The National Airline of Colombia, Avianca, has long been servicing the Americas since 1919, making it the second oldest airline, just a few months younger than KLM, to remain in service. Although there have been problems along the way, as well as having to help repair Colombia’s somewhat previously broken tourism industry, Avianca still manages to maintain a short-haul fleet product that can be compared to the likes of most other traditional airlines. Join me as I walk through the On Ground experience, Seat, Food, and entertainment.
On the ground
Check-in was extremely easy, as well as the fact that this was a domestic flight and so passport details weren’t required. However, the one thing that I would pick up was that seat selection was not free, costing roughly 120,000 Colombian Pesos ($29 USD) depending on the seat. However, I was lucky enough to be randomly allocated the emergency exit row, technically giving me a free upgrade to the airline’s “Plus” seat. Boarding passes were automatically sent to me, and so all I had to do was go through security and get on the flight.
Given the fact that I had been given the upgrade, the seat was really nice. However, this seat felt like what you could normally get as the basic economy seat on an airline like British Airways, and so if I’d sat in the basic seat on Avianca, I would have felt like I was paying for a traditional airline and yet was receiving something you might find on EasyJet. It came with Folding Headrests, something I wished I would have received on my Long-Haul flight to Heathrow that I flew a day later. Because this was the emergency exit row, there was plenty of legroom to stretch out in, but this also meant that nothing was allowed to be stowed on the floor, and everything had to be in the overhead lockers instead.
Food and Entertainment
Food was purchase-only, whereas I would expect at least a light snack to be provided on my flight if I am flying with a legacy carrier, especially due to the fact that some low-cost airlines like JetBlue are offering free snacks nowadays. Despite the fact that some of Avianca’s Airbus A320s are flying flights with routes up to 6 hours in length, there was no seatback entertainment on the flight. Although, it is useful in pointing out that my seat came with charging ports and a phone holder for me to watch my own downloaded entertainment. Avianca also has a feature that allows you to watch some of their films on your own phone, known as “Avianca on Air.”
Overall, I’m not entirely sure that this is a flight that stands out to me, unlike that I had experienced earlier on my trip with JetBlue. Whilst the seat was good and comfortable, I don’t particularly feel that it was worth the extra money to be paid for it, as well as the fact that If I weren’t upgraded, I would be missing lots of the features which came with it. I would recommend Avianca for its short-haul flights. However, If you are on a route within South America which could be up to 5 and a half hours on an A320, I would probably recommend going on LATAM for a chance of a larger plane.
Flight Review: Avianca Long-Haul Boeing 787-8 from Bogota El Dorado to London Heathrow
Having previously flown Avianca in Short-Haul on their Airbus A320 on a domestic flight to Bogota, whilst it was slightly overpriced for the product, My expectations for their long-haul product were not too low. A lack of in-flight entertainment on the previous flight, despite the fact that the aircraft had been used for flights of up to 5 and a half hours, had made me wonder whether the same would apply to the Dreamliner. In this review, I take you through the on-ground experience, seat, entertainment, and food options for Avianca’s Intercontinental Long-Haul product.
On the Ground
Like my previous flight, check-in was easy, with the main difference being that passport details had to be entered because it was an international flight. Seat selection was not free, and I was unfortunate enough not to be assigned the emergency exit row again. It seemed the luck from the previous two flights had worn off. The major difficulty I had with Avianca on the ground was their poor planning regarding aircraft Boarding. A lack of coordination between the ground crew and aircraft-crew had led to passengers stuck standing for nearly half an hour on the jet bridge, something which could have been made better by letting us stay at the gate where seats and charging points were available.
Once we had finally boarded the aircraft, it was time to take a look at the seat. Perhaps the major annoyance was the fact that the sides of the headrest didn’t fold inwards but instead folded down. I felt this was a cheeky tactic to make you want to pay more for business class or premium economy. Legroom was fairly limited, however, the seat did come with a footrest, although it seemed primarily designed for shorter people. The seats did recline, although there seemed to be no adjustment to the IFE panel or tray table for when the passenger in front of you reclined, something which was difficult for an overnight flight when most passengers wanted to recline for sleeping purposes.
Food and Entertainment
The gift of a screaming baby a few rows ahead of me had led to a lack of sleep, and so the IFE system was the best option for reducing irritation. The selection was rather limited, with no categories of films, and so movies were all in a long list. TV shows were also available. However no selection of music, something which often appears on other airlines like Virgin Atlantic or Qatar Airways. Food was rather mediocre, with a midnight meal consisting of pasta with Ham and Cheese and breakfast an omelet.
Overall, with Avianca, it’s probably worth it if you fly on their Business Class product, which seemed cheaper than most when I looked at prices. However, if Economy is your game, then I suggest paying less to go through Lufthansa’s Frankfurt hub, as they run a flight to Bogota using their recently reintroduced Airbus A340s.
Flight Review: SAS A320neo London Heathrow to Stockholm Arlanda
On July 19th, I flew on Scandinavian Airlines System for the first time. My expectations had been set quite low, having flown with only European budget airlines since the start of this year. As expected, my expectations were completely exceeded when I flew with SAS, a brilliant first experience to say the least.
|Route||London Heathrow Terminal 2- Stockholm Arlanda Terminal 5|
|Flight Time||2 hours 25 minutes 06:40- 10:05|
|Baggage Allowance||20KG Loaded Bag+ 7kg Cabin Bag|
|Price||£908 (return)- NB: This flight was the first part of a connecting flight to Bangkok|
Basic flight info (N.B Prices for this flight review will be in GBP and EUR)
Due to Scandinavian Airlines being part of Star Alliance, it departs from Heathrow Terminal 2 (as of August 2023). In order to save time, I checked in online via the SAS app which was simple to use and displayed helpful notifications updating the status of your checked baggage. So I made my way over to the rather long bag drop line in the departures hall of T2 and after a good half hour, dropped my bags off and headed over to security. As my travel partner holds a Thai Airways ROP Gold Card, I was able to reap the rewards and use Terminal 2’s fast-lane security. From taking a quick look at the regular security lane, there wasn’t a big difference at all in terms of waiting times. This could’ve been due to my early flight time of 6:40 AM.
Heathrow Terminal 2’s airside is spacious and well equipped with duty-free stores, restaurants and airline lounges. I didn’t get to use any of the lounges as I was slightly pushed for time, so I headed straight over to my gate, B47. The B gates are quite a long walk away from security, so spare at least 15 minutes.
I arrived at the gate right on time, as I took a seat in the waiting area, boarding was called. Starting with SAS Plus passengers, EuroBonus Gold and Diamond members and any Star Alliance Gold Card members. Then, different boarding groups were called. SAS made the boarding very efficient, with the cabin crew calling “boarding complete” just 20 minutes after it had started.
My first impressions of the cabin were that it had a nice, relaxing colour scheme. The bulkheads had been given a light birch wood pattern that went well with the grey seats. The cabin crew welcomed passengers and showed them to their seats upon boarding and were very friendly. Unfortunately, the cabin wasn’t the cleanest, some discarded tissues were found in my seat pocket.
Now, for the seat review. This was one of the best things about SAS, their seats on the A320neo were surprisingly comfortable. Even though they look as if they lack padding and have thin cushioning, this is just an illusion. The seats were very comfortable, had great legroom and knee-room, were quite wide and had good recline as well.
In the seat pocket was an inflight menu, WiFi info card and a safety card. No airsickness bag or magazine was present. Fortunately, there was in-seat power via a USB outlet and the tray table could slide in and out, both of these were very helpful. Overall, a great seat for a short 2-hour flight.
We pushed back a few minutes ahead of schedule and as the cabin crew carried out the safety demonstration the A320neo taxiied towards the runway. The cabin lights were then dimmed as we reached the runway where the airbus accelerated down the runway and lifted into the skies of London. The take-off felt extremely powerful, so powerful that a few children started screaming.
10 short minutes after taking off from London Heathrow, the cabin crew started the inflight service. At first, I wasn’t going to bother ordering anything, but I took a look at the menu which said that water, tea and coffee are always free & complimentary on SAS flights so I asked for a cup of hot tea. There isn’t much more I can say about tea is there?
Cabin Cleanliness & Loo Review
Although the cabin was brightly lit and had a great choice of design, it wasn’t the cleanest but also not the worst I’ve seen. As mentioned earlier, there were used tissues in my seat pocket and there were specks of grime on my tray table before I scrubbed it off with a wet wipe. SAS’s A320neo is equipped with 3 lavatories, 1 in the front, and 2 in the rear. The toilets were clean and well stocked, in addition to this, they had foot-level mood lighting which was an extra bonus. Apart from the charcoal black toilet, it was pretty standard for an aircraft of this type.
Tip: When flying on SAS’s A320neo, avoid sitting in the last row; row 31. Not only is this row near the toilet, but there is no window and the recline function is also absent.
Descent & Landing
With 20 minutes to go, the captain announced our descent into Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. The cabin crew went around and collected any remaining rubbish and in a few minutes, we were a few thousand feet above Stockholm. From this particular approach path, I found there to be many turns before landing which caused much excitement among younger travellers. After a rather bumpy landing at Arlanda Airport, we taxiied to Terminal 5, where the A320neo parked right next to my next ride. A Thai Airways A350-900 that would take me to Bangkok! We disembarked the aircraft and entered the terminal. Now, for a confusing transfer experience and 3 hours of waiting!
Overall, SAS provided a great flight from London Heathrow to Stockholm Arlanda. The online check-in was simple, the boarding was efficient and the cabin had a nice design. In addition to this, the comfort of the seat and the high standard of service provided by the cabin crew also made the flight more enjoyable. Although my seat pocket wasn’t clean, the rest of the cabin and lavatories were. I would definitely fly with SAS again.
|Recommended?||Yes! SAS is a great airline|
Flight Review: Excellent JetBlue Airbus A320-200 from New York JFK to Cartagena in Extra-Legroom seat
JetBlue’s product can be thought of as truly unique, they are said to be a low-cost carrier and yet have a more traditional feel about them. They connect New York and The US both domestically and with destinations in Central America and the Caribbean. I was originally meant to be flying with them in their standard economy seat, however was lucky enough to be upgraded to their extra-legroom seats, something which perfectly demonstrates the friendliness of their staff which I experienced throughout my journey. Join me as I take a look at the on the ground experience, seats, food and entertainment on board this JetBlue flight to the lovely city of Cartagena, Colombia.
On the ground
With departure from JFK being my first from a US airport, it was nothing short of hectic, something which TSA and the US have a large reputation for. Once we arrived at JFK, we found that the flight had been delayed by about 3.5 hours, something which was just unfortunate and seemed to be due to a problem with the aircraft in Denver a few days prior, causing the whole schedule for the next few days to shift. The one thing which I would say was the weak-point of JetBlue would be the bag-drop process, which was rather confusing. Checking-in can be done online, but as standard with airlines, bag-drop has to be done at the airport. Unlike what I’ve seen before when flying, the bag-drop was on a screen and seemed to be self service, aside from physically putting the bags on the conveyor. Desks didn’t seem to be open until 8 A.M., and so any flights before that had to find someone to help them. TSA seemed to take a while, with a multitude of different queues and checks, with lots of queues being faster or slower than others, so you had to pick carefully which queue to join. The whole ground process took longer than expected, meaning that I would have come close to missing my flight if it hadn’t been delayed. After many hours of waiting, with Terminal 5 (JetBlue’s own terminal at JFK) having excellent views of Runway 04L and 04R where the planes were taking off and landing, we eventually began boarding the plane.
Seat numbers and necessarily provided when the tickets are printed, something which happened to myself, and got me thinking that the flight might have been overbooked. Eventually when I got my seat number, I found that the airline had given me a free upgrade to their extra-legroom seats, something which I found comparable to premium economy on most airlines. The seat has the most legroom I have ever had on a flight, meaning that I have to fully stretch my hand to reach the in-flight entertainment screen, something I never knew could be a problem. If you look at the other seats, you can see that the leg room there is really good, and beats what you would get on other LCCs like Norse Atlantic or easyJet. The seats all have a USB power outlet from the IFE screen, as well as a proper socket with a multitude of socket types in-between the seats in-front.
Flightradar24 is telling me that I’m writing this article directly onto the website from 35,000 feet above Jamaica, somewhat of an indication as to how good JetBlue’s free WiFi is. The WiFi has incredibly good speeds for what you can get on-board a plane, allowing me to do pretty much anything like scroll through social media or listen to music online. In 2017, JetBlue became the first airline to offer free WiFi for the entire flight, across it’s entire fleet, meaning that no-matter where you go you can stay connected. The actual entertainment system was also great, allowing you to pick from a large selection of movies and tv shows, as well as having live tv channels including CNN or Fox, although this only seems to be offered when flying over US airspace. JetBlue does still have some of the features which are typically low-cost, and headphones must either be your own or bought from the airline for $6.
Food and Drink
I was expecting the flight to have food which could only be paid for, however certain snacks and drinks seemed to be free. These snacks were rather small, so if you are looking for a proper meal, food can either be bought on-board (at a fairly large cost) or you can of course bring your own food.
To sum my JetBlue experience, I have to say that its been excellent, despite the delay and chaos on the ground. My only criticism is to make the check-in and bag drop process slightly easier, however I feel as if it might have been slightly less hectic had the desks been open if my flight was later in the day. The general friendliness of the staff, as well as the WiFi and comfiness of the seat lead to making my flight one of the best I’ve ever been on.
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