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  • Konrad Tillman

Review: Avianca "Premium" Recaro Seat A319 Cusco-La Paz

Intro


After a truly terrific time in Peru, visiting Machu Picchu and falling in love with the town of Cusco, it was time to head onto the next adventure. For the next portion of the South American exploration, I would take Avianca from Cusco to La Paz in Bolivia. Having just flown Avianca, I was excited about what was hopefully a repeat of the last flight!


In summary of the flight, Avianca held across the hard product, but the service confirmed my previous post: not great at all.


Let's get into the full review!


Route- Cusco- La Paz

Plane- A319

Seat- 1A

Flight Number- Av105

Date- March 21st 2024

Flight Time: 52 Minutes

Price Paid- 264$


How I Booked


Much like with my previous report on Avianca from Bogota to Cusco, this flight was expensive! To my knowledge, Avianca operates a triangle route from Bogota-Cusco-La Paz-Bogota several times a week. Passengers are eligible to book Bogota- Cusco/La Paz or Cusco-La Paz/Bogota. Regarding my fare, I wanted to try out the premium Recaro seat, which was $ 60$ extra.


All in all, the total cost of my ticket came out to 264$ for a 54-minute flight. However, if I had opted not to pay for the premium seat, the total would have come out to 204$; still a very steep cost for a flight of this length. My fare included my seat, 1 carry-on, and 1 personal item (not even a checked bag).


Getting To Cusco Airport


Cusco Airport is located extremely close to the main town, about 15 minutes away to be more precise. An Uber in each direction costs about 6$ which is an absolute bargain!


Anyways, the main road was closed for construction.



After a couple of minutes of waiting, we continued on this makeshift road😂. Gosh, I just love adventures around the world.



Eventually, we arrived back on a paved road😉.


I love times like this

Check-In


Due to my trip being so chaotic, I made sure to arrive at the airport at least 2.5 hours before departure. If I had missed one flight out of any of them, my whole trip would have turned sideways. Today was no different as I arrived almost 3 hours before departure!


LATAM check in

Cusco is a very small airport, with very few airlines operating in this airport. Avianca check-in was located right next to the Latam check-in, and there was no line at this time. There's a reason for that😅.


Good to see premium lines as well

Strolling up the counter, I was greeted by a very friendly agent. The Avianca staff in Cusco were very nice! She asked if I had filled out the Bolivia declaration form and had not; so she guided me through it, helping me at every corner. She confirmed my frequent flyer on the reservation and handed me my boarding pass to Bolivia!


American Passport in Canadian Case

Boarding pass in hand, it was time to head through immigration, or so I thought😅.


So excited for Bolivia

Heading to immigration

For those wondering, you cannot enter international departures until the plane before has departed as there is only enough space to seat a single flight in the waiting room. No wonder why Avianca's check-in was deserted! My recommendation is to arrive about an hour and a half before your flight.



Not wanting to wait inside the small waiting area before immigration, I made my way outside to bask in the sunshine of Peru. Oh, how I long to be back there right now.


Eventually, they allowed us into the waiting room/gate area around an hour and a half before departure.



There is a single coffee shop/snack shop, but I would encourage you to bring your own snacks as a bottle of water costs 4.50$ for 500ml????!


Gate area

Luckily, I timed my immigration perfectly as I was able to be the first one through the single security line and one of the 4 immigration posts.




Our inbound aircraft had made the loopy loops in order to line up for Cusco.



Soon enough, our plane pulled into the gate a tad ahead of schedule. It was interesting to see the aircraft would be an A319 instead of the scheduled A320neo.


Planes are magnificent

I queued up nice and early so I could snap some photos for the review. Boarding started at 11:23 am (about 20 minutes after the inbound landed) with Group 1 and Star Alliance Gold members.


At least we get a jetbridge!

My boarding pass was scanned, my passport was checked and I was on my way to county number 80.




It's a bit of a trek for such a short distance, you have to walk up two corridors before finally getting to the jetbridge. The baby bus is soooo cute.


Already ready for pushback???

Due to the triangle route operation, some passengers were already on board. However, no one was seated in the premium cabin today (but myself) which meant I could snap a couple of pictures.


Avianca Premium seat Cusco-La Paz

I settled into seat 1A where I found the legroom to be a lot less than in 2K. My suggestion is to choose a nonbulkhead row if you can👍.


Not great but will suffice

Departure


Boarding doors were closed at 11:46 am and a couple of seconds later the jetbridge detached.


Au revoir

We held at the gate for about 20 minutes before pushback due to an inbound JetSmart aircraft. As I mentioned in my post about the airport, everything has to run efficiently here.


Eventually, at 12:06 pm local time, we pushed back.


Let's go to bolivia!

The tug tugged us quite far, almost halfway down the taxiway🙂.


My favorite color is blue, but a lighter one to this

We were rocking and rolling by 12:18!


The window on my row was horrific: so dirty

We lined up on the sole runway two minutes later, due to depart East.



Much like with the inbound, the views out of Cusco are simply incredible!



The Seat/Cabin


I am not going to touch on the seat or cabin too much here, if you are interested in seeing every small detail of this seat, feel free to check the previous report! However, I did discover a couple of new features!


The table flips out from the armrest in the bulkhead seats!





Not sure if I like this design or not.


Moving on, here are a couple of pictures of the cabin if you are interested, including the weird little middle seat!



And a better picture of just how wide these seats truly are. For an additional 60$, this was worth it on my Bogota-Cusco leg but I am not sure if it was worth it on this 54-minute hop.


So wide

Service


The service was comical on this flight. There was a single FA working the premium seats and the only interaction I had with him was when he said, "Do you want to buy anything".


He then proceeded to close the curtains. until...


He went over to one of the premium seats and started taking pictures out of the window. For me, this isn't a huge issue. We were over lake Titicaca and it's beautiful, perhaps he doesn't fly this route a lot and wants some memories.


Chomping away on his apple

What did bother me was how multiple passengers just moved themselves up to the premium seats for about 20 minutes of the 54-minute flight to "take pictures". I get it; you have an aisle and want to take some pictures, but I don't think sitting in a seat that is more expensive for 20 minutes is okay. Just makes me wonder why I had to pay for it.



The FA never asked them to leave, he was just enjoying his apple taking some pictures. I digress, all is well.


IFE


The IFE was exactly the same as what was on my flight from Bogota to Cusco. I was happy to see that the older A319s were shown some love at least!


Lake Titicaca


We started our descent into La Paz when we were over Lake Titicaca, more to the Eastern side by Copacabana. Did you know the Copacabana beach in Rio was not the original but the one in Bolivia is? Here are some views over Lake Titicaca.



Arrival


La Paz is an hour ahead of Cusco. At 1:39 pm local time the captain announced we would be landing in approximately 30 minutes, the visibility was 8000 meters and the temperature was 15 degrees Celsius.


We had a constant right-hand turn for about 75 seconds, and I was worried something might be up due to an announcement from the captain. Apparently and I quote, "I am getting interference from somewhere, can everybody please make sure their mobile phones are off". Huh...



Eventually, we straightened out which was followed by a brief left bank.


Arrival into La Paz


Something that might contribute to this short flight time is how you takeoff at over 11,000 feet of elevation and land at over 12,000 feet of elevation. As far as I am concerned this is the only route in the world that does this with a jet engine.


Flaps all the way down

I had 0 idea of what to expect in terms of looks for La Paz. When I saw this out of the window, it blew my mind😳. More on this in a future post, but Bolivia is one of the most incredible countries I have visited. I rank in number 3 out of the 81 I have now been to!



Wow.


We touched down a tad behind schedule at 2:12 pm local time after a 52 minute flight. You can swipe through the slideshow if you are interested in seeing some old scrapped planes in random locations😅. As I said, a one-of-a-kind place.



We pulled into our gate 3 minutes later and waited for the jetbridge to detach.


Thankfully, I was first off of the plane with this 60$ seat purchase. I kid you not, this saved me hours.


Welcome to Boliviaaa!!!!!!

A look back at the Avianca A319 that took us on this short hop today. Thank you for a safe flight!


I would be back here... tomrorow

I am gutted since I didn't get to fly BoA this time. However, I already have plans to head back to Bolivia next year for a couple of weeks as a friend of mine does some great work with an orphanage, which I would like to help with! Then I will fly BoA, I promise!


Wish I had more time to fly BoA

I legged it immigration, praying there wasn't an international flight before us.



Well, there wasn't. There are 3 immigration officers for the whole plane and if you are a US citizen it takes 15 minutes to get the whole visa application done. You also have to pay 160$ for a visa if you are American, but at least it lasts 1o years. Lastly, it takes up a whole page+the stamp...


Here is a look back at the line, I could not imagine. Best 60$ ever spent?


We made it!

Not before baggage inspection. If you think this is severe, wait until you hear about how a dog sniffs everyone's bags at the gate in departures.



Finally, wooohooo we made it to Bolivia.



Coffee in hand, I made my way to the taxi stand to head to La Paz. Expert tip: the USD has been banned in Bolivia, meaning you will get a fantastic exchange rate from almost anybody due to the black market. USD will be your best friend here.



12,000 feet in elevation, I started to feel it! Find out more soon in what I got up to in the 8 hours I was awake in Bolivia, a jam-packed schedule!


Driving to La Paz

Final Thoughts


Similar to a flight from Bogota to Cusco, the hard product is fantastic and worth the 60$ extra to skip the hours at immigration. However, the service onboard today was not the best, to say the least. Surprisingly, the outlier was laid with incredible service at the desk in Cusco. Props to that amazing agent. If only Avianca could have more staff like her. At the end of the day, Avianca got me from Point A to Point B on time (a tiny bit behind schedule but not their fault), and with comfortable seats, I wouldn't hesitate to fly with them again for the right price. Then again they control a lot of the markets down here so what is the right price? 😅


JETTOAJET SCALE


Snacks And Drinks

6/10

Seat (1A)

9/10

IFE

8/10

Ground Experience

8/10

Overall Service

5/10

Total

36/50




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