And finally, the last part of my South American trip, with 10 flights in 10 days.
I left the Marriott hotel before 06:00, as I was ready, having finished the check-out at 05:50, and as a shuttle left before 06:00, probably to be in place at the airport for the first return trip, at 06:00 also.
So I arrived at the AV
check-in counters at 06:03.
7 check-in desks were opened, 2 for business class, one for "Avianca Plus"Â¨, 3 for Economy, and one for a group.
I started to queue, with around 40 persons in front of me. The business desks were empty most of the time, and an agent came and showing me my suitcase, my laptop bag and my small backpack, asked if it was for one person.
As I answered yes, she went to the two persons behind me in the line, who had 1 suitcase and one hand carry baggage each, and made them pass to an empty Business counter. I did not understand the logic behind this choice, and I still wonder if the fact that I had two hand carry items was the reason for not sending me to the Business counter (and therefore giving me the pleasure of queuing 40 more minutes).
I finally checked in at 06:50, without any effort from the agent to give me a window seat. The boarding pass mentioned a boarding time of 07:00
, for a departure scheduled at 08:30. I really believe that putting totally exaggerated boarding times is in fact counter productive, as passengers (at least those with some experience) will disregard these times, knowing they do not mean anything.
I went to the safety check and passport control, and while I was waiting there, the AV
crew passed us. It was 07:05, they were not late in absolute, but still late for a boarding announced at 07:00!
I wanted to do some duty free shopping, in order to spend my last reales. In the first shop, which was mainly selling perfumes and alcohol, I selected some local chocolates. The clerk told me that there was a promotion on these products in another shop nearby, which in fact was only selling local products. So I went there to buy. But, when I wanted to pay, my reales were refused; I had to pay with USD!
While I can understand the reasons of such an obligation in case of imported duty-free items, I think it is quite exaggerated to apply it also for products made in the country. So I left the chocolates there.
Flight AV 86 GRU-BOG
B762ER - N986AN
Scheduled 08:30 / 12:20
Real 08:26 / 12:31
I was at the gate around 07:45, but nothing was still displayed on the monitor. At 07:51 there was an announcement for boarding of priority passengers, and boarding started at 07:53. The gate monitor was updated with the flight number at 07:57.
My seat (9J), was in a mini eco cabin located between Business class and the galley. The seat was not very wide, and had a seatback too low to give me an adequate head support. Furthermore there was a footrest more disturbing than useful as, in its up position, it was in painful conflict with my tibias, and in its low position it was also quite bothering. In summary a level of comfort a little insufficient for a 6 hours flight (there is a 2 hour time difference between GRU
), and I would think twice before booking a transatlantic flight aboard such a plane.
Boarding was finished at 08:20, and headphones were distributed immediately. Strangely there were not symmetrical:
Doors were closed at 08:26, with a 100% load factor, and we pushed-back at 08:27.
The safety demo was played with the video system (no IFE), and we took off at 08:38, under a light rain.
At 09:37 an aperitif was served.
The movie (Age of Ice 2) was shown on the video screen.
After the movie (11.50 GRU
time) the lights were switched on and small hot towels were given, followed by the meal. Meals were given by two FA
, one friendly, the other (older) far less.
The food was lacking salt, but there was no salt on the tray, unfortunately.
I have not been able to identify from what was made the yellow mousse: a fruit, only chemicals?
So nothing to remember about this meal.
The rest of the flight was uneventful, but the quality of service of the cabin crew was below what you could expect on such a flight. For example at a moment in the flight an empty plastic bag (had contained a blanket) was in the middle of the aisle. 2 FA
passed just walking over it. It was finally by a small boy who was playing in the aisle!
Descent started at 11:55, we landed at 12.25, and doors were opened at 12:31.
The transfer was similar to the transfer done 10 days earlier, and described in the part 1 of my trip report.
For my next, and last, flight of this trip, the Boarding Pass emitted in GRU
mentioned a departure time of 15:50 (which was the original schedule), but the flight was effectively announced at 15:00 on the monitors in BOG
, as indicated in my new itinerary printed nearly one week ago. I wonder why it has not been possible to emit a correct boarding pass, you would assume that the data used to emit the boarding pass should be the up to date data regarding the flight!
Flight AV 80 BOG-CCS
Scheduled 15:00 / 17:50
Real 15:02 / 17:56
Boarding started at 14:28, by business class passengers, families with children and rows 20 and higher.
The cabin was more worn than on my previous flight, but without the bothering footrest.
The boarding continued until 15:01 (maybe an effect of Boarding passes mentioning 15:50?), doors were closed at 15:02 with a load factor of 95% and we pushed back at 15:04.
After taxing we waited for some time, and took off at 15:23.
A snack was served, with the same sandwich than on the CCS
flight at the beginning of the trip (and not better).
We landed at 17:53, facing west which is not so frequent in CCS
. 4 planes were waiting in line for take of which IB
confirming the CCS
systematical wait before take-off.
Doors were opened at 17:56, and I reached immigration at 18:00.
- Arriving at the immigration area:
There was some queue, as various flights were arriving, but even with 7 persons in front of me I passed quite rapidly and waited my luggage for some minutes before receiving it.
- Baggage claim seen from the public area.
At 18:45 I was outside the airport, and we left with the driver, using "la carretera vieja", where there was nobody.
Summary of this trip (Part 1 to Part4):
During this trip, all airlines used (AV, LP
, G3) were quite good for the technical part: most of the flights were on time, or with reasonable delays (i.e. not putting carefully built plans in jeopardy).
On board service was more variable, but this depends a lot on the crew. For example on AV
, flights with smaller planes were better than flights with larger planes. But I would not base a statistic on 4 flights made on an airline I has never flown before.
The TACA experience was by far the worst, due to a mix of terrible schedule (but it was my only possibility), bad service in the airport, and inadequate on board a service (I would not put the blame on the flight attendants here, but on the airline manager in charge of this field who should take into account that a night flight should be treated differently from a day flight.
The reservation/ticketing was complex, considering the numbers of airlines involved. But things were far from perfect:
- the (real ?) cancellation of my itinerary remains a mystery.
- the schedule change made by AV
for the last flight was not well managed: I discovered it by pure chance, and the boarding pass given for the flight did not reflected a schedule change made various days ago.
Additionally one can wonder the logic of the baggage allowance given by airlines that are all from South America.
gave 30 kg,
gave 20 kg,
codeshare) used the piece concept,
and G3 gave 23 kg.
Complex, to say the least.
The weakest part of the air transport remains the airports, with consistent difficulties to have accurate and timely information displayed to passengers. You would think that with all the computerized systems used nowadays updating information which after all is quite basic, is something easy, but apparently this is not the case!
As I had also experienced this in a lot of airports around the world I guess this is a generic problems related to airports.
And so here ends my trip report, if you had arrived at this point after having read its 4 parts I can only congratulate you for your patience and thank you for your attention.
. For Frequent Flyers miles addicts (I know we are not in Flyertalk
!), and 12 days after my last flight, the 4 AV
flights have been duly credited to my Flying blue account. But nothing for JJ
Avoid 777 with 3-4-3 config in Y ! They are real sardine cans. (AF/KL for example)