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Hey guys! After flying domestically with LATAM, now it was time to fly Gol – my first flight with them since January 2015.
The two flights I'll write a report about were made in August, but no changes happened since then.
Again, this was a quite simple roundtrip to São Paulo. I was invited to a LATAM event. Since they didn't give me tickets to São Paulo, I had to buy them by myself, and Gol had the best deal.
When the century started, Gol was founded, bringing to the Brazilian domestic market the low-cost/low-fare concept. In a country where people were leaving poverty and getting to the middle class, the airline was quickly a huge success with its low fares, and in a few years found itself in a duopoly along with TAM - currently LATAM Brasil.
However, some years before the 2014 recession Gol started to struggle financially. The airline found itself in a situation where it had to massively reinvent itself, otherwise it would quickly go bankrupt. Making the long story short, they decided to improve its service to conquer the corporate passenger.
That's why I was excited to try their improved service. When I last flied Gol, in January 2015, the airline was just starting this transition.
The LATAM event would be really quick, on Thursday morning. I was afraid to take an early flight and lose the event due to a small delay, so I chose the last flight on Monday night. The last flight to Guarulhos was with Gol anyway, leaving Porto Alegre just after 11.
I arrived at the airport with a sufficient antecedence to print my boarding pass, even though I had already issued mine through the Gol mobile app. There was no line, since my flight was the last operation of the day and I was one of the last passengers to check-in.
Anyway, I soon noticed there was no need to rush. According to the departures panel, my flight was delayed. Actually, there was not a single Gol aircraft at the airport. The next to land, according to FlightRadar24, was PR-GTG, and there was still some time left.
Meanwhile, I waited a little on the airside until the arrival of the aircraft at my gate.
Indeed PR-GTG would fly me to Guarulhos. It was the seventh 737 delivered to the airline directly from Boeing, joining the fleet in October 2006.
At 11:06PM, four minutes before STD, boarding was called, respecting the priorities and groups order aswell. The flight was pretty much empty, so boarding was really quick. I believe there were a little less than 100 passengers, while Gol's 737-800 have 186 seats.
Given the light occupation, I asked the FA to change seats in order to get closer to the engine and my request was instantly granted. Doors were closed at 11:21, with a small delay of 11 minutes, and pushback was started a minute later. Taxi started at 11:25 and, without much traffic, at 11:29 the aircraft lined up on Porto Alegre's runway 11 and the captain applied full throttle to the engines.
I prefer flying during the day, but night take-offs are always nice.
In a few moments the seat belt signs were turned off and at 11:53 onboard service was started. Unfortunately the buy on board service was not available for my specific flight, so I couldn't try them. What a setback!
I would not stay that hungry though. Gol offers a mixed service, offering both paid and free options. The free option consists of small snacks and soft drinks, while the paid service are more ellaborated. So even though there was no buy-on-board, passengers still had onboard service.
There were three snack options, all of them made by Mãe Terra, a company that produces sustainable and healthy snacks and food here in Brazil. Of those, two were sweet and one was savory. I was starving, so I took one of each and kinda liked it. To drink, I took a Coca-Cola and some coffee.
I really find this mixed service to be interesting – in theory, at least. A shame I couldn't try the paid food, though.
With the low load-factor, service was ended soon, even though a turbulence zone interrupted it for a few minutes. It's important to mention the FAs were in an amazing mood, serving every passenger with lots of lightness, despite the terrible time of the flight and despite of the delay. A very positive point, as I always like to say, that makes a big difference to the passenger experience.
Though the aircraft had been operating uninterruptedly for Gol since 2006, the cabin was very well-mantained. Some years ago Gol changed the interiors of its whole fleet, installing leather seats and power outlets. The result was very positive, giving a vitality feeling to the cabin. Also, the seat pitch looked good.
Some details of the lavatories showed the age. Nevertheless, the cabin was very clean and fresh, nothing to complain about.
In terms of entertainment, Gol's magazine was available. In my opinion, this is the best publication between Brazilian airlines.
More importantly, "Gol Online", Gol's entertainment system for mobile devices, was available. In recent years, Gol has invested a lot to add this system to its fleet. Just as LATAM Play, it counts with on-demand content. blive streaming of TV channels. Besides this, it even counts with live streaming of TV channels and with paid wi-fi.
I didn't want to try the system because I was really tired, but nevertheless I could log in without any issues. It's important to mention the Gogo Entertainment app must be downloaded before the flight.
Anyway, there are lots of options available. As I mentioned on the LATAM report, the streaming system is interesting for the airline, simpler/cheaper than personal screens and not so bad to the passenger, now that everyone has a mobile device.
At 12:16AM, the captain started the descent to São Paulo/Guarulhos Airport. The cruise altitude was 37.000 feet. While the aircraft approached São Paulo, the city lights got more and more intense.
Even though departure from Porto Alegre was delayed, at 12:53 we landed in Guarulhos, two minutes before STA.
After the quick deboarding, I took some photos of the empty cabin. These seats are visually much better than the old ones.
PR-GTG does not count with Sky Interior, but still the cabin had a pleasant aspect. Gol really seems to be commited on maintaining its fleet at a high level.
A very cool detail: on the front row, Gol exhibits photos of the Brazilian fauna, describing the animals shown in each picture, a very interesting way to promote our biodiversity.
After leaving the aircraft, I got into an empty departures hall. Guarulhos has very few domestic flights during the wee hours. Now I would have a long night before the LATAM event started…
Thanks for reading this report and stay tuned for the next one! :-)
Cabin: the new seats are really good, seat pitch was nice and cabin was really well-maintained. PR-GTG does not have the Sky Interior, but you can't have everything in life!
Cabin crew: they were wonderful!
Entertainment: the streaming service seemed to work well, though I didn't use it.
Meal/catering: free snacks were good, but the lack of BOB was a huge setback.