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

Few airways have gone by as a lot turmoil as Avianca Airways has since we began this weblog again in 2007 and began writing in regards to the trade. 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, reasonably than what it was earlier than the pandemic rocked the journey trade.

Avianca airlines review

They nonetheless appear to be caught in an identification 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 once.

It’s reasonably 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 many of the worldwide carriers.

Within the outdated days, Avianca made me really feel like a passenger once more as an alternative of a quantity on a spreadsheet to be optimized and squeezed.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 way in which 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 and so they had a beneficiant baggage allowance with no further charges.

Since worldwide and home passengers may examine two baggage with out charges, there was loads of overhead bin area on my first flight and the three that adopted. Naturally the airplane boarded so much sooner for the home ones since there was no financial motive for bringing a rollaboard bag on the airplane.

We even received drink service on a 45-minute flight from Bogota to Pereira. Alas, these days are within the rear-view mirror and determined instances referred to as for determined measures. Avianca is now a downgraded airline and isn’t on the similar degree as its legacy rivals, although they’ve fallen some too.

A Quick Historical past of Avianca

Avianca is the second oldest airline on the planet 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 many years shopping for up different Latin American airways that have been in bother. Since additionally they ran home flights in Peru, that gave Avianca an entry there as effectively.

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

Avianca and has 4 foremost 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) embrace 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 Could 2020, Avianca filed for Chapter 11 chapter safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The monetary loss suffered pressured the corporate to file as a consequence of 88% of the international locations it operated in being below journey restrictions or full journey shutdown. Different airways have been in the identical state of affairs, however the U.S. ones received 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 everywhere in the world plummeted in passenger stats and journeys because of the pandemic, and Avianca was not the one airline to file for chapter, alongside neighbors equivalent 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 dealing with essentially the most difficult disaster in our 100-year historical past as we navigate the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. We imagine {that a} reorganization below Chapter 11 is the perfect 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 prospects, 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 by 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 visitors is on the upswing, and the airline total retains increasing, bouncing again from the rock-bottom spot they discovered themselves in through 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% increased than their pre-pandemic spot in 2019, and a pair of% above 2022.

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

Enterprise Class on Avianca: An Try to Rebound

There’s no good strategy to put this: enterprise class on Avianca grew to become a whole joke for a couple of years there. In the course of 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 alternative. Apparently that was all that was left in storage and so they couldn’t restock, so your decisions have been Baily’s Irish Creme, espresso, or water. In enterprise class!

Phrase unfold rapidly and people who may afford enterprise class rapidly jumped to a different service so they’d obtain higher remedy. The airline has a troublesome 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 yr, the corporate upgraded the Boeing 787s and A320 aircrafts, reworking the chief cabins into what they’re calling Avianca Insignia cabins. Enterprise class now contains absolutely reclining seats, drinks (each alcoholic and never), in addition to full meals and all-you-can-eat snacks. Amenity kits in instances constructed from recycled material and designed in collaboration with the Gunadule indigenous group and Mola Sasa are supplied as effectively, together with blankets and pillows. Right here’s what the seats seem like now, based on what’s on their web site:

avianca business class

New enterprise class options can even be obtainable on single-aisle planes beginning this summer season, 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 many of the others to the underside in the case of baggage insurance policies, providing a dreaded “primary financial system” choice that doesn’t embrace something, however going as much as two checked baggage and a carry-on if you happen to fly enterprise class.

The 2 fares in between do embrace 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 unbelievable $120 if you happen to wait till you’re on the airport!

Right here’s the rundown on the fare choices for many flights, although quick ones typically begin with “mild” and do embrace 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 areas 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 by the Precedence Go program or, in case you have excessive sufficient standing with a Star Alliance companion, that will get you in as effectively. In any other case, it is advisable 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 assist you to chill out 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 if you happen to don’t have standing or Precedence Go and will 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 unsure 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 at all times value checking costs on the Avianca web site first, then evaluating them to what you discover on Kayak and elsewhere. In concept the perfect fares needs to be supplied direct, however that’s not at all times the case. Additionally, if you happen to search by 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? Should you flew them lately, tell us the way it went!

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

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