Published on October 25th, 2016 | by Mark Chesnut
AIRLINE REVIEW: American Airlines Boeing 767, Guayaquil to Miami
During my recent trip to Guayaquil, Ecuador to speak at and cover SAHIC (the South American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference), I returned via American Airlines. This is a review of my travel experience.
THE ROUTE: Guayaquil – José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE) to Miami International Airport (MIA); Boeing 767-300; 3 hours, 56 minutes; economy class.
THE DEPARTURE: The Guayaquil airport is modern and pleasant from an architectural and design standpoint. I took a free shuttle from the Hilton Colon Guayaquil hotel (the service operates every hour on the hour, and you just need to reserve ahead of time as a guest), and it’s only about a 10-minute ride when you have a late-evening departure like I did.
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The check-in experience, unfortunately, was not smooth. I tried to use a check-in kiosk, since I only had carry-on luggage, but the machine spit out a form telling me I needed to see an agent. So I got in the extensive line and waited about 10 minutes before a red-coated American Airlines representative pulled me aside (perhaps because I had less luggage than other people in the line) and walked me over to a different set of kiosks, where she was able to check me in. But she then directed me to another — shorter — line for the ticket counter; I was eager to reach the front to find out why for some reason I’d been bumped from Group 1 to 3. But since there was only one ticket agent, the line didn’t move and after 20 minutes I noticed that people who’d been behind me in the longer line were already done with check-in. Other people in my line were questioning and complaining too, and when I pointed out the inefficiency to the red-coat, she pulled me and one other passenger out of the line and placed us at the front of the original, long line, explaining to the other people in the line that it was her mistake.
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“You know,” I said, giving up on trying to find out about my downgrade from Group 1 to 3, “on my previous flights on this trip, I didn’t have to check my bag or wait in a check-in line like this.”
“You don’t want to check your bag?” the red-coat asked.
“OK, you can go!” And off I went to the security line, which was fast, although it is necessary to go through immigration processing upon leaving Ecuador, and they do ask questions.
The lesson here? If you’re flying from Guayaquil airport on American Airlines, arrive early, take advantage of elite status if you can, and be very clear with airline reps from the start.
The departure area at the Guayaquil airport has high ceilings and lots of space, although it’s just one long concourse with limited shopping and diversions. Boarding was on time.
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THE AIRCRAFT: The American Airlines Boeing 767 on this flight had one of the older interiors: small overhead bins and reading lamps but no air vents. The seats, at least, had been updated, and had wings in the head rests. A blanket and pillow, wrapped in plastic, were on every seat in economy class.
INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: Overhead video screens provided inflight entertainment, but I fell asleep immediately and didn’t even see what airline food they served on board (this was a very-early-morning flight).
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THE ARRIVAL: We landed on time at Miami International Airport the following morning. Changing planes in Miami — especially when landing on an international flight — almost always requires quite a bit of walking, as we needed to walk to the Skytrain, then walk more to customs, immigration and baggage claim. Security to re-enter the concourse was close by, but for some reason I always have bad luck with TSA PreCheck at Miami airport, and as usual the PreCheck line was closed (it doesn’t open until 8am, I believe) — so I stood in the regular line, although they did give me a card that allowed me to keep my shoes on.