Hello, and welcome to this flight review. For my recent work trip to Mexico, I took Avianca both ways as it is my airline of choice, and I can score some extra miles. The Bogotá to Mexico City route is incredibly busy, with there being three airlines operating this route. Outbound, Avianca operates a 787 in the morning, an A330 in the afternoon, and an A320 for the redeye. Aeromexico operates a 737 in the morning, a 787 in the afternoon and a 737 for the redeye. Meanwhile, low cost carrier Interjet, operates 3 flights with more or less the same schedule in A321NEO's. What's most impressive is that all of the times, the flights are all full! In my case, there wasn't a seat free on my flight.
I checked myself in, went through passport control and found myself in front of my ride for today, N781AV. A 5 year old Boeing 787-8, which was delivered new to Avianca back in October 2014. It was the second 787 Avianca received, today they have 13 787-8's 5 in order and 2 787-9's in order as well. Avianca's 787's are laid out with 28 lie flat seats in business class in a reverse herringbone configuration, 27 premium economy seats, and 200 seats in economy, meaning that when full, it takes 255 passengers. It is lower than standard 263 passengers, something you can notice with more legroom. This are used in flights to Europe mostly, however high demand medium haul routes in the Americas have an exception to this, hence we see 787's flying to Mexico City, Santiago de Chile and New York. Beside it, you could see an Interjet A321NEO, headed to Mexico City as well.
Soon enough, I boarded and found myself in a confortable, spacious and clean seat. Again, as an avgeek, I still think that the game changer of any 787 flight will be it's gigantic window, which in this case allowed me to very clearly see a LATAM 787 which had landed from Santiago de Chile earlier this morning, an Avianca A319 about to depart towards Orlando, a Delta 767-300 about to depart to Atlanta, the lovely terminal 1 building in the morning, the huge RR Trent 1000 engine, and the sumptuous 787 wing which had some condensation in it, I assume from it's arrival from London as AV121 in the wee hours of the morning. This plane, like most of Avianca's fleet, is already equipped with WiFi technology.
After a seemingly long taxi to runway 13R, we took off, veered south, then northwest, and climbed up to the particularly high cruising altitude for today, 43 thousand feet. At this point, the seatbelt sign was turned off, and the breakfast service began. Rather unfortunately though, I had breakfast at the ground as I was dying in hunger, so I couldn't take two breakfasts. However, there was an option of a full breakfast which considered of eggs with cheese and ham, toast, coffee, fresh fruit and orange juice, or a "light" breakfast which consisted of a granola and a parfait yoghurt. My seat neighbor who was very friendly, ate the full breakfast which he described as "very tasty, disregarding the fact that the man who cooked it doesn't know about the existence of a chemical compound known as salt."
Throughout the rest of the flight, I did some work, talked with my seat neighbor, and before we new it, we were descending towards Mexico City's Benito Juárez International Airport, known as "the worst airport in Latin America" as you are to confirm when you fly there. The descent started long before any normal descent as you can see in the first picture, I guess because of our rather high cruising altitude for the flight. The WiFI worked perfectly throughout the entire flight until we were around 90 seconds from touching down at Benito Juarez International. At that point it was turned off. The crew did several rounds throughout the flight offering some small snacks like nuts, water, juice tea or coffee.
Another very special quirk in the Avianca 787 which to me was brilliant, was a loo with a view! I don't think we see this often anymore, but it is always nice to have it. This one is stuck right between premium economy and business class of this 787.
Then, at around 25 thousand feet the stunning Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuacatl volcanoes marked the final phase of our approach into Mexico City. The view was amazing. Soon enough however, the Mexico City smog came to greet us. We then flew over the PEMEX oil refinery, Polanco, the Bosques de Chapultepec park, the Aztec football stadium, the "La México" bullring, and finally entered final approach for runway 05R.
On final approach for runway 05R, I saw this Aeromexico 737, which was waiting to take off through runway 05L bound for Miami, an Interjet A320 on its stand, and a Viva Aerobus A320 in a remote stand. After the smooth touchdown, we vacated the runway and finally taxied to the terminal. The flight with Avianca was excellent, the crew was nice, the 787 is a game changer, WiFi helped work, and the seats were perfectly confortable. However, things got worse once I stepped off the plane. It was doing 90 degrees outside, yet there was no aircon in the airport, there were thousands of persons waiting for the passport control in an everlasting line, there were low ceilings, it was horrendous. Then the fact was that because of Mexican law, airlines cannot give out customs formularies onboard the aeroplanes like most other countries do, so the few tables with customs forms were caotic as hell. After 45 minutes, when I finally reached an immigration officer, he was incredibly rude, even ruder than a JFK officer that was terrible a couple of years ago. After all the normal stuff, he asked: "do you bring drugs?" I of course answered "no", he then said "you're Colombian aren't you?" to which I answered "yes", then he said "how come you're not bringing drugs, you're Colombian!" I was whopped, I couldn't believe my ears. I did not know what to answer, and I just asked "is this a standard procedure? It is my first time in Mexico, and this is you receive all of the foreigners who are arriving to Mexico for their first time? I feel very welcome to Mexico, and I will tell my friends about my lovely first impression of your country, thank you!". Of course this wasn't a very emotionally intelligent and I knew it, however naturally I was furious, I think a guard may suspect, inspect, ask further questions, but this is just unacceptable under any standard. Fortunately every other Mexican that I met throughout my trip was not like this guard. Then, upon arriving to my hotel, I found my bag with a paper saying "inspected by the Mexican Federal Police", which I would say is an inaccurate message. What it should've said is "destroyed by the Mexican Federal Police" as it was a complete midden inside it. I had carefully packed all of my tailors, ties, shirts, and shoes I were to use in the next couple of days in my work trip, only to find them carelessly repacked, full of wrinkles and completely ruined. On the upside I spent some time ironing whilst I saw "La Rosa de Guadalupe" in my hotel room. Whilst ironing I saw that in their carelessness, they completely ripped apart one of my blazers. I contacted the Federal Police, and complained about my experience. They replied that regarding the bags they had the complete right to do so, and regarding the ordeal with the immigration officer they did not comment. To round up, the experience at Benito Juárez International Airport was a very bad one, as the airport itself.
The flight was fantastic and totally recommendable, at El Dorado Airport I had a nice experience, however I didn't at Benito Juárez International Airport where I was appalled by what happened with an immigration officer.