Published on March 1st, 2016 | by Mark Chesnut
AIRLINE REVIEW: Avianca Airbus A321, Cartagena to Bogota
My on-going consulting work with Great Value Vacations recently brought me to one of South America’s most interesting vacation destinations, as I help the GVV team to develop exciting new Colombia vacation packages (the consulting I did with them for Panama has resulted in some really great deals that include airfare and hotels, so stay tuned for some cool options for Colombia, too).
After several busy days of hotel site inspections and research tours in Cartagena, we hopped on an Avianca flight to continue our work in Bogota. This is a review of my flight experience.
THE ROUTE: Cartagena (CTG) to Bogota (BOG) Colombia; Airbus A321; 1 hour; economy class
TRAVEL TIPS: LatinFlyer’s airline reviews tell it like it is!
THE DEPARTURE: The Cartagena airport is relatively small, which makes for a fairly easy travel experience for domestic departures (international departures can be another story; I once had to interact with no fewer than 13 people once when I was flying from Cartagena to New York City). We reached the check-in counter and checked in all three passengers in about 12 minutes, and the security processing line took about 10 minutes (you don’t have to take off your shoes or remove your computer, and there are no liquid restrictions).
The domestic departure area at the Cartagena is essentially one big room with a few different doors; with high ceilings and lots of natural light, it’s a modern and comfortable space, with a small food court and some decently interesting shops, ranging from the usual souvenirs to — surprisingly — design items from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
COLOMBIA TRAVEL TIPS: Top 5 Reasons to Visit Cartagena
The boarding process was general in nature (rather than my row, zone or group) but went smoothly. There are no jet bridges at the Cartagena airport, so you must walk outside — something that I personally like because it provides more photo opportunities for plane lovers and also selfies (granted, the stairs may be an annoyance at times, especially if it’s raining).
THE AIRCRAFT: The Avianca Airbus A321 was fresh and new-looking. Grey seats had seat belts in a red accent color that matches Avianca’s corporate look; headrests also had “wings.” Electrical outlets between seats made it easy to stay charged up.
COLOMBIA TRAVEL TIPS: HOTEL REVIEW: Hilton Cartagena Offers Resort Experience in the City
IN-FLIGHT SERVICE: Flight attendants served free beverages, and inflight entertainment was provided by seat-back video screens at every seat — free access allowed for watching TV, movies and other programming in both English and Spanish, and there’s even a “seat-to-seat chat” feature that allows you to keep in touch with your traveling companions (or maybe meet someone new, if they accept your message). The seat-back entertainment system also has a USB connection that allows for charging and using your own devices.
THE ARRIVAL: We landed on time at the Bogota El Dorado airport, but had to wait on the tarmac for more than half an hour before we could get to the gate. The new airport terminal is handsome and modern, although it was at least a 15-minute walk from the gate to the baggage claim, so travelers with difficulty walking may want to request assistance ahead of time.