AviancaTaca

Review: Avianca 787 Business Class Bogota To Madrid

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Boarding was announced at 8:50PM, starting with passengers who needed extra time boarding, followed by business class. That ended up being a bit of a mess, because they boarded the groups right after one another, even through the cabin crew wasn’t ready for passengers yet. So we ended up waiting for about ten minutes on the jet bridge before we were able to board.

On this flight the entire plane boarded through the forward left door, meaning everyone walked through the main business class cabin, consisting of five rows.

However, on this flight I had reserved a seat in the mini cabin, which consists of a total of eight seats, spread across two rows, in a 1-2-1 configuration. In general I prefer mini cabins, especially those towards the back of business class with the lavatories and galleys in front of them, since they have the least foot traffic.

I also took a quick glance at the economy cabin. While 787 economy cabins are tight (they’re in a 3-3-3 configuration), the cabin otherwise looked pretty decent.

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Review: Avianca Diamond Lounge Bogota Airport

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We pulled into the gate at Bogota Airport at around 6:45PM, while my connection to Madrid was at 9:43PM.

On the jet bridge there were two Avianca employees waiting for me. They didn’t speak any English, though fortunately I speak a little bit of Spanish. They explained they’d take me to the lounge.

I’m not sure whether I was getting this treatment because I was connecting to one of their “premium” flights in business class (everyone else in business class seemed to be staying in Colombia, based on observing everyone else taking an immigration form), or if they figured out I was reviewing the flights (if that’s the case, I figured the service would have been significantly less bitchy on the Los Angeles to Bogota flight). Anyway, just passing on thoughts, and you guys can decide.

The friendly Avianca employees walked with me towards the security checkpoint. There was a long queue there. Unlike my Air India first class experience, there were no line cuts here, but rather they just waited in line with me. That was almost a bit awkward, since they didn’t speak English, and I don’t speak Spanish well enough to (voluntarily) have a conversation.

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Review: Avianca 787 Business Class Los Angeles To Bogota

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I got to LAX at around 7AM for my 10:15AM flight to Bogota (I figured I’d arrive a bit early to try and beat rush hour, since I had a lot of stuff to get done before the flight anyway). Avianca departs from Terminal 2 at LAX, which nowadays seems to be the secondary international terminal, after Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Avianca’s check-in was located towards the far end of the terminal, and since I arrived quite early, it was still fairly empty.

The premium check-in was located at the far left, and there was no queue as I arrived.

“You fly on da plane to Bogota today?”
“Yep!”
“Where your final destination?”
“Madrid.”
“In eh-Spain?”
“Yes ma’am.”
“And you fly to da Bogota first?”
“Yes.”

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Introduction: The Long Way To Spain

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At the beginning of the year I vowed to review as many new business class products as possible, and in particular named 16 airlines I was eying. I’ve been doing everything I can to review as many of these airlines as possible, and as I’ve gone through the list, I’ve tried to figure out how I can knock out several carriers at once.

I started planning this trip in late March, where I saw an opportunity to fly to Madrid, traveling on Avianca in one direction, and on Aeromexico in the other direction.

I started planning this trip when I noticed that Avianca was allowing passengers to redeem miles for travel between the US and Europe via Bogota. That’s quite a detour. The great thing is that Avianca flies the 787 to Los Angeles, which features their reverse herringbone product. From there I could fly another 787 from Bogota to Madrid, allowing me to experience two fairly long flights in Avianca’s 787 business class.

I booked the following routing:

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8 Initial Thoughts On Avianca Business Class

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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.

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:

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.

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Avianca 787 Business Class In 10 Pictures

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Good morning from somewhere over the Atlantic! By the time this post publishes, my Bogota to Madrid flight should slowly be approaching Europe. Yesterday afternoon I flew from Los Angeles to Bogota in Avianca’s 787 business class, before connecting onto this flight.

As I’ve been doing lately, I figured I’d share 10 pictures of yesterday’s Avianca flight from Los Angeles to Bogota. I’ll be publishing the full trip report very shortly, given that I’m writing it “live” as I take these flights, so it will start being published within the next week.

But to amuse you guys in the meantime, here’s a 10 picture teaser:

As you can see, Avianca has an excellent reverse herringbone business class seat, which is perhaps especially impressive for an airline based in South America. They’re the only airline based in the region to have reverse herringbone seats, as far as I know.

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Review: Avianca Lounge Cartagena Airport

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We checked out of the Sofitel at 2PM, and then headed to the airport for our 3:42PM flight to Bogota. Once again we were flying economy on Avianca for the quick hour-long flight.

While Bogota Airport is modern, Cartagena Airport is a bit past its prime, and also lacks amenities. Fortunately the check-in and security process was quick, so we found ourselves in the departures area about 15 minutes after arriving at the airport, with 30 minutes to go until boarding was set to commence.

Avianca has a lounge in Cartagena which belongs to Priority Pass, which we were able to use. It’s open daily from 4:30AM until 11PM. While the lounge in Bogota was rather underwhelming, in this case the terminal wasn’t as nice and was also more crowded, so by comparison I figured lounge access would be more valuable.

The lounge can be accessed by business class passengers, Star Alliance Gold passengers, as well as Priority Pass members. As a reminder, the following US credit cards offer Priority Pass memberships, and are a better value than paying for a membership outright, in my opinion:

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Review: Avianca Domestic Lounge Bogota Airport

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Our Miami to Bogota flight landed at around 2PM, and then our connecting flight from Bogota to Cartagena was at around 4:30PM. We cleared immigration, and then headed to the domestic terminal, where we cleared security. The security officers were among the friendliest I’ve had in any country. They actually seemed to be enjoying their jobs, which is quite rare.

We were flying on Avianca from Bogota to Cartagena, and they have a lounge in their domestic terminal. It can be accessed by business class passengers, Star Alliance Gold passengers, as well as Priority Pass members. As a reminder, the following US credit cards offer Priority Pass memberships, and are a better value than paying for a membership outright, in my opinion:

— The Citi Prestige® Card comes with a Priority Pass membership, and you can take two guests or immediate family members for free
— The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express also come with a Priority Pass membership, though only the cardmember can access the lounge for free; additional guests cost $27 each

The one restriction to note is that per the terms, Avianca only lets Priority Pass guests in between 6:30AM and 4PM, and then between 7PM and 10:30PM.

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Should You Buy LifeMiles With A 125% Bonus?

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Avianca LifeMiles has had surprising few bonuses on the purchase of miles lately, something which used to happen every other month. Well, they’re finally back with their latest promotion.

LifeMiles is offering up to a 125% bonus on purchased miles through May 31, 2016.

LifeMiles is offering:

— 2x miles if you purchase 2,000-50,000 miles
— 2.15x miles if you purchase 51,000-100,000 miles (additional 15% bonus)
— 2.25x miles if you purchase 101,000-150,000 miles (additional 25% bonus)

LifeMiles ordinarily cost 3.3 cents each to purchase, so if you purchase at least 101,000 miles during this promotion (pre-bonus) you can buy LifeMiles ~1.47 cents each, when factoring in the 125% bonus.

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Am I Crazy For Flying To Spain Via Mexico And Colombia?

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At the beginning of the year I wrote a post about the 16 airlines I want to review in 2016. You guys have asked for me to review new airlines (especially in business class), so I’ve been doing what I can to check out new carriers.

So far in 2016 I’ve reviewed the following new products:

— Air France business class
— Air India first class
— Finnair business class
— Hainan business class
— Iberia business class
— LAN business class
— Oman Air business class

On top of that, I recently booked a trip from Los Angeles to Auckland on Fiji Airways in one direction, and Air Tahiti Nui in the other direction. That means I’ll be flying from Los Angeles to Nadi to Auckland on Fiji Airways, and Auckland to Papeete to Los Angeles on Air Tahiti Nui. With that trip I’ll be checking two airlines off my list which don’t have flat beds in business class.

I’m now working on planning trips which will allow me to review more airlines, so have been trying to figure out the best way to pair the remaining airlines on my list. For me, the ideal opportunity is to do two segments on one airline, so I can get a better sense of how the product is, in the event that one flight is an outlier.

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LifeMiles Offering 100% Bonus On Transferred Miles

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Avianca’s LifeMiles program has just announced that they’re offering a 100% bonus on transferred miles between February 9 and February 23, 2016. Obviously this is only useful if you have an existing LifeMiles mileage balance, since you can’t transfer miles you don’t have.

LifeMiles charges 1.5 cents per transferred mile, and you can transfer up to 75,000 miles per year (before the 100% bonus). In other words, transferring 75,000 miles would cost $1,125, and you’d receive a total of 150,000 miles in the account you transfer to. At a cost of 1.5 cents per generated mile, that’s not a half bad deal.

This used to be the best method to generate LifeMiles, given that with a 100% bonus the cost to transfer miles is 1.5 cents each, while the cost to purchase miles is 1.65 cents each (the costs used to be the same, but in 2014 LifeMiles raised the cost to purchase miles by 10%). However, lately we’ve seen LifeMiles offer several bonuses on purchased miles of more than 100%, including the following:

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FINALLY: LifeMiles Now Allowing Mixed Cabin Awards

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Avianca joined the Star Alliance a few years back, and their LifeMiles program is one the most useful frequent flyer programs out there. They frequently sell miles at a discount, for as little as ~1.32 cents each. They’re probably the most aggressive airlines out there about selling miles, and their offers seem to keep getting better.

The program hasn’t been without problems, though. For a couple of years they blocked virtually all Lufthansa first class award seats. That has recently been changed, and it’s once again possible to redeem LifeMiles for Lufthansa first class.

But perhaps the single biggest pain of booking with them has been that LifeMiles didn’t allow mixed cabin awards, which is an absolutely ridiculous policy. In other words, if you’re flying Lufthansa first class from Boston to Frankfurt, you couldn’t connect in economy or business class on an intra-Europe flight. That’s despite the fact that there’s no first class cabin on those flights.

The policy is entirely non-sensical, and they’re the only program I know of which doesn’t let you voluntarily “downgrade” a segment of your award, either based on availability, or because the flight actually doesn’t have premium cabin award availability.

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My Bad Luck Booking Awards On Saudia, Avianca, And Aeromexico!

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In 2016 I want to review a lot of new airline products on the blog. And I’m off to a good start, because in the next month I’ll be reviewing Finnair A350 business class, Air India 777 first class (twice), and Hainan Airlines 787 business class!

This morning I was getting ready to book my next trip, where I was going to fly from Los Angeles to London the long way.

On the outbound I was going to redeem 60,000 LifeMiles for Avianca business class from Los Angeles to Bogota to London, and on the return I was going to redeem 62,500 FlyingBlue miles for Saudia business class from London to Jeddah to Los Angeles.

So I opened up two browsers — one for the outbound and one for the return — with the intent of ticketing them both around the same time. But then when I got to the ticketing page, I was informed the Saudia award would cost 150,000 miles rather than 62,500 miles. Grrr, I guess the pricing of 62,500 miles one-way was in fact a glitch.

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Last Chance To Buy LifeMiles With A 150% Bonus

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Avianca’s LifeMiles program has been offering a ton of promotions lately on the purchase of miles. Perhaps their single best publicly available one yet is at the moment, whereby they’re offering a 150% bonus on purchased miles regardless of how many you purchase. While they’ve offered a 150% bonus in the past, you had to purchase over 100,000 miles to take advantage of the deal (meaning you had to spend $3,300+), which was quite a barrier.

If you want to take advantage of the 150% bonus on purchased miles, you have about a day left to do so. To take advantage of the 150% bonus promotion you have to register by December 14 and purchase miles by December 15, 2015.

This promotion is being offered in conjunction with Brazilian frequent flyer blog Passageiro de Primeira. To take part in the promotion you have to enter your LifeMiles number on this page. Then within 24 hours you’ll automatically be eligible for the 150% bonus.

When you log into your LifeMiles account you’ll automatically see the 150% bonus reflected, giving you the opportunity to purchase LifeMiles for 1.32 cents each. Just give it some time, as it can take up to 24 hours for your account to be updated with the better offer.

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