This is the follow-up to a trip between Washington DC and Bogotá through Mexico City.
Other flights on this trip were: BOG-JFK on DL (here) IAD-MEX on AM (here)
Connecting in Benito Juarez International Airport
So, Latin America's most transited airport is not designed with transfers in mind. In this case, given that I had to go from Terminal 2 (where AeroMexico operates) to Terminal 1( where Avianca operates), which are on opposite sides of the airfield, I had to take an APM that you can only board if you have a boarding pass that justifies your trip, I reckon it is a crowd control measure but it may place some bona fide travelers in undue trouble. Connections are made US-Style in which you cannot clear security and go to the other gates, but have to enter Mexico (this is so because international and domestic departures are not segregated in Mexico), you also have to pick your bag and put it on the connections belt.
When I was crossing security in Terminal 1, I was asked to remove all electronics from my bag. I didn't have none. Eh..and my laptop (?) I flushed and told them I couldn't find any, if they were so kind to check with the x-ray machine. Maybe is that I was too tired and couldn't check well but my laptop wasn't there. And indeed, it wasn't there. Panic ensued.
After you clear security you're thrown into a huge duty free, in which I bought some tequila for home, but the problem with the laptop remained. To make things worse I had no WiFi to try to figure out what to do. As I did the year before when leaving MEX, I bought a tie at Pineda Covalin (I love their ties).
I went to the Avianca Lounge to see if someone there could help me. The Lounge is located at the far end concourse from which I assume AV operates its flights, which means you have to take quite a long walk to it. I assumed that since it was an Avianca Lounge they could contact their Avianca mates at IAD to see if they could help me locate my laptop, alas it seems to be a franchised lounge and they couldn't contact people outside of MEX. Fortunately there's a TSA lost-and-found. I asked my mum to call them to see if they had found it.
Now back to the lounge ( I din't take any pictures because of my internal chaos and the fact that it was a bit packed and I didn't want to intrude into other people's privacy). So you enter the lounge, theres a lift and a stair that takes you down to this dingy place that feels like the restaurant of a small hotel. No outside views, a couple of TVs playing the news from Mexico (I would have expected that they play some news from all of Latin America). There are toilets inside, but no showers (I wanted to take a shower but it seems I made a poor choice by going to the AV Lounge). The food offer was lame, as it usually is at AVs lounges.
I didn't get any word from my mum, and I proceeded to the boarding gate as we were advised to go to board. Usually you get this call when people have boarded and you don't have to queue, but I was thrown into a typical Colombian disorder. I snaked through the queue and in I went to the then-new A320 with sharklets.
Boarding and Departure
AVs narrowbody planes are fitted with Business Class in a 2x2 configuration and a 3x3 Economy Class configuration in the back. All seats are fitted with PTVs and are upholstered in leather. Seat pitch was fair, and the PTV was of the latest technology. On each seat, a pillow and a blanket awaited for their user.
The flight was more or less 3/4 full. Mainly with a mix of Colombians and Mexicans amongst the nationalities (accents of Spanish) I could discern. Once everyone was tucked in their seats we proceeded to Taxi and take off.
Once in the air we had great views of Mexico City's outskirts as we crossed its eastern fringes towards the South.
In what felt less than an hour into the flight we were given the option to have eggs or cereal for breakfast. I chose the eggs, and asked the FA for a couple of glasses of OJ. He happily delivered.
As you can see the size wasn't surprising. Taste was okay. Nothing to write home back about.
I didn't see any films on the PTV as I felt too tired to concentrate in watching a film. I set the moving map so I could tell where I was flying over and dozed on and off. The route down to Bogotá is quite fun as it goes along almost all of Central America. The following pictures show Mexico, Guatemala (I think one of the volcanoes in the pictures is the Fuego Volcano that has recently caused havoc in Guatemala) and El Salvador…I definitively fell asleep after passing El Salvador's airport.
When I woke up the green of the Altiplano Boyacense welcomed me into Colombia, landing was impeding.
Arriving around the Noon at BOG means that immigration is fast. Bags took a bit long (as usual) but happily for me they made it through MEX. As soon as I hooked to the network I got a message from my mum confirming that the TSA had my laptop (and now I could rest in peace!). In no time, I was on my way home on a taxi.
Mexico City - MEX
Bogota - BOG
Compared to the previous flight, this one was way better. While the food is nothing special, AV does stand out compared to AM with its state of the art equipment and IFE. The cabin crew wasn't spectacular, yet nice, which is the least you expect. I have tried 3 of the 4 airlines serving the market, and AV takes the lead in my opinion.
Avoid the Avianca Lounge at MEX, unless is the only lounge you can go into...and still I wouldn't spend too much time in there. Is dark and depressing. Enough said about it.
Terminal 1 at MEX doesn't allow for airplane views, and it is a mix of mazes shops and huge holding rooms without natural light. Not my favourite place on Earth and a poor representative of the awesome city it serves.
BOG delivered as expected, I was in a cab in less than an hour from my arrival. And that is just what you want when 24 hours have passed from when you left your hotel.
Thanks for reading this FR, saludos!
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