Review of Avianca flight Bogota F. Lauderdale in Economy

Airline Avianca
Flight AV 36
Class Economy
Seat --
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 03:45
Take-off 04 Mar 10, 10:05
Arrival at 04 Mar 10, 13:50
AV   #64 out of 142 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 92 reviews
Chibcha
By 3232
Published on 2nd April 2014
Hello everyone! To continue with the throwback thursday series, this time I bring a trip to Ft. Lauderdale in Southern Florida.

Back in the day, AV was receiving their new airbuses, those were happy times, positive times. Avianca was changing for good. From being bankrupt to a thriving airline, with state of the art airplanes and whats even more, an improved service with PTVs in Y and all. All my flights with Avianca had been either domestic flights or short internationals to Panamá (which is as long as a flight to the Caribbean coast of Colombia), so I never had the wholesome Avianca experience before. I did once, when 3 years old but I don't recall much other than flying a B727, when I flew for the first time to MIA with my mum. So the chance came, and again I was traveling to Miami with my mum for this new experience, it was really exciting.


It is customary when traveling with my mum to have breakfast at the Crepes&Waffles Restaurant. It had a nice view to the former cargo apron, now the site of the new International Terminal. An A332 basking in the morning sun.
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One of the greatest features of the former terminal was that one could do nice spotting from the public area, the main domestic airlines of the time in the house:
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I loved AIRES' livery…what a shame its gone.

We then went to the gate, but our plane wasn't there yet. It was eventually towed into the gate. It had a commemoratory sticker for AV's 90th anniversary.



Once in, the new interior was awesome ( I like more AV's new interior with the gray leather seats…the fabric ones are indeed a bit to drab).
AV's seat was (and I consider it is still) one of the best in America. The footrest was a nice addition but I seldom use it, and it has been removed as far as I know.
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SATENA's Embraer to somewhere far in the Orinoco or in the Amazon regions.
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AV still had 757s, never had the chance to fly in one of those…bummer.
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We taxied to RWY 13L…in the meanwhile, the PTVs showed this… I was: OMFG we won't have PTVs for the flight, but my mum (who had already flied on an airbus) was like don't worry honey, it's normal).


Take offs to the US eastern seaboard are northward in BOG. Anything to the West involves a southward departure. So this time pics are different from other reports I've done.
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El Salitre Business Centre is discernible…it was a polluted day
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80th St and Bogotá's signature smog
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Córdoba Marsh and 116th St.
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Looking to the zone between 127th and 100th streets, the Usaquen and WTC business districts are visible on the foothills of the Cerros.
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134th St, Bogotá's Country Club is visible in the middle.
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Portal Norte zone, and the 170th St intersection with Autopista Norte
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El Rancho Country Club
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Autopista Norte, links Bogotá with the Boyacá Department.
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Briceño, Cundinamarca. The golf course of Aposentos urbanization is visible.
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Between Boyacá and Santander Departments
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Clear blue skies for us…clouds for those bellow.
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Barranquilla's Ernesto Cortissoz Airport.
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And Barranquilla…sadly not the best view of Colombia's Golden Gate
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Then service begun…either Chicken or Beef…Mum went for the beef, I went for the chicken. It didn't taste to anything, had to pour industrial amounts of salt to give it some flavour.
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BTW for those who are wondering, AV serves practically the same on their transatlantic routes. A bit lame compared to what's served on European carriers or in Delta.

Jamaica
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Over …eh I'll go with Cuba.
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I remember that in the good days of yore pilots would tell us when we where over some point of interest…now we must rely on this:
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Sadly the huge Tupolev over the map doesn't let you really tell where you are…practically somewhere near Florida and far from Bogotá.

So after Cuba, the Bahamas come…it's the most beautiful sea I've ever seen. Everytime I pass over there I think of Enya's Caribbean Blue
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This is my favorite feature of AV's IFE. I consider they do have a good music selection (way better than their movie and TV selection) and the jukebox function is the best I've tried so far.
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Then there was this message over the PA, that since we were less than 30m from landing, FAA regulations did not allow for anyone to stand up. This bin got opened and I didn't dare to stand up to close it, I called for someone from the crew to close it but they were serious about the bin. No one closed it and we landed with that thing open, what a reckless safety threat, I would have surely sued AV if an object fell over me because of that.
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I hoped for an eastward arrival into FLL which would have allowed for some nice views of SoFL's extensive suburbia and sprawl eating the Everglades…but we lined up with RWY 27R so an ocean approach it was. At least we had decent views of Ft. Lauderdale's CBD and Port Everglades.


We parked at the H gates of Terminal 4 (FLL's only international terminal) besides an Air Canada junglejet
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N416AV at the gate
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We were in the FIS in no time, and we were just before Spirit's bank made it back to its hub. It was fairly piece of cake. Bags were picked and ourselves too by my great-aunt and so begun my little escapade to Miami.
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Verdict

Avianca

8.1/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering7.0

Bogota - BOG

5.6/10
Efficiency7.5
Access5.0
Services5.0
Cleanliness5.0

F. Lauderdale - FLL

9.5/10
Efficiency8.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

This flight was a nice try on AV's (back then) new airbus service, it was a huge improvement from their previous product, and I insist, on the hardware level it's one of the best in Latin America. Some details marred the good part: Film+TV selection sucked, AV's crew is consistently lame and gives me a bit of shame/pity when they attempt to communicate in English. The food was beh.

Bogotá's old terminal was OK if you didn't have to deal with the morning and late night banks, FLL flight's schedule made that possible. I guess one just made up with what was available.

Ft. Lauderdale is an awesome alternative for arriving to South Florida, waay much better than Miami. The downside, from the aviation geek perspective, is that traffic over there is rather lame. Nothing compared with how impressive it was to arrive to Miami when little and one could see that awesome variety of airlines from all over America (from little boeings from central america and the caribbean, huge widebodies from Argentina and Brazil) and a myriad of European carriers....MIA now is only AA, LAN, AV and CM...along with a pair of European carriers. But FLL is even worse, Spirit, Southwest and some other CO(UA nowadays) and DL jet.

Thanks for reading, saludos!

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7 Comments

  • Comment 104607 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Gracias por compartir este reporte de antaño.

    FLL is less congested than MIA but you are right about their lack of international players. However, in my experience, I have always found the agents there to be much friendlier than the ones at MIA.

    What did you get for dessert with your meal? A small cookie or cajeta?

    • Comment 291364 by
      Chibcha AUTHOR 432 Comments

      Indeed, people in FLL seem to be in a happier place than MIA's. CBP agents are light years nicer.

      Dessert was a Cocada...like a cajeta (in Colombia we call it Arequipe or Manjar Blanco) with coconut milk and pieces. AV tends to hand typical Colombian desserts on their fights, this time one hailing from the Caribbean.

    • Comment 291377 by
      jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

      I have found cocadas at Publix supermarkets in MIA. During Christmas time I go back to MIA to get my supply of Spanish turrones. ;)

  • Comment 104634 by
    KL651 TEAM 4476 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.
    I agree with you on Aires livery, it was really original and good looking.

    Your final grade is pretyy good given the average crew and bad food, guess the IFE really was important!

    The light blue of the sea on you pictures is almost surreal, never saw such a light shade before.

    • Comment 291372 by
      Chibcha AUTHOR 432 Comments

      Both IFE and the seat were really impressing, maybe that contributed to the grade.

      The crew is not bad, the problem is that they don't go the extra mile for you...at least not the most of times, supposedly that's something we Colombians are known for.

  • Comment 106304 by
    ma1234 1 Comments

    Really enjoyed the report. Confused though by your comment that MIA is served by a pair of European carriers. It is served by 14 European airlines.

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