Flight Report : Avianca 16 Bogota - Medellin

Fly or Bus?

The initial numbers looked deceiving. Bogota and Medellin are 250km apart on a straight line but the bus takes over 11 hours through winding mountain roads. Bus travel was not appetizing, so flying would be the way to go. We stuck with Avianca to earn a few meagre points into our Star Alliance awards programs, free checked bag, and for better safety and logistics concerns in case of cancellations or major delays. The price wasn't particularly too much more expensive than LATAM, and I had no appetite to try VivaColombia at all.

Avianca has many flights to Medellin throughout the day, and the search engine showed a duration of just under an hour. While booking my Economy seat, I curiously searched how much would a Business Class seat cost for such a short flight, and was surprised to find it being slightly cheaper. So this is how I got to try Avianca's Business Class product on my first flight with them.

93 Canadian Dollars later and 2 months before departure, the reservation was booked and I was ready to head to Medellin!

Bogota's airport has a new terminal building and Business Class/elite customers can use a dedicated check-in row. There was a short line accummulating but it barely moved as there were so few counters opened. It took a good 30 minutes to finally get served with the boarding pass printed and priority tags attached to my checked bag. No lounge invitations were provided. I guess not many people fly Business Class on these short hops so there is no need to staff the long row of empty counters?

Scheduled Departure : 16:05, Scheduled Arrival 17:02

Not impressed so far, I headed through the fairly quick security line and emerged at a massive duty free shop. Beyond it are a few restaurants and some construction areas.

I wasn't going to give the restaurants my money today. I was entitled to the Business Class lounge.

The Avianca lounge is across from the first gate. The lounge was not crowded, which was probably because of the little food selection available - some finger sandwiches, fruit skewers, peanuts, and drinks. My ginger ale magically came in a sticky glass bottle. There are no washrooms in the lounge so I had to head back out to the gate areas to relieve myself.

Plane spotting was pretty much all Avianca, which was new to me so it looked quite interesting.

Wifi for the airport was spotty, probably due to the large crowds using the facility. The 30 minute limit quickly passed and I had to fight for a spot to log-in again. After having a quick snack and drink, I headed back out to find my gate, which was at the end of the pier downstairs.

With my Business Class boarding pass, I enjoyed priority boarding and found a very comfortable seat in the 3-row premium cabin at the front. These are not the same Economy seats with the middle seat blocked, but nicer leather recliners arranged in a 2-2 configuration. Each seat had a PTV and noise-cancelling headsets were handed out.

Comfortable in my big leather seat, we pushed back for the short flight to Medellin. The in-seat literature had more information about the airline and its routes. The table came out from the side and could befolded into half for a drink and a book.

No movies were available in the IFE but there were some TV shows to help pass the time. It was a long taxi then wait to take-off because the runway was also being used for landings. We didn't get into the air until a good 30 minutes after pushback.

We would only be in the air for less than half an hour. Only drinks were served and Business Class seemed full today thanks to a few of my friends being upgraded from Economy Class.

Medellin's weather was less nice than Bogota and we descended through the clouds into a lush landscape. The city was nowhere to be seen and we touched down at a much quieter airport on time.

This airport looked much older. Priority bags took 2 cart loads to arrive so I had a slight wait to retrieve my suitcase. Then it was an easy hop out the door for the taxi into town.

Avianca was a surprise with a very good hard product for such a short flight. The lounge at Bogota was a disappointment but there are plenty of other food options air-side. Service on board was decent and I would pick flying over the bus any day!

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