Hey guys and welcome to the last flight report of my trip to Recife with Azul for the inaugural operation of their A330neo. This time, covering the last sector of the journey, between Campinas and Porto Alegre.
Again, I posted this one originally in AirlineGeeks.com, one of the websites for which I write. My editor-in-chief allowed me to post the FRs I write for them here, as long as I give the link to the original FR there. So click HERE to see the original report ;-)
Also, once I was flying on behalf of an aviation website, it's important to mention Azul granted me the tickets. Routing was as follows:
While booking my POA-VCP-REC-VCP-POA trip, it turned out that, if I took the return flight on the A330neo, there would be no VCP-POA flights anymore on that day. So I had two options: to stay the night in Campinas and take the first flight to POA on the following day, or to immediately return from Recife via Guarulhos. In this case I would return to VCP on the A330neo, and obviously I chose the first option.
This would get me super tired, but it was a no-brainer for an AvGeek.
Then after spending the night in the airside of Campinas/Viracopos Airport, it was time to go back home.
As Viracopos is Azul's main base and hub, there are plenty of time options for most of the destinations, including my home airport, Porto Alegre, even on weekends. Azul's hub-and-spoke model clearly affetects the structure of the airport, since most of the restaurants and facilities are located in the airside.
My flight was in the start of the first departures wave of the day, so the terminal got crowded in little time with the multiple domestic arrivals.
My gate was on the far end of Pier C, so the area was kinda calm.
As I mentioned, this would be my first flight in an A320neo, so I was pretty excited for it.
Azul started operating them in December 2016 as a way to increase their presence in the Brazilian domestic market. Compared to the E195s they had, the operational costs is significantly lower, which allows Azul to increase the agressivity in their routes, competing more fairly with the sorts of LATAM and Gol.
Anyway, as I saw in Flightradar24, the aircraft that would operate my flight had spent the night in Campinas ground, so there was virtually no chance of delays. PR-YRW, named "Fenômeno Azul" (Portuguese for "Azul Phenomenon") was brand new, being delivered to Azul in December 2018, the 20th of an order of 63 A320neos. I believe Azul's gonna have more than 63 A320s in the future, once they've taken over some of Avianca Brasil's A320neos.
And there she was.
In a few minutes, my flight was called, respecting the priorities. It seemed to be full.
My flight on the screen minutes before the boarding was started.
Indeed it was full. I was one of the firsts to board.
In the gate. Each gate in Campinas has its very own, massive structure.
I took my seat, 12E, a middle seat in the emergency exit, which as always offers much more space in comparison to "regular" seats.
Seat pitch in the emergency exit of Azul's A320neo.
Each seat has its own personal on demand entertainment system, but later I'll take a further look at it.
At 08:08 a.m. doors were closed and four minutes later, that is, two minutes late, our pushback was started. At 08:17 a.m. taxi to runway began. At 08:23 a.m. we lined up on runway 15 and in a few seconds PR-YRW was airborne. A left turn succeeded soon, bowing to our final destination.
I tried to take a further look at the entertainment system. It really impressed me. It represents a huge evolution when compared to the 2008 system used in the Embraers Azul operates. The screen is sufficiently big and the system offers Live TV, as well as on demand movies and a flight map. This is not often seen in narrowbodies around the world, particularly in a domestic flight.
Main menu of Azul's A320neo entertainment system.
In my opinion movie options were really sufficient for a one-hour and a half domestic flight. Notice there were options in Portuguese, Spanish and English.
Movie options in the A320neo entertainment system.
Flight map mode is quite similar to the E195 one.
This flight had also Azul Magazine available, which is a pretty interesting and quick read. This edition of the magazine promoted Bonito, a wonderful city in Brazil. I never visited it, but I always heard this town provides unforgettable sights to tourists. Azul serves it with four weekly flights from Campinas.
Our cruise altitude would be 38,000 feet. In a few moments our catering service was started. It was the same we saw in the A330neo flight, excluding the sandwiches. Snack options were a little different though, as they change each flight. Snack options were toasted bread, orange cake, polvilho biscuit and jelly beans. They also offered apples. To drink, options were soft drinks, as well as water and juice. After that, they also served us coffee.
After the service was done, I took a walk to see the cleanliness of the cabin. The aircraft was really clean, as well as the bathroom.
Sink of Azul's A320neo. Aircraft was super clean.
At 09:21 a.m., while we entered Rio Grande do Sul state, our descent was started. An uneventful approach succeeded and at 09:46 a.m. we were landed in Porto Alegre, Brazil's southernmost capital, nine minutes before our scheduled arrival.
After landing, Azul blocks the screens completely to show an announcement of their frequent-flyer program. This may be specially bothering for people who are watching an decisive soccer match, for example. Indeed, I believe this is exactly the reason why they block the screens!
Quickly everyone was deboarded, but I asked to take some photos of the cabin. As most people know by now, the cockpit is the same as in the A320ceo.
The fronts seat have a different headrest color; these are the "Espaço Azul" (Blue Space) seats, which offer more space for the legs under an additional payment.
I really enjoy these leather seats Azul uses.
However, a cabin overview is not the same without the view from the back of the aircraft, isn't it?
As you may imagine, I was the last passenger to get out of the plane. I enjoyed the remote deboarding as much as I could, since from September Azul moved to Porto Alegre's new terminal. PR-YRW would return to Campinas as AZU4059.
Remote operations in Pátio 2 (Apron 2) provided us these nice views. Love it!
Thanks PR-YRW and thanks to Azul for the opportunity!
Overall, a nice experience with Azul, as usual. Loved flying the A320neo for the first time. Azul seems to offer a very competitive product when comparing it to the mainline operations that Gol and LATAM offer. That said, I still prefer the comfort of the Embraer, once I've pretty much grown flying the E-Jet!
Cabin: The leather seats are comfortable and have headrests, while the Embaer doesn't count with it on its seats. Also, the aircraft was clean. It was brand new, after all, with half an year since its delivery.
Cabin crew: Happy and attentive.
Entertainment: This entertainment system, as I said, is a huge step when compared to the one the E-Jet uses. Touchscreen screens, much bigger, and with on-demand service. In a domestic operation, this is rarely seen.
Catering: The Azul domestic standard. I like it, but thankfully I don't fly very often, otherwise I would quickly get tired of the same options every single time.