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Avoid Aeropostal, Fly Con  
User currently offlineTGV From France, joined Dec 2004, 874 posts, RR: 20
Posted (7 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 6281 times:

Due to a work emergency, I was called on Wednesday 23th: I had to be in Port of Spain for a meeting on Saturday, so had to find a way of going from VLN to POS before Saturday (this is only a 450 miles trip).

I checked with KVS Tool (accessing Sabre), and found that the Friday evening VH flight CCS-POS was totally open, as well as the return on Sunday morning.
So my company branch in CCS called the travel agency and the answer was: both flights are fully booked! I checked on the VH internet site (a long practice has led me to be very cautious about what travel agencies do, in general), and this site in fact was giving the 2 flights as full (I don’t know if it is me but this site is never working very well).
This is the first time I have so different results between KVS tool and the airlines, I would be interested to know why.

But the problem remained: how to get to POS in time, and return as soon as possible after the meeting.

Finally the travel agency found a solution as follows:
Thursday 24th:
R7 703 VLN 14:30 –CCS 15:00
VH 860 CCS 19:30 – POS 20:40
and the return, on Sunday 27th
V0 1501 POS 15:05 – PMV 15:55
VH 204 PMV 16:55 – VLN 18:40 (with a stop in BLA).

Strangely the itinerary they sent me mentioned two different flights for VH204, one for PMV-BLA and the other one for BLA-VLN. With a 25 minutes connection between them in BLA!


Thursday, August 24th
On Thursday morning the ticketing took place: it was an electronic ticket for all legs, except the Conviasa part with a paper ticket.
The paper ticket would be brought to me in CCS airport during my transit by the company branch driver, but I had to insist strongly to obtain the electronic ticket for the first leg (or at least what I consider as an electronic ticket): the agency was saying that the itinerary was sufficient. Instructed by various posts here or in Flyertalk I said that I wanted something with a ticket number. It was quite difficult, but I finally received a scan (!!!) of the printed electronic ticket, sent by my company branch in Caracas, as they had received the e-tickets printed.

This is beyond my understanding: what is the point of e-ticketing if, as a travel agency, you can not send the e-ticket by e-mail to the passenger, but continue to do as you were doing before, the only change being you print a paper sheet and not a IATA ticket!

Anyway I received this scanned ticket at 12:00, just in time to leave the office for the airport.

I arrived at VLN at 12:35, and it was quiet outside:


Inside it was busier, with a lot of people for the VH flight to MIA.

I checked-in quickly, as nobody was waiting in line at the Aserca counter, and as I had not checked baggage.
The agent gave me a BP for 6C. I asked her: is it a window seat? She had to think some seconds before answering me: no it is an aisle …
I asked if it was possible to change, but she did not bother to look, with the simple answer: “the flight is full and you had this seat already assigned”. May be this was true, maybe not: on my itinerary the only seat that appeared as already assigned was the seat for the CCS-POS flight.





All seats were occupied, on both levels of the building (note for VLN airport managers – even if I doubt they read such a forum: there is free space on the upper level, behind the telephone booths, some additional seats here would not cost much but would be useful).
As additionally the temperature was quite hot, due in particular to the fact that the building doors were frequently open, as people were standing in front, I decided to enter the boarding area at 13:20. Safety check was fast, and I was soon in the small domestic gate area, with a quite pleasant temperature.

At 14:05 something was said, that I could not understand, and a line formed. As the monitor was only showing a list of flights, I checked with somebody already in line: it was my flight. So I took the queue. After boarding pass check we were stopped outside, before accessing the apron, as disembarking passengers from the arriving flight were passing by. Then we were authorized to cross the apron to reach the aircraft.


On the other side the VH flight to MIA was also boarding.



Flight R7 703 VLN – CCS
Scheduled: 14:30 – 15:00
Real: 14:28 – 15:06
DC9/30 YV-249T "Juan Pablo II"



The plane had a 2 class cabin, with 4 row of business in 2-2 config, and the eco in 2-3. But in the eco part the seats were numbered A-B and D-E-F. Where was my 6C seat? The FA told us that there was an equipment change and we could seat as we wanted. And in fact the fight was not full (maybe 70% load factor), and I had my window seat, with the 2 seats on the side remaining empty. So the check-in agent was in fact, as I suspected, lazy.
We started at 14:28 (no push-back here as the plane was parallel to the terminal building, and took off at 14:35.

We did a 270 degrees right turn just after take off, so we passed over the airport, then turned right over Puerto Cabello and followed the shore to Maiquetia were we landed at 14:57.


There were the usual European planes, AF 744, AZ 767, and an IB 346 that landed just before us.


We arrived at the gate at 15:02, but doors were opened only at 15:06. We were at gate 11, so quite a long walk to reach the exit.

Domestic terminal airside.


I walked to the international terminal, and saw the walkway in construction to link the two terminals. Living in Venezuela I often see problems that are difficult to understand for a Cartesian mind, but I have to say that the improvement work in Maiquetia are really something well done.

As it was early I went to have a drink, and then went to the VH check-in counters at 16:45.
There was one line by destination, and two groups of staff behind the counters. A group on the left (far from my line for POS), and a group just in front of the POS line. While some passengers where checking-in at the left, the right group of employees (5) was without any customers, but very busy chatting. After 2 minutes (I could have been the invisible man, even if I was at 2 m just in front of them) I approached, but was quickly rejected, as they were "the business check-in desk".

They told me I would be called by the other group when one employee would be free. In fact two were free at the moment, but nobody bothered to call me. So I went there, and one agent HAD to check me in. In fact she did so singing, but without saying me anything (I had a pre-reserved window seat), except asking me if I had some luggage to check.
Then she gave my BP.

I had to ask if I had taxes to pay, as she did not tell me anything herself (in CCS it varies greatly according to how the ticket price has been has been calculated: for example AF, when you book on their website, includes all taxes, so you have nothing additional to pay. And in fact I had to pay the exit tax and the airport tax, at two different counters (but without any queue).

Note that the time mentioned on the airport information system for my flight was 19:20, while the ticket and the boarding passes mentioned 19:30.


To summarize really bad service from the VH check-in agents, and they did not even had the excuse of being overworked, all the contrary.

Then I passed in a breeze safety checks and immigration, and waited until the time of my flight, seated near gate 12.

I saw the European planes leaving, this LH 343 staying a good 25 minutes without moving, as the tractor had a “little problem” during push-back. It finally took off at 17:50.




At 18:25 I went to Gate 22. After all boarding time mentioned on the BP was 18:30. At gate 22 not any indication of a VH flight. So I went to the main departure board, and discovered my flight was now leaving from Gate 14. So back to Gate 14 (those who know CCS know there is some walking to do).
There the monitor there was logically indicating that this gate was for VH860 to POS.

But… WAIT A MINUTE ! I am not a plane specialist, but I have some notions. This


is definitely NOT a VH MD83…
Furthermore the staff at the gate has a SB uniform, and all people have SB boarding passes. Isn't it strange?

Two other passengers bound for POS were also in doubts looking at the monitor, so we joined our fates, and went to the information desk which is located… in front of the gate 22. I started to know this part or the airport quite well.

A friendly guy at the helpdesk told us to wait for the VH staff at gate 22, as they were attending another flight. As I asked about the gate 14 mention in the information system, he just told me to disregard it.

The monitor at gate 22 was displaying a TACA flight to LIM. So we seated there and started to wait. It was 18:45.

At 19:05 the TACA flight was replaced by an indication for our flight, departure at19:20, with the additional information "Delayed", without more details. And still no VH agent in sight.

So I returned to the information desk (very near as you remember), where the friendly guy was busy, so I spoke to his neighbour, a women.
Me: "Do you know how long is the delay for the VH POS flight".
Her: "Just go to gate 22, there is VH staff there".

I confidently returned to gate 22 but no VH agent. So back to the information desk.

Me: "Sorry but there is nobody from VH at gate 22".
Her: "There is. I just saw him. He has a blue Aeropostal shirt".
Me: "Then he must have disappeared?"
Her (exceeded): "That's it, he disappeared".

At this point, or I started an argument with her, or I went away. I chose the last option (would have it been in France, my country, I would have explained what I thought of her usefulness, but when you are abroad, you have to adapt!)

So back to 22. At 19:15 an announcement was made: “Flight VH 936 to Medellin is planning its departure at 19:30”. (For those who find this sentence a little strange, I will give the Spanish version: "El vuelo VH 936 hasta Medellín estima su salida a las 19:30".
I started to worry: if in VH the flights decide themselves of their hour of departure, who is managing the VH operations?  confused 
Anyway at 19:27 another announcement was made: "VH 934 for Bogota is planning its departure at 21:00, and VH860 to POS is planning departure at 21:00". "I could not help imagining the 3 planes discussing on the apron: "You go to BOG, I go to POS, I have something to do there".

So this was 1:15 late for BOG, and 1:40 for us. And this before the technical problem, that could have been serious, that happened the next day to a VH plane:
MIA Bound AeropostalMD80 Suffers D-pressurization (by Luisde8cd Aug 25 2006 in Civil Aviation)#ID2955263

Just after the announcements were made 3 VH agents appeared (none with a blue shirt unfortunately), and started to explain us that, due to the delay, we had a meal offered at the "Budare", a food outlet in the food court. The older, a woman with a red jacket, was very patient, and spoke to everybody with a very personalized and professional manner.
So I went to the Budare, where the cashier had the passenger list of the flight, and where we could take a hot meal. Obviously delays as so frequent with VH they have at least organized something here!

I selected this (I was the one to limit the size of the portion!); quite good.


Then back to the gate. It was 20:00.
There was an Aeropostal trolley, with two agents serving glasses of water.

I walked around, and took this picture:


As in a lot of airports it is impossible to have accurate information on the boards. Twice the BOG flight but not any mention of my POS flight!


At 20:45 two stands were rolled in, and a line formed. As no explanation was given it was a little confusing, but it finally appeared we had to queue first at the left stand, to have the boarding process made (exchange of the BP against a plasticized BP with a number), and then at the right stand, where we would be given a compensation voucher. If the process on the left line was quite straightforward, on the right it was more difficult: two agents were going through the stacks of coupons to find the good one for each passenger (there were nominative). Unfortunately the agent searching mine had 2 cm long nails, and so her manual ability would have been ranked 1 on a 0-10 scale. Therefore it was a very slow process. After moving the vouchers for a long minute she finally told in Spanish to her neighbour: "Say him that his voucher is not ready yet". This was duly translated in English.

I went back to read. Boarding started at 21:35. I went in the boarding line but, passing behind the stands where the agents were still busy giving the vouchers, I asked about mine and now it was there (50 USD voucher, the fare of the ticket, excluding tax, being 218 USD).

Boarding was by bus, and I have to give to this bus the price for the highest floor of an airport shuttle bus that I have seen in all my travels (except possibly a Soviet made bus in SGN in 1989). I think they should provide the passengers with some alpinist equipment in order to climb inside. I have noticed low floor busses are not very popular in South America, but for an airport shuttle bus this should be reconsidered.

After a high speed run across the apron we arrived at the plane.

Flight VH 860 CCS – POS
Scheduled: 19:30 (or 19:20 ??) – 20:40
Real: 22:15 – 23:23
DC9/80 YV-132T

We boarded using the plane front stairs. An agent was collecting the plasticized boarding passes at the bottom of the stairs.
The inside config was 3+2. But the seats were identified differently than on other planes: for the first time in my life (and maybe 500 flights) I had an "A" seat located on the right hand side of the aircraft.
Boarding was a slow process, as passengers arrived by various busses.
The agent of the stairs came in the cabin to ask for some boarding passes he apparently had failed to collect: at least 3 passengers were in that case. It is difficult to understand how this could happen, as the plane stairs are not wide, so you can climb only one by one.

Doors were closed at 22:08, but we left the stand at 22:15 only.
We taxied to the smaller runway for take-off at 22:20.
At 22:30 the collation was distributed (no comment on its quality!):


We landed in POS at 23:17, under a heavy rain, and were at the gate at 23:22. Doors were opened immediately, and after some walking I was at the immigration line at 23:27, with 9 persons in front of me (there was a flight arriving from the US).
As Trinidadian immigration is not very fast (usually some questioning on the purpose of the trip, and quite a lot of handwriting by the agent), I arrived at the booth at 23:47, and was cleared at 23:50. There was also a queue at the customs, but I passed it in 4 minutes, and was in the taxi at 23:59.

Sunday 27th August 2006
I arrived at the Piarco Airport at 12:00, and went to eat something, as there was not any indication of the Conviasa flight anywhere.



After eating I returned to check to the monitor showing departing flights, and it was as follows:


So not any mention of my V0 flight supposed to leave at 15:05.

I went to the information desk, and an efficiently lady, after having checked that the flight was not on the airport schedule, passed some phone calls. She then confirmed me that this flight did exist and would check-in around 2 hours before departure at counter 32.

I went to counter 32, which was already used to check-in a NA84 flight to New York leaving at 15:45, so I started to doubt the possibility of my flight checking-in here, but I chose to wait so that the 2 hours time would be already passed.
While going back and forth in the airport I noticed a mention saying all types of liquids, gels, toothpaste and sprays were forbidden in the planes and should be checked-in. As I was travelling only with hand carry, I had to throw away everything from my toilet bag. I had not had this problem in CCS. I think airports should try to organize themselves in order to be able to check specially flights to the US (for example with an additional check at the gate), in order to not impose additional checks to everybody.

Anyway I returned at counter 32 at 13:20, to see that the New York flight was still displayed on the monitor, but that two boards had been added, with the mention “Conviasa”.
As the queue was quite long (25 persons), I passed it to ask one of the check-in agents what flight they were checking-in: “V0 1501”. So I mentioned that the screen was wrong and went to the end of the queue.
Two minutes after the monitor was saying "Counter closed".

Even with 3 counters open the check-in was not very fast, as all was done manually (boarding pass, passenger list, etc).When the group just in front of me arrived at the counter it appeared the were in fact going to New York, and the check-in agent accompanied them to the New York check-in counters at the side.
Another counter was freed, and so I went there. But the agent did not bother to look at me, as she was busy writing things on various documents. After 3 minutes, and after the two other counters had started to check-in persons who were behind me in the line, I asked the agent: "Are you doing check-in?"
"No !"
This was a quite strange answer, as she had been doing this until 3 minutes ago. I asked her: "Why did not you tell me, seeing me in front of your counter". She looked at me with a look who seemed to ask: "But what the heck are you speaking of ?" so I changed of counter, and waited behind a couple in their 50s, obviously tourists who where finishing their check-in (note this, we will see them later again, sons of b…).

Checking in, I mentioned I had a short connection in PMV and asked if I could get a seat very near the exit of the plane. I was given seat 1B; which seemed fine to me (the plane being a Dash 7 I should have noted the mistake, but I know more jets than propeller aircrafts).
I finished check-in at 13:57 and entered the duty free area.

There was a 30 m queue for the safety check, with only one station operative (there are 2 stations).
Nevertheless I did some shopping during 15 minutes, and started to queue for the safety check at 14:15.
The process was quite slow, as they were opening a lot of bags, but I finally passed at 14:40, and at the same time the Conviasa plane was arriving. It was not the planned Dash 7, but an ATR42. A little deception here, as I had already flown on ATR-42, but never on Dash 7.
It is only at this moment I realized the check-in agent mistake, seeing the boarding door at the back: my seat 1B was the farthest from the door !

Flight V01501 POS - PMV
Scheduled: 15:05 – 15:55
Real: 15:24 – 16:20
ATR42 YV1005



We started to board at 14:50, going down one level and walking to the plane. As the plane was not visible from the door leading to the apron, and no agent was there, there was some hesitation, but finally we arrived at the plane.
Entering the cabin I was greeted by a FA, to whom I explained quickly my case, and without any hesitation he said me to seat in row 11, just one row before the last row, and so very near the door.
I took a picture of the cabin, and immediately the FA proposed to take my picture, which I declined of course. Then we chatted a little, as I had answered in English (3 days speaking English only had changed the connections in my brain!) before switching to Spanish.

Some passengers continued to arrive until 15:04. A man, who I would after identify as a flight supervisor, as he stayed with the flight and discussed various things with the FAs exited the cockpit at 15:06 and went to speak to a ground agent, who called in his radio. The right engine was started, so we could have aircon in the cabin.
After speaking with the ground agent, the supervisor came back to the plane, looking his watch with some despair. We were still lacking 3 passengers. Finally these passengers arrived, and the 2 last, at 15:23, were the two who had checked-in BEFORE me. So this delay was totally their responsibility, as they should have been in front of me all the time (and I did some shopping).
Doors were closed, with a 70 % load factor we left the stand at 15:24, were at the entrance of the runway at 15:27, and after a small wait (without any plane taking off or landing) finally took off at 15:29, facing east. So we did a 180 degrees turn after take-off, to go to PMV.
The flight time announced by the captain was 50 minutes.

We were served a snack by the 2 FAs, very friendly.

The sandwich was quite good.


We landed in PMV facing east, so we had to turn around the airport, as we arrived from the east. The approach was a little bumpy and, as a passenger was jokingly asking to a FA who was the pilot, the FA answered looking at me: "The problem is the first officer is French, and they can't understand each other". We had a good laugh.

We landed at 16:17, and the door was opened at 16:20. I exited first from the plane, after a shake hand from the FA.

When landing and disembarking I looked around. Not a VH plane in sight, so we will be late again, but this gave me some more time to make the connection.


At 16.23 I arrived at the immigration desk, not staffed. But the officer arrived one minute later and processed me in less than 30 seconds, so really I can not complain!
At 16:25 I was outside the international terminal, and at 16:26 I was in the VH queue in the domestic terminal, with 5 persons in front of me.

The VLN flight wass mentioned on the monitor, without any “Boarding” mention, so this confirmed it was late.
If we were 5 persons in line to check-in there were 12 persons behind the counter, most of them with VH uniforms. They were chatting a lot between them, but there were in fact only 5 counters open.

The check-in process was quite slow: as the 5 persons in front of me were in 2 groups, I passed at the third agent available, but this occurred at 16:34 only. If we consider that they processed 3 check-in with 5 counters in 8 minutes, this gives an average check-in time of more than 13 minutes per counter: not very efficient when you consider these are domestic flights.
But obviously, in addition of the time lost chatting, there is also a clear lack of organization, with various people doing various things for a same passenger.

Anyway when I finally arrived at the desk, I had a very definitive answer: “the flight is closed”.
So I asked the agent: “and what am I supposed to do?”
“Speak with the supervisor.”

In fact there was a man with a white shirt (all others had blue shirts), so I called him, and he said me “I come back”, and went away. Let’s call him Mr R. (he had a nameplate).
Mr R came back at 16:43 and explained me the flight was full, due to overbooking and two seats inoperative.
The he went away again. He regressed at 16.49.
Me: “What should I do?”
Him: “Just a minute”.
And again disappeared in the back office.

At 16:58, I was still there, everybody acting as if I was transparent, so I started to raise the voice.

The agent who had told me the plane was full (I was standing near her counter as I had moved sideways to give way to other passengers) had problems with a couple who had apparently changed their reservation when arriving in PMV 3 days ago, but the system has not been updated. So they seemed to have no seat on the flight they planned to take.

At 17:05 still nobody was still interested in my case, so I raised a little more the voice: the agent at the counter said me: “Did you speak to the fat woman?” (“la gordita” in Spanish, it has not the same negative connotation it has in English, but some native Spanish speaker can confirm this perhaps).
“No I am waiting for Mr R.”. Yes but “la gordita” is also a supervisor, it is her you should have seen, not Mr R.”.
“But Mr R.is not a supervisor?”
No answer.

Unfortunately “la gordita” was nowhere in sight, now.
Finally she arrived at 17:12, as she had to come to see the couple next to me, still without any seat.
There was no way to recognize her as a supervisor, as she had the same shirt as other employees, and not any name plate nor any other symbol of “authority”.

When she had finished with the couple (they were still in trouble) I called her: “A moment” and she went away.

I started to be VERY angry. In my 25 years of travel, and more than 500 flights (the majority of them being long haul, I have to admit) I have had some problems, and encountered disorganization and improvisation. But nowhere near this total disdain for the customer there was here.

At 17:14 Mr R. came back: “the flight has been closed at the planned time”. “What time?” “I will tell you”, and he went away again.
I will later find out the deadline was 30 minutes before the flight, so I had been 1 minute late !

(for those surprised of the level of detail given here, I use a small notebook when doing a trip report, in real time, to write down all the events that happen).

Mr R. then went to process a man who was standing at the counter at my right, with a small baby (maybe one year old). I will, step by step, understand that he had also been denied boarding on the VLN flight (he was going to MAR, where this flight goes after) and as he was not amongst the 5 persons in line in front of me when I arrived, he clearly had checked-in in due time. So the problem was not my late arrival (1 minute, due to this son of a b.. couple in POS, I told you we would see them again!), but to the overbooking. This man was given 3 separated seats and complained it was not convenient with the baby. But this did not seem to affect Mr R.

At 17:26 the check-in agent called me and said me: “we will route you to CCS, but after it is for your count”.
At this point I had stopped to have any hope about any quality of service from VH, and as this would enable me to be in the office as planned on Monday morning I accepted, thinking to take a taxi from CCS to VLN (where my car was parked).

At 17:32 the agent started to type in the computer, and type, and type… And finally at 17:40, I was given a boarding pass for VH 311 to CCS, departing at 18:30.
I bought my airport tax and went to the boarding area.

When I arrived the boarding was already started, so I waited only 2 minutes before walking to the aircraft.

Flight VH 311 PMV-CCS
DC9/30-50 YV136T
Scheduled. 18:30 – 19:30
Real 18:20 – 19:14



I boarded as directed by the rear stairs of the plane. At the top of the stair was a FA who had an expression well adapted for a funeral but not for receiving passengers on board an aircraft. Obviously she did not say “good evening” to anybody.


Doors were closed at 18:20, with a 98% load factor. We pushed back at 18:21, so ahead of schedule.
For me, a rail operations man, a train, or a flight, must be on schedule. Deviations, before or after the schedule, are the sign of badly managed operations: while obviously leaving late can be due to a lot of factors, leaving early is only the sign of disregard for the schedule, and this is a clear lack of professionalism.

We took off at 18:29.

The cabin was not in very good condition. Many ready lights were inoperative. A passenger complained to the sepulchral FA who just told him to change seat.
She then started a beverage service, still without any smile: a performance! I started to chat with my neighbour to discover fantastic things:
- he was in the same case than me, as he was supposed to fly directly to VLN.
- he told me he was BEHIND me in the queue,
- he had been given a seat in a R7 CCS-VLN flight, leaving from CCS at 21:00. In fact he had forced VH to this, as he knew about this flight!

Obviously VH carefully avoided telling me anything about this flight, so I would not ask them to buy me a ticket on it.

We landed at 19:07, and were at the gate at 19:14.

I went to the R7 counters, where I asked if there were seats available for the VLN flight. Yes! So I bought a ticket (222 000 Bs, around 100 USD). In any case a taxi to VLN would have been more expensive, and longer (especially with the problem with the highway between Maiquetia and Caracas). Well longer if the flight had been on time !

I went to the gate at 20:30, but the monitor was showing: Flight OC 739 to Maracaibo, departure 20:15.
As there was R7 staff at the gate I asked what happened and they told me the VLN flight was delayed, departure around 21:30.
So I went to sit. There was water and Pepsi available at the counter.

At 21:03 the gate monitor changed from Maracaibo to Valencia, flight OC 706. Why this “OC”, while the ticket and the boarding pass mentioned R7? One more mystery.

At 21:11, “Boarding” started to flash on the monitor, and simultaneously there were boarding calls. But after some hesitations it appeared it was in fact the flight to MAR which was boarding, the flight for VLN would be later. In CCS, like in many airports around the world, monitors seem to have a very personal life, displaying information not related to anything real, and especially not related to the real time operations. If somebody has any idea of the reasons behind this, let me know!

The MAR flight left the gate at 21:35, so with a delay of 80 minutes.

At 22:10 the mention for the VLN flight disappeared, replaced by the logo of CCS airport.
But the agent at the gate confirmed us the plane will be leaving soon; we were waiting for the crew.
The agent even gave us the name of the supervisor of R7 in VLN if we wanted to complain.

At 22:28 3 FA arrived, who were greeted by all passengers (we were not many, 30/40). They smiled.
Boarding started at 22:33, and the gate agent repeated the name of the VLN R7 supervisor should we want to complain. Doors were closed at 22:41, with a 30% load factor.

Flight R7 706 CCS-VLN
DC9/30-50 YV122T
Scheduled. 21:00 – 21:30
Real 22:41-23:17
While the engines were started just after the door closing we did not push back before 22:49.
We taxied to the short runway for a take off at 22:54.

And we landed in VLN at 23:13, arrived at the parking stand at 23:15 and doors were opened immediately. The FAs were at the door wishing everybody a good night and apologizing for the delay.


My thoughts about this trip.
While it is dangerous to form a definitive opinion on an airline based on 1 trip, this trip has confirmed for me what I had previously experienced on VH and R7. For V0 it was my first flight so I will need to confirm my impressions in the future.

But my conclusions are:
VH: TO AVOID AT ALL COSTS. Their operation is unreliable and late (on my last CCS-POS flight we already had a 1 hour delay), and their staff is consistently unpleasant (or invisible, maybe to avoid to be unpleasant?). The only exception I will make is for the supervisor at CSS for the CCS-POS flight, who was really attentive and helpful. But it is only one person among all the VH staff I have seen during this trip.

Obviously there is a serious management problem at VH, if they want to have a reliable operation and normally customer oriented staff.
Anyway I will not try to check their evolution as for me it is now: “NO MORE VH”. This will complicate my routings if I have to go back to POS, but never mind. And I will make sure this message reaches all my colleagues travelling here. In fact I have discussed that in the office, and VH horror stories have flourished. The worst was a 7 hours delay for a CCS-CUR flight (172 miles!).

R7: operations problems, and check-in staff so-so. . But gate staff was there and gave information. FA were normally nice.
I will travel with them again if given the opportunity.

V0: seems a very professional, even if young airline. .
The FAs were really enjoying their work, and passengers benefit from that. I have not experienced what the ground staff can be, as in POS they are handled by another company.
But I will go out of my way to be able to fly them again, and see if this initial excellent impression remains.

Airports The level of errors in the information systems I have experienced during this trip reaches a point which makes one wonder if it would not be better to have nothing, and not this bunch of crap.

PS. After studying the ticket given by VH in PMV for the PMV-CCS flight, I have discovered its price was lower than my original PMV-VLN ticket (not much though).
They did not tell me anything about this in PMV, maybe they hoped I would not notice that in addition of their atrocious service they were trying to rip me (my company!) off? Really everything is bad with this airline.

[Edited 2006-08-30 04:54:16]


Avoid 777 with 3-4-3 config in Y ! They are real sardine cans. (AF/KL for example)
8 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offline797 From Venezuela, joined Aug 2005, 1891 posts, RR: 27
Reply 1, posted (7 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 6234 times:

Oh my friend, welcome to Aeromortal's real world.

Ok, I'm just going to tell you that you were somehow blessed. Aeropostal is famous for its delays. When I say delays, I mean it! just like one of the stories you mentioned (+7 hours) is more than common. For example, my aunt was booked on a flight PMV-CCS and it was delayed 12 hours. She decided to go to her appartment in Margarita and come back afterwards...

Furthermore, I think Aeropostal is just as bad as it is because they way its being managed from the core. As most of us Venezuelan know, VH's president is a total A$$, he has no idea of how tu run the business, and if you want to add another fact to his profile, he supports our beloved president.

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
the agency was saying that the itinerary was sufficient.

Yes, this is true. I recently flew CCS-PMV on R7 and I just showed my ID and some "electronic ticket" my travel agent sent me via email. As a matter of fact, Aserca cancelled this flight due to "manteinance" and booked me on a LASER flight, which departed half and hour later than the original one (luckily). If it had been high season, then I'd still might be on the qeue :P

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
who is managing the VH operations?

Not even them are able to answer this simple question...

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
It was not the planned Dash 7, but an ATR42. A little deception here, as I had already flown on ATR-42, but never on Dash 7.

Ha! How many times have you flown on a BRAND NEW ATR-42???

So, I'd like to add some comments to your conclusions:

- VH does not deserve to be the largest airline in the country. Their way of managing the business is austere and poor. Their FAs are a bunch of depressed women who are doing the job because its the last thing they can do. They don't care whether you are happy or comfortable, they just care about themselves and that's it.

- Even though Conviasa is state-owned and many people are somehow against them just because of that bias, I trully recommend them. I flew them once from PMV to CCS and the service was superb. I actually did a trip report on that flight. Also, some relatives have flown several times with them and no complains have come so far. Their FAs and staff are all good-looking and they seem to care about passengers.

So I do agree with this trip's title: AVOID AEROPOSTAL, FLY CONVIASA!

Sorry you had to go through this man!

Great report.

Regards.

Enrique



Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous!
User currently offlineLuisde8cd From Pitcairn Islands, joined Aug 2004, 2570 posts, RR: 31
Reply 2, posted (7 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 6208 times:

Excellent report TGV. It looks like you are Venezuela's most frecuent flyer who posts in a.net. This report had so many details and humor which made it a very very nice lecture. Please keep the reports coming.

I just realized that I haven't added you to my Respected Users list... I don't know why I hadn't done that before, but now let me welcome you to my RU list  Smile

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
This is the first time I have so different results between KVS tool and the airlines, I would be interested to know why.

Could it be because VH has had some problems lately with their res. systems? Especially Amadeus which isn't listing its flight for a huge unpaid debt.

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
except the Conviasa part with a paper ticket.

Conviasa needs to move on to e-ticketing.

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):

This is beyond my understanding: what is the point of e-ticketing if, as a travel agency, you can not send the e-ticket by e-mail to the passenger

Change the travel agency. I recommend 797's aunt travel agency.

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):

We did a 270 degrees right turn just after take off

Was it a tight turn? Planes departing VLN to the east must do that because they cannot overfly Base Aerea Libertador in neighboring Maracay.

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
I walked to the international terminal, and saw the walkway in construction to link the two terminals

How were the works? Do you think it will be finished soon?

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):

I saw the European planes leaving, this LH 343 staying a good 25 minutes without moving, as the tractor had a “little problem” during push-back. It finally took off at 17:50.

Nice shot!

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
But… WAIT A MINUTE ! I am not a plane specialist, but I have some notions. This

is definitely NOT a VH MD83…
Furthermore the staff at the gate has a SB uniform, and all people have SB boarding passes. Isn't it strange?

Maybe a codeshared flight with VH?  rotfl 

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
Anyway at 19:27 another announcement was made: "VH 934 for Bogota is planning its departure at 21:00, and VH860 to POS is planning departure at 21:00". "I could not help imagining the 3 planes discussing on the apron: "You go to BOG, I go to POS, I have something to do there"

Hahahha, thanks for the laugh.  rotfl 

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
. And this before the technical problem, that could have been serious, that happened the next day to a VH plane:

It was a wetleased plane which isn't operated nor maintained by VH.

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
Just after the announcements were made 3 VH agents appeared (none with a blue shirt unfortunately), and started to explain us that, due to the delay, we had a meal offered at the "Budare", a food outlet in the food court.

Budare is nice. I had a Cachapa and an Arepa in there before leaving CCS almost a month ago. From the pic I can tell you had chicken, don't you like our Arepas and Cachapas?

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
I went back to read. Boarding started at 21:35. I went in the boarding line but, passing behind the stands where the agents were still busy giving the vouchers, I asked about mine and now it was there (50 USD voucher, the fare of the ticket, excluding tax, being 218 USD).

At least they gave you a voucher. When I flew them to PUJ in 2002, the return flight to CCS was delayed (how usual...) and they gave me and my family a USD 20 voucher for each of us to have a lunch in the "food court".

Is it a VH travel voucher?

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
A little deception here, as I had already flown on ATR-42, but never on Dash 7.
It is only at this moment I realized the check-in agent mistake, seeing the boarding door at the back: my seat 1B was the farthest from the door !

Ooooops!

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
I started to be VERY angry. In my 25 years of travel, and more than 500 flights (the majority of them being long haul, I have to admit) I have had some problems, and encountered disorganization and improvisation. But nowhere near this total disdain for the customer there was here.

I would had bursted into screams if I were you and threatened to call INDECU. (Customers's defence govt office)

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):

At 17:26 the check-in agent called me and said me: “we will route you to CCS, but after it is for your count”.

I would have demanded a ticket on any airline from CCS to VLN if I were told that.

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
I went to the R7 counters, where I asked if there were seats available for the VLN flight. Yes! So I bought a ticket (222 000 Bs, around 100 USD)

That's expensive... R7 got big money from your VH tragedy. They should thank VH for being so inneficient.

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
VH: TO AVOID AT ALL COSTS

I agree with you.

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
R7: operations problems, and check-in staff so-so. . But gate staff was there and gave information. FA were normally nice.
I will travel with them again if given the opportunity.

I have only flown R7 once. It was a CCS-AUA-CCS round trip. Both planes had a 1 class config of 2-2 with business class seats. Just great! That was back in 2001.

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
V0: seems a very professional, even if young airline. .
The FAs were really enjoying their work, and passengers benefit from that. I have not experienced what the ground staff can be, as in POS they are handled by another company.
But I will go out of my way to be able to fly them again, and see if this initial excellent impression remains.

Looks like V0 is the only government body which is functioning well.

Quoting 797 (Reply 1):
- Even though Conviasa is state-owned and many people are somehow against them just because of that bias, I trully recommend them. I flew them once from PMV to CCS and the service was superb. I actually did a trip report on that flight. Also, some relatives have flown several times with them and no complains have come so far. Their FAs and staff are all good-looking and they seem to care about passengers.

Nonetheless, I would never fly them unless they are the only airline that can take me to my destination or if the current head of government is replaced.

Saludos desde Monterrey,
Luis


User currently offline797 From Venezuela, joined Aug 2005, 1891 posts, RR: 27
Reply 3, posted (7 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 6073 times:

Quoting Luisde8cd (Reply 2):
Change the travel agency. I recommend 797's aunt travel agency.

If you want any info, I'll be glad to give it to you. I trully recomend this travel agency!



Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous!
User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1985 posts, RR: 9
Reply 4, posted (7 years 10 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 5984 times:

Salut TGV!

Great TR, quite funny as well.

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
"El vuelo VH 936 hasta Medellín estima su salida a las 19:30".
I started to worry: if in VH the flights decide themselves of their hour of departure, who is managing the VH operations?

 rotfl 

Quoting TGV (Thread starter):
"I could not help imagining the 3 planes discussing on the apron: "You go to BOG, I go to POS, I have something to do there".

 rotfl 

Too bad about VH. I thought they had improved a lot, since after all they try to be the flag carrier of Venezuela. Then again, Venezuela has sooo many airlines!

Looks like ConViasa is doing pretty good, despite the fact that it is owned by the gov't.

Btw, the last pic I was able to open was the IB A346. I wasn't able to open any of the following pics.

Coal



Nxt Flts: VA SYD-CBR-SYD | VA SYD-OOL-SYD | JQ SYD-MEL | VA MEL-CBR-SYD | DL SYD-LAX-ATL-MIA | B6 FLL-DCA-BOS | DL BOS-L
User currently offline797 From Venezuela, joined Aug 2005, 1891 posts, RR: 27
Reply 5, posted (7 years 10 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 5969 times:

Quoting Coal (Reply 4):
VH...they try to be the flag carrier of Venezuela

Exactly, but they're trying it with the less amount of effort possible.



Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous!
User currently offlineAwittens From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (7 years 10 months 4 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 5929 times:

My only comment is the VH makes BeeWee look great.

User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1985 posts, RR: 9
Reply 7, posted (7 years 10 months 4 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 5924 times:

Quoting 797 (Reply 5):
Exactly, but they're trying it with the less amount of effort possible.

How's S3 doing?

Btw, I was now able to see all the pics!

Coal



Nxt Flts: VA SYD-CBR-SYD | VA SYD-OOL-SYD | JQ SYD-MEL | VA MEL-CBR-SYD | DL SYD-LAX-ATL-MIA | B6 FLL-DCA-BOS | DL BOS-L
User currently offlineTGV From France, joined Dec 2004, 874 posts, RR: 20
Reply 8, posted (7 years 10 months 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 5895 times:

First of all apologies to everybody for the incomplete title, I was a little tired when I pressed the Confirm Message button!

Quoting 797 (Reply 1):

Ok, I'm just going to tell you that you were somehow blessed.

This is good news! I would not have found out myself!  Wink

Quoting 797 (Reply 1):
As most of us Venezuelan know, VH's president is a total A$$, he has no idea of how tu run the business,

Well I am not Venezuelan, but what I saw is totally consistent with what you write!

Quoting 797 (Reply 1):


Quoting TGV,(Thread starter):

the agency was saying that the itinerary was sufficient.

Yes, this is true. I recently flew CCS-PMV on R7 and I just showed my ID and some "electronic ticket" my travel agent sent me via email.

Yes you can receive an e-ticket by e-mail. But there is a difference between an itinerary (it shows only you have bookings) and the e-ticket (it has a ticket number, and shows you have paid. Only in the latter case you will be able to board.

When I buy a ticket on the AF Venezuelan website, as soon as I have finalized the transaction (including the credit card number), I receive a confirmation. But this is not the ticket.
Afterwards AF calls me to check the credit card, and if I confirm, they then send me the e-ticket.
If you choose to pay by bank transfer you usually have some days to make the transaction and inform AF of the payment details. Then they "issue" the e-ticket.

So as long as you have not received the e-ticket you are not sure that, when you arrive at check-in, you will not be denied boarding for not having a valid ticket. And your reservation may have been cancelled in the meantime due to no payment made in time.

Quoting 797 (Reply 1):
Ha! How many times have you flown on a BRAND NEW ATR-42???

Only once, with VN some years ago!

Quoting 797 (Reply 1):
Their FAs are a bunch of depressed women who are doing the job because its the last thing they can do.

I understand better their attitude.  Smile

Quoting 797 (Reply 1):
Even though Conviasa is state-owned and many people are somehow against them just because of that bias, I trully recommend them. I flew them once from PMV to CCS and the service was superb. I actually did a trip report on that flight. Also, some relatives have flown several times with them and no complains have come so far. Their FAs and staff are all good-looking and they seem to care about passengers.

We are totally in phase!

Quoting 797 (Reply 1):
Sorry you had to go through this man!

Well there are more terrible things in the world, and I am not somebody complaining a lot usually.
But I wanted to alert airliners.netters on my experience, so they would be cautious when booking trips in Venezuela.

Quoting Luisde8cd (Reply 2):
but now let me welcome you to my RU list

Thank you, now I am "obliged" to do a trip report for my AF flight in 10 days!  Wink

Quoting Luisde8cd (Reply 2):
I recommend 797's aunt travel agency.

In that case it was the company TA, but for my personal travels I will consider your advice.

Quoting Luisde8cd (Reply 2):
Was it a tight turn? Planes departing VLN to the east must do that because they cannot overfly Base Aerea Libertador in neighboring Maracay.

Not too tight. And now I understand why this regular right turn in VLN! But this means it must be difficult to land coming from the east (except if doing last minute turns before landing like in Kai Tak when it was open) ?

Quoting Luisde8cd (Reply 2):
How were the works? Do you think it will be finished soon?

These are the pictures I took of the area. I assume that the walkway is the new white construction? If yes, it seems quite advanced.




Quoting Luisde8cd (Reply 2):
From the pic I can tell you had chicken, don't you like our Arepas?

I do, the problem is that I have not yet mastered the art of eating an arepa without changing (irregularly) the colour of my shirt. Big grin
So I don't eat arepas when I am far from home!

Quoting Luisde8cd (Reply 2):
Is it a VH travel voucher?

Yes a nominative VH travel voucher, duly mentioning: �By acceptance of this transportation voucher, I hereby release Aeropostal from any and all claims in connection with flight 860 from CCS to POS on 24aug06.�
Their President may be an A$$, but they have lawyers!

Quoting Luisde8cd (Reply 2):
I would had bursted into screams if I were you and threatened to call INDECU. (Customers's defence govt office)

Thanks for the advice! I had heard about Indecu in some radio ads, but I have to admit I did not know what it was!

Quoting Luisde8cd (Reply 2):
I would have demanded a ticket on any airline from CCS to VLN if I were told that.

You are right.
But after all this wait I now had some hope of being able to be in the office on Monday morning, as planned, so it was a relief. And I did not think there was a flight at this time to VLN.

Quoting Luisde8cd (Reply 2):
That's expensive

You are right again.
Based on the price per mile flown, my coming AF CCS-CDG-CCS ticket would cost 13 363 USD !  eyepopping 

Quoting 797 (Reply 3):
If you want any info, I'll be glad to give it to you. I trully recomend this travel agency!

Well you can pm me the info, even if I have no unticketed travel planned soon, but you never know!

Quoting Coal (Reply 4):
Looks like ConViasa is doing pretty good, despite the fact that it is owned by the gov't.

It seems so as 797 and Luis confirm.

Quoting Coal (Reply 7):
Btw, I was now able to see all the pics!

Fortunately, probably a photobucket temporary problem.



Avoid 777 with 3-4-3 config in Y ! They are real sardine cans. (AF/KL for example)
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