Our Evaluation of Avianca Airways and a Little bit of Historical past

Few airways have gone via as a lot turmoil as Avianca Airways has since we began this weblog again in 2007 and began writing concerning the business. They’ve expanded and contracted a number of instances, gotten extra upscale and gone extra downscale too. So we’re going to offer a bit historical past and provides a evaluate of Avianca Airways because it stands now, moderately than what it was earlier than the pandemic rocked the journey business.

Avianca airlines review

They nonetheless appear to be caught in an id disaster as I write this, asking us to spell it as avianca with a bit “a,” maybe due to their diminished standing amongst higher-end vacationers. They are saying it’s a small “a” as a result of the airline is for everyone, which is a flowery method of claiming they’re a step down from what they was.

It’s moderately tough to put in writing about this airline and reference previous expertise as a result of that have has modified a lot. Witness the stat additional down about how they’ve shoved 20% extra seats onto their planes, for starters.

I discussed years again that my Avianca flight to Colombia was one other reminder of simply how far the U.S. airways have fallen compared to a lot of the worldwide carriers.

Within the previous days, Avianca made me really feel like a passenger once more as an alternative of a quantity on a spreadsheet to be optimized and squeezed. On the best way right down to Bogota from Ft. Lauderdale, I used to be flying in financial system however nonetheless had a seat-back leisure system, an actual meal, and a glass of wine. The flight attendants smiled as an alternative of simply nagging everybody to show off their Kindle. My knees weren’t jammed into the seat in entrance of me they usually had a beneficiant baggage allowance with no additional charges.

Since worldwide and home passengers might verify two luggage with out charges, there was loads of overhead bin area on my first flight and the three that adopted. Naturally the airplane boarded loads quicker for the home ones since there was no financial purpose for bringing a rollaboard bag on the airplane.

We even bought drink service on a 45-minute flight from Bogota to Pereira. Alas, these days are within the rear-view mirror and determined instances known as for determined measures. Avianca is now a downgraded airline and isn’t on the identical stage as its legacy rivals, despite the fact that they’ve fallen some too.

A Quick Historical past of Avianca

Avianca is the second oldest airline on the earth nonetheless working after the Dutch service KLM, and the second largest in Latin America behind LATAM Airways Group. Within the early 2010s, Avianca acquired TACA, which had been round since 1931 and had spent a long time shopping for up different Latin American airways that have been in hassle. Since additionally they ran home flights in Peru, that gave Avianca an entry there as nicely.

In 2012, Avianca and TACA joined Star Alliance, in some ways the most effective worldwide alliance for frequent fliers. (Their associate within the USA is United.)

Avianca and has 4 principal connection hubs in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Bogota, and Lima, and fly to all of Central America and South America.

North American gateways (direct or in codeshares with companions) embody San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Washington-Dulles, JFK, Chicago-O’Hare, Toronto, and Mexico Metropolis.

Avianca’s Chapter and Restoration

legroom in economy class

Restricted legroom in financial system class now

In Might 2020, Avianca filed for Chapter 11 chapter safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The monetary loss suffered compelled the corporate to file because of 88% of the nations it operated in being underneath journey restrictions or full journey shutdown. Different airways have been in the identical state of affairs, however the U.S. ones bought bailout cash and a few of the others weren’t so stretched with debt and will maintain on longer.

Naturally, passenger statistics went down tremendously. Airways all around the world plummeted in passenger stats and journeys as a result of pandemic, and Avianca was not the one airline to file for chapter, alongside neighbors corresponding to Aeromexico (nonetheless round) and Interjet (now historical past).

Avianca shut down its Peruvian subsidiary on account of the chapter. Anko van der Werff, the CEO on the time stated “Avianca is going through essentially the most difficult disaster in our 100-year historical past as we navigate the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. We consider {that a} reorganization underneath Chapter 11 is the most effective path ahead to guard the important air journey and air transport providers that we offer throughout Colombia and different markets all through Latin America.”

Avianca moved its focus to lower- and middle-class passengers on account of this, pivoting from wealthier clients, following the Chapter 11 emergence to prioritize affordability. The corporate retired the A330, ATR 42, and ATR 72 vessels. Now it’s simply the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 787 in operation. Avianca moved to cheaper cabins, with smaller and extra environment friendly seats, and much more rows have been added, leading to a 20% capability improve, permitting them to decrease fares.

In 2023, over a century after its founding, Avianca went via a picture rebrand. As talked about earlier, they modified the capital letter “A” in Avianca to a lowercase one, with the assertion “the sky belongs to everybody.” Since all of those adjustments, the corporate has added routes, passenger site visitors is on the upswing, and the airline general retains increasing, bouncing again from the rock-bottom spot they discovered themselves in throughout the pandemic.

They’ve clearly turned the operations round too in much less seen areas: in 2023 they have been named essentially the most punctual world airline, at 85.73%. This stat places them 10% greater than their pre-pandemic spot in 2019, and a couple of% above 2022.

Avianca now operates in roughly 25 nations all through Europe and the Americas, with 75 locations throughout 140 routes.

Enterprise Class on Avianca: An Try and Rebound

There’s no good option to put this: enterprise class on Avianca turned a whole joke for a number of years there. Through the COVID-19 days, they have been handing enterprise class passengers stale sandwiches wrapped in plastic and on some flights there was a single alcohol selection. Apparently that was all that was left in storage they usually couldn’t restock, so your decisions have been Baily’s Irish Creme, espresso, or water. In enterprise class!

Phrase unfold shortly and those that might afford enterprise class shortly jumped to a different service so they might obtain higher therapy. The airline has a tricky job in entrance of them making an attempt to persuade enterprise vacationers and rich leisure vacationers that this downgraded airline can nonetheless care for the premium passengers within the entrance of the airplane.

Earlier this 12 months, the corporate upgraded the Boeing 787s and A320 aircrafts, remodeling the chief cabins into what they’re calling Avianca Insignia cabins. Enterprise class now consists of absolutely reclining seats, drinks (each alcoholic and never), in addition to full meals and all-you-can-eat snacks. Amenity kits in instances comprised of recycled cloth and designed in collaboration with the Gunadule indigenous neighborhood and Mola Sasa are supplied as nicely, together with blankets and pillows. Right here’s what the seats appear to be now, in response to what’s on their web site:

avianca business class

New enterprise class options may also be out there on single-aisle planes beginning this summer time, on over 10 completely different routes throughout North America. Meals, snacks, drinks, and amenity kits are supplied much like the Insignia cabins on the double-seat aircrafts.

Avianca Baggage Insurance policies

This airline has adopted a lot of the others to the underside in terms of baggage insurance policies, providing a dreaded “fundamental financial system” choice that doesn’t embody something, however going as much as two checked luggage and a carry-on when you fly enterprise class.

The 2 fares in between do embody one checked bag and a carry-on, so you may pack what you want when headed to South America. In any other case, you’ll need to cough up $40 for the primary checked bag and also you’d higher do it upfront: they’ll cost you an unimaginable $120 when you wait till you’re on the airport!

Right here’s the rundown on the fare choices for many flights, although brief ones typically begin with “gentle” and do embody a 10-kilo carry-on.

Avianca baggage policy and fare categories

Avianca Lounges

Like most established airways, some airports host VIP Avianca lounges for his or her passengers. Home lounges reside in Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Bucaramanga, Cartagena, and Barranquilla, and worldwide ones in Bogota and El Salvador. The airport places in South America are as follows:

  • El Dorado Worldwide Airport (Bogota)
  • San Oscar A. Romero Worldwide Airport (El Salvador)
  • José María Cordova Airport (Medellin)
  • Alfonso Bonilla Aragon Worldwide Airport (Cali)
  • Palonegro Worldwide Airport (Bucaramanga)
  • Rafael Nuñez Worldwide Airport (Cartagena)
  • Ernesto Cortissoz Worldwide Airport (Barranquilla)

Avianca additionally has a lounge within the Miami airport and it’s one of many bigger ones there, at round 6,000 sq. ft. Most of those lounges can be found via the Precedence Go program or, when you’ve got excessive sufficient standing with a Star Alliance associate, that will get you in as nicely. In any other case, you might want to fly enterprise class or pay a price to enter, which is what I did final time I had a layover in Bogota.

These lounges mean you can calm down earlier than flights and on layovers, entry Wi-Fi and charging stations, and partake in meals and drinks. Passes go for about 30$ per particular person when you don’t have standing or Precedence Go and might be bought and booked on-line.

Bogota Airport lounge

The lounge in Bogota we paid to enter

Go to Avianca.com for more information and flight offers. I’m undecided why, however this airline isn’t listed on SeatGuru. So that you’ll need to go to the Avianca part of Seatmaps.com for seat pitch and plan configurations.

It’s all the time value checking costs on the Avianca web site first, then evaluating them to what you discover on Kayak and elsewhere. In idea the most effective fares needs to be provided direct, however that’s not all the time the case. Additionally, when you search via an OTA, you’ll see what different airways could also be providing a greater deal (and extra consolation) on the identical route.

Something we’ve missed on this evaluate of Avianca Airways? In case you flew them not too long ago, tell us the way it went!

Article and unique pictures by editor Timothy Scott, display shot pictures from Avianca.com. Further analysis by contributor Alina Leffel. 

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