This trip report was part of a week vacation in Buenos Aires during Argentinian summer in december 2014. Route schedule and airplane has dramatically changed since then, now AR361 is operated by a regional configurated 737-700 and departure out of BOG is near 1am.
Hello and welcome to my very first trip report. I hope to upload a lot of archived flights soon.
It was march of 2014 and my dad was really decided to took us to Argentina after he visited the country in 2002, i completely encouraged the idea (being a teenager who loved argentinian old-school rock) and we started searching for deals. Some agencies offered tickets + hotels in a very reasonable price, and the best part of it was the fact that tickets were sold from Aerolineas Argentinas. (I always wanted to fly them, since i found the "condor" livery so fancy and it was a complete new flag carrier for me)
We waited until september to buy the package but by the time tickets changed and now flights were operated by LAN, flying into a very uncomfortable schedule. (BOG-LIM-SCEL-EZE) It was something like 14 hours betwen airports and flights, as an avgeek it was a hard to decide if i wanna flew with LAN and meet a lot of diferent airports or finally fly with aerolineas argentinas. Guess what? The avgeek teenager doesn't take that decisions for the family and my father prefered to search another option to get into Buenos Aires.
Fortunately by searching with a popular latin ticket search engine, the cheapest way to get to Buenos Aires was by flying with Aerolineas Argentinas. (Even cheaper than LAN and their impossible itineraries). By the time Aerolineas Argentinas was launching also their very "new" A330 in the BOG route along with JFK and MIA. (Both long-hauls with the exception of BOG) so the expectations were growing as the days go by.
Finally the day arrived and we went to "El Dorado" really early (At about 3PM), queues and lines are not that longer at the airport but we were flying with some friends and it was "better" to avoid any inconvenient. It was a typical december sunny and clear day.
At the airport we were almost the first in make part of the aerolineas argentinas line, even the check-in employees were there. (Employees ont the desk were closing another flight before leaving)
El Dorado at early noon its not that busy, there are some "big" flights like Iberia to Madrid or Air France to Paris, but they are almost the unique big flights of the hour. This huge corridor its international check-in area.
National area check-in for LAN Colombia and Avianca.
By the time new El Dorado terminal was only two years old and it was not even finished. This was my second flight out of this terminal since then. Security and immigration was fast, meaning that i had almost 3 hour for spotting!
As i mentioned before this isn't BOG rush hour, however there is good movement of national flights.
EC-INO "Gaudi", Iberia first A340-600 received by the company in 2003.
Next to him, a Copa 737 bound for Panama City. Also some Central America based Avianca A319 arriving.
At the end of the terminal our gorgeous A330 who has just arrived from Buenos Aires.
Next to us, a little copa embraer departing for Panama City.
I dont know where the Air France flight was, but i guess it departed on time. (It was strange to AF423 to had a on-time departure with their troubled A340 and altitude problems at BOG)
At the other corner of the terminal the US-Bound gates, which has these glass divisions.
Time passed quickly and it was almost hour for boarding. I headed to the gate and time passed and passed without any sort of announcement. We almost stared boarding at the time of scheduled departure (7:00pm).
LV-FNL, a 14 year old aircraft delivered to Air Afrique in 2000, flew with Calliope, Eurofly, Atlas Jet, Saudi Arabian, (again) Atlas Jet and finally Aerolineas Argentinas since december of 2013.
At the door we were greeted by some experienced Aerolineas Argentinas flight attendants, all the crew (at least in economy) was similar.
First impressions of the cabin were fairly good. Aerolineas Argentinas retrofitted these A330 and they were almost like new, seat pitch was amazing and padding was also quite good. (Old school kind of seats). At the seat there was waiting a good quality blanket (still at home), a pillow and also a pair of good quality earphones. (for economy standards)
Flight was not that full (like 60% occupation) so boarding was really fast. We ended departing not that late.
Out of BOG, heading south. A330 has a good performance in Bogota compared to A340s. (Or at least this is how it seems)
All the blue lights are christmas lighting of houses.
Bienvenue à bord! Aerolineas doesn't fly to any francophone country but they had the option to be choosen in the entertainment.
Cabin after take off. That day was the first match of two for the final of "Copa Sudamericana" (One of the most important soccer events in South America), and it was disputed betwen River (Argentinian team) and Nacional (Colombian Team). Pilot gave the welcome aboard announcement and moments later he adverted about the final result of the match. No worries, 1-1, a lot of people chatted and laughed after this announcement. (Only in South America)
Dinner service started 90 min after take off, with the options of vegetable lasagna or beef. Soft drinks, wine and coffee wer also offered.
Though the portion was good (and that says a lot for a hungry teenager), quality was really mediocre. Lentil and salmon salad was still freeze and without any flavor, vegetable lasagna had a lot of raw pieces of carrots, brownie and bread were paperboard quality.
Kudos for the crackers with cheese cream (which became a breakfast in Buenos Aires before getting in to a hotel room at 1pm) and the individual parmesan cheese cup.
After dinner coffee and tea service was offered, and don't get confused by the fact that it's a Colombian originated catering so the coffee should be good. Until today it's one of the worst coffees i ever tasted in the air or in the ground.
Lights were dimmed in our section, but for some reason in the front seaction "party" was still on? Aerolineas has a peculiar mood-lighting by the way, my family still remember this plane as the "disco plane".
Talking about the AVOD system, it was good in terms of technology (this kind of screen was really new by the time) but poor in content. Movies, series and music doesn't completed the 50 options in total.
Points for the USB plug at the screen as i could listen to my mp3 music all the flight.
Flight was really smooth and it was a really clear night. You could easily view out every village with detail from the window and the stars.
Over Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Party doesn't ended yet and 90 minutes prior to land in EZE, a snack service started. (How nice for a 6 hour red-eye flight!)
This time chocolate mousse saved all the bad appreciations previous. It was delicious. "Cheese" sandwich however was still "cardboard" quality with a tiny slice of cheese.
We started descending towards Buenos Aires with the same calm of the entire flight, and we quickly were in to a foggy "porteña" night.
Landing was smooth and we taxied in to a very lonely Ezeiza at 3am local time.
We were the unique flight at the time and immigrations and baggage claim were faster. The day for us only started here, since we were able to check-in in to the hotel at 1pm.
Thank you for reading this report, hope you liked. Expect for the return leg in another A330 together with some Buenos Aires photos.
Aerolineas Argentinas it's not a 5 star airline, catering was mediocre, cabin crew just did their job with any extra effort and entertainment was poor, however it was nice to experiment a flag carrier airline with nice retrofitted a330.