Date: December, 28th, 2004
Flight time: 7:45hrs.
2004 - It was December, a month that I like very much because of all the parties and because of my birthday (Dec. 28th.). But in 2004 I had a different birthday. My father gave me a very special present: a trip to Miami. So I would fly for the third time in a TAM A330-200, with a friend. I was booked for the daylight flight JJ8094. I arrived early in the airport, got a fast 10 minute line for check in, and my trip was about to start. In the check in, I don’t know how, the lady who was doing that service told me that my reservation couldn’t be found, so she couldn’t issue my boarding ticket, and I needed to wait until every passenger did the check in. If the flight was full, I’d had to wait for the night flight. Luckily it wasn’t. And more: I requested a window seat – they gave me.
After some minutes me and my friend walked thru the immigration, waving to our parents (my mother couldn’t stop crying – my God, I would be back in 20 days... who can understand mothers anyway!?). We arrived at the gate and PT-MVF was there waiting for us. My seat was the 31A. We boarded walking on the traditional TAM’s red carpet in the floor of the jetway, being received by a very receptive lady and the captain. So I went to my seat and started to explore it. Comfortable seat, with a good space between the seats (well I’m 1,65m, so I don’t complain much when there isn’t much space). There were PTV’s in every seat, and as MVF is one of the new JJ A330 (GE powered), it had AVOD system, just wonderful, but I didn’t watch any movie, I just listened to music (Avril Lavigne, Green Day, U2, among others), by the way, very nice and eclectic selection.
The pushback was 10 minutes late, and while push backing, the FAs passed serving candies and water to the passengers. Minutes after, in the crowded GRU, we started our take-off roll in a beautiful summer morning in São Paulo. Very smooth take off and before we reached the cruise altitude the lunch started to be served. Two options: meat or pasta (I think it might be a pattern to offer meat or pasta in economy, because in int’l flights with AA, AF, IB and UA I had the same options!!) – I chose pasta. A good penne with tomato sauce, two breads (one French bread and one croissant), a little salad, a fruit salad and a chocolate cake. Wow, I was impressed with the quantity of food I had in front of me – more than usual in economy. It was all good, nothing exceptional, but good. After the very friendly FAs took the rests, they passed serving some after drinks: Amarula, Cointreau... there were many bottles in the cart, I remember those two because I had an Amarula and my friend a Cointreau. With the sun shining outside I started to look outside and stayed like this for hours. The FAs passed all the time in the aisles to see if we wanted something more. I think that TAM is an airline with a so excellent product, by far the best airline I’ve ever flown – good food, excellent planes, well trained FAs....
Continuing in our flight: 1:30hr before landing, they served a cold sandwich with ham and cheese, plus a selection of cheeses, salad, bread and good wines. Excellent! When I finished eating we were already going down. 40 minutes later we arrived in a cloudy but beautiful Miami, in a smooth land. We headed to a gate, terminal F (?), right beside the AA hangar with a 777 and a 738 with engines opened.
We de-planed relatively fast, considering that we were in economy and they always liberate us after the pax from first and biz, and had a long walk thru the whole terminal until we got to the immigration. Fortunately our flight arrived before the other int´l flights, so there wasn’t a big line. When it was my turn to pass, the officer asked me everything, even what did my father and my mother do for living… Anyway, I’ve gone several times to the US after September 11th, and I can’t understand them, since each time while passing thru immigration I had a surprise (even be stuck in a room for more than one hour with a guy looking everything in my bag). The bags were already in the carousel when I got there!
So there was I, in the Uncle Sam land, to enjoy an almost 20 days trip in a city which I only knew the airport, since I always went directly to Orlando, just connecting in MIA. We stayed in a very nice place called Aventura, north of Miami.
Nice! There we passed the New Year partying with some Brazilian friends we met there in south beach, ocean drive, which was a very nice party, but ended too early!! (we, Brazilians usually end parties at 6 or 7AM ) – 3AM we were back in the apartament!
Very good, many enjoyable things in the city, the weather was great, but the time to come home was coming, so I had my return booked to January 16th, in the daylight flight again.
Flight: JJ 8093 / Plane: Airbus A330-200 - PT-MVF
Date: January, 16th, 2005
Flight time: 7:10hrs. / 2:00hrs.
There was I, happy in my vacation, but two days before the return, I decided to call TAM in Miami to reconfirm my reservation. Ok, I called there and I was put on wait for 17 minutes! – Then after this time guess what happened?? – “too too too too too” – Yeah, it seems that they had hung up in my face!!! Very well, I called again and had a 12 minute wait, but this time someone answered me, in a very bad mood! I could feel it thru her voice! When I told her my name, and my reservation code number, she told me that my trip had been booked for January 12th, and as I had lost the flight there was nothing she could do!!!!! I got really mad at that time, but I didn’t know what to do! So the lady told me to go to the airport at TAM´s counter to see if they could fix my reservation. Well, well, there I went. When I arrived there a guy, nice though, checked my ticket and told me the same thing that the lady of the toll free, but it was written that my return would be on the 16th, so their system was wrong, not my ticket! The guy then, simply looked at me with a question mark stamped at his face, and said: “Come here to make the check-in in the 16th , and see what happens”! – Can you believe that!!! Ok, I said to my friend: “If I don’t board that flight, I’ll make the staff lives a hell until I get aboard”!!
Good, The 16th arrived and at 4:30AM we were there at the airport. Check in line was not long, but we had a 40 minute wait there!! Come on!!! TAM ground staff in MIA has serious problems! When my turn finally came, I said to the lady that there was a problem with my ticket, so, she just answered me: “I’m here to solve all your problems, but why are we talking about problems this time in the morning? Let me check your ticket” –after one or two minutes she told me: “No problems at all sir, you’re about to fly one of the best airlines in service today, and you know what!? – You’ve got the window seat, just as you requested!”
Really, the professionalism of that person was what made me forget everything I passed before! What a woman!!! It’s the kind of person who loves what she is doing, and it´s proud of where she is working – that’s the most important!
With my boarding pass in hands, me and my friend went to the gate, where we discovered that the flight would be 1:30 hr. late, God knows why! We started boarding at 7:15AM, an hour after it should have departed. The usual red carpet was there waiting for us to step in the aircraft. In my seat, I again started to explore it. As it was the exact same plane, the features were the same, only the musical selection and the movies were different. At about 7:45AM we started our take off roll to Salvador. Minutes after take off, the breakfast was served. A very good omelet, with fruits, cheeses, ham, bread and a little cake. Many options of “del valle” juices were available, just as soft drinks (including the Brazilian Guaraná). After eating very well, I started to see what movies could I watch: There was “Collateral” w/ Tom Cruise; “O Espanta Tubarões” (sorry, don’t know the name in English) an animation movie that tells the story about a family of sharks with a son that wants to be different, being a vegetarian and friend of the fishes – which were the food of the shark family. There were more 3 or 4 options, but funny, the only movie I could watch was the sharks one! None of the other movies were playing in my screen, don’t know why.
After watching the movie I felt asleep. After some five hours I woke up because of a heavy turbulence we were experiencing. I LOVE turbulence, don’t ask me why! Due to this turbulence, the crew had to serve our snack really fast because of our arrival. When the FAs could clear everyone’s tray table, we were at about fifteen minutes to land. The sun outside was shining, and the view of Salvador coast was beautiful. Smooth touch down and the pilot managed to go really fast to the gate. With parking brakes on, the back doors were opened and the heat of Bahia´s summer took place in the cabin. One hour stop, the pax that were going to GRU didn’t leave the plane. We left the gate at SSA on time. After take off and during the whole flight we had turbulence, so there was no service in the flight! I can’t blame the airline for this, but after 30 minutes of flight I was starving! So I went to the galley and asked for something – a very gentle FA told me that they didn’t have anything ready, only peanuts! I accepted them, and returned to my seat with nine (!) peanut bags in my hands, and decided to watch the “Espanta Tubarões” again! We started our descent to GRU right after the movie (and the peanuts) finished. The weather was awful in São Paulo, I could see the lights of the city just moments before touchdown. Hard landing, maybe because of the winds, and I was back home again. The immigration was fast, the bags didn’t took long to show up and green light in the customs. END OF MY TRIP!
Photo © Hoanes Koutoudjian Filho
Photo © Hoanes Koutoudjian Filho
Photo © Hoanes Koutoudjian Filho
This is how I evaluate TAM: by far, the best airline I’ve ever flown, in the air they are perfect! In the Brazilian ground too, but in Miami… There is an urgent need to change things there- from the people who work in JJ´s office and talk to the costumers to the people that stay in the gate, who couldn’t inform us why we had that delay. As MIA is AA home, TAM should get some tips from this airline which is much better organized there.
Hope you all enjoy my report!
ALL THE BEST