Last Monday, I flew from Medellin to Bogota to Buenos Aires in Avianca Business Class for 20,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles and $45. (How I booked the award.)
The flights pleasantly surprised me. The main flight from Bogota to Buenos Aires was a six hour redeye, on which I wanted to sleep. The angled lie-flat bed was more comfortable than I expected.
- How were the lounges, seat, bed, food, service, and entertainment?
My trip started in Medellin. Unfortunately the bigger Medellin airport with almost all the flights to Bogota (Jose Maria Cordova) is 45 minutes out of town and 60,000 pesos ($30) in a taxi.
I arrived to the airport at 5 PM for my 8:10 PM flight, hoping to take an earlier flight if possible, and if not, to hang out in the lounge and work.
The agent put me on the next flight out at 5:50 PM at no extra charge, maintaining my seat in Business Class. That flight ended up being delayed about half an hour, so I had time to check out the Avianca lounge in Medellin. As a general rule, flying international Business Class pretty much always gets you lounge access at all airports along the way where the airline has an affiliated lounge.
The lounge in Medellin is quite basic, though it does feature alcohol, hot food, and internet.
I headed down and caught my flight at about 6:15. It was just one hour to Bogota in seats reminiscent of domestic First Class in the United States. There was a drink service, and I spent the flight watching two episodes of Modern Family on the seat back TV.
I landed in Bogota three hours before my next flight. I had to exit security and re-enter the international terminal, clearing immigration and security. After that, I headed straight to the LAN lounge, not the Avianca lounge, because my last trip through Bogota showed me that the LAN lounge is far superior. Click here for a full review of both lounges.
Three pleasant and productive hours in the LAN lounge passed too quickly, and I headed to the gate for my six hour flight to Buenos Aires. The boarding gate had an extremely long line, and it took a moment for me to see the dedicated line for Business Class passengers to the right of the main line. It was empty, so I skipped the queue and headed to my seat.
Bogota (BOG) – Buenos Aires (EZE)
Depart: 10:17 PM on Monday, December 1
Arrive: 6:37 AM on Tuesday, December 2
Duration: 6hr 20min
Aircraft: Airbus A330
Seat: 5D (Business Class)
My seat was in the back row of Business Class, which is split into two mini-cabins. The boarding door was between the two mini-cabins, so it would have been quieter to have a seat in rows 1-3 during boarding.
I chose a middle seat in the 2-2-2 layout because if you choose a window seat, you need to climb over your seatmate to get to the aisle, and if you choose an aisle on either side, the window seat needs to climb over you. A middle seat–D or G–offers you aisle access without blocking anyone else’s.
The seat had a sealed package with a think blanket and a medium-sized pillow. The pillow was as thick as a pillow you might have on your bed, but was only as wide as the seat. I think it was the perfect size.
In front of the seats were individual monitors and storage.
There was ample leg room in the sitting position. I am 6’4″, and my feet did not reach the seat in front of me, even stretched out.
Before take off, we were offered champagne, water, or juice plus room-temperature mixed nuts. My seatmate and I both indulged, which led to a crowded arm rest. Nearly every Business Class seat was full, so there were probably a lot of crowded arm rests.
The flight attendants also brought around a small shoe sack. I’m not sure what my shoes needed to be protected from on the plane.
Also before take off, amenity kits and menus were distributed. The menu surprised me because only dinner was listed. Most redeyes also feature breakfast.
The amenity kit was Tumi-branded, though not the awesome mini-suitcase you get on Thai. The kit contained an eye shade, headphone covers, tissues, toothbrush and toothpaste, a pen, chapstick, hand lotion, and a sticker to put on your seat if you want to be woken for the next meal.
The sticker concept is cool because nothing is more annoying than being woken for a meal when you’d rather sleep, but as I noted this menu didn’t even feature a second meal.
Before take off, the entertainment system was use-able, and I have to really compliment Avianca on their selection of entertainment. It’s rare that I see such quality shows available, and I easily could have spent the entire six hours watching TV.
I planned to eat, and try to sleep immediately, so I started with an episode of Modern Family expecting meal service to be soon and quick.
Unfortunately an hour passed after take off before the meal service began. On only a six-hour flight, I think that is unacceptable. The meal service should start within 15-20 minutes, in my opinion, so that we can get some sleep.
The service began with a room-temperature wet towel.
I finished Modern Family and looked through the movie selection. Shawshank Redemption!? Well, I’ll just watch the beginning…
Dinner was served from a cart in one course. Between the chicken breast and cheese ravioli, I chose the former. It came with potatoes and carrots. There was also a salmon side salad and a bread basket, from which I selected a roll.
The chicken was absolutely delicious, and the carrots and potatoes tasted like carrots and potatoes.
Thirteen minutes after I had been served, my plate was cleared. At that point, my water glass was refilled, and a bottle of water was distributed to each passenger.
Oddly, no cheese or dessert–both listed on the menu–was offered. No explanation of their absence was offered either.
I ended up being so engrossed in the Shawshank redemption that I watched the whole thing in a reclined position, which I found very comfortable. For part of the movie, I activated the seat’s massage feature, which felt good.
At 1:35 AM, I put the seat into bed mode. This picture from The 2 Million Mile Honeymoon shows the bed position. It is not fully flat. (Check out their full trip report there.)
In the past, I have really struggled to sleep on angled-flat beds. But this time I fell asleep quickly. Perhaps this example of an angled-flat bed was more comfortable or perhaps I was more tired. Certainly the bed was flatter than I expected, and the pillow was comfortable.
I awoke two-and-a-quarter hours later to the announcement that we’d be landing soon in Buenos Aires.
One extremely weird thing about take off and landing was that we were told over the PA system that we had to fold our blankets and not use them, a rule which the flight attendants did enforce.
I’ve been told many times that I had to buckle my seat belt over a blanket, so flight attendants could see it, but I have never been told not to use a blanket.
This strange rule made take off and landing much less comfortable.
We landed half an hour early, I took a 45 minute taxi into the city, got to my apartment, and slept for six more hours.
Lounges: Avianca lounges have the bare essentials: snacks, booze, and internet. But they are not as good as many international business lounges. Use the LAN lounge in Bogota if you have Priority Pass.
Seat: The seat had plenty of leg room and comfortable positions for lounging.
Bed: For an angled lie-flat, the bed exceeded my expectations, but it is not as good as fully flat. The pillow was perfect, and the blanket was warm. If only I could have used the blanket during take off and landing.
Food: The main course was very good, but where was the dessert?
Service: On a six-hour redeye, the dinner service needs to start immediately not after one hour. Other than that, the flight attendants were friendly.
Entertainment: Fantastic quality and decent quantity especially since most of Avianca’s flights are medium-haul or shorter. Available from before take off to after landing. This could not be improved in any way.
Getting the Miles
Seven hours of flying in Business Class for 20,000 miles + $45 is a steal. The deal was so cheap because Singapore Airlines treats all of South America as one region with unusually cheap award prices.
Singapore miles are extremely easy to get because they are transfer partners of every transferable point. My favorite way to rack up Singapore miles is with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which has a 40,000 point sign up bonus.
Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card