Published on December 1st, 2015 | by Mark Chesnut
AIRLINE REVIEW: Avianca Airbus A320, Panama City to Bogota
I recently did a rather extensive multi-stop business trip around Latin America, stopping in Mérida, Mexico to speak about travel content trends at the LGBT Confex, Mexico’s largest LGBT business and tourism conference, then on to Panama City, Panama with the Great Value Vacations team, with whom I’ve been working as a consultant to develop exciting new Panama vacation packages.
From Panama, I headed on to Lima to cover and moderate two panels at SAHIC: the South America Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference. To get to Lima from Panama City, I hopped on an Avianca plane for a connection in Bogota. This is a summary of my travel and flight experience.
THE ROUTE: Panama City Tocumen International Airport (PTY) to Bogota El Dorado International Airport (BOG); Airbus A320; economy class; 1 hour 20 minutes.
THE DEPARTURE: Departure from Panama went especially well. I arrived at Panama City’s Tocumen airport about two and a half hours before my flight, and only waited about five minutes in line to reach the check-in counter. The security and boarding process was also fast (and since it was a flight to Colombia rather than to the United States, I didn’t have to go through a second security check at the gate).
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THE AIRCRAFT: The Avianca Airbus A320 was divided into two seating sections. Airline seats in economy class had winged headrests, which I love. Free earphones were left on each seat, and there were electrical outlets at every seat. Each seat had a seat-back video screen for inflight entertainment, with retractable remote control and USB connection. The entertainment included games, music, movies and TV shows.
THE SERVICE: Avianca flight attendants — who still, by the way, wear what I think is the most attractive flight attendant uniform in the Americas (especially when they’re on the ground, with hats and capes) — served free airline food on this flight: a choice of beverages and hot sandwich with a “choco-pie” dessert from a company called Orion. One of the advantages of flying a non-U.S. carrier is that you can still actually get free airline food on many flights, even shorter ones like this — no nickel and dining.
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THE ARRIVAL: We arrived on time at the Bogota airport, which has been recently upgraded and was attractive, with decent services in the international departure area; airport gift shops and convenience stores were close to my departure gate, although prices were typically higher than what you’d pay outside the airport. I had to go through a security screening before moving on the connecting gate for my flight to Lima, which did add a bit of processing time to my layover (providing a good reason for not scheduling super-quick layovers in Bogota for international flight connections). Stay tuned to LatinFlyer.com for a review of my flight between Bogota and Lima, which took place aboard a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.