Programs: AA EXP, United Platinum, SPG Platinum, HHonors Gold
Avianca through BOG
After reading for weeks and gathering tons of information from everybody, I finally decided to post something of my own!
Anyways, I have a trip coming up in the second half of July. Using Delta Skymiles was a chore, since i am trying to do JFK-EZE-IGU-GIG-GRU-JFK. Somehow Delta managed to do it through Avianca, going JFK-BOG-EZE down and GRU-BOG-JFK coming back.
A couple of questions: first, nobody has written for awhile about Avianca's Business class. What should I be expecting?
Also, both legs involve long (9-10 hours) layovers in Bogota. Is this a safe airport to fly through? I know some have said they love the city; is any short excursion possible through the airport?
Let me know what you all think... thanks for your advice!
I flew Avianca Mia-Bog several years ago during the "million mile" promo. Of all the Latin American carriers we flew on Avianca had the best food and service up front. They had two class service then and called it First Class I think.
We had an eight hour layover in BOG also and I had a guide/driver meet us at the airport and take us on a city tour and I chose a great restaurant for an early dinner before our continued flight to Ecuador. It worked flawlessly and we felt safe.
At the time the U.S. said it was the most dangerous city for American citizens. We were low profile and the city and people were wonderful. They have a great "Gold Museum." I've lost her card but you can probably get some info from a travel agent. I'm guessing the two of us spent $150 for the day tour and the dinner.
Programs: Eva Air, Air Asia, Cebu Pacific, Air Phil Express, Tune Hotels, GoHotel.com.ph, Jet Star
Avianca Business Class is good. The food is served in a professional manner. Of all the latin airlines, I would rank Avianca 767 Business Class service among the best. You will enjoy the comfort - however, keep in mind that the 767 product is dated.
As far as Bogota is concerned, the city is fine. You can check all your hand luggage at baggage services (to the left as you exit the terminal). The fee is reasonable and they give you the key. The taxi ride downtown is simple, the cabs have meters and the people are in my opinion among the friendliest in Latin America. Try out some great pizza by the cathedral plaza downtown. Keep all your valuables locked up at the airport and you should have a nice time.
The downtown area is about 25 minutes from the airport. Remember to have your passport stamped "Transito" BEFORE you proceed through customs. There is a transit counter after immigration to your left. No charge for the stamp. You must show onward tickets. If you do this this, you will avoid paying departure taxes.
I'll also be transitting through BOG in December, as I finally get to use some of my GP miles to go JFK-BOG-LIM-BOG-MIA. We'll also have a long layover in BOG, and I was thinking along the same lines of getting an organised tour to the Gold Museum. I've been to BOG before on business, and never had problems, but this time I'll be there with the family, including two young kids. Any advice or contacts would be greatly appreciated.
I flew MIA to BOG on Avianca during my million mile Latin Pass run. Flight , food and service in firest was excellent. Once at BOG, I was given quite a hard time by the authorites, probably based on my strange routing. I had documentation about the mileage run, but they were not impressed. I spent one of the most nerve racking hours of my life there. Personally, I would NEVER take my children to Columbia, nor return there myself. See the US State Dept. warning http://travel.state.gov/colombia_warning.html
Let me start by stating that I may be somewhat biased as my wife hails from Bogota and we go there at least every Christmas to see the family.
With that out of the way, down to Business, at least as far as Avianca is concerned.
Until a few years ago, Avianca were operating a direct non-stop flight from LHR to BOG. Both of us were members of their FF program and we thought it was great. 2 round trips in coach gave you enough miles to upgrade yourself into Business (round trip).
The service was great and the food was nice although as already commented the product was a little old. I don't know how it is now as we haven't flown with them since they fouled up our flights one Christmas.
As for Bogota itself, it is an amazing place. People are generally very friendly and sure there are places you wouldn't go, just like there are parts of London I wouldn't want to wander into after dark.
They Colombian's love their shopping centres (malls?), some of the best are "Atlantis" (in which the Bogota Hard Rock Cafe is located) and "Andino".
The gold musuem is a true wonder to behold and of course you'll find lots of shops with Emeralds as well. You may also want to take the cable car up to Montserrate (not too sure on the spelling) where a church overlooks the city and gives a breathtaking view.
Oh yeah, if you need cash, your best bet are the ATMs from either Servibanca (can't miss them, they're bright green) or Bancafe. These always seem to work, whereas with a lot of the others, their international comms seem rather shaky (at least where our UK based accounts are concerned).
Finally, do use sunscreen and be aware that with the altitude (something like 2,600 metres above sea level) you will get breathless if you do things too fast.
I am flying to Bogota with my son next month from JFK and would like to know if Avianca has priority check-in for business class passengers. I was told that the lines are miserably long and frustrating.
Thank you for the help.
I highly recommend Bogota. It is a terrific city with much improved safety/security compared with just a decade ago. I would recommend using the Bancafe ATMs because I found they worked every time... something that was not the case with other ATMs in Bogota. The food and culture are awesome. Enjoy Colombia!
PS, I am pretty sure Avianca Business pax get priority checkin.