Review of Avianca flight Santiago Bogota in Economy

Airline Avianca
Flight AV 98
Class Economy
Seat 25K
Aircraft Boeing 787-8
Flight time 05:35
Take-off 13 Apr 15, 08:10
Arrival at 13 Apr 15, 11:45
AV   #93 out of 113 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 96 reviews
Chibcha
By 3202
Published on 7th June 2015
Hello everyone, this report is about the return flight to Bogotá of a recent trip to Santiago de Chile I made last April.
Both flights were booked on Avianca's new 787s, BOG-SCL here!.

I booked a shuttle to SCL that would pick me from my friend's house at around 4AM. Nasty time, but that's what was available…otherwise I would be at the mercy of Santiago's extremely expensive taxis.

When we arrived to SCL the amount of haze was amazing. I was confident about my flight being able to arrive well is a state of the art plane, and surely SCL has all the technology so the plane makes it I thought…not!
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The Check in area was rather deserted, but AV's counters were full with people flying either to LIM or BOG, AV's hubs in South America.
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Check in was pretty straight forward, and then on to the airside. Emigration control was rather slow (is it a thing with Chilean authorities to be so slow?)…security check was swift and then on into the bowels of a duty free store, because of the time almost everything was closed.
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I roamed around trying to figure out what to break my fast with. Not many options. Overall, SCL's international pier is a long L shaped corridor with a pretty poor offering. Like I stated on the inbound report, SCL was disappointing. It used to be awesome, but it has failed to catch up with the recent trends in the region.
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Weather was not improving. The inbound was supposed to be already at SCL but no news from it.
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There was another plane at our assigned gate…I assumed it would be towed. But something in my gut told me that something was not alright.

I chose to take a quick nap in the meanwhile…I noticed the walls were falling off. To be fair the airport is undergoing some upgrading, but the general state of it is that is falling apart!
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The LIM flight was boarded and I asked the AV ladies handling that flight if they knew what was the deal with BOG's flight…she told me she didn't know (wtf!) but she guessed the plane wouldn't make it….she just told me to look outside:
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It was nasty, but I've seen worse in BOG. And airplanes could land. As far as I read, SCL had the most advanced systems. I didn't understand what was going on.

And then….s+t hit the fan
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The same ladies went to our gate, told us the plane wasn't going to land in SCL, but it was detoured to EZE. I thought it was a rather dumb move, why not to Mendoza that's just around the corner! I also thought to myself that the AV people in SCL knew beforehand that the plane wouldn't be able to make it there, so why didn't they say anything. So, all in all, I got a new boarding pass with my new times. Check that my scheduled time meant that I would arrive to Bogotá at 11:45, which meant I could work for the rest of the day. Well, that wasn't going to happen now.
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The worst part of it all, was that SCL does not have free WiFi, and I wasn't able to hog to any free wifi. I was bored as hell, and I didn't feel like eating or reading. It was awful.

As the sky cleared up a bit some spotting was made…but SCL's architecture doesn't allow for decent picture taking in some places. One great thing about Chile being so far down is that it gets is fair amount of widebodies, moreover you can spot the three 787 operators in Latin America: LAN, Avianca and AeroMexico.


Then a horrible announcement, that if the plane didn't make it on time to SCL, the crew's work timetable would be completed, so we wouldn't be able to fly out of Chile at 11:30 but rather at the late afternoon. This would have meant spending another 10 hours at the airport. I was losing my mind. Again, chaos. Some couples were on their honeymoon flights to Punta Cana and they were pretty vocal about AV ruining their time. There was another sugar momma excursion to the caribbean, also very explicit about being furious. It was somwhat funny.

Finally our plane made it from Argentina!
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Apart from the honeymooners and the sugar mommas who were demanding compensation, reparation and so on… everyone was excited. Laughter, tears of joy (this is an exaggeration, but I would have cried if left for another couple of hours in SCL) were commonplace among the affected passengers.

At one point I needed to go to the WC, but it was full. So I discovered one on the lower level. If you ever visit SCL, go to that level, it has pretty good views. It was really nice to see the planes from that angle. BTW if I'm not wrong that was LAN's last A343, they were retired about a week after.


Then it was boarding time!
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Since this was my second flight on the plane, there were no oohhs or ahhs for me, but the daylight gives a different ambiance, compared to my previous redeye. Again, every single seat with its respective pillow and blanket…The flight was full, so I was lucky to get these pictures before the plane got filled.
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Bye bye to the A340 in Latin America…:( (OK AR still operates them, but it's matter of time till they're out too)
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SCL is QF's only destination in Latin America, I felt really lucky that I got to see it.
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Other traffic on the way to the runway, SCL's ATC tower used to be the tallest in South America (I reckon BOG's is the tallest now)


Take off was on a southward direction, then we made a 180 northward, which allowed for awesome views of the Andes, if I'm not wrong the highest mountain in South America, the Aconcagua can be seen. SCL could also be seen.


Mood lighting was on
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And on the meanwhile I was playing with the tinted windows.
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Until they froze on one setting. I bet the crew had them set that way. I think it has is pros and cons. Now you can see around without bothering the rest, but not being able to control the settings is a bit frustrating.


The crew wasn't seen for the first couple of hours, and then they showed up with lunch. AV never hands out menus. The flight's options where raviolli or chicken. I chose the raviolli.
They were OK, but again, a rather minimal offering. Not quite what one expects for a 5h long flight. AV serves the sodas from a big 1.5 litre bottle, something I hate since the gas is gone by the time they serve the last cups. I asked the FA for two cups of soda, to which he obliged (so he passed the two sodas test I've been doing when flying international with AV).
Another thing that annoys me about AV's catering is that you have to ask for salt and pepper. I didn't bother this time and just spread the butter over the pasta so it would have a bit more flavour.

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In the meanwhile we were flying over Perú, but I couldn't figure which city exactly
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After we ate trays were cleared and we were left to sleep. The tinted windows were set on dark, it was like travelling on a night flight!
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About 1h before arriving to Bogotá we were given some ham and cheese sandwiches, not to big but an unexpected nice gesture.

The view outside looked so ….out of earth, it looked as if the mountains were more desert-like. When they're quite green.
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A couple of minutes before landing we were free to set the windows to real colour
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It was a butter-soft landing on RWY 13R.


Our route
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Our plane at destination
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Immigration took no time, as usual in BOG, bags took ages to come out. In the meanwhile I bought duty free booze, I love BOG's duty free it's got the most convenient prices I've seen thus far. I got by bags, and then a cab ride to my flat.

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Bonus track: some pictures of Santiago, Valparaiso and Viña del Mar
See more

Verdict

Avianca

8.5/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi10.0
Meal/catering7.5

Santiago - SCL

5.5/10
Efficiency6.5
Access6.0
Services3.0
Cleanliness6.5

Bogota - BOG

7.9/10
Efficiency8.5
Access7.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

It would have been an awesome flight because of the plane and the views....but the huge delay meant I was a bit cranky for the rest of the day.

AV: The 787 is a great plane, it is really exciting to fly on it. It is tight, but I fear that's going to be the industry's norm for our times. The crew did its job as required, nothing extraordinary. Catering was OK, but insufficient. It would be great if AV handed some drinks after take off in flights longer than 3 hours. The sandwich before landing was a nice detail. The ground crew in SCL was a shame (note to the admins.: is it possible to add that criterion?)

SCL: It needs a renovation ASAP, it needs to be restored to its former glory...if one could say so. It needs more shops and eating options, but most of all: FREE WiFi!! It is an extremely boring place after the first hour.

BOG: Everything OK, except for the bags taking so long.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for the next FRs (BOG-IBE on LA, EOH-PEI on EF....a pair of rather obscure domestic flights) !

Information on the route Santiago (SCL) Bogota (BOG)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 4 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Santiago (SCL) → Bogota (BOG).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is LAN Airlines with 7.7/10.

The average flight time is 5 hours and 45 minutes.

  More information

17 Comments

  • Comment 138787 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this return leg with us!

    she just told me to look outside
    - Always the most accurate way to predict an aircraft's estimated arrival time.

    Remind me to never fly when you are, disaster seems to follow you wherever you go. Flight delays like this are usually a good way to judge how an airline's service truly is. Seems like the ground crews knew more than they shared with you and weren't very forthcoming with information. AV will claim it's not their fault since it is weather related. Better to divert than put a very expensive asset at risk. Never good when your actual departure time is the same as your estimated time of arrival on a long-haul flight...

    Interesting that domestic flights are called national flights in Chile. SCL does look pretty crappy.

    Great spotting at SCL, very good diversity of planes from around the world. Very beautiful photography departing SCL, the Andes look great with the low-sitting fog. It's a shame they override window control, it makes it essentially useless for photographing in-flight with the tint.

    Catering doesn't look bad, the meal tray is a little sparse looking, but the distribution of sandwiches at the end of the flight is a very nice gesture.

    • Comment 318280 by
      Chibcha AUTHOR 436 Comments


      Hahahaha, I'll send you my flight schedule, I know it's a trend with me that something horrible happens...but most of my flights are rather normal everything goes ok and that's it.

      I wish AV had at least warned me about the delay, that way I would have thought of something else to do that morning...well who knows now. They where on a very comfortable position to abuse, as a matter of fact AV now has the habit of blaming delays on BOG's traffic. That way they managed to delay my IBE-BOG flight (it's only 15m long!) over an hour.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Comment 138793 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Beautiful spotting and aerials.

    Too bad that the customer service @ SCL was so horrendous. The least they can do is be honest about it. The airport needs a major makeover.

    Catering is lacking with tiny portions. The sandwiches before arrival are a plus.

    Thanks for the interesting bonus and sharing this FR.

    • Comment 318281 by
      Chibcha AUTHOR 436 Comments

      Maybe is also an issue with the Chilean approach to customer support in the travel industry... as I said on the previous FR, the people at the hotels weren't that friendly neither.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Comment 138796 by
    SebastianRDCD 23 Comments

    Nice trip report! I really liked it! Though i think AV didnt land in Mendoza is becuse they dont have authorization to land there :)

  • Comment 138799 by
    SKYTEAMCHC GOLD 8289 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this report with us.
    The spotting at SCL is great with many beautiful planes some soon going to disappear from the skies ;-(.Great in flight views too.
    As for the flight itself the catering is very average and, as you said, you could expect more on such a flight. It's hard to evaluate the cabin as there are very pictures but the legroom and IFE seem to be correct.
    The delay is terrible and not very well handled by ground staff . Your 0 is deserved !

    • Comment 318283 by
      Chibcha AUTHOR 436 Comments

      Indeed, airplane traffic at SCL is very interesting, is a shame the architecture of the building doesn't collaborate as it should.

      Sorry for not taking more appropriate cabin shots...i'm still somewhat shy about taking photos all around. The legroom was OK, I still consider AV narrowbodies to have the best legroom. You can really feel the difference when travelling on an A32X or one of the widebodies. IFE was perfect....I would have liked more options on the music and film selection, but for my flight it was more than enough.

  • Comment 138801 by
    Mathieu 2087 Comments

    Hi :) Thanks you for sharing this report.
    Unfortunately your flight wasn't on time and you've spend many hours in this old airport...
    Btw, the spotting at SCL is very varied :)
    The catering was good despite of there was no menu.

    See you,

    • Comment 318284 by
      Chibcha AUTHOR 436 Comments

      Hello,

      SCL is not that old...(ok it is...about 12 years). I reckon the biggest problem is that it was designed for the 1990s, and that's why they've been left behind compared to newer terminals in Latin America. On the outside the building is precious. Is a shame they have not cared enough for the inside.

      I don't care much for menus, as long as the FA aid me into an informed decision its fine by me. What I would like is that the drink selection is explained on the inflight magazine...that would really help a lot.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Comment 138803 by
    SMilano 1292 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this leg with us !

    Beautiful spotting and aerials view.
    SCL look like very old
    The catering is average for a flight like this
    What a delay !So horrible...

    • Comment 318285 by
      Chibcha AUTHOR 436 Comments

      My pictures don't really do justice to Chile, the views are awesome all around. Those guys have been really blessed with nature!

      As I said to Mathieu, I reckon the main problem is design. An expansion and renovation project is underway, with a new terminal by 2020. Let's see how it turns out.

      As you say...catering is average. What frustrates me is that AV purports to be the best airline in Latin America, and for Colombians it sometimes turns into a chauvinistic issue. Well...I think its a long way from it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Comment 138997 by
    KL651 TEAM 4505 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.

    Did you at least get a voucher for a snack/drink to compensate for the delay?

    Again a basic service on this 5H flight.

    The 787 is the big plus of the flight.

    Too bad the windows were set to this blueish tint when you were flying above the Andes.

  • Comment 139428 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5362 Comments

    SCL Airport is looking pretty sad, which makes it all the more unpleasant to be stuck there for so long. The plane probably diverted to EZE instead of a closer airport because the AV airport facilities and crews are more than likely better equipped to handle a diversion. I normally don't expect compensation for weather related delays, but since it was a rather long delay, I would have expected some snack/drink vouchers at the very least. On the bright side, you got some gorgeous views on the flight.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 142325 by
    JonathanNd 27 Comments

    Since this was a Boeing 787 I must say that I liked the report. How long was this flight? You got nice views from SCL, especially the Qantas 747.

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