Published on June 6th, 2017 | by Mark Chesnut
AIRLINE REVIEW: United Airlines Boeing 737-700, Bogota to Newark
During my recent trip to Bogota on assignment for Passport Magazine, I flew United Airlines nonstop between this South American capital city and Newark. Here’s a review of my travel experience from Colombia‘s capital.
THE ROUTE: Bogota El Dorado International Airport (BOG) to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR); Boeing 737-700; Economy Plus class; 5 hours, 23 minutes
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THE DEPARTURE: I took a reasonably priced Uber ride from the Airbnb apartment I’d rented in Bogota to El Dorado International Airport. Since it was early morning, there was no traffic and the trip was speedy.
The recently upgraded Bogota airport is spacious, clean and modern. I used a self-serve kiosk to check in, and received my bag tag there as well — but luckily, a United Airlines agent was on hand to help me put the tag on my luggage (I always have trouble with that). There was no fee for checking my bag. She then put me in a short line for the bag drop; the entire check-in and bag drop process took only about 10 minutes, so I had plenty of time to have breakfast at the McDonald’s in the nearby food court.
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Security officers frisk all passengers before they pass into the immigration line, which was a lengthy and winding affair where I waited more than 30 minutes before I reached an immigration agent who stamped my passport (at least it gave me more time to photograph some Avianca flight attendants — they have the coolest uniforms in the Western Hemisphere!). After getting through immigration, security screening only took about four minutes, with no line.
The post-security departure area is spacious and modern, although the shops are for some reason rather small. Boarding for my Newark flight was on time and swift. I had paid for Economy Plus seating, but was still back in Group 4 when it came to boarding.
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THE AIRCRAFT: The United Airlines Boeing 737-700 appeared to have a rather new interior, with attractive and clean airline seating. The airline seats had headrests with wings, AC outlets and seatback video screens that provided DirecTV service only for a fee. There were no blankets or pillows.
IN-FLIGHT SERVICE: Soon after takeoff, the United Airlines flight attendants served a free breakfast that was actually somewhat impressive. It consisted of a rather large sandwich with ham, egg and cheese on a tasty roll, accompanied by a fruit dish and a muffin, as well as the usual beverage service. A flight attendant distributed cups of water after breakfast, and a second full beverage service took place about an hour and a half before landing.
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THE ARRIVAL: We landed slightly early at Newark Liberty International Airport, although with the wait at the baggage claim I left the security area at about the same time as if we’d landed on time and I hadn’t checked luggage.
Airport: **** (out of 5; fast check-in and nice terminal, but slow immigration and limited retail)
Aircraft: **** (out of five; clean and modern plane, but no blankets or pillows, and only paid entertainment)
Service: ***** (out of five; decent free airline food, and three beverage services are a plus)