Review of Transportes Aéreos Guatemaltecos (TAG) flight Guatemala City San Salvador in Economy

Flight 5U 215
Class Economy
Seat 7A
Aircraft Embraer ERJ145
Flight time 00:25
Take-off 11 Feb 24, 20:10
Arrival at 11 Feb 24, 20:35
5U 6 reviews
jettoajet
By GOLD 309
Published on 20th February 2024

Intro


Following a terrific time in Guatemala,  it was time to head to the airport. After having lunch at my favorite spot in Antigua, I called an Uber to the airport (38$ at the time). I left a lot of time for the airport as I heard the TAG was strict about when you had to be there, more on that later. 


how I booked this ticket


When searching for the best ways to get from Guatemala to El Salvador I came across a couple of different options. The one I planned to fly originally was Avianca. However, I decided against this for two reasons. Firstly, I will fly them multiple times next month, but when will I get to fly with TAG again? Secondly, even though it says 65$ one way, you have to pay extra even to check in at the airport, ridiculous. I ended up booking this fare with TAG for 92$ OW in economy. 


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Since I only had a small backpack and had to make that redeye in San Salvador, I decided on the light fare. 


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Overall, for the price, this is the best way to get from Guatemala to San Salvador. Unless you don't care about being able to select a seat or check-in, in person. 


check-in


I arrived at the airport 4 hours before the flight's scheduled departure. For a minute, I was convinced the check-in counters might be closed as I couldn't find them. Once I looked a little harder I found them in the back right-hand corner. For a national carrier, it seems like they got the wrong end of the stick. 


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Considering there was only one other flight this afternoon (going to Flores), it was empty at this hour. 


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I strolled up to the counter, where they verified my passport and I was on my way to security. It was a breeze, to say the least, and the staff were very welcoming. My original thoughts started to change on the airline here. The boarding pass was on the less aesthetically pleasing side, but another memory to pin to the wall.  


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On the way out from check-in, I came across their route map for those who are interested in flying them! 


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Security took a little longer than expected with everyone from the Madrid flight going through at that time. 2 lines for an A330+ other flights 😒, you just have to be in a go-with-the-flow mood. In total, it took about 20 minutes before I made my way to passport control to get my exit stamp!


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guatemala airport


With about 2 hours and 40 minutes to kill before the supposed boarding time, I had to figure out how to kill some time. Good thing I am in my type of heaven, an airport!

I took a seat by Gate 3, gazing at planes taking off and landing! 


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As well as a couple of SAAB 340s, one of which I was supposed to be flying…


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I did happen to see the landing of the Iberia A330 from Madrid while talking to my mum on the phone! Iberia operates a triangle route from Madrid- Guatemala City- El Salvador- Madrid. 


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Getting closer! 


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Soon enough it was 5 o'clock and the same agent that checked me in arrived at Gate 3. She let us all know (5 people) that there had been a gate change to gate 5.

We all scurried along to Gate 5 and patiently waited. It came around 6:30 pm and there was no announcement for boarding. This meant I went over to the counter and asked what was going on, where I got a classic response of, the aircraft being delayed. I managed to meet this nice guy from Denver and we watched the Super Bowl during the delay! Life is what you make of a situation.

I did manage to see the Iberia A330 depart. 


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boarding


Finally, at 7:50 pm we started boarding, and all of the anxiety of the flight getting canceled left my mind. Excitement replaced it. Naturally, I had been waiting in line so I could get some good cabin shots.

My boarding pass was scanned and I made my way down the jetbridge. 


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And down the second jetbridge, to find a blocked door. 


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After realizing there was a small open doorway I had to go down, I came across our plane for the night. We had an aircraft swap from a SAAB to an ERJ 145, not the end of the world but I was over the moon to fly the SAAB.


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I politely asked one of the ground staff if they could take a picture of me. People here are so friendly, he loved that I wanted a picture!

It was beautiful to see an ERJ under the moonlight, all lit up. Proceeding onwards I made it to the top of the stairs to board Billy (our plane tonight).


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Where I was greeted by the same cabin crew member who was at the gate earlier. 


the cabin


The cabin on this old ERJ aircraft is arranged in a 2-1 configuration. 



Upon first glance, this cabin is ancient. In some ways though, it felt like a piece of the good days of aviation (not that I remember or was around for those).

There were overhead bins, which were extremely small. This is something to consider if you pack your belongings in one of those big roller carry-on suitcases.


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I stashed my small baby red backpack overhead. I'm not quite sure why I stashed it so far forward, not that it mattered since there were only a total of 7 of us onboard today. 


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After taking some photos, I sat down in my seat at 7A. The legroom, I would estimate, is the standard pitch of American carriers (30). 


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Looking over to the right I saw a pair of two empty seats which piqued my interest, I always like to have more space if possible.


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I decided to move over, where I found myself with ample space for this short hop. Much more comfortable than a middle seat on Avianca 😅.


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There was a button on my left armrest that allowed me to recline the seat, although I didn't test it out this time. 


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And a tray table that popped down. Plenty big enough for a laptop if work is your priority. Just don't expect Wifi, these planes are older than me! 


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Lastly, there were overhead individual air vents!!! Yes TAG, big points here for you! 


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departure


At 8:01 pm the captain came on to announce our immediate departure, and our flight time of 26 minutes to El Salvador tonight. We pushed back a minute later. 


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When departing East to West, Guatemala City doesn't have a taxiway, which means having to go the length of the runway and do a U-turn. 


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We can all see there is a light on the wing right? What about the other wing? I could be wrong but isn't there supposed to be a light like on the other side?


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We took off at 20:10 local time departing southwest. 


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I apologize for the blurry photos, the windows were extremely dirty. 


in flight service


About 7 minutes after takeoff, the FA came around to offer us a choice between water or soda. I chose water as I had to stay hydrated for my long layover. 


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 Frankly, I wasn't expecting anything on this flight. So to see at least a beverage service offered was better than nothing. 5 minutes after I received my water, we started our descent into San Salvador.


arrival


We had a moderately bumpy approach into San Salvador since I was sitting at the back of a small aircraft, I'm sure I felt it the worst. We touched down at 20:36, just 26 minutes after takeoff. 


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Hello, country 75! 


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Where we had a brief taxi to our gate, passing by some special livery of Avianca. 


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De-planing was efficient, especially with no jetbridge, and it was time to say goodbye to flying with TAG Airlines! 


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Before long I was through immigration, and transiting back to check-in (more on that in a future post).


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Thank you for reading! If interested in reading more about Guatemala feel free to check out my blog jettoajet.com

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Verdict

Transportes Aéreos Guatemaltecos (TAG)

6.0/10
Cabin6.5
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment/wifi4.0
Meal/catering6.0

Guatemala City - GUA

7.0/10
Efficiency6.5
Access7.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness7.0

San Salvador - SAL

8.1/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

To conclude, I would say that the flight had its ups and downs. While it was delayed, an old aircraft, and I'm not so sure about the light on the wing. There were also some great blasts from the past such as being able to fly an ERJ 145, getting some incredible shots, and an empty cabin which in turn caused more efficient boarding and a free beverage service. I would fly on them again if given the opportunity, only to fly on old aircraft.

Related

5 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 644761 by
    NGO85 SILVER 1972 Comments
    Thanks for sharing this FR! A unique 5U experience on an ex-CO ERJ, looks like they didn’t even bother changing the seats^^ That said, definitely the more exotic choice than the more common AV or Y4 options.

    Does IB sell tickets for the GUA-SAL segment? Must not be a fifth freedom flight.
    • Comment 644763 by
      jettoajet GOLD AUTHOR 71 Comments
      Thanks for reading, it was certainly a unique experience! I tried to book the Iberia as well but wasn't able to book just that segment so my guess is no. Would have been nice to try them out, albeit a short flight. I didn't know it was an ex-CO aircraft, thanks for the information!
  • Comment 644803 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6719 Comments
    Now that's an exotic report! I haven't seen a review on TAG in years, very cool.

    Security took a little longer than expected with everyone from the Madrid flight going through at that time. 2 lines for an A330+ other flights 😒, you just have to be in a go-with-the-flow mood.

    Ugh, yeah I def don't have any patience anymore for slow security. I'm too used to TSA Pre-check or at least having Fast Track access. Good thing you got to the airport as early as you did.

    We had an aircraft swap from a SAAB to an ERJ 145, not the end of the world but I was over the moon to fly the SAAB.

    Yeah, an ERJ 145 is not as exciting.

    Upon first glance, this cabin is ancient

    Hah ancient is right. And it's so obviously an old Continental Express interior. I remember finding those seats super cushy and comfortable back in the day, and always loved the 1-2 configuration. I imagine the cushioning has been crushed to all hell after 20+ years of butts in seats hah

    Also pretty cool to have had such an empty flight, kind of gives you that private jet feel...minus anything remotely fancy in the interior haha.

    Thanks for sharing!
  • Comment 645124 by
    p747 4 Comments
    Hi there, nice report of this unique airline!!

    Where we had a brief taxi to our gate, passing by some special livery of Avianca.



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    I've been trying to fly this aircraft while still in Costa Rica. LACSA has a very emotionally deep story among Costa Ricans. However, it's difficult to predict when AV will deploy it from SJO to somewhere reasonable for a quick escape.

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