Hello everyone, this FR will cover one of the shortest flights within Colombia.
Ibagué is a mid-size city in the center of Colombia's Andean region. Thanks to the new double carriageway roads between Bogotá and Ibagué you can reach the city in 3hs or less, depending on the traffic.
Last mayday a friend of mine invited me to spend the long weekend over there, I knew loads of people would flee Bogotá for the weekend so traffic would be horrible on the road to Ibagué. So I checked AV and LA fares, and I managed to get tickets for the same price I would spend on petrol and tolls, so why not? I would go to IBE on LA and then back on AV.
This report is also special since LA won't be flying to IBE after this summer, marking the end of 30 years of operations between the cities ( LAN bought an Ibagué airline called AIRES), leaving the monopoly for Avianca. For me, it was also interesting as I would manage to score a Dash plane before LA would retire them this year.
I left the office about 1.3h before boarding time and took Transmilenio to BOG.
LAN doesn't have mobile check in yet, so I had to check in on a booth, which spat a flimsy boarding pass. I was on the boarding area in no time.
This view is slated to be no more after this year…finally. You can spot the new ATC tower at the right. It is currently topped off.
The interior of the North domestic concourse, which is used by any airline other than Avianca and Satena. It also has swing gates, thus the division at the right.
The south concourse that's supposed to be AV's hub, but it couldn't tend to AVs huge operations, the A330 is probably waiting for a LIM flight later on, it had a Peruvian flag.
Since I would be flying on a turboprop, I would be bussed to a hard stand. Thus my gate would be at the ground floor.
I had a nice view to the afternoon ops.
The bus ride let me see BOG's newest visitor, I'm so happy to see KLM back in BOG! It is currently BOG's sole 777 operator. Between november and february 747s will come!
Hard stands are besides AV's MRO facilities, thus the parked airbuses.
I was very excited to board my first Dash,
Upon entering the plane I noticed it was really small, like a microbus. As soon as all passengers boarded (which didn't take too long) the sole FA welcomed us both in Spanish and English and asked us to turn off our mobile phones (thus no more pictures).
I felt the plane to be less noisy than the ATR, but confort wise the ATR was better. A big downside is the ridiculous no-mobile phone rule (Neither AV or EF apply it), which was strictly enforced by the FA, who was facing towards us the whole flight.
During takeoff I could se the chaos down there, as predicted traffic was horrible (another friend took 6h to reach Ibagué that night!)
The rest of the flight (which was unbelievably short…taxying and takeoff took longer) I was entertained seeing the white and red light-snake moving along the road. Landing was smooth and noisy.
LA and AV have the same schedule, when we arrived the rival red plane was already waiting for passengers back to BOG.
Since I didn't take too long to reach IBE my friend didn't make it on time to pick me as soon as I arrived. So I took a little tour of IBE's rustic facilities
Baggage claim area, with a single band
Drab interiors, so 1980s.
Check in area, which is basically on the street
The single boarding gate can be observed here
Overall, a little nasty place. On the return trip, which was stupidly delayed (eventually I learnt it is AV's standard practice) I came to hate the place, its hot (no A/C) boring and dark, not a nice place to spend a hang over.
Bogota - BOG
Ibagué - IBE
It was a memorable trip, combining a series of firsts and lasts for me. I would repeat it again if a reasonable fare shows up, but I reckon it will be long before I ride to IBE on plane.
BOG was OK, I can reach the airport confortably on a Transmilenio bus from my office for less than a USD, the only caveat is to leave with enough time (last week I had to exit the system and grab a cab because I wouldn't make it on Transmilenio).
LA, I hated that you couldn't use the mobile phone, silly rule. The FA was courteous, but a bit bossy. No service whatsoever. I gave them 0 points since AV managed to hand juiceboxes on the flight back to BOG. Entertainment wise, the view is sufficient but I really like LA's magazine. Overall, the cool thing about this flight is that you skip a 6h traffic jam and make it to you destination in just 20 minutes.
IBE is a nasty place. Awful is sufficient to describe the place. But it isn't nasty or filthy.
Thanks for reading,
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