From London to Bogota I flew in Avianca Business Class on the Boeing 787-8. While the food was deplorable, I do think Avianca has potential (or perhaps better put, still maintains some premium elements) on its longhaul flights.
Avianca 787-8 Business Class Review
Instead of enjoying dinner in one of the four Star Alliance lounges in Heathrow T2, I went into town and spent some time with my sister-in-law and her family. That was a lovely time, but I got back to the airport just before boarding commenced.
Before leaving, I picked up my boarding pass from the transit counter.
Had I returned earlier, I would have visited the lounges in this order:
- Air Canada (for coffee)
- United Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
But as I mentioned, I got back to the gate at 9:32 pm and boarding began promptly at 9:45 pm, more than one hour before departure.
I stepped from the jet bridge onto the plane with a greeting in Spanish and turned left into business class.
London (LHR) – Bogota (BOG)
Friday, April 8, 2022
Depart: 10:40 PM
Arrive: 03:29 AM+1
Duration: 10hr, 49min
Distance: 5,265 miles
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Seat: 1A (Business Class)
You may recall in my “teaser” for this flight that I focused on the poor food onboard. I’ll get to that in a moment, but I do want to state at the outset that it wasn’t a bad flight, just a sad one.
Avianca chose the Safran Cirrus reverse herringbone seat for its business class cabin, which includes 28 seats. in a 1-2-1 configuration. The front cabin includes five rows of seats while the rear mini-cabin, behind door 2, includes two rows of seats.
I prefer these reverse herringbone seats to some of the competition because the meal tray is located on the side rather than cutting into your knee room.
I chose seat 1A, which was quite private and another thing I love about these seats is the personal storage, including a cabinet in the side console and another area for storage in the armrest.
Seat controls, a power outlet, and a USB-A outlet were all within reach at shoulder level (along with a reading light and remote control for the IFE screen).
The aircraft was not old, but was already showing a lot of wear and tear.
Truth be told, the pillow was plush, the duvet soft and warm, and with individual air nozzles above I spent most of the flight soundly asleep. In terms of the single most important element of business class, namely a comfortable seat with good bedding, Avianca gets it right.
IFE + Wi-Fi
Speaking of IFE and Wi-Fi, the library included a small selection of movies (mostly Hollywood movies, but also some from Latin America since I always try to find more local movies on a flag carrier) as well as music, TV shows, and games.
Noise-canceling headphones were provided prior to takeoff:
Wi-Fi was not available onboard. Theoretically, Avianca offers wi-fi, but no network showed up on my flight. This was less of a problem on an overnight flight.
Food + Drink
Here’s where the flight really disappointed me. Menus were not offered. After takeoff, the following meal was served:
Yes folks, this is business class. And yes, this is a crew meal with a sandwich and a little chocolate dessert.
Flight attendants were clearly embarrassed, but they should have been more embarrassed that it was served lukewarm. It was disgusting.
To be fair, Avianca blamed the catering on its (then) recent restart of service to London. But it’s not like London catering had no notice it was flying out of London…ultimately, I found that excuse to be weak (and other readers claimed Avianca serves meals like this out of Madrid as well).
Before landing, breakfast was served. This cheese omelet was thankfully warm, but the bread was stale and the coffee tasted like water.
What a missed opportunity!
I decided to “re-arrange” the meals myself…just to see if I could make them look more appetizing. I think it helped…the crew could have done this as well.
I am hopeful that the food on this route is now better, but would welcome your comments below.
Water bottles were frequently offered…at least there was that.
Passengers in business class were offered an attractive Salvatore Ferragamo-branded amenity kit that included:
- hand cream
- lip balm
- toothbrush + toothpaste
- wipe for glasses
Service was actually lovely onboard. The flight attendant who worked my side of the aisle was very friendly and apologetic over the food (which she had absolutely no control over). I thought the entire crew was very kind.
I visited the lavatory toward the end of the flight and found it quite messy.
We landed on-time in Bogota…at 3:30am in the morning, the one downside to these so-called “reverse redeyes” from Europe to South America.
I would still say Avianca has the potential to be a competitive carrier. The seat and bedding were great, the service warm, and I liked the amenity kit. But the food desperately needs to improve and the lavatories should be cleaned more often.
Perhaps, under the right circumstances, I’d fly Avianca again on a transatlantic flight. But the carrier really has a lot of room for improvement.
You mention the Air Canada lounge for coffee, but your lounge calls the coffee weak – is Air Canada the best lounge for coffee at Heathrow T2?
This might seem minor but, since the flight attentand gave you such great service if would have been nice of you to mention him/her by name. When I get great service I also like to email the airline directly with a compliment. Airlines get so many complaints that complements tend to stand out and are appreciated by the employee involved. If you did do this then kudos to you.
Are you going to try AV again this year or next year to see if they improved?
It’s crazy what they are doing to themselves. They fly 787s with business cabins on overnight long hauls to Brazil, Chile and Argentina without selling business class. I hope they refocus their strategy sooner rather than later.
I took the business class from bogata to Sao Paulo Brazil, No pillow, No blanket, No food,
The crew was hidden most the flight.
LA to bogata was better but the food was horrible.
Was it just a sandwich from Bogota to LA?
We did JFK-BOG-EZE in Nov. Sometime between when we bought the ticket to when we flew, our ticket went from A fare to Y fare. JFK – BOG on the way got A32N with Y only with blocked middle and sandwich as service. BOG-EZE on both ways got A332 with angled flat but again just sandwiches. Funny enough FAs referred to the section as business class and closed the curtains. Return from BOG-JFK was the infamous modified Recaro seat. It is weird. Weird still there is no power, not even USB. After the flight they proactively offered flight credit or partial refund which came through some weeks later, which I thought was a nice gesture.
A few years ago I flew Avianca and enjoyed their Business service, and in fact I flew LAX to EZE a month prior to Covid and thought their Business service was very good. Since Covid it is horrid! What you received is much better than their Business class food and service when they began flying again. They now only offer Business to Europe. I used the last of my miles recently for a trip MVD to BOG. Nothing was free. Complete lack of service. In row 15 my seat was not designed to recline. Hopefully I will never have to fly them again.
As a Colombian, I can tell you that this is the new reality of the company and is not getting any better. They’ve decided to go for a ultra low cost model. In a recent trip from Bogotá to Lima, not even a cup of water. Since the hard product is very correct, my approach would be to take advantage of a good deal if available, and eat a lot in the airport before boarding.
Avianca was once a proud airline with great standards. It seems that the company does not care any longer. The meal looks like something on AA rather than Avianca. I hope they read this blog and improve.
Avianca has decided to be a low cost carrier. They have eliminated selling business class seats in South America and to/from North America, even if the plane is a 787. If you buy a UA business ticket with an Avianca flight, you will not be able to puchase a better up front seat on the Avianca flight. United will tell you they do not sell partnes seat upgrades and Avianca will tell you they cannot change a partners ticket. Even if you buy the most expensive seat up front, you will not even get a bottle of water free.
Even worse that nasty meal was loaded with 2000 mg of sodium, an entire day’s allotment in a small airplane plate.
Avianca business seats can be purchased, I bought 2 round trips BOS-BOG. The trick is buy economy but at seat selection pick your seat in business class. The choice cost me $160 RT.
It will be a more comfortable seat, use of upfront restroom, but no premium check-in, lounge (but I have alternate options), and probably no food/cocktail service.
Is it me, or is there no date mentioned of when this flight was taken? It would be really helpful for reference.
Date is there near beginning.
Almost a year ago, which kind of makes this review kind of useless without comparing it to what is offered today (though from other comments on here, it doesn’t seem like things have improved).
The only thing that may have changed is the food (I certainly hope it is at least properly plated). Everything else is the same based upon the many comments I’ve read (beyond here). Wish I could churn out reports quicker, but this particular trip was delayed…
Avianca is the biggest joke amongst all the other carriers that belong to any alliance. Their new ultra low cost model should not be allowed within Star Alliance. I flew last month LHR BOG and their check in area was an absolute chaos, even in Business Class. People don’t read the entry requirements for Colombia and find themselves filling out a very annoying immigration form whist queuing to check in. The annoying thing is thats this form is not even requested when standing of front of an immigration officer upon arrival, then there’s also the Covid pass issue. On board, the service takes for ever, and you only get a small cup of wine with your meal. After nearly 2 hours the crew clear up, put the lights out and off to sleep they go. If you fancy a drink, then walk down amigo before your body shuts down due to dehydration. No liquids are offered during the rest of the flight, until 2 hours before landing when breakfast is served. The domestic flight was quick, 25 minutes and I paid for the so called premium seat, 1A, nothing out of this world, however on their Airbuses these are the only seats that recly slightly, otherwise you’re on the Ryanair type a few rows down. I promise myself and my family will never touch these company again, however, due to the demise of VivaAir we have no other option but to use these buggers as they have better timings than Latam, which I don’t use. I really do feel sorry for anyone travelling from the USA sitting for over 6 hours on those seats. Why can’t they use AA DL UA or even the real low costs US carries that know what they do. To finish off my disgust at this airline, I’m waiting for a refund of over £2K since February, according to them, they’ve tried to refund me 3 times and my bank refuses to accept the funds??? My advice? Save your money, your credit card points and use them elsewhere
Is dinner still a crew meal wrapped in plastic? I hope that at least has improved.
one more question – do they still require masks? Thanks
“Whine and Dine” …
Avianca doesn’t want to be a better airline. They want to be a s—hole airline.