Published on March 9th, 2014 | by Mark Chesnut
AIRLINE REVIEW: Gol Airlines Boeing 737, Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia
On the way home from my most recent trip to Rio de Janeiro, I flew Gol Airlines — one of South America’s fastest-growing low-cost carriers — from Rio to Brazil‘s capital city of Brasilia, to connect with a Delta Air Lines flight back to the United States. Gol Airlines will surely play a big role in shuttling around visitors during the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. So if you’re considering a domestic flight in this South American nation, check out this review of my experience.
THE ROUTE: Rio de Janeiro –Antonio Carlos Jobim – Galeão International Airport (GIG) to Brasilia – Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport (BSB), Boeing 737-800, economy class (1 hour, 22 minutes)
THE AIRPORT: Since I was flying internationally (I was taking the Gol Airlines flight as a Delta Air Lines codeshare, to connect to a Delta flight to Atlanta), I arrived three hours before departure at the Rio de Janeiro airport. There was no line at the Gol ticket counter, but an airline representative advised me that I couldn’t check in for my flight until two hours before departure time. (Check out my reviews of Delta Air Lines flights here.)
I later found a separate line for Gol Airlines international check-in, where I was processed quickly — although apparently gold elite status with the Delta SkyMiles program doesn’t count for much on partner Gol Airlines, since I showed my card to the ticket agent and was still not allowed any kind of priority boarding (I was placed in Group 3). My gold status also failed to show on the boarding passes the agent printed for my connecting Delta Air Lines flights (although that turned out not to matter, since I had to go through the check-in process yet again in Brasilia).
The brutalist architecture and basic amenities of Rio’s Galeão remain much the same as always, in spite of supposed upgrades in preparation for the upcoming World Cup and Olympics, and amenities are limited in the Gol Airlines gate area. Boarding was swift.
THE AIRCRAFT: The Gol Airlines Boeing 737-800 features only economy class seating, and the interior and service is in keeping with its identity as a low-cost carrier. An interesting feature: One of the three lavatories on board is reserved only for female passengers — something I’ve only seen on one other airline in Latin America, Interjet (read my review of Interjet inflight service here).
THE IN-FLIGHT SERVICE:
Pillows and blankets on seats: No
Airline seating: Standard economy-class seating, with the only special airline seating in the emergency exit row. For some reason there were no in-flight magazines in the seatback pockets in my row, although other rows did have copies.
Free airline food? No. Gol Airlines offers meals and snacks for a fee. I ordered the Combo Toda Hora combo, which cost 20 Brazilian reais (nearly U.S.$9) and included a cold “natural” sandwich with meat and cheese, a bag of Ruffles potato chips and a can of soda pop.
In-flight entertainment: None
THE ARRIVAL: The Brasilia airport is relatively modern and pleasant for arrivals. Even though I was connecting to another flight, however, I still needed to leave the gate area, proceed through baggage claim and go upstairs to check in again at the Delta Air Lines ticket counter for my connecting flight.
MORE AIR TRAVEL TIPS:
• How to Get the Best from Latin America’s Low-cost Airlines
• AIRPLANE VIDEOS: Airlines & Plane Spotting in Rio de Janeiro
• Class Conscious: Are All Airlines Created Equal in Business Class?
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