Due to a family ceremony I had to make a short trip from Valencia (Venezuela) to Guyaquil on a week-end.
I had already gone to GYE (but leaving from CCS
) in July, and made a trip report
but as there are some differences, I decides to make a TR
for this journey also.
After studying the possible schedules, I found that the best option was AV
, as there is a VLN
flight leaving at 12:15. Unfortunately this flight only operates (for now) from Tuesday to Friday, so if I could use it for the outbound leg, I had to come back through CCS
, as I would travel a Sunday.
I tried to buy my ticket on the AV
website, but the transaction froze in the middle. As I did this on the 12 of October, which was a bank holiday in Venezuela, I went to Valencia airport, where I bought the ticket. The AV
employee there was especially friendly and efficient and I rapidly was all set for my trip. I was not able to give him my contact details in GYE, as I was not yet sure of the hotel, and as I knew my GSM phone would not operate in GYE. So he told me to give this information when flying, as it was necessary to be able to contact me, should anything happen.
November Friday 03rd 2006
As I had passed in the office in the morning to finish some things, a colleague drove me to the VLN
airport where we arrived at 09:55.
Along the way we saw a man running along the road like if he had the devil behind him.
In fact it might not be the devil, but the police, as when my colleague returned he was blocked by a police operation that left at least one person shot down.
In the airport it was fortunately quieter, and as there were 4 counters opened for the AV
flight I was checked in 3 minutes, with boarding passes for my 2 legs VLN
I asked the employee to enter the phone number of my hotel in the system, as required when booking, but he told me it was not possible and "to do it in BOG
Exiting the check-in counters I noticed the AV
ticketing employee that had sold me the ticket, so I went to him. He recognized me, and in no time entered in the system the hotel phone number. I guess the check-in employee, if he was not able to do this himself, could have directed me to his colleague. Well…
For the VLN
airport itself, nothing special to say, as it has not changed since my last TR
The international gate was closed, so I stayed on the terrace upstairs and saw a Dutch Antilles Express flight leaving. Due to trees in front of the terminal I could only take this photo:
At 10.40 something was said in the airport loudspeakers. As in most of airports, it was impossible to understand what was said, and even more if it is not your original language. However the last word was "Bogota", and as the AV
flight was the only flight to BOG
I joined the queue that was forming at the entrance of the international gate.
Let's add, to be complete, that the AV
flight never appeared on the monitors or the departing flight board. Once again I wonder why it is so difficult to have accurate information in airports around the world (VLN
may manage around 20 departing flights a day, so a daily check of the list should not be an overwhelming task).
Safety and immigration checks were conducted quite efficiently (the longer being the manual screening of all hand luggage, whatever the result of the scanner), and at 11:00 I was in the boarding room, where an employee with a yellow Dutch Antilles Express was collecting boarding passes for the AV
flight, and checking them on a numbered list.
At 11:25 the flight from BOG
arrived, and the plane stopped in front of the terminal, as usual in VLN
Flight AV 117 VLN-BOG
operated by SAM
Scheduled 12:15 – 13:05
Real 12:06 – 12:43
At 11:44 boarding was called for Business class, then by groups, and we walked to the plane. This is really a great way to board!
At 11:58 everybody was on-board, and the door was closed at 12:00, with a load factor of around 95%.
We pushed back at 12:06, and after a long taxi on the runway, took off at 12:13.
At 12:30 the snack service started.
The chicken sandwich was quite tasty.
After the end of the meal service the flight was uneventful.
The approach was made in the clouds, with a very steep descent just before touching down, which occurred at 12:38 (BOG
time, one hour behind VLN
We were at gate C2
at 12:42, door opened at 12:43 and we disembarked with stairs (even though there is a jetway at this gate).
Nothing specific to say for the transit, identical to the one I detailed in my above mentioned TR
Flight AV 113 BOG-GYE
operated by SAM
Scheduled 15:50 – 17:40
Real 15:42 – 17:32
To my surprise my second leg was made using the plane that I used for the first leg, and as I had the same seat, there was an impression of "deja vu".
Boarding passes were collected at the entrance of the boarding room, and boarding started at 15:15, by rows. As for the arrival the jetway was not used, so we went down one level to go to the apron.
The door was closed at 15:39, and we pushed back at 15:42.
The flight was 60% full only.
While taxiing we saw the AF
flight arriving from Paris 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
We took of at 15:54.
The snack service started at 16:15.
The sandwich was not as good as the one served on the VLN
The flight was mainly over clouds, with this view nevertheless:
The descent started at 17:00 and we landed in GYE at 17:23. During the taxi I took some photos of the new terminal building, in service since August.
We reached gate 6 at 17:28, but there was quite a long wait as the door was opened at 17:32 only.
The second part of the jetways has glass panels:
As gate 6 is the last gate on the right side of the terminal, there was some walking to reach the exit, so I was at immigration at 17:39 only.
For immigration there is something to know: each line serves 4 counters. But some of the counters are not staffed. I went for a line with 3 counters staffed, which obviously advanced far more quickly than the lines on the side, where only 1 or 2 counters were manned. So have a look before choosing your line, the shortest may not always be the fastest.
With this choice, and even with 3 persons in front of me, I was processed at 17:42, and arrived at the luggage belt to find my suitcase already there.
This is the arrival hall.
and an external view of the new terminal
November Sunday 05th 2006
Having asked at my hotel (El Oro Verde, with an excellent breakfast buffet) what shuttle I had to take for a 06:15 flight, I got the answer: "you have to be in the airport 2 hours before departure, so the 04:00 shuttle".
So did I and I arrive at the airport at 04:15.
4 check-in counters were opened for the AV
flight, without any queue. So I checked-in, received my 2 boarding passes, for my window seats, and took some time to admire the brand new check-in hall.
I took this picture, where the AV
counters are on the right
but was immediately told by a security staff that photos were not allowed inside the terminal. One more point for paranoia! I have difficulty imagining what are the risks of letting people take picture in public areas such as a the city side of a terminal. In any case bad guys have a lot of means to take such pictures if they want.
So I went to drink a coffee, the bought my airport tax, and passed immigration at 04:37.
At 04:40 I passed the safety check, and at 04:45 I was in the waiting area, with still very few people in sight, but fortunately, a coffee shop open.
The plane was hauled to the gate at 04:59.
agent passed in the area to check and collect the boarding passes.
The crew arrived at 05:28, the first officer was a woman: while I have seen women in flight deck crew in Europe, it was my first time for a South American airline.
Flight AV 70 GYE-BOG
Scheduled 06:15 – 08:00
Real 06:00 – 07:53
Boarding started at 05:50, and was very fast as, on this Sunday morning, the flight was only 25% full. The door was closed at 06:00, and pushed back at 06:02. At this early time the terminal was still not very busy:.
We took-off at 06:12 after an especially short take-off run, due to the light load of the plane.
Snack service started at 06:20, with a quite good ham and cheese sandwich.
After an uneventful journey we landed in BOG
at 07:36, taxied, and stopped at 07:41 near the terminal. At 07:45 we were informed that we would have to wait (no reason given), and then immediately started to advance to the gate were we arrived at 07:46.
Then there was some more waiting, as the jetway was going back and forth, but at 07:53 we were told to exit by the back door. There a bus was waiting and drove us to a very near door of the terminal, which was closed.
Some more wait, and finally the door was opened, and I was on my way to my connecting flight.
There was a quite long line at the safety check for connecting passengers. An AV
employee was going along the line, with a list of connecting passengers, checking that everything was OK
I finally reached the security check, and then went upstairs to gate 4 for my departing flight, where I arrived at 08:13, just in time for the beginning of the boarding, at 08:14.
Flight AV 66 BOG-CCS
Scheduled 08:40 – 11:28
Real 08:39 – 11:34
This time there was a nearly full load of passengers (95%), and boarding was made by seat numbers.
Everything went smoothly and boarding was finished at 08:31.
The door was closed at 08:37, we pushed back at 08:39, but waited until 08:51 before starting to taxi.
Take off was at 08:59, and at 09:19 the snack service started.
The croissant sandwich was not as good as the sandwich served on the first leg.
We started the descent at 11:07 (CCS
time), just when passing over VLN
, which was my final destination, but that I would reach only 5 hours later, and landed at 11:26 for a gate arrival at 11:32 and the door was opened at 11:34.
We disembarked through glass jetway, as CCS
is changing its old jetways for brand new ones. Some old jetways waiting for their fate:
The immigration was fast, and at 11:42 I was waiting for my suitcase which appeared only at 11:55. There was not any indication of the belt to be used on the monitors, but as there was only on belt running everybody congregated there.
In summary another good experience on Avianca, which seems to manage well the regularity of its operation.
The only point to improve, based on the 8 flights I have now logged with AV
, is the catering ex-BOG
(mainly the sandwiches). It is generally inferior to the catering for inbound flights.