Hello all! I made this trip report because i saw there were no reports from wonderful ACES (RIP) in the forums. So I wanted it to be remembered in this community.
Here we go:
Part of my mom´s family lives in Manizales and another part in Armenia, two cities in the coffee zone here in Colombia. We wanted to visit them and my dog had an exposition in PANACA, and because my mom had just signed up for Privilegios, we chose Alianza Summa for our journey.
ACES flight VX-....
Departed: 11:30 am
Arrived: 12:20 pm
Flight time: 50 minutes.
Photo © ANDRES RESTREPO GUTIERREZ
We woke up at 7:30 and we prepared ourselves to go to ElDorado and catch our flight. It took us a long ride but we were finally there at 10:30. We checked in at one of ACES´s desks in the far right of the terminal near the domestic pier. The friendly agent took no time in checking our bags and the dog and gave us our boarding passes with a smile. She told us Alianza Summa flights to Armenia were operated by ACES in ATR-42 aircraft, and that this time the scheduled plane was a -300 variant. We walked up the stairs and sat in OMA to wait a friend of my dad, his wife and daughter who were travelling with us. They arrived when we only had 5 minutes to board. We rushed to the gate and the bus was already being loaded. We went in the almost full bus and it took us to one of the farthest stands in the apron. Our ATR was there waiting for us and a smiling FA received our boarding passes. We boarded and I noted the ATR was by far more spacious than AV´s Fokkers the seats were in the scandalous blue and orange of ACES and not in the Avianca red. After some minutes "Summa mints" were passed and wet towels were also given. I noted that at least 30 of the 45 people on this flight were gong to the exposition in PANACA. The door was closed and our friendly captain welcomed us and thanked us for flying with Alianza Summa. The FAs did the demostration and soon one of the engines was turned on and we started to taxi towards the runway. We took off on time and quite noisily, after an Avianca MD-83 possibly boung for MDE or CTG and the landing gear was retracted some seconds later.
Photo © ANDRES RESTREPO GUTIERREZ
Some short time after that the Captain announced we would fly for 50 minutes through the central mountains and start our descent somewhere between the border of Tolima and Quindío.
The flight attendants warmly offered us a snack that consisted in a bag of Achiras, that are a typical bean that is collected in Boyaca. (yes, Alianza gave Achiras instead of peanuts, and AV has continued doing so) BTW: Alianza´s achiras (now AV´s) are the best! There were choices of Postobon products, water, coffee, or Pepsi for a drink. VX flight attendants really made the difference, this small airline became the best in Colombia because of how their people´s attitude.
After we finished our snack, they came with a bag and took the trash. A small kid started crying because he wanted more achiras and tha FA brought him 3 more bags. A turbulence over Ibague shook us and everyone was seated in second. It was kinda harsh and some tray tables dropped and an overhead bin swung open, but nothing major. The captain told everone to fasten their seatbelts because we would be like that for the rest of the flight, then tha FAs apologised and told people not to call because they were not gonna be able to provide any service.
Some ten minutes after the captain started descending and we were welcomed by the beautiful landscape of the Coffee zone. We passed over many plantations and the gear went down. We then softly landed in AXM and many started clapping. That turbulence had been scary.
The ramp was only occupied by a small business jet and the beautiful and modern orange terminal appeared in front of us. The ATR stoppend and we then deboarded being waved by the FAs who were returning to BOG in 20 minutes. I got my copy of Euforia Magazine, that had just replaced “Abordo” from VX and “Apuntes Abordo” from AV, so it was edition number 2 or 3.
Photo © ANDRES RESTREPO GUTIERREZ
The baggage arrived shortly and we passed security. Our entire family was there waiting (cafeteros are very warm people) they took us to the house in the middle of the plantaions and we stayed there for 4 days. After going to PANACA, El Parque del Cafe, Cocora and Armenia for like the 8th time in my life, it was time to go back.
ACES flight VX-
Departed: sometime around 7:30 pm
Arrived: sometime around 8:10 pm
Flight time: Like 40 min.
Photo © Juan Pablo Gómez
We arrived at AXM around 6 in the afternoon to see that our flight had been delayed for 30 minutes. We checked in and the agent told us the engine had a failure and that the problem was being sorted out, he then thanked us for flying Alianza and gave us dinner vouchers. We ate something at “El sandwich Cubano” in the food court and bought souvenirs (coffee arequipe, coffee cookies, coffee...) and went to the departure hall. The Satena Do-328 was being boarded for their flight to BOG and i saw about 25-30 pax getting in. Soon it taxied to the runway and seconds later it took off with a loud roar, that was heard throughout the terminal since it doesnt have sound-proof glasses.
We were approached by a policemen who recognized my dad and invited us to the Alianza Summa lounge. We were 8 people and almost filled it out. It was the smallest lounge i have been at. 4 chairs, 2 couches, a PC, a little refirgerator with some beer, hit juices and postobon sodas and a coffee maker with some snacks were all that was available. When we had just settled down, the flight was called for boarding. We were some of the last on the plane because we had to walk from the lounge and for our relief the flight only had 25 pax more than us. So we would only be 33 flying to BOG.
We seated and soon the attendants passed the towels and the mints. These time there were a male and a female. The engines were turned on and powerfully took us to the runway, takeoff was really fast and shortly after the pilots greeted us and told us our flight time was to be of 40 minutes to land in a rainy BOG. FAs passed around with drinks and brownies and shortly after the lights were deemed because it was already 7:50 and many of the passengers looked tired and sleepy. The rest of the flight was uneventful until when approaching BOG, the lights were turned off completely and we landed really bumpy on ElDorado´s 13R. It took us a lot to stop since the runway was wet and then we passed the international terminal full of arrivng and departing flights (It gets quite busy in the night). We then stopped in a remote stand and a bus took us to the terminal. We climbed the stairs and there were only 2 flights departing; AeroRepublica DC-9 to San Andres and AIRES DHC-8 to Neiva and Florencia. An AV MD-83 had just arrived from CLO and we collected our bags in the same carousel as that flight, so it was a long wait, as we were about 140 people collecting our stuff on the small and unefficient belt. Passed security and out of the terminal, our driver was waiting for us and took us home.
That was a trip with ACES, the best airline that Colombia has ever had, but that was saldly killed by the A320s it bought, as they were too expensive to operate. They should have sticked to the ATRs...