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Hey everyone and welcome to my last report with Gol, this time flying Business (!!!) between São Paulo/Guarulhos and Porto Alegre.
Yeah, lots of exclamation points after Business. For a single reason; in theory, Gol does not offer Business class in domestic operations!
I'll try to explain it.
Observing the historic of my return flight on FlightRadar24, I saw the most recently-delivered aircraft of Gol's fleet were assigned to that flight quite frequently. So, right before boarding I went to the self check-in counter to verify the seatmap of my flight. Something called my attention: the aircraft had 33 rows instead of the standard 31 that Gol has in their 737-800.
I talked with a very attentive check-in agent that confirmed I would fly in one of the "Indians".
With the grounding of the 737 MAX, Gol needed to emergencially lease some 737-800s from other airlines to keep its growth plan for 2019. Of those, six came from the just-bankrupt Jet Airways, from India, and that's where the nickname comes from.
These 737s couldn't have the cabin changed to the Gol standard in time, so they came basically as they were left by the last operator. In the case of the ex-Jet Airways, then, they have Business class seats, which is very uncommon in Brazilian narrowbodies.
I didn't even think twice and asked to the check-in agent to reserve a Business seat for me. The price was really unbelievable: BRL33 (USD7.80 as of November 26, 2019), because these seats are sold as a regular "Gol+ Conforto" seats with increased pitch. I got 1F, one of the eight available.
Right after the payment, I went directly to the gate, since the flight was already boarding.
I would fly with PR-GZG. A little bit less than 10 years old back then, it had already flown on behalf of four different airlines. According to Airfleets.net data, it was delivered originally to Air Berlin in December 2009, flying there until January 2011. The following month it was transfered to Pegasus Airlines from Turkey, where it flew until October 2017. In December it then started to fly for Jet Airways in India. With the airline near its collapse, it was returned to the lessor this February. In June, it finally arrived to Brazil.
View from my window
Despite the long list of airlines GZG previously operated for, the cabin was really well-mantained, it looked like it was new.
Well, in terms of comfort, I could not complain. Indeed, I was seriously needing to stretch my legs. I had spent the night awoke and that had been an intense morning.
It's important to mention this seats are sold as "Gol+ Conforto" or, in international flights, as "Gol Premium". You gotta be lucky to catch these, though; they are not fixed in any specific route.
The Brazilian animal exposed in this aircraft was the xexéu (Cacicus cela).
The flight was on-time. At 3:33PM, 12 minutes before STD, doors were closed. A relatively short taxiing to the runway suceeded and ten minutes later PR-GZG took-off from Guarulhos.
I was really tired, so I reclined my seat (by the way, reclining was great) and slept a little bit. I slept very well, since the seat was super wide. However, I slept to much and when I woke up the onboard service had already past from my seat.
So I called the FA and kindly asked her to bring the snacks, a Coca-Cola and some coffee aswell.
I asked the FA about the buy-on-board service. She said only the snacks were available. The hot dishes were not available again, so I prefered not buying anything. The crew seemed to be more distant than in my other flight.
An interesting detail of my seat was this built-in cup holder.
In spite of my long nap, I still had time to go to the lavatory. Seat pitch was so big that I could "jump" to the aisle without bothering my seatmate. Again, the aircraft looked like it was new, very clean and well-maintained.
Brazilian Civil Aviation Authority classifies the seat pitch as "C" class. I believe they refer, obviously, to the Economy class seats.
Of course this aircraft didn't have the "Gol Online" system for mobile devices. So the only entertainment option was Gol's magazine, that, as I mentioned on my last report, it's the best between the airline magazines in Brazil.
An uneventful flight succeeded, cruise altitude was 40,000 feet. At 4:40 descent to Porto Alegre was started and at 5:05 we landing on Porto Alegre's runway 11.
After the quick deboarding process, I took some pictures of the empty cabin.
The Economy seats resemble to Gol's standard leather seats, but it looks like those seats are more cramped.
Anyway, it doesn't seem that bad. In my opinion, if it wasn't for the Business class, the cabin shouldn't even be changed, given the similarity between the Economy cabins.
As of the Business seats, GZG had only two rows with four seats each. Really comfortable, well beyond of what we're used to in Brazil.
The seat is wide and counts with an adjustable headrest. Near the armrest, there are three buttons that control the reclining and the legrest position.
After the pictures, it was time to go home. After a long day, it was invigorating to fly Business domestically in Brazil!
These two flights were great. The service on Business seats is the same as that on the Economy seats, since they are sold as normal Economy tickets. Anyway, it is unbelievable that the airline charged me only BRL30.00 (USD7.80) for a considerably superior product. Of course flying one of these requires luck, but I can say it was worth each cent.
As of Gol's domestic product: they really improved in recent years. Since this brand/product repositioning, the standards are much higher. That "mixed" onboard service is a nice concept they brought to our market and I liked it. It's a shame that hot dishes were not available on both flights, and this is something they could work on. Also, "Gol Online" seemed to be a very cool entertainment option - of course it was not available on the second flight because they had no time to install it, but still.
Anyway, I got really impressed with Gol. They still got some homework to do, but it's not for nothing they're now the largest airline in terms of corporate traffic in Brazil; the product evolution was very clear for me.
Cabin: super comfortable Business class seats for an unbelievably low price? I'm all for it.
Cabin crew: they seemed to be distant. A shame, because the crew from the first flight was wonderful.
Entertainment: not installed on the aircraft for obvious reasons, but Gol's magazine was available.
Meal/catering: I liked the "mixed" onboard service concept, but no hot dishes available for the second consecutive time...