I had to be in Baltimore on the third week of March. My plan was to burn some LANPASS kilometres for return flights from LIM to JFK in J and then take the train down to Baltimore. However I took too long to book the tickets so someone else took the spaces I wanted. So, I started searching for flight options paying with cash. Avianca had pretty good prices to IAD. I booked the outbound in Y via SAL and booked the return via BOG in J. The difference in price between Y and J for the return was just above 100 bucks. Great!
We arrived to Dulles about three hours before departure. Surprisingly there was no queue in the Business class counters and just a small queue in the economy counters so we were seen in no time. The agent gave us our boarding passes for the two flights. At that time they were also checking in one of the two daily frequencies to SAL that leaves more or less at the same time than the daily flight to BOG. I asked what lounge could we use and the agent kindly said that we were welcome in the Lufthansa business lounge that was located just in front of our gate.
There was no line in passport control but security was a bit of a pain.
We then took the train to concourse B. I really liked IAD, very spacious, clean and with lots of open space. We had a wonder around the terminal before heading to the lounge. There was no activity in concourse B, just airport employees having lunch in the concourse’s restaurants.
The lounge dragon scanned our boarding passes and directed us to our business lounge. The lounge was a bit dated, I assume that the Senator lounge is better. Food offerings included finger sandwiches, salads, brownies and soup. There was quite a good selection of drinks though. We had some snacks and drinks in the “dining area” before moving into some comfortable sofas to read and relax a bit.
We left the lounge an hour before departure for a change of scenery. Boarding had not started yet so I took a walk around the terminal to stretch a bit and have a look at planes.
Our small aribus on stand, before flying five hours to BOG.
Boarding started about 40 minutes before departure. Avianca boards the plane by zones, zone A are paid business passengers, zone B Star Alliance Gold, Lifemiles elites (I assume including upgraded elites) and passengers requiring special assistance and zones C,D and E Y passengers.
After boarding was completed the crew started to deliver welcome drinks. The choices were water, Orange juice or Champagne. Then they came around delivering amenity kits. The Tumi case is nice, however the conteut nt is perhaps a bit basic. This is when I realized that this was not a very good crew. I understand that some of them might have had a rough day, but they could at least try to do their jobs right!
The captain came around to introduce himself and inform that we will have to wait twenty minutes for take-off due to heavy traffic in the Colombian airspace and informed us about our flight path. It was rainy outside and my window was scratched so I was not able to take decent pictures of the aircraft around and take-off.
AV A320 flying off to SAL.
We took off and after a while the male flight attendant sprang into action delivering hot towels, keeping his interaction with passengers at minimum as he did for the rest of the flight.
Meanwhile the sky was very clear at 30,000 feet
Then he came around asking for our meal orders. Choices were beef, Chicken or Pasta. I chose the former, which came with mashed potatoes and roasted carrots. The beef was dry, the mashed potatoes were good and the carrots tasteless. Rather than delivering a proper three-course meal, Avianca serves the main along with a small starter that is usually a salad. The salad was just fine.
Then the purser came to remove our trays and ask if we would like dessert. It consisted in a coconut cake, which was good. I took some coffee along with my dessert. I was not that good, however miles better than what they serve in Y.
I then started to explore the IFE. I started to watch a few episodes of Modern Family and Big bang theory, just to relax a bit. The seat recline was definitely poor and there were no footrests which definitely made the flight less comfortable, neither legroom was generous because of the bulkhead in front. Incredibly I found the first row of Y to have much more room than the first row of J.
When we were overflying Cuba our "lovely" male FA came to distribute water bottles before disappearing into the gallery.
I needed a stretch so I went to have a walk around the cabin. The flight looked to be full in all classes. I only saw a couple of middle seats free in coach.
Back in my seat I started to have a look outside. I just love to fly during sunset.
I tried to catch some sleep, however I was having a hard time finding a comfortable position to do so, so eventually I gave up and started to watch a movie, I don’t remember which. An hour before landing the chief purser started delivering the pre arrival snack, which consisted on a warm roast beef sandwich. The sandwich was good and I took an orange juice along with my snack.
I then went to the lavatory and saw a box of Ferrero Rocher in the gallery. I thought they were for passengers so I asked the chief purser if I could have one. Turns out they were his, but still gave me one. Nice! I overheard the grumpy crew member who did the service for the first half of the flight say “Que fresco” something like “he’s got a lot of nerve” to which the chief purser disagreed and said that he had not problem on sharing one with me.
Then there was a non-rev flying in Y that was allowed to use the J lavatory, even at times when J passengers wanted to use the lavatory.
The captain came on the PA 20 minutes before landing asking the crew to prepare the cabin. We had a very smooth landing into Bogota and had a short taxi to our parking position next to an IB A346.
We were the first off the plane and were off following the signs for international connexions. We had to re-clear security which was quick and were then in the duty free maze. I could see that the lounges were upstairs, but couldn’t find a way up there. I asked an airport employee were the entrance to the AV lounge was and she took me there. Avianca has two lounges in the international section of Bogota. One for Business class passengers and Lifemiles top tier members and the other one for Star Golds, Lifemiles Silver members and priority pass cardholders. While the Gold lounge looks a bit crappy, the business lounge was very nice and had very good views to the apron. The food offerings were limited, but I didn’t mind since by that time I was pretty full.
I still took some finger sandwiches along with a ginger ale and soon I had to make my way to the gate to board my flight to LIM.
I won’t cover that flight since there is not much to say since I spent the majority of the flight sleeping. The crew was much friendlier though.
I hope you enjoyed reading this report! Feedback is always appreciated.
Lufthansa Business Lounge
Washington - IAD
Bogota - BOG
Flying five hours in a regional business class seat in an A319, is not a real business class experience. Yes, I knew that before booking the flight. However the level of service I received on this flight from the lack of a proper three course meal as most of other airlines do (The meal I received would be perfectly fine for a 2.5-4hs flight). However Avianca should really upgrade their meal service in medium and long haul flights. Finally, the poor service received from the crew was even below the level of service I have received in most of my flights in Y.
Given that AV has two flights leaving IAD at the same time, I think they could just eliminate one of their daily frequencies to SAL (that is also used as a hub to connect to other destinations in Central/South America) and upgrade their equipment in the BOG flight to a wide-body. I guess that they could perfectly do with an A330.
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