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May 12

Airline Review: Avianca, Colombia’s flag carrier

avianca

 

Colombia’s flag carrier airline is a company, which has established a good name for itself at home and abroad. The airline has been quite successful as of late and its recent joining of the Star Alliance network has given an even greater indication of its expansion and quality.

 

The overall quality of the airplanes in which I flew was very good. Seats were spacious and comfortable. There was plenty of leg-room and the plane seemed fairly new. There was an excellent magazine available for reading which colorfully and attractively presented many aspects of Colombian culture and various destinations the airline serves, by the end of the flight I wanted to see them all.

 

Often some of Colombia’s airports are situated at high altitudes surrounded by towering mountains. This creates very peculiar winds and makes landing tricky since it is almost like swirling down to approach. Avianca pilots know their home terrain well and even when it can still be bumpy, one can expect a more gentle decent with Avianca than with other airlines from outside.

 

The staff were friendly and provided for the basic requirements of their job in a professional way. However they can really up their quality and advance their status as an airline if they just train the staff to out of their way a little more. Again I have no complaints as to the service I’ve received, but in the airline industry the carriers who are doing the best jobs are those who train their cabin crew to go above and beyond and to anticipate needs. A good way to describe the attitude of the staff would be polite, but disinterested. Those passengers who I’ve spoken with that have taken longer haul flights say that the service is good, food is average and entertainment system is more limited. Everything points to the fact that with a little focused effort Avianca is within easy range of joining a new tier of airline quality.

 

As regards fares Avianca seems to have a polarizing tendency. Sometimes flights are very expensive especially ones to the United States and abroad. At other times one can find excellent deals that are too good to pass up. It all seems to be a matter of luck as to when and where the good tickets appear. Oftentimes many of the complaints arising around the airline have to do with ground services and this is not entirely the airline’s fault. They can of course push these other companies and the airport itself to be more efficient, but ultimately the only process they control fully is the check in which I always found to be fast, friendly and courteous.

 

In short Avianca is an airline with a solid foundation. They need to upgrade and shape up their in flight service and standards in some aspects, but they already are on a good path and they are a rising serious contender on the world stage.

 

 

voyageur

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6 comments

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  1. Jen

    I couldn’t disagree more with this review. Avianca is hands down the worst customer service I have ever seen. Their booking practices are flawed and if you do require your money returned it’s the ol’ fill out the form and we will get back to you. Lost luggage is apparently not their problem and the attendants have no idea what they are doing up their.

    I don’t know what flights you are flying, but I can’t imagine a more inaccurate portrayal of this airline. Shame on you for leading people to believe they will can actually trust these people. Colombia needs to get a better carrier to paint their flag on!

  2. Hi Jen,

    We appreciate your feedback on the airline. As you well know in the airline industry every encounter can be different. Our experiences have not included requests for money back or lost luggage, so we cannot comment on those. However having flown many carriers all around the globe we find Avianca to be a reliable and an improving carrier. Of course they have things to improve in their logistics and service. But overall our flight experiences have been agreeable and this is our honest impression of the airline. Again thanks for your thoughts and opinions too.

  3. Katharine Kieffer

    Actually, I have been flying with TACA in Peru for the past 3 years. The experience has been pretty bad and quickly getting worse. The flights are not on time, luggage has been stolen from (despite zipties being used) after secondary inspection in front of me, flight coupons are worthless and they lie in email, in person and on the phone as to how they can be used. When the webpage is pulled up to show the facts – they tell me they don’t relate to this instance. As a travel group, we are looking at alternatives to TACA/AVIANCA. We have NOT found them to be trustworthy as a carrier. The ticket counter personnel have lied to our faces regarding boarding passes and being denied boarding.
    I have to agree with Jen. You are doing a grave disservice to travelers. I fly around the world – often on the cheaper airlines – TACA/AVIANCA is rock bottom

    1. Dear Kathararine.
      Thanks for your comment.
      We appreciate your honest point of view.
      We have expressed here our personnel experience. We have flown a lot in Taca and Avianca. We personally never have had any problem, the only thing we have dislike so far is the high prices that we have paid for short flights in Central America, and probably we would appreciate better customer service.
      We are aware that people have been complaining more and more about the issues you just point out.
      We strongly believe that shortage of options is not a good think, and we can see that prices are high.
      We hope a healthy competition will increase good options for those of us who love to travel, we are looking forward to see the debut of new airlines.
      Once again thanks and best regards

  4. sam

    On April 24, 2015 I attempted to travel with my wife out of Pereira, Colombia to Bogota with a final destination of Washington DC (IAD). We arrived at the Pereira airport at 0545 expecting to board Avianca flight # _______ that departed at 0620. We were met by an Avianca ticket agent stating that the flight was already closed. We argued that the aircraft was still on the ground, how could the flight be closed with more than 30 minutes for scheduled departure. All we were told, by this ticket agent and the “supervisor” (Mauricio Mesa) in charge of Avianca, was that the flight was closed. We then asked to be placed on the next available flight and were sent to the “cashiers” counter (Lina Duran). Ms. Duran informed my wife that the next flight was at 0730 and that it will cost us an additional $200.00, per person, as a fine.
    We flipped out and could not believe what we were hearing from your representatives. We took a breather, thought we had regrouped and calmly approached this situation again.
    I asked Mauricio Mesa what the fine is to get us to Bogota on the next flight. Mauricio’s response was that he did not know and that I would have to consult with the cahier in order to find out what the fine was. In disbelief I asked him if he was playing with me or he really did not want to tell me. I imagine that they do this kind of trick on a daily basis and why would he not know the fine if they fine passengers everyday as he boldly stated. I then went to see Lina the cashier. After several minutes she finally discovered that the “new” fee for the next flight out to Bogota was $750.00 per person and not the $200.00 that we were quoted a few minutes earlier. That the next flight she could book us on for $200.00 per person was on Monday the 27th.
    We left the airport in disbelief with much skepticism and a boat load of mistrust. How can Avianca do this to us? How does something like this happen? Where in the rules does it say to stop boarding passengers at 30 minutes prior to departure? Where is a PAX able to read this rule? If this is not a rule then, who is going to reimburse us for the additional penalty that we paid in order to get a flight from Colombia the U.S.? Not to mention the trouble and angst that your representatives put us through!

    1. voyageur
      voyageur

      Thanks very much for your message.
      Of course this is a question you have to address directly to Avianca representatives, we are not Avianca, nor we have any connection with Avianca. But we are sorry to hear your distress and all the problems related with your flight.
      In this case it seems that Avianca is right. As a general rule, around the world international flights are closed for check-in one hour before for international flights and 45 minutes for domestic. Each airline is little different but Avianca follow this same path. Here is a link with the official information of closing times for Avianca: http://www.avianca.com/en-es/travel-information/before-your-flight/check-in/airport-arrival-times.aspx
      The closing times are determined keeping in mind several several reasons: these may be safety and logistics. I have to be honest with you, we have been in that same situation you mentioned. Sadly if one missed the flight bc one is arriving late to the airport the airlines have to right to charge fines.
      Why did you arrived late to the airport? Was there an accident on the road? traffic congestion? did you get confused with the time? all these had happened to us, we have been able to solve the problem and not get charged with a little patience and conversation with the right person (it has worked almost always but once for us)
      You may still want to talk with someone in management position in Avianca and they may be willing to do an exception for your case.We will appreciate if you follow us in Facebook and in Twitter

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