Well, in this trip report I will tell you my newest international experience; we flew from Bogota to New York connecting in Atlanta and returned to Bogota directly from New York.
We, my father and I, had bought our tickets with two months in advance because I needed to be in New York City by the beginning of December; So we got tickets for December 1st on Delta Airlines but the return flight was with Avianca given that there was no seats available in Delta. I must admit that I wanted to fly with Delta and was very disappointed when they told me that I had to fly with Avianca because I had had bad experiences with them in the past but I couldn’t do anything about it.
So the big day came in and we were ready to fly, the night before my best friend invited me to see a play and we had fun together until late night so when I got home my father was already in his bed and I went directly to the computer being there until almost 2:00am despite the fact that we had to be at the airport at 6:00.
December 1st, 2003
Flight: Delta 298. Bogota-Atlanta
Departure Gate: C7
Arrival Gate: E31
Scheduled Departure Time: 9:05a.m.
Actual Departure Time: 9:15a.m.
Scheduled Arrival Time: 2:15p.m.
Actual Arrival Time: 2:00p.m.
On Monday, December 1st we woke up at 5:00am and called a cab to get us to the airport, my mother was really sad because she wasn’t coming with us; we got to the airport at 6:00am and find out that air operations were delayed due to a foggy weather, however, as usual, El Dorado airport main terminal was really crowded; we found our counter line quickly and after no more than 30 minutes we were checked in; we went upstairs to have a cup of coffee and an “arepa” as we didn’t take any breakfast at home; shortly we went to the restricted area where only ticketed passengers can enter, passed emigration lines rather quickly (it may be weird for people in the U.S. as it is not usual to get your passport stamped there but is in my country at least); there were dozens of people traveling that morning!!! After we passed the security check points we finally got to our assigned gate: C7 at the airport I could see a Copa 737 bound to Panama, Avianca MD-83 to Quito, another Avianca MD-83 to Caracas, Continental 737 to Houston, American A300 to Miami, Mexicana A319 to Mexico City and, of course our beautiful Delta 757. On the domestic terminal I could see some Aerorepublica MD-81s (they are doing a good job) and a couple of West Caribbean MD-81s. Well we sat on the waiting room and almost fell asleep as it we got there early. Just 15 minutes before 9:00 the boarding process started and we boarded quickly because our seats were on the rear side of the plane, unfortunately for me, no window seat and to make it worse the guy seated on the window seat closed it so there was no way to look out.
As we began to taxi to runway 13L the guy opened the window and it was a relief to me; I could see that there was no fog anymore and also I saw the A319 from MX taxiing to runway 13R. We took off and soon after turned to the left (north) as it is usual when departing from that runway; through the window I could see a lot of known places and even the building where I live in. As we climbed to our cruise altitude some clouds appeared and I could see no more through the window. My father began to read a magazine and I tried to figure out the route, there was no announcement by the captain on that matter. Soon after the crew started the service, a delicious breakfast including scrambled eggs, bread, jam, juice, kumis or yogurth, it was great and tasteful!! As the service ended they picked up the trash and gave us the immigration and customs forms even when we had at least 3 hours of flight in front of us; then the movie, it was “freaky Friday” no bad…no good. Just to pass the time and then they showed us some t.v. programs, really boring, and the crew started a beverage service before; we asked for a coke.
Then I started to fill the immigration and customs forms but I don’t know what I was thinking…I filled them the wrong way so I had to ask for two more; this time I made no mistake and when I finished we were just minutes away from landing at ATL.
The landing was great, of course, no applause, jajajaja, just a joke; we left the plane and got to the immigration and customs area; no problem there, nothing to declare and we re-checked our bags to JFK, crossed the security point and get into the terminal E. Unfortunately the crew on the plane did not say anything about connecting flights and gates so we had to ask that. On the screens I read that our plane was on gate E15 so no long walks this time!!
December 1st 2003
Flight: Delta 1992. Atlanta-New York City (JFK)
Departure Gate: E15
Arrival Gate: Terminal 3, I think Gate 2
Scheduled Departure Time: 15:45p.m.
Actual Departure Time: 16:00p.m.
Scheduled Arrival Time: 17:30p.m.
Actual Arrival Time: 17:30p.m.
Well we got to the waiting area, gate E15 and found out that my father had no seat assigned for this leg so we asked the Delta agent and she told us that we had separate seats on the plane but she promised that she would do whatever possible to seat us together; unfortunately it was not possible and he got seat 14F I think and I got 30A, pretty far, uh?, last year I made the same trip and for this leg we flew on a MD-11, now they use a B-767300 which I found more comfortable; once again I found myself seated on the rear of the plane but fortunately it was a window seat! We took off from ATL and as we turned away I could see the construction of the fifth runway there: ATL is simply amazing!!!
As we headed north and east the sun set down so I had a beautiful image during the flight; that was the only way to get distracted because the crew offered an audio set for US$2.00, I do not know why domestic flights in the US can’t be as good as international service! It was a new experience for me, the sun was almost completely gone before 5:00pm!!!! I had a coke and then rest for the remaining part of the flight; I was so tired!!! We finally landed at JFK on runway 31L, I must say that once again I was disappointed, I expected a Canairse approach and landing on runway 13R but not this time. We left the runway and headed to terminal 3, as we taxi in front of terminal 1 I could see an Alitalia B777, Air France B747, Austrian A330, a huge Virgin A340-600, and then in front of terminal 2 some Song B757 and a lot of Delta planes, we parked on terminal 3, gate 2 and left the plane; we finally were in NYC, once again, but this time it was going to be sooooo coldddd!
December 11th, 2003
Flight: Avianca (89)21. New York City (JFK)-Bogota
Departure Gate: B20 Terminal 4.
Arrival Gate: Gate C2
Scheduled Departure Time: 8:05a.m.
Actual Departure Time: 8:45a.m.
Scheduled Arrival Time: 13:35p.m.
Actual Arrival Time: 14:40p.m.
After 10 cold days of fun, attending a Simon And Garfunkel Concert, after watching the Concorde at Intrepid Museum, after watching the snow for the first time in my life…it was time to get back home; three days before our flight we went to Avianca Offices in NYC to confirm our seats on the flight and there the agents told us that our ticket was from Delta that we had no seat assigned on any Avianca’s flight, that the day of the flight we should go to Terminal 3 instead of terminal 4 and take the Delta JFK-BOG non-stop flight which of course DO NOT EXIST, I tried to tell the agent that it was a code share flight, that the 8921 flight number means (89) Code Share Agreement, and 21 number of the Avianca’s Flight but she told us that we must call Delta and asked them about. So we were really angry and went to a Delta office situated on 5th avenue and 59street in Manhattan where a nice Delta agent told us that our flight was operated by Avianca, that we had to go to terminal 4 and check in as Avianca passengers and gave us a confirmation of our seats!! My dad was happy to hear that but also still angry by the way we were treated in Avianca so he decided to get back to Avianca Office and have a talk, a not too friendly talk, with the agents there. We did it and felt better, jajajaja.
As our flight was from JFK and we were in Manhattan, we had to leave to the airport as early as possible, that morning there was a heavy rain and as my father doesn’t speak English I had to go out and get us a taxi; the taxi got us into JFK terminal 4 quickly (and cheaper than expected) and, unfortunately, I must admit it was no hard to find out which line was Avianca’s, you just take a look at the people and there is no doubt, it is an image that I think you can see in MX), Mexico">MEX, MIA, JFK, and MD), Spain">MAD every day. The line was fast, I must admit that terminal 4 is really better than terminal 3, we checked in and got our seats, then pass through security point and found out that we didn’t have to walk too much to get to our gate. And there it was, another disappointing thing, no 767300 our plane was a B767-200 on Alianza Summa colours, registration number I think N986AV or something like that. We had plenty of time once again so I decided to take a look at the concourse I could see a BWIA737, Varig 767, Aerolineas Argentinas A340, Champion Air B727 and a flight bound to Guayaquil but I do not remember which one.
Just before the agents started the boarding process we were called to the gate counter my father and I just look at each other in confusion as we approached to the counter; the agent told me that I had been upgraded to business class but my father remained in economic class; as his seat was on the rear side of the plane we boarded soon after and told me “ENJOY” sure I will Dad!!!. As I expected to be called to board the plane I saw a AS747 and SA747 beautiful aircrafts!!! And find out that we were going to take off on runway 13R. I was looking through the window when the agent called my father again, I went to the counter and tell her that he was already in the plane, that I was his son and she told me he was upgraded to business class too so she gave me her boarding pass and asked me to find him out in the plane and change his seat. As I boarded the plane I found that my father was in was of the worst seats of the plane and even worse, a woman got to his seat and tell him that she was assigned to the same seat of my father, so when my father saw me I think he knew why I was there and I just tell him “dad, come on, you are on business class too” we had 4A and 4C seats, very comfortable; before push back the flight attendants gave us magazines and newspapers form our country as well as orange juice.
The weather was bad that day, it was raining heavily but anyway the airport was open and no delays were expected, we pushed back by 8:05 but soon after I saw a ground person making an X sign to the pilot, I didn’t know what was going on, the pilot told us that they were checking something on the plane and 35 minutes later I saw a man coming out from the bottom of the plane with a long tape, no idea, still, no concern, I was in business class, for the second time in my life!!!
We taxied to runway 13R and took off in a really bad weather, we turned right south bound climbed to FL390 and then the crew started the service, a great breakfast, high quality jam, sweet tortillas, more orange juice, coffee, water, bread, and the food kept coming; then the movie, I could not believe that I actually could choose between 10 movies!!! Stop them whenever I wanted, I chose Matrix Reloaded and my father Two Fast Two Furious. We watched the movies and found out that we were flying over Colombian airspace, our homeland again. As we approached to Mariquita VOR the captain told us that due to heavy traffic we had to do some turns over Magdalena’s river before landing; after 5 turns we landed safely and happily on runway 13R, we taxied to our gate C2 and exit the plane quickly as we were on the front. It was a great experience, and as I have always said Avianca has a great inflight service, but outside the aircraft they are a nightmare.
I will wait for your feedback. Thank you!!