Photo © Diego Andres Torres Espinel
It was February and the school excursion was all set to go, we are 85 people in 8th grade divided into 3 classes, but only 15 of us went. Well, my friends and I has planned it and we booked roundtrip on avianca.com for the price of COP$378.500 (aprox. US$172).
The department of la guajira is an extremely poor part of the country, and the only flight it gets is the triangular BOG-RCH-VUP-BOG operation, RCH is Riohacha, the capital of the department, and VUP is the capital of the department of Cesar, another small but a lot richer city which gets 2 daily flights to BOG (one by AV and one by MM) and two daily flights to BAQ (by Aires). MM (Sam) is a subsidary of AV which operates two MD-83s and 4 Fokker 50s on behalf of its parent from the hub in BOG and the focus city in MDE.
So lets start with the report.
BOG-RCH, Flight MM8596 MD-83 EI-CEY Seat 26C
Scheduled departure for: 9:15am
Scheduled arrival for: 10:45am
Departed BOG 9:18 am (3 minutes late)
Arrived at RCH 10:35am (10 minutes early)
Got up at 6:00am, took a shower and had breakfast, when I was about to go to ElDorado Airport, saw that my wallet was missing. Immediately started looking for it and found it at 7:55am. I was already late. Rushed to the car and my chauffeur took the usual way from Circunvalar Avenue to 26th street and then to ElDorado Avenue. As ther wasn't that much traffic, he sped up to 130 kmph and we got to the airport in an unbelievable time of 25 minutes from my apartment in Rosales. Entered the airport at 8:35am and checked in as fast as I could (thank god I had an e-ticket) and rushed to security and then to the gate where my friends and the counselors were waiting.
Pic of my boarding pass:
Boarding started quickly, by groups and orderly, when I got in the purser smiled and said hello and showed me and one of my friends to our seats and in no time the MD-83 was filled with travelers going to RCH or VUP. Load factor in Y was 100%, while there were only 3 people in biz.
I was impressed by the amount of FAs these flights are staffed with, there were 2 male and 4 females! I mean, 6 FA´s are for a 757 international flight not for an MD-80! Well, anyways, we pushed back at 9:14 and began our taxi. The ramp as quite crowded with many flights to the US departing, and many others delayed (the Delta flight, one of CO´s flights, the Copa flight, a Taca flight...plus a handful of domestic flights) we taxied for quite a long time to runway 36L and began our rotation after a Cargolux 747 landed and a Satena ERJ took off. With nice climate and no turbulence, the flight continued nicely and when we were passing what I guess was some town in Boyacá, snack service started. There was a choice of Avianca´s own achiras (mentioned in other reports as the best achiras ever) or potato chips with a “bocadillo” (typical colombian sweet made of guava) for dessert. And water, coffee Postobon and Pepsi products for a drink.
I chose the Achiras and the bocadillo with Colombiana for the meal, and the flight continued nicely at a cruising speed of 875km/h with an altitude of 30.000 feet, according to the captain. After a flight of one hour and seventeen minutes, we landed in Riohacha´s tiny airport, and disembarked the plane in a special way, through the back!
Then we had 4 days of fun in the beach and in the desert, went to beautiful locations, like Punta Gallinas, South Americas most northernmost part and El Cerrejon, the biggest open-air carbon mine in the world.
Me and my best friend:
The desert and the sea:
Unfortunately it was time to go back
RCH-VUP-BOG, Flight MM8595 MD-83 EI-CEY Free seating
Sched departure: 11:10am
Sched arrival: 13:30pm
Departed: 11:10am (on time)
Arrived: 13:48pm (18 min late) (problem with a passenger in VUP)
LOAD: 92% RCH-VUP, 100% VUP-BOG.
We arrived to RCH 50 minutes before departure. There was almost no line and we saw they had to handwritten all the information, as there were no computers. Some minutes later we had to report ourselves to the DAS division for something about not carrying contraband. We then sat in the sole waiting room and soon EI-CEY, the same plane that had flown us from BOG, roared above our heads and parked in the tarmac. Only about 40 people got off, an I realized that's why there had been no line, b/c there were very few seats left, as you know, this is a triangular flight that stops in Valledupar, b/c Riohacha is so poor it cannot even sustain a sole daily MD-80. Well, we quicly boarded and I found myself this time with an older, more grumpy crew. The barely said hello and the safety instructions were done in a careless manner. We then buckled ourselves for the 15 minute RCH-VUP flight.
My boarding pass (hand written):
The plane closed doors with a full load again in Y but only 1 person in J. The purser thanked everyone for flying Sam on behalf of Avianca and we took off in no time. We cruised at 15000 feet and passed near the beautiful Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the tallest peaks in Colombia, and in a brink we landed in VUP after a rather bumpy approach.
Most people got off the plane and only 30 of us in Y were left. We were asked to stay in the plane and after it got cleaned, it got full with people in both classes (VUP is a high-yielding city), the FAs again did the demo and we took off after an Aires DHC8-200 landed from BAQ. There was a lot of turbulence, and the FAs could barely serve the achiras and bocadillos again. Drink service was only made when we were near BOG, as the turbulence had stopped. We then softly landed in runway 13R and we taxied towards gate 3 in the doemstic pier. Picked our bags and said bye to everyone, went with my dad and had luch in El Corral and finally got home after the wonderful trip.
My friends at BOG:
Hope ya liked it!