Flight-Report

Review of Avianca flight Washington San Salvador in Economy

Airline Avianca
Flight AV 581
Class Economy
Seat --
Aircraft Airbus A321
Flight time 04:35
Take-off 05 Dec 15, 10:10
Arrival at 05 Dec 15, 13:45
AV   #59 out of 129 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 63 reviews
Chibcha
By 1895
Published on 20th January 2016
Hello everyone, this is the FR for the return trip after a couple of days of work in DC, if you want to check the BOG-IAD flight click here

I got picked up by a shared van early in the morning so I could arrive around 8am to check in…I was dropped by even earlier, I thought I was going to have a quick check in and then off to have breakfast in the lounge. Tough luck cowboy, the AV queue was full!

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While I was at the queue I heard one of the AV crew that if we had already checked in we could use the bag drop queue. And so, using the airport's free wifi I checked in through the AV App on my phone…I managed to dodge that bullet, yay. Check in was quick, treatment decent and hassle free. I was sent to the airside, because let's be sincere: there's nothing else to do in the main building, in no time.

Saarinen's work is just majestic with this light
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Aesthetically IAD is really pleasing, it might be my favourite US airport. It's a shame is so impractical to reach…
down to the TSA
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TSA was quick and painless…they checked my passport and was spoken to in Spanish, I thought this only happened in FL or the States bordering Mexico, go figure.

After TSA…quick train ride
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Isn't it awesome?
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I had access to the Galleries Lounge, which was conveniently near my gate.



The place was basically deserted, thus, just for me. Unfortunately for me…no breakfast for me this once. I stayed some time reading a BA magazine, which ended up in my bag, drinking a Spriite and a pair of small bites. Then I went down to check the local traffic.

The A/B Concourse is huge!
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CM should adopt this as their main livery, much better than the wannabe UA livery they have since the 90s
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ZA A346 with the historic ATC tower
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Last time I went to IAD Ethiopian sent 788s, they must be doing really well to upgrade to 777s
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And that was basically it with the spotting, because IAD has likely the most boresome traffic ever…then I was off to my gate, where it was obvious the flight was PACKED TO THE GILLS! (well, its December's VFR traffic) mainly with people from all of Central America. I reckon AV would channel South Americans through BOG.

Window view
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Cabin scene, the A321 feels huge compared to the A319 that brought me to IAD
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Seat pitch was perfect…as you see, I had to carry my bag of booze, as a FA requested me to carry it under the seat in front due to the fulll flight
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I wonder why I never manage to see more than a pair of UA planes at IAD, isn't it one of its hubs? This was basically its presence at that hour
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Taxi to the gate took ages, and thus I fell asleep on the wait. I woke up when take off was announced, our take off pattern allowerd for nice views of the field and suburbia in northern Virginia.


Some views of Virginia and the Carolinas


Clues anyone?
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Ski fields?
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Around 1h30 into the flight we were given our ration of food…no oshibori before food as on Avianca Colombia flights. I was offered beef or pasta.

Beef turned out to be Bangers and Mash for lunch. It was really good…the amount, as usual nowadays on AV, insufficient. The side salad, was of something I fail to discover what it was, but it tasted really good.
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View became clouds…so I'd rather focus on finishing my movie…I don't recall its name but it's the one where this guy crosses the US to find his crush, only to return after being permanently friendzoned.
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Bummer, no views of Yucatan
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But I managed to see Cozumel!
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This meant we were around 50m away from SAL

Eventually the skies cleared and I managed to spot El Salvador
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The Lempa River Reservoir (?)
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Aww…the rainbow
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Central America is really pretty with the lakes and volcanoes
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This should be….Ilopango city, part of San Salvador's Metro Area
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Lake Ilopango? and San Vicente volcano…I guess
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El Salvador's single international airport (not that they need more) sitting idle on the shores of the Pacific
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Fancy neighbourhoods for North American retirees?
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The best view I could get of San Salvador's area
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This area looks great for a summer vacation
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SAL's approach pattern takes us to the Pacific so we can allign with RWY 07
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These cane fields mean your landing is imminent
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An US Coast Guard Hercules welcomes us to Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport, formerly known as Cuscatlan Airport (check the Azul A330 at Aeroman's hanger)
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Views of the Terminal building, with AV's A332 preparing for the SAL-LIM route


Will this be my next ride?
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AeroMexico Connect to MEX
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Being a totally full flight de-boarding took ages…I had a tight connection, but enough time to do my chores at SAL

Our A321 at the gate, my first time on one of AV's (I managed to score almost all of AV's fleet during 2016, I only missed the A332…bummer)

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Verdict

Avianca

8.8/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi10.0
Meal/catering8.0

British Airways Galleries Lounge

6.6/10
Comfort5.0
Meal/catering5.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services8.5

Washington - IAD

7.8/10
Efficiency10.0
Access3.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

San Salvador - SAL

7.9/10
Efficiency7.5
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

Since Avianca's service is nothing extraordinary, why would someone get into a two-flight segment when one could get directly between Washington and Bogotá? Two main reasons my friends: The main one, I'm a total AVGeek, and an extra flight is really cherished, regardless of the service. It also meant a lot of news for me: first AV A321 and a new city pair. The other one, is that even when I had to connect, I would arrive around 2 hours earlier to BOG, which is something I needed so I could have a weekend vacation out of Bogotá.

The plane was comfortable enough, I didn't feel crowded even when the flight was packed. The IFE was appropriate for the flight, and the crew was decent too, much better than on the BOG-IAD flight. Catering was good, pitty for the size.

The Galleries Lounge was OK...I guess, but I resent there wasn't anything hot for me to have breakfast. Not even a bagel!

I like IAD, is a pretty place, it has decent stores, TSA was good...but it is really a pain to reach. A decent and efficient public transport link is needed ASAP (I know the silver line is on its way...but until then I'll score IAD lowly on the access item, let's see how much it will cost BTW)

SAL....well wait for the next report.

Have a nice week and thanks for passing by, saludos!

Related

8 Comments

  • Comment 162334 by
    marathon GOLD 9323 Comments

    Pleasant reading, as expected.
    I liked the last minute OLCI episode - a neat FF (legal) trick.
    VFR used to mean Visual Flight Rules to me, but Google helped me learn another meaning. ^^
    Thanks for sharing !

  • Comment 162370 by
    jetsetpanda 2296 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this nice FR Chibcha.

    IAD is an airport stuck in another era. The font of the signs is one of the first clues.

    Great OLCI trick. The line sure looked overwhelming. I bet there were lots of overweight luggage charges during that time of the year. Relatives going back home bringing lots of presents for Christmas.

    Personally I am not impressed with BA's Galleries in the U.S. The catering tends to be marginally better than its U.S. counterparts.

    The catering is not substantial at all, but at least it was free which is better than what the American competitors offer. Your side looked like some sort of pasta salad from afar.

    Great aerials especially as you approach SAL. It's ironic to see the beauty of this land when you think about the violence and brutality that its citizens have endured.

    You are a 100% AvGeek!

    • Comment 346154 by
      Chibcha AUTHOR 425 Comments

      IAD is an airport stuck in another era. The font of the signs is one of the first clues.

      -That's one of the things I love the most about Dulles actually.

      Great OLCI trick. The line sure looked overwhelming. I bet there were lots of overweight luggage charges during that time of the year. Relatives going back home bringing lots of presents for Christmas.

      -(blushes)...yes it was an awful line, you know December+flights to the motherland+Latinamericans=lots of regalos.

      Personally I am not impressed with BA's Galleries in the U.S. The catering tends to be marginally better than its U.S. counterparts.
      -Just been to this one so far...I found it better than the AV one in BOG though, it felt more classy.

      The catering is not substantial at all, but at least it was free which is better than what the American competitors offer. Your side looked like some sort of pasta salad from afar.
      - Well, if it comes to this you're totally right. The side wasn't pasta. It tasted and felt like something vegetably...like quinoa but it wasn't that.

      Great aerials especially as you approach SAL. It's ironic to see the beauty of this land when you think about the violence and brutality that its citizens have endured.
      That was basically what was in my mind.

      You are a 100% AvGeek!
      (blushes again)....i'll take that as a compliment, thanks!

    • Comment 346155 by
      Chibcha AUTHOR 425 Comments

      Thank you, stay tuned for the final part!

  • Comment 162397 by
    SMilano 1266 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR, it was a pleasant reading.

    Nice flight with this A321 AV :)
    The catering do not look impressive but at least it's free, so as Jetsetpanda said, better than the US carrier.

    Nice aerial view during the flight :)

    Saludos !

  • Comment 162436 by
    KL651 TEAM 4399 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.
    I really love the architecture of IAD too and it's good that they kept up with the special font for new signes such as TSA Pre Check and such.

    Good pitch and PTV but the tray is clearly small for a flight of that length.

    I didn't know Avianca had the same business model as LAN with LAN Chile, LAN Peru etc etc and had subsidiary in other LATAM countries.

    • Comment 346243 by
      Chibcha AUTHOR 425 Comments

      AV has been skimming costs...sadly that has reflected on the food they give you onboard....I shiver when thinking what they're handing out on flights to Europe.

      As far as I know Avianca operates as a single brand, but the legal persons still remain separated. On the other hand, unlike LAN, which has separate IATA codes (4C,LP..etc) all Avianca flights are AV.

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