Welcome to another Retro FR. This time covering my last time visiting my second family in Panamá, back in '08. My mum's best friend used to live there, and she is like a second mum, and her daughter like a sister for me. I used to spend summers there until they moved to Europe. For this trip time my mum only managed to get mi Business Class seats, no problem for me! It was a special trip as it was the last time I was visiting these special friends and as AV was replacing their MD83s for Airbuses it sure was the last trip on a MD83 for me.
Check in was swift on AV's dedicated zone for Business passengers. I wasn't handed any invitation for AV lounge nor told about it. I knew it was technically possible for me to go there anyway, and so I went. At the entrance the lady at the front desk was unsure about me being there…but after checking out they let me in…
AV's lounge at the International Pier was recently refurbished at the time, and AV took great proud on it. But it was really lame. It was just a pretty place, but with little space and poor offerings of food and drinks. No relevant pics taken, sorry.
The tarmac from the Lounge.
I was called to the front desk, where a lady was waiting for me and rushed me into the plane. I was practically the last person to board. I reckon their logic is for you to spend the most time at the Lounge…but I would have rather be the first at the plane. Oh well..
AVs MDs had these generic Business Class seats, nothing extraordinary.
We were handed either OJ, water or bubbly, I chose the former. While trying to set it on the table I managed to spill it all over me and the lady besides. Shame level: 10000.
As I was one of the last people in, taxi was in no time for me.
BOG's old terminal and ATC tower…soon to be just a memory.
DAE's F100s were a novelty at the time, they quit Bogotá about three years ago and I think they've kicked the bucket too.
It's impressive to notice how much things change in 6 years… at that time these three airlines were competitors. Now TACA doesn't exists, and the two remaining airlines are on the same airline alliance. AV's F100 used to be so common.
Nice room at the bulkhead, I carried so much junk that time, but they didn't say anything about that bag.
Take off from RWY 13R, immediate bank southwards towards Soacha an eventually heading NW
Check out AV's terminal, Puente Aéreo, T-tails were the norm before the Airbus came to AV's fleet.
Now over Bogotá…now this hasn't change as dramatically…bummer.
Cruising over partly cloudy skies.
The Magdalena River with the town of Ambalema, Tolima (?)
Even when sent on routes over 2 hours to Lima and Miami and even doing jumps between JFK and Barranquilla, AV's MDs didn't have any IFE at all. It was bring your own IFE those days. So, Umberto Eco and music for me. Not a big deal as the flight to PTY is really short.
Then service begun. I thought it was really good for a flight under 2hours.
In no time the islands that point that arrival into PTY was imminent were in view, followed by the army of ships and then skyscrapers…welcome to Panamá!
We landed on RWY 03L, a first for me as all previous time landing was on RWY 03R…taxi to terminal took its time but permitted to spot more of PTY.
This must have been one of the original buildings at Tocumen.
The terminal was deserted at AV's arrival time. All of CM's 737s were crossing America's skies.
De-boarding, Immigrations and Customs were done in no time. But the good timing was marred by my friend being late because of Pamamá City's horrible traffic. I was even scared because she took almost 2 hours to get to the airport and I had no way to communicate. Thankfully nothing bad had happened.
Bogota - BOG
Panamá City - PTY
AV's Lounge was really lame. For me it was ok, being a new experience, but it was well known that among experienced travelers the lounge was thought of as a dump.
AV's Business Class...OK for a short trip to Panamá. Catering was nice and seats confy. The crew was practically unmemorable and didn't do anything that made them stand out. Same service level as behind the curtain.
BOG was despicable, even when holding a soft spot in our hearts, at the time. PTY was horrid for arriving passengers...I still think it is that way though.
Thanks for reading this retro-FR, Saludos!
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