):
I wouldn't wanna be stuck in there

My daily predicament. 14,8 km/h average over the last 30 days...


Looking forward to the TR of your return flight.

Cheers
Capicua

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: NachoJFX
Posted 2012-12-13 19:49:39 and read 8671 times.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 17):
Hi NachoJFX,

First of all, Welcome to the forum and what a great way to start!
Great report on an airline we dont see here all to often with many nice pictures!
SBA Airlines looks very decent, love that livery just like I love Aerolineas Argentinas new livery!
Great pictures of Caracas you made there too!

Thank you very much Adam! 
Quoting adamspotter (Reply 17):
Very cute dog you have there!

Thank you!

Quoting capicua (Reply 18):
Hi NachoJFX,

Welcome to the forum and congratulations on your great first TR! You don't hear much about SBA on here.

They look pretty decent but their on-time record apparently has a lot of room for improvement.

Gracias Capicua! Even though SBA is, out of the airlines that fly MIA-CCS, the most likely to have delay, I've never had any delay of over an hour on any of their flights, which have always been exceptional and above AA in every way.

Quoting capicua (Reply 18):
Man, you were either terribly lucky or picked the right time to arrive! I have a much different story to tell...

I consider myself extremely lucky in that sense, first time in my life I see that at SVMI 

Saludos!

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: MSS658
Posted 2012-12-14 01:18:08 and read 8533 times.

Hello

Welcome to the community, hope you have a great time
Interesting trip report, thanks for taking the time to share this with us.First time I heard of SBA Airlines
Service looks supberb, blows DL/AA in the water
Nice CCS pics as well

Greetings
Marc

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: NachoJFX
Posted 2012-12-14 10:36:12 and read 8253 times.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 20):
Hello

Welcome to the community, hope you have a great time
Interesting trip report, thanks for taking the time to share this with us.First time I heard of SBA Airlines
Service looks supberb, blows DL/AA in the water
Nice CCS pics as well

Greetings
Marc

Thank you very much Marc!

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: mvecchi4
Posted 2012-12-14 11:23:25 and read 8230 times.

Epale Nacho!

Welcome to the forum! The more the merrier!.

Amazing TR, honestly. Not too many people here post photos of the destination, and your photos of Caracas are great!. Thanks for sharing.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
At 8:00am the staff finally started checking-in passengers

Are the checkin agents SBA employees or do they use a ground agent in MIA?

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
Local traffic

Hey, Avior looks beautiful right there.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
A great highlight: Air Tahiti Nui A340-300 flying for Conviasa to Buenos Aires and Madrid
Quoting lychemsa (Reply 8):
I wonder what Tahit Nui is doing? Maybe a leased aircraft.

Back in April 2012, V0 (Conviasa) was banned from flying into the European Union (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-03/venezuela-carrier-conviasa-banned-by-eu-in-new-blacklist-update.html)
so they're using the Air Tahiti Nui plane for their flights to MAD.

Nacho, I was unaware they were using that A340 to EZE, are you sure? that's a suprise!.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
I had waited so long to see this!   

Absolutely amazin livery. I had the chance to see it on BOG last month and I was impressed, here's a look:



Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
I'll keep an eye out for it when I'm in MIA next week.

Whenever I've flown AA ex-MIA (last year mostly) they always go by SBA's hangar and you can see the planes there. Not sure if that happens now.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
Pardon me for asking but how tall are you? I need to put this into perspective. This appears to be an awfully generous legroom. Good stuff!

I agree, very generous!.

Quoting NachoJFX (Reply 12):
Thank you, Globalflyer! I don't know about AA, as I haven't flown them between MIA and CCS, however I've flown Delta to ATL (longer flight) a few weeks after flying another SBA from MIA and as you can see in these pictures, the meal difference is vast! Delta early morning flight vs. SBA midday flight.

I've flown regularly with AA the last couple of years and they do have that kind of meal in their midday flights. I didn't do trip reports back then so I have no pictures. My story with AA ex-CCS is just like Nacho's with SBA, I've never had an issue, and they give great service on that route.

I also flew a couple of months (Oct) ago on DL and this was my breakfast:





I'll be flying SBA in a couple of weeks to PTY so I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully you can post your return flight so I can see the experience checkin in at CCS.

Keep them coming!,

Regards,

Miguel.

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: MIAspotter
Posted 2012-12-14 12:15:48 and read 8170 times.

Hey Nacho!

Great TR, from my 2 former homes CCS and MIA, I used to live in Chacao next to the Pequiven tower which I can see in some of your pictures, certainly bring back memories.

I only flew between CCS and MIA on LAN.

The nice areas in CCS are.... well... nice, but some areas are really really tatty.

I love the Lavansan nickname, did make me chuckle LOL.

A trip down memory lane here...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cM9VEa5Wk7A

Looking forward to Part 3.

MIAspotter

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: SuperCaravelle
Posted 2012-12-14 12:53:18 and read 8133 times.

Great report, thanks for sharing. Venezuela always looks so colorful. Not only Caracas (beautiful pictures by the way), but also the numerous airlines residing there.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
Terra firma!

Is this the (in)famous housing project on the parking lot of CCS? I've never seen a picture of it before.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
I wouldn't wanna be stuck in there

Probably a nasty side-effect of the low petrol prices...

Once again, thanks for sharing  

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: Superfly
Posted 2012-12-16 01:18:02 and read 7216 times.

On a more serious note, this is one of the most impressive trip reports I've read. Wonderful job NachoJFX!   
I've been planning a South America trip for some time now. You've captured images that make me want to drop everything and hop on the next plane to South America. What's even more impressive is that you took photos of things that I would take photos of as well. Looks like were have similar taste.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
Aerolineas Argentinas A340

I hope to fly on one of those in the the not too distant future.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
City overview, always witnessed by the almighty Avila Mountain

Magnificent!
This is my first time seeing an aerial photo of Caracas.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
Downtown Caracas

Nice. I see beauty in the madness.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
A high-class home with view of the city

Nice modern architecture.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
Taking the cable car to the top of the Avila

Nice! I rode a similar tram ride in Taipei.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
Concrete Jungle

I still think it's gorgeous.

Glad you got a photo of that AMC Jeep Grand Cherokee Chief.
That is a very durable off-road vehicle which I'm sure comes in handy in the muddy parts of Venezuela during the rainy season.

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: CaptainRed
Posted 2012-12-16 03:32:34 and read 7092 times.

Hi NachoJFX,

great first report, thanks a lot for sharing and welcome to this forum. Interesting to read something about SBA airline, they seem to offer a decent service. And of course always great to fly on another 757 (still my favorite plane type). And fading colors aside, I think the livery looks very nice. Also great pictures of Caracas.

CaptainRed

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: abrelosojos
Posted 2012-12-16 10:13:00 and read 6944 times.

For someone homesick, those pictures made me so happy! I miss CCS a lot and can't wait to be back in 3 weeks! Thanks for an excellent report. I have not read much about SBA here and it was good to catch up. I have forwarded your link to a guy whose family pretty much runs it. He will be happy for sure. Service looks pretty good, and the meal is very generous.

Quoting NachoJFX (Thread starter):
To my pleasant surprise, more than 80% of the immigration desks were open, and about half my flight had already gone through it! So in less than 3 minutes I was already being stamped by an indifferent officer who did not ask any questions at all
and yet another pleasant surprise! My luggage was already on the belt, so I just made my line and 3 minutes later I was out!  Welcome to Venezuela!

= I know some others complain, but I have had this experience each time I have landed at CCS for over a year - and these coming during the Euro-Bank.

Quoting NachoJFX (Reply 13):
Caracas, known as "La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera", or The city of eternal spring, with a dense population of almost 6 million people is undoubtly the most populated of the country. Usually associated with Danger and Violence, the metropolis is not as bad as they say (though it is true that some zones must be avoided). Surrounded by the "Avila", a beautiful mountain that covers all the valley, gorgeous women, excelent gastronomy, architectural jewels are everywhere...as well as an incredible contrast between Socialism and Capitalism (oh, and how could I forget? 8 cents/gallon gas   )

= Thanks for sharing again. Pictures were wonderful. And this is the problem with Latin America - a social divide that is just a travesty and much of the elite not really caring.

Saludos,
A.

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: PRAirbus
Posted 2012-12-17 08:49:08 and read 6610 times.

AA serves complimentary hot meals on all South America routes including CCS, MAR, BOG, CLO, MDE.

Topic: RE: Cheap Gas And Nice Girls: Caracas On SBA Airlines!
Username: NachoJFX
Posted 2012-12-20 18:04:00 and read 5895 times.

Quoting mvecchi4 (Reply 22):
Epale Nacho!

Welcome to the forum! The more the merrier!.

Amazing TR, honestly. Not too many people here post photos of the destination, and your photos of Caracas are great!. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you, mi pana!  
Quoting mvecchi4 (Reply 22):
Are the checkin agents SBA employees or do they use a ground agent in MIA?

SBA uses Swissport at MIA

Quoting mvecchi4 (Reply 22):
Nacho, I was unaware they were using that A340 to EZE, are you sure? that's a suprise!.

They did, when it didn't fly to MAD they used it to EZE.

Quoting mvecchi4 (Reply 22):


I also flew a couple of months (Oct) ago on DL and this was my breakfast:

Looks very nice compared to what I had! They really improved.

Quoting mvecchi4 (Reply 22):
I'll be flying SBA in a couple of weeks to PTY so I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully you can post your return flight so I can see the experience checkin in at CCS.

Sorry for the delay on the return flight, I've been busy with school work this week!

Quoting MIAspotter (Reply 23):
Great TR, from my 2 former homes CCS and MIA, I used to live in Chacao next to the Pequiven tower which I can see in some of your pictures, certainly bring back memories.

Thank you MIA spotter!

Quoting SuperCaravelle (Reply 24):
Great report, thanks for sharing. Venezuela always looks so colorful. Not only Caracas (beautiful pictures by the way), but also the numerous airlines residing there.

Thank you!!

Quoting SuperCaravelle (Reply 24):
Is this the (in)famous housing project on the parking lot of CCS? I've never seen a picture of it before.

No the parking not can't be seen from the approach, this is the other infamous project that ruined the best place to spot planes in CCS, sadly.

Quoting Superfly (Reply 25):
On a more serious note, this is one of the most impressive trip reports I've read. Wonderful job NachoJFX!
I've been planning a South America trip for some time now. You've captured images that make me want to drop everything and hop on the next plane to South America. What's even more impressive is that you took photos of things that I would take photos of as well. Looks like were have similar taste.

Thank you very much Superfly! 
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 26):
Hi NachoJFX,

great first report, thanks a lot for sharing and welcome to this forum. Interesting to read something about SBA airline, they seem to offer a decent service. And of course always great to fly on another 757 (still my favorite plane type). And fading colors aside, I think the livery looks very nice. Also great pictures of Caracas.

CaptainRed

Thank you CaptainRed!  
Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 27):
For someone homesick, those pictures made me so happy! I miss CCS a lot and can't wait to be back in 3 weeks! Thanks for an excellent report. I have not read much about SBA here and it was good to catch up. I have forwarded your link to a guy whose family pretty much runs it. He will be happy for sure. Service looks pretty good, and the meal is very generous.

Thank you Alex!   Glad you have showed them my Trip Report. I would love to hear what they think about it

Saludos


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