8 Initial Thoughts On Avianca Business Class

Over the past couple of days I’ve flown Avianca business class from Los Angeles to Madrid (via Bogota), as one does. Yesterday I shared 10 pictures of my Avianca business class experience between Los Angeles and Bogota. From there I connected onto a Bogota to Madrid flight.

Avianca-787

I’ll start publishing the full trip report in a couple of days (when I get back to the US), but in the meantime I figured I’d share eight details of the Avianca business class experience which I found interesting:

Where’s the gin?

When I visited Colombia a couple of months back, I was really impressed by the gin & tonics which I was served in many places, which reminded me of Madrid.

I was a bit surprised when I boarded my Los Angeles to Bogota flight, only to find that they didn’t offer gin. Instead they only serve gin on transatlantic flights. That seems a bit random, since gin isn’t necessarily more expensive than the other liquor which they did offer.

Avianca-Gin-Tonic

No blankets for takeoff

There are lots of airlines out there with specific safety rules. For example, Singapore Airlines requires window shades to be up for takeoff. Cathay Pacific won’t serve hot beverages when the seatbelt sign is on.

Well, Avianca won’t let you use the blanket while taxiing, taking off, or landing. You literally have to take it off you and put it on the floor. That was a first for me.

Avianca-Blanket

Clapping on landing

When landing in Madrid, just about everyone in economy clapped. It has been years since I’ve been on a flight where people clapped.

Avianca-Economy

Delicious cappuccinos

While Avianca may not have had gin on the Los Angeles to Bogota flight, they did have one of the best cappuccinos I’ve had on a plane, which would easily earn a spot on my list of top hot beverages available in the sky.

Avianca-Cappuccino

Is that really the order in which service is supposed to happen?

The Los Angeles to Bogota flight departed Los Angeles at 10:15AM, landing in Bogota at 7:30PM. The menu indicated that there was a lunch service and then a snack service.

So I was quite surprised when we took off and I was offered a small sandwich, and then my tray was cleared. The “lunch” was served 90 minutes before landing, at around 6PM in Bogota.

That’s the first daytime flight I’ve taken where the main meal wasn’t served after takeoff. I wish I had planned accordingly, since I was busy in the morning and boarded rather hungry.

Avianca-Food

A Colombian parting gift

There are a few airlines which give a small gift on landing in premium cabins, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was offered some packs of Colombian coffee on landing in Madrid. I thought that was a nice touch.

Avianca-Coffee

Inconsistent service

On my first flight the service was terrible, probably the worst I’ve had in a long time (along with my Oman Air flight from Muscat to Frankfurt a couple of months ago). The flight attendants were extremely uninterested and inattentive. When I asked for a refill on my glass of wine during the first service, the flight attendant audibly let out a sigh and rolled her eyes. That was a first for me.

Meanwhile on my second flight the crew was top notch. Not only were they more attentive, but they were actually friendly and hospitable.

Avianca needs a new chef

There’s no polite way to say it — Avianca’s food sucks. Their catering reminds me of domestic food within the US. The chicken breast on my first flight was one of those super white square patties, while the salmon on my second flight was dry as could be. The meals were well intentioned, but just fell short.

Avianca-Business-Class-Meal

Those are my first thoughts on Avianca business class — stay tuned for the full trip report!

Comments

  1. Completely agree on every point!

    The Avianca business class seats were also pretty nice…and IFE was decent but needs a bigger selection of movies.

  2. Ben, in Lan ( now Latam), the always pull the shades up during landing, and also they dont let use the blanket during takeoff or landing. Maybe its a latinoamerica regulation?

  3. But what did you expect ” douche bag” given its a third world airline as you have so kindly put it!

  4. I cannot understand people clapping on landing, what’s the point? I have only encountered it on tourist inter Europe flights.

  5. @Paul Rowland-
    It’s mostly ethnic travelers who are returning to their homeland or to where their relatives live. It’s very common on any route that’s dominated by ethnic travelers. Try a NYC-Puerto Rico or Dominican Republic flight and you’ll experience the same thing. I’d imagine there’s a large portion of people on BOG-MAD flights who are this same type of traveler. These are people who DONT travel often and for whom a trip like this to visit family probably was something they saved for for a long time and represented a tremendous sacrifice to achieve. It wasn’t just a hastily-arranged pleasure trip or an opportunity to try a new service, but for most (and not all, there’s definitely some business travel too on MAD-BOG) it’s a rare event. Theyre happy to be there and they’ve achieved something for themselves. So, yes, it is a big deal for them.

  6. I’m a very frequent flyer with Avianca, and swear by them. The greatest benefit is that Lifemiles Diamond members get guaranteed upgrades to business class on all flights if there is a seat, with exception to the Bogota-London and Bogota-Madrid route. It’s truly fantastic. Having said that, many of your comments ring true. On the service, it’s generally good but the last time i was on the LAX-BOG route it was truly terrible, so maybe there is a pattern. On the food, Avianca differentiates between “regional” flights (within Western hemisphere) and transatlantic flights. They recently contracted Jorge Rausch, a renowned celebrity Colombian chef (presenting Master Chef at the moment on national TV), to design the transatlantic business class menu, and i must say it has been a great improvement and generally for me i have found very tasty. But the regional flights are pretty mediocre. However, if you originate Avianca in Lima, the food is spectacular (inheritance from the merge with TACA). Having said all that, try the economy food! Anthony Bourdain’s eyes would burn even upon looking at it.

  7. There are times when clapping on landing can be appropriate because it was not certain that you would actually make it to your destination.

    I’ve had one where Alaska/Horizon IRROPS had us board and deplane 3 times across 2 days before we made it to Seattle.

    On another one, freezing fog caused low visibility at the destination. The flight was delayed multiple hours. It was Thanksgiving day so the airports were shutting down early. When we did take off they told us there was only a small chance that we would actually get to land at our destination and most likely would have to divert to an airport that was a 3-hour drive away. So when we did get to land at our destination, clapping ensued.

    I would have clapped on landing if I was on Lucky’s RJ flight from hell.

  8. “That’s the first daytime flight I’ve taken where the main meal wasn’t served after takeoff. I wish I had planned accordingly, since I was busy in the morning and boarded rather hungry.”

    Did you ask anyone about this???

  9. OMG! No gin? I would never fly on an airline that had no gin. This is a huge deal. How will I rise after brushing my teeth? The only way to be an informed consumer is to read this blog.

  10. I flew Avianca frequently LHR BOG and the business class catering they had out of London was superb. Other routes seemed more hit and miss, but between that and the hard product I’d easily choose them over BA for South America!

  11. @Paul Rowland: aren’t most people who fly tourists at least on one leg? get off your high horse.

  12. I’ve flown numerous times to/from Manila, Philippines and passengers always clap when landing. I thought it was weird the first few times but I’ve gotten used to it. I think the passengers (including me but no clapping here) just want to express their appreciation for making it to the destination safely. Nothing wrong with that.

  13. I frequently fly Avianca on the MIA-LIM route on their A330 Business Class given their extremely competitive pricing vs LAN and AA. On this 5 1/2 hour flight they have a pre-departure (non-alcoholic) beverage, drink service with the lunch (so I’ve learned to ask for a cocktail and a glass of wine) and then 90 mins before landing a bag of yes, potato chips as the ‘snack’ service. The F/A’s then disappear–No refills on drinks (unless you make your way up to the galley, and then be prepared for blank stares). Your comments on the food and drinks are spot on!

  14. “flight attendants were extremely disinterested”

    They weren’t taking bribes? Or perhaps they were uninterested.

  15. Dr. Ryan Ryerson here. Medically speaking, stress becomes concentrated in the palms of the hand, especially at high altitude. People thus have an intuition to clap their hands to relieve said physical stress due to flying and also emotional stress when they see douchebags like Ben Schlapigg.

  16. Disinterested means impartial, not uninterested. I know there is a movement to accept the “uninterested” version because so many people trying to sound smart use it, wrongly.

  17. I’ve only flown Avianca departing from Lima, and though it wasn’t that bad. Slightly below LAN standard but still decent enough. Took a TAM flight departing Montevideo two months ago, now that was bad….

  18. The seats look very similar to the new Finnair A350 seats? Those turned out not be very popular, once the initial wow had worn off.

  19. Why are people such angry trolls? “Let me read the article and then bash every observation made about his travels” Hasn’t experienced clapping in years – documenting his experience. No gin on one leg – making an observation about the difference in service based on TRAVEL direction on his TRAVEL BLOG. I hate everyone

  20. I was on Avianca between 2/26-3/8/2017… 10 flights….. Service and meals were excellent….. planes were clean.. in fact, spotless!! The crew was very attentive and the food was great. No clapping.. Shades up….Unrelated to Avianca… that airport in Pierera, Colombia needs to be BULLDOZED…. that makes LaGuardia look like Dubai……….in any event…. I find Avianca superior to AA, UA and Delta…..

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