Hey everyone, welcome to my fourth report on A.net
I’ve never been to Aruba before, so this seemed like the right time to take a small brake taking advantage of Columbus day weekend even though I have a business that runs 363 days a year.
I found an extremely high fare of VEF 3.400,00 for VLN
on Laser Airlines but I really wanted to go and it would be my first chance to write a Trip Report on a Venezuelan airline, so I took the plunge (Pretty sure Avianca/Andreas is not going to be happy with that paying so much for such a short hop). Then again it was Columbus day weekend and I assumed the flight was full.
LASER Airlines, stands for “Línea Aérea de Servicio Ejecutivo Regional” (Regional Service Executive Airline) was stablished in 1994 and serves very few airports: CCS
as their main hubs. ICAO: LER and IATA: QL
Their largest operations (and main hubs) are located in CCS
. In the case of VLN
they only have a daily flight to PMV
and the AUA
fligh which according to their online schedule is 4 times weekly but I believe they sometimes include additional flights depending on the season. I was under the impression that 9V
(Avior Airlines) was also making this route but apparently LASER is the sole operator of the VLN
route. There other options going through CUR
with 7I (Insel Air) and 9H
Apparently as I’ve seen online and I’ve been told by friends the airline is one of the few in the country to be usually on time (which is extremely rare in Venezuela), so they’re growing in the past few years as passengers defect from the tragedy of Aserca who has a 100% OFF
My experience with Venezuelan airlines is limited. Only a couple of years ago I was forced to use Aserca (R7) and Conviasa (V0). The experience with Aserca as always was dreadful and Conviasa, even though with a poor on time performance, has brand new planes and fair service, so I gave it a thumbs up. No Venezuelan airline is currently a part of any major alliance nor I think any of them have codesharing agreements, so no FF
Program mileage accrual anywhere .
This December I’m going CCS
Airlines (S3), so I’m looking forward to look into that and see how it goes.
So today’s route is as follows:
I will try to make this report more detailed about VLN
. As of the time I’m writing this report, the Government (INAC) announced a major airport overhaul in the country, allocating a little over $500 million USD for the task. As per the announcement, VLN
will have the runway repaved and a new Domestic Terminal will be built (I assume the current domestic terminal will be torn down).
Let’s see how it goes. Hopefully the international terminal will be renovated at some point in the future.
is immersed deep in the industrial district of Valencia and the General Motors Venezuelan Assembly Plant (Chevy Only) is located just next to the airport.
A glimpse of the GM
This is the scene as you arrive to VLN
. Tanks of Jetfuel.
Closer look at the tanks.
Slight turn to the left and you can see the ATC Tower.
The scene in front of the Int’l terminal.
The International Terminal itself.
So this flight was departing at 3.30pm. When I booked the ticket I thought of the mess at VLN
having two flights depart with a half hour apart from each other (CM’s flight to PTY
in this case). So here’s a look at the mess. VLN
is tiny, so two flights so close together is chaos.
The check in line. OLCI was not working in Laser’s website.
Typical queue Venezuelan’s do, curvaceous queue.
To the left, checkin for CM
’s flight to PTY
A look behind me. The security line.
INAC Office. INAC is the Civil Aviation Authority of Venezuela.
Ticket offices for DAE and Insel.
The line for Security. Only one machine working (Reminded me of the International connections area at the old BOG
The look up, a Bicentenario (Bicentennial) Bank.
Another view of the airport.
We were going to check in at the counters reserved for Avior. This is a relatively new flight so they don’t have dedicated checkin counters.
The security line getting bigger.
We were approached by someone from the airline, asked if we were on the flight and then handed us luggage tags.
The tag is made of paper and the attachement is just a blue thread. This made it exceedingly difficult to place in the handle as you have to tie the thread yourself. This is the end result.
The line moves relatively fast.
Check in crew.
At least we’re being welcomed to to the flight.
So we approach the counter and we are directed to the male agent who is not actually checkin people into the flight but works like a bag drop counter. You drop off your checked luggage there then proceed to the next counter (the female agent) who actually checks you in.
This seemed odd for what I’m used to in this airport. But I have to admit it was working beautifully because I had like 20 people in front of me and spent less than 15 minutes in the line.
But there was a catch… The stickers they were using for checking the bags were manual (not coming from those nifty printers) and they would throw the unusable end of the sticker on the floor instead of a trash bin.
I suggested “Why don’t you use a trash bin”, and the gave the “Thank you, we don’t care” look.
So this is the reason I made the suggestion. Horrible (but fast).
They weighted our carry on luggage and I asked what the allowance was. A heated discussion unleashed for a couple of minutes between the agents as one of them said 10kilos, the other 8 and another one said 6. Mine was 4 so there was no issue.
When approaching the female agent I ask for an aisle seat (my preferred seating option) and she said that she was putting us in a 2 seat side and we did not have a middle seat. This sounded strange and I ask what equipment we were using today (I didn’t know at this point – didn’t investigate either) and she says an MD
We were checked in pretty fast to be honest.
So after checkin you have to go pay the Airport Tax. This time it’s VEF 225,00. In CCS
, the tax is included in your ticket, at VLN
you still have to go to the counter and pay.
Queue to pay the airport duty.
Arrivals lounge. Busy National Guard.
Only one agent taking payment, the other two talking in the back. Typical.
The sticker you’re given once you pay.
We went through security, got asked by a National Guard about everything in our lives, went through passport control, then the departure lounge.
View of the departures lounge. Note that this is all there is. There’s a wall behind me.
You can see passport control from this point. That’s the immigration agent (The computer is there for special cases, they don’t check if you’re elegible to leave the country of not).
Duty free shop.
People unable to seat (crowded lounge)
So we were hungry and my girlfriend went to look for something to eat. There was only one place to eat and only had basic ham and cheese sandwiches. We bought four of them and 2 sodas for VEF 130… I wanted to cry… It’s a ham a cheese sandwich, for 35$???
Crowds building up at the “gate”. At this point in not sure which one is CM
’s and QL
The line for QL
starts to take shape.
The queue for CM
still a mess.
We start boarding before CM
even though they were supposed to leave before us. See the National Guards in the way.
We get checked by the National Guard, again.
Our bird. I find out it’s a DC-9-81
October 11th 2012
LASER Airlines (QL)
Valencia (Arturo Michelena Int’l) – Venezuela (VLN
Oranjestad (Queen Beatrix Int’l)– Aruba (AUA
Scheduled Departure Time:
Actual Departure Time:
Scheduled Arrival Time:
Actual Arrival Time:
33C (Y Class)
3-2 in Y only.
Looks good to me.
Boarding the plane.
A look inside the cabin. Does anyone know the previous operator of this aircraft from the look of the seats?. I read it’s Japan Air System but I don’t know.
People in the cabin.
Heavily used overhead bin.
Our seats. Emergency Exit!!!
Oh wait. Legroom shot like it should be.
assisting passenger through the boarding process.
This cartoon does not help the “stay calm” attitude one must have during an emergency.
Our lovely FA
making the safety announcement.
A look at the engine (barely).
And a look at the wing.
So then the captain informed us we were cleared for takeoff and we were off to AUA
Couple of minutes into the flight and the snack service started.
The snack consisted of a sausage and cheese sandwich and small chocolate “ponque” (cupcake?).
Dirty plane. The FA
indicated that this was the 3rd flight of this aircraft today.
Age is starting to show.
Then came the FA
with the drink service. Offerings were Coke, Water, Juice or Rhum. I went with the rhum! Venezuelan rhum is the best!.
Cuba libre! (The “lie” we call it down here).
So the entire flight was the snack service, so halfway down my Cuba Libre the captain announced that we had started our descent into Aruba.
Very uneventful landing. Didn’t manage to get the phone to take a picture of the whole airport.
Inside the jetway.
by our side.
A look at the airport.
-11 perhaps? Did I get it this time?
This was a good flight. Good ground agents, good crew and a swift flight. I would definitely fly LASER again and I hope they can grow their operation in VLN
as they are only flying to PMV
(per my understanding), and hopefully they can work their way into getting newer better aircraft.
The crew on this particular flight was very friendly, but something reminded me of AA
since I was in the far back of the plane close to the galley and I could hear the story of one of the FAs going on a date with a pilot. She was not shy of making everyone close to her the story, since her tone of voice was high enough for all three rows behind me to hear the story crystal clear.
Kudos to LASER!
So that’s all for this particular trip. I give you highlights of the return segment the following Sunday.
USA departures terminal (Yes, US and Non-US are different terminals).
Non-US Departures Terminal.
The magnificent line for Aserca. Chaos.
Our line was short. All counters were open and people were being checked in easily and fast.
What a difference between VLN
. I guess there was a trash bin here.
LASER ticket office alongside KLM.
Avianca Ticket office.
DAE Ticket Office.
Passport control. Nobody seemed to mind me taking pictures.
It was strange to me to through passport control before going through security. This was a first for me.
Entrance to the Airside of the terminal.
US Airways in the house!.
We boarded on time, but we were held inside the plane for over 40 minutes as we had 5 planes ahead of us.
So this is all there is for this report. Thanks for stopping by.
Feedback is always appreciated
Future Reports – Booked Flights
on Avianca (AV) – October (Only a review of the new terminal)
Airlines (S3) - December
on Copa Airlines (CM) - December
CCS-HKG On AF Premium Voyageur (by mvecchi4 May 26 2012 in Trip Reports)
Part I Peru Trip - CCS-LIM With LA Y Cabin (by mvecchi4 Sep 8 2012 in Trip Reports)
Part II Peru Trip - LIM-CUZ With StarPeru Y Cabin (by mvecchi4 Sep 8 2012 in Trip Reports)
VLN-BOG-PTY On Avianca J Class (by mvecchi4 Sep 15 2012 in Trip Reports)
CCS-ATL-MCO On Delta Y+ Class (by mvecchi4 Oct 24 2012 in Trip Reports)