Hey y'all and welcome to my 8th trip report. This time I will report about my return trip with Iberia to the capital city of Colombia. The flight took place about a year ago and I wrote this trip report shortly thereafter. Then, I totally forgot about it until right now.
I N T R O D U C T I O N
One part of my study (human geography) is an educative trip abroad. You can either choose to go abroad yourself to do research or join one of the official study trips organized by the University. The destinations of the official study trips differ each year. In September they got announced:
Shanghai and Beijing, China
What to choose? Milan is a little bit too close to home so I crossed that one out. A study trip to China would be nice. Toronto has always appealed to me too. Bogotá? No way! Why would someone want to visit Colombia anyway (Farc, drugswar, murder…)? Not a destination I would want to visit.
The student mates I hang out most with however, all decided that they wanted to go to Bogotá and they tried to persuade me to join them on this trip. I had a very deep thought. "I would never visit Colombia (or even South America) by myself", I thought to myself. This was the chance of my life to do such a trip. Still, Colombia; why would I want to go there? After talking to some who had been there I decided to join them.
B O O K I N G – F L I G H T S
How to get to Bogotá? By air of course, but that is not what I mean. What airline? Avianca, Air France, Lufthansa and Iberia all have direct flights between Bogotá El Dorado Airport and Europe. All flights were ridiculously expensive: €1000 and up. Delta and United offered flights via the USA for roughly the same price. But when I checked again a few days later I found myself a reasonable deal. Iberia: Amsterdam – Madrid – Bogotá for €630 (return, all in). Good price but not my airline of choice at all. Iberia's reputation is not that good: no PTV's, next to no onboard service, rude staff etc. I was not unwilling to pay a little bit more to get a better airline but paying €400 more just to get a better airline is a little too much. I booked the flights (in fact, 12 of the 13 students ended up booking a flight with Iberia).
Between the booking of the flight and the actually day of flight, Iberia changed the flying times several times. I don't mind when the departure time gets pushed back for 5 minutes, which happened twice. Approximately 4 weeks before the flight Iberia send me an e-mail about yet another flight change. This time I had to contact them via telephone. I did and got the message that the flight from Madrid to Amsterdam got cancelled. She offered me to rebook me on a later flight from Madrid to Amsterdam but this would mean a layover for FIVE hours! When I asked if I could also have the evening flight from Bogotá to Madrid (rather than the afternoon flight) she said that was possible as well. In the end I just accepted the later flight from Madrid to Amsterdam with the very long layover.
The route to Bogota.
C H E C K – I N
I checked in online and choose my seats. The flight from Amsterdam to Madrid was scheduled to be operated with an Airbus A321 and the transatlantic flight would be with one of Iberia's A340-600s. I choose two seats on the right hand side of the aircraft just after the wing.
My mates and I met the day of departure at the airport at half past 5. Roughly two hours prior departure time. We encountered a very long queue at the baggage drop off/check in. It took 45 minutes to get to the desk. She took my luggage did not say anything. When I asked her if I had to do anything with my luggage at Madrid she yelled to me. "No, it goes straight to Bogotá, NEXT PLEASE!" This was the Iberia I was expecting.
We had to rush through customs to get to our gate. We arrived just in time. Many passenger already queued for the gate.
Aircraft: Airbus A321-211
Registration number: EC-ITN
Aircraft name: Empuries
First flight: 12 December 2003
Previously in service with: Iberia is the first operator of this aircraft.
Photo © Karl Nixon
Photo © Daniel Villa León-Canary Island Spotting
Photo © Omar Alex Saffe - Spot This!
Photo © R.Hesse
Departure was a little late. We took off from the Kaagbaan and climbed to our cruising altitude. After a while the buy on board service started. The cabin crew was not as bad as I had expected. Not very friendly either. The cabin was bright and the seats were fine. Just a regular Airbus A320 cabin. Not much to say about it. No overhead tv-screens. Legroom was ok.
View from my seat.
Climbing over the clouds.
Buy on board service.
Descending to Madrid Barajas.
Left hand turn.
Minutes before landing.
On short final.
Iberia all around us: this must be Madrid Barajas.
Avianca at Madrid. I was going to see a lot more Avianca planes at Bogota El Dorado.
Arriving at the gate.
After about 2 hours we arrived Barajas airport. We were a little late and had to rush to catch our connecting flight. We took the underground to the other terminal and walked to our gate. The waiting area was quite full. In fact a student mate who did not check in online was on a standby list as the plane was fully booked.
Aircraft: Airbus A340-642
Registration number: EC-IZY
Aircraft name: Ignacio de Zuloaga
First flight: 17 September 2004
Previously in service with: Iberia is the first operator of this aircraft.
Photo © Ander Aguirre
Photo © Alejandro Ruiz
Photo © Klaus Ecker
Photo © Ricardo Morales - Aviation Photography of Mexico
It was time to board. Luckily, all of us were granted on board. The flight attendants on board did not say much when we boarded. The stewardesses at the front door were busy talking to one another and only said "ola" occasionally. I walked through the dark cabin to my seat in the rear section of the cabin. The other flight attendants were even less interested. On my seat I found a package with a pillow and a blanket.
It took ages to board the plane.
Massive engines on the Airbus A340-600.
The safety video was played on the overhead monitors and then we taxied to the runway. They played music during taxi and take off and showed images of the tail camera on the screens. The take off role was long but not at all noisy. I found the A340-600 is a very quiet aircraft.
Taxing to the runway for take-off.
Up in the air.
Buh bye Europe.
Although the plane is quite new, the cabin looks old-fashioned. The seats are from your grand mum's Iberia. Not that they weren't good. Just not the newest seats available on the market. Legroom was sufficient for me. I'm not very tall at all but I did not hear any complaints from my student mates either and they are all very tall. The seats recline. Not able to say if they recline a lot or not. No PTV's, just overhead monitors and those screens are placed only over the middle row. So it is quite impossible to see them if you are seated on a window seat. (more about IFE later on).
During the entire flight the lighting conditions were poor. It was very dark inside the cabin: even while boarding and disembarking. Of course there were lights in the overhead panel. What I found rather strange is that you were not able to adjust the flow of air. I used the lavatories in the back of the plane and they were clean.
IN FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
Well, to be quite honest the view out of the window was the best entertainment during the most part of the flight. Not that there was a lot to be seen outside, but it was better than the flight information they showed on the overhead screens. Come on Iberia, during a 10 hour flight I expected just a little more than one single movie! The movie was good though. I had a good laugh when I watched it. After the movie was played we got the flight information again: boring!
There was also audio. I think there were about 8 channels.
FOOD AND DRINKS
During the flight we got three "meals". The lunch which we got about 2 hours after departure was the main meal. I could choose between pasta or rice and I choose the pasta. I got a tray with a pasta with ketchup, an uneatable roll. A spoonful of coleslaw and a spoonful of tuna salad (tasted awful i.m.o.).The dissert, a small cake was good though. We got a drink with the meal and afterwards the cabin crew came through he cabin with tea and coffee.
Halfway in flight, we got served a package with two loafs of white bread. I found them tasty, some of my travel mates disgusted them. Yet again we got offered something to drink with it.
The pre arrival snack consisted of a box with yet another uneatable roll (sorry, they were so hard that I just could not get through them), a cake, a yoghurt and a Mars chocolate bar. Tea and coffee were offered afterwards.
If you were to be thirsty during the flight you could have gotten something from the galley. Not that anyone ever told us this.
"Their long-haul flight attendants in coach are usually 90+ years old and it looks like they do castings for them, to quality you must be very rude and unwilling to help!" is a quote I once read on this forum. I am afraid to tell you that this is true. They were indeed all quite old and stubborn.
No: "thank you" or "you're welcome" from the crew. In fact the flight attendants did not even look at us when she handed the drinks and or snacks.
When they unpurposely hit someone with the trolley when they rushed over the aisle they got mad with the passenger. That is a total different way to handle with such an accident. I expected to hear a "sorry" or something like that.
They were so not enjoying their job that I tried to make them laugh. Here's a piece of advice: don't even try to!
Somewhere above the Caribbean.
Descending over Colombia.
Colombia is so green from in the air. Just amazing.
Minutes before arriving.
Arrived at Bogota.
After nearly ten hours our captain landed our plane at El Dorado Airport. It had been a very long flight and I was glad to be on the ground again. Iberia offered a "decent" product for the price I paid for it. Just don’t expect the best food, a reasonable IFE or a single smile from the flight attendants on board.
Bogota is a large city. For the regular tourist there may not be a lot of touristic attractions. For people who are interested in urban planning or human geography it is a fascinating city. People are friendly and I did not feel unsafe at all.
Thank you very much for reading my flight review. As always, comments are welcome!
My other flight reviews
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Logging the Saab 340: In Sweden Of Course
Return Trip To Cartagena De Indias With Aires
Securing my Miles on a KLM Fokker 100
Truly Irish: Aer Arann
My First Turboprop Flight With FlyBE
Blasting away to CPH on a SAS MD-82
Goodbye to KLM’s F50, or not?
Great flight with Baboo