Hola everyone, this time I'll report on a rather unusual destination in Colombia: Pasto.
Pasto is the capital city of Nariño Department in the border with Ecuador, it is actually nearer to Quito than to Bogotá (just a 6h drive compared to a 24h drive to Bogotá, you'll see why). The region is quite remote from the rest of the country as driving takes a lot and air fares are quite expensive as Avianca has a virtual monopoly there which people unwillingly support as it is the quickest link to the rest of Colombia.
I had to go to Pasto for a couple of days, and tickets were obnoxiously high so I bought a 1 way fare with cash and the other with Lifemiles, curiously flying on Business Class was less expensive than Economy, so why not?
At Bogotá's Eldorado Airport-Puente Aéreo Terminal+Avianca Lounge
Almost all of Avianca's domestic flights (except MDE, CLO, CTG and BAQ) leave from BOG's Puente Aéreo Terminal…basically a bus terminal for airplanes.
I arrived by cab and walked straight to the food court since I wasn't checking any baggage so I did OLCI and then printed a souvenir BP on a Self Check In Quiosk
The Terminal's food court has a reasonable offer, ranging from burger joints to full service restaurants. I chose one of the former, and ordered a "punta de anca" for about $30,000 COP, which is roughly $10 USD. I found that reasonable, almost the same you would play in any other place in Bogotá
Done with my meal I went to the Avianca Lounge…which is basically a glorified gate area with some free snacks and drinks. Nothing extraordinary.
It has a nice view of the apron, curiously enough anyone arriving from the pier at the left passes just in front of you, so you have a time of people watching too.
Trying to take a less conspicuous photo
My catering for the while.
Slowly the new livery is dominating BOG (it has taken AV a lot to change to the new livery, comparing to AA which boasts 8x its fleet)
Our chariot for the day lurking behind an ATR, N266CT is a 10 year-old A319 which flew originally with Méxicana de Aviación. It hasn't the new interiors and lacks PTVs, which is OK for domestic flights, but I would have been really pissed of I I had a long-haul to JFK or SCL on this one. As of today it is currently basking in some desert.
Boarding and Taxi
Due to its inhospitable location and proness to heavy weather, PSO tends to close and flights get cancelled most of the time. Fortunately for me it wasn't the case and I was called to my flight by a lady screaming boarding flights to the Lounge…more effective than the FIDS. (Ironically I was told I wasn't going to be called to board so I had to check the FIDS, go figure)
This photo came a bit obscure as I boarded…
AV's retro cabin…still way better than Y cabins in Europe I must say.
To compensate for the lack of AVOD, they do boast glorious pitch.
And we're off to the deep south of Colombia with a little tour of BOG's facilities:
Puente Aéreo, from where we left
The International Concourse at Terminal 1, a bit lazy between the North America bank in the morning and the Europe and other Long Hauls in the evening.
NK leaving for FLL
AA to MIA
AM from MEX
NK right behind us…but we turn left to RWY 13R
Interjet arriving from MEX
A Satena ATR would join us in the trip to 13R
A view of the Centro Internacional skyline before lining to 13R.
A pair of Company heavies waiting for their night missions
Take off was quick, it took a SW heading which allowed for a view of almost all of Bogotá….as we headed into Girardot.
En-route to Girardot we passed by Melgar, home of Tolemaida Military Fort, one of the biggest military bases in Colombia.
In no time we passed over Girardot
And its airport, Santiago Vila, can you see how dry the Magdalena River was?
Then the plane veered southward and allowed us a view of the nascent metropolitan area around Girardot.
I've passed by this place on car and it is filled with military…it seems they're building a new base.
Another view of the Magdalena valley
Zoom into a town called Espinal, which boasts arguably the best Lechonas in Colombia (my favourite dish)
This flight was only a month after the flight I took between BOG and CLO , the effects of the draught are still visible
I fell asleep for a pair of minutes and by then I woke up in unknown lands for me…since there was no Map on the IFE, I shall asume this was Cauca Department.
Check how rugged the terrain gets.
By this point the folks at the front told us we were about to arrive….I couldn't figure out where…
It seems these parts of the country weren't as hit by the draught as the rest of it…lucky them.
Landing at Pasto's Antonio Nariño Airport
PSO is famed as one of the most difficult approaches in Colombia, I shall propose in the World…let the pictures speak for themselves
This region is called Chachagüí. It is around 2200m over sea level, Pasto itself is at 2800m.
Our destination…some people mockingly say it is like an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Andes.
Here are a pair of someone else's videos to support my claim.
And how it looks from the front office…it must be a real thrill!
I must say our landing was top notch, extremely soft and easy…I was expecting something more of a roller coaster and got disappointed, considering the horror stories I was told, but kudos to the flight crew!
The terminal building and ATC tower…like almost all airports in Colombia, PSO is getting a new terminal building, thankfully!
Our plane resting from its easyish landing.
I reckon this is a charter flight, probably to Tumaco in the Pacific Coast or to Cali (as far as I know the only scheduled destinations to PSO are CLO and BOG)
I picked my baggage and walked into an awful terminal building…but I'll give it a break since it is going to be demolished soon. Then we had to walk around 500m to the taxi stand around rubble and construction material. Not the best welcome to anywhere.
Bogota - BOG
Pasto - PSO
Another regular flight within Colombia with Avianca. Service wasn't anything extraordinary. Lack of IFE is compensated by the awesome views. I really congratulate the crew for the landing.
AV's Lounge at the Puente Aéreo isn't at par with the ones in Terminal 1, and those two aren't even that good, so go figure. But Puente Aéreo remains a very efficient and somewhat nice (at least not awful) place to do what you're supposed to do in an airport, board a plane.
PSO is a dump. Is way too far from Pasto (1 hour), although the drive has some of the most beautiful views I've seen.
Stay tuned for the return on AV Biz.
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