Lost in Colombia: Getting What We Paid for on AviancaAir, Colombia, Couples Travel, Dispatches from the Road, Health & Safety, Leaving & Coming Home, Websites and Blogs — By Amanda P on March 23, 2009 at 10:19 am
After traveling to Ecuador last year, my boyfriend Jeff and I volunteered to give up our seats on a very overbooked Avianca flight from Bogota, Colombia back to New York City. The incentive: a total of four international airline vouchers, good for anywhere in the world that Avianca flies, plus a free night in the InterContinental Bogota Hotel. How could we pass up such a deal? We didn’t.
When requested to do so, Avianca will allow you to “cash in” an international voucher (face value: $600) and apply those dollars towards the purchase of a ticket on any flight you’d like. With $2,400 in Avianca dollars to play with, Jeff and I easily booked a Friday night red-eye to Cartagena, Colombia-our dream destination-with a Sunday morning return just over a week later. We still had to pay the taxes, which amounted to $250 on a $700 ticket, but figured it was vale la pena, or worth the trouble, to return to South America.
Unlike last year’s near-miss departure on our Avianca flight to Quito, Jeff and I encountered absolutely no line at JFK for our 11:55pm flight, and virtually no wait at security. We were only mildly put out that we’d been separated-they’d put us into two middle seats across the aisle from each other. It was only after boarded the plane that we realized our tenth-row seats were in front of an emergency exit row, which meant we’d have to sit ramrod straight for the six hour overnight flight.
Since sleep wasn’t an option, I ended up amusing myself with a selection of first-run TV dramas, music and games on the touch screen TV built into the seat in front of me. I finally gotten past the $32,000 level on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (the British edition, so it contained endless questions about spotted dick, long-dead royals and tiny hamlets I’d never heard of) when we started our descent into Bogota. During the one-hour connecting flight to Cartagena, Jeff and I sat together, and happily reclined two inches-a small distance, but to two weary travelers, it made all the difference in the world.
Insider Tip for Flying Avianca: Do NOT read the new Malcolm Gladwell book Outliers while on vacation, as we did! While an excellent read, it contains an entire chapter about plane flights that, um, didn’t end well. The textbook screw up: A 1990 flight from Colombia to New York-on Avianca.
Check out these related posts: