When I checked in, I had paid for breakfast, but when my alarm went off I decided that 30 minutes of sleep would be better than eggs. Surely Avianca would have some sort of free food in the lounge anyway, right?
I settled my bill with the desk staff at the JW Marriott and had them hail me a cab back to BOG. It was time to travel again. Instead of the international terminal, this time I needed to be dropped at the smaller domestic terminal to catch my connecting flight to Cartagena (CTG).
At this point, I was still alone. N was headed for Colombia from Chicago via Houston. Our 3rd brother from college was coming from Boston and meeting N in Houston for the UA connection on to BOG, and N’s two friends Chicago and Indiana were taking a different routing into Bogota and spending the night there before connecting on to Cartagena. There were a lot of moving pieces.
At the domestic portion of BOG, Avianca has a little room for their business class check-in, it’s almost like an office separated from the rest of the departures area. When I got to the head of the line, I verified that I had a window seat, and asked the women to please make sure that my UA FF # was on the ticket. As it had turned out, there was no award space BOG-CTG on the dates I needed, so I was now stuck flying revenue.
The agent told me they did not have my United # in the file, and asked me to write it down. Handing her back a piece of paper with my # scrawled on it, I didn’t have a lot of faith that the miles would ever make it to my MileagePlus account…to date they still have not.
Security was a breeze and I went from there to Avianca’s lounge. It’s not a very nice lounge. There’s not much in the way of seating, the wifi is spotty at best and there’s not much on offer. I grabbed a bottle of water a chicken skewer wrapped in (I think) bacon and tried to find a place to sit down and mess around on my iPad.
When it came to be what I thought was the assigned boarding hour I tried to depart the lounge. Before I could leave a woman demanded to see my ticket. She told me the flight was delayed and that I couldn’t leave the lounge until it was boarding. Several times after this, I tried to leave the lounge and head closer to the gate, but I was rebuffed each time, even after the big board in the lounge showed that the flight was ready for boarding.
Finally, I snuck past the guardian and walked down towards the “gate,” if it can be called that. Of course, the flight had already begun boarding.
I got a quick snap of our Airbus A320-214 (registration: N448AV), as this would be my first flight with Avianca.
Once on board, I saw that a very hot Colombian woman who I took for a local celebrity was seated in 2A with what appeared to be support staff from her entourage in the surrounding seats. I say that I took her for a celebrity, because I don’t know Colombian celebs (or most American ones for that matter), so I have no idea if she was famous or what for. That being said, while we were in the lounge, numerous people, including some of the lounge staff approached her and asked to have their pictures taken with her, so something must have been going on there.
The Avianca shorthaul J seats are plush and very comfortable. They have seatback IFE screens, but for a flight this short, there was nothing to watch but the airshow. The biggest surprise for me, was that there was no service, not even a bag of peanuts. They came by for drinks once, but I was only having water, I’d wait until later to kick things off.
The flight was short and uneventful, AV9752, 408 miles from Bogota to sunny Cartagena. As soon as I breached the doorway and started down the airstairs I took my jacket off as the dense heat of the coastal region washed over me. With the sun, the heat and the proximity to the ocean I started to get excited for what lay ahead. We were going to get ourselves into trouble.