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  • Konrad Tillman

Review: Gol Airlines Santos Dumont (Rio)-Congonhas (Sao Paulo) 737-700 Economy

Intro


Since I was a young boy, I have had a dream of flying out of the Santos Dumont airport in Rio De Janeiro. After flying into GIG on the way over, I had to fly the intercity connection on the return. There was no other choice, I just had to.


Santos Dumont is known to be one of the most dangerous airports in the world, not up there with Paro, but certainly, a more difficult airport to land or take off due to the runway length being 4300 feet.


So, what was flying GOL like between Rio and Sao Paulo? It felt routine for the airlines (as it should) but was a little nerve-racking upon takeoff. The service GOL provided was fantastic and I now rank them as the best domestic economy airline in South America for now.


Let's get into the review and explain why it was amazing!


Route- SDU (Rio De Janeiro)- CGH (Sao Paulo)

Plane- 737-700NG

Seat- 10A

Flight Number- G31307

Date- March 23rd 2024

Flight Time: 51 Minutes

Price Paid- 7.5k AA Miles+8$


How I Booked


After escaping the census in Bolivia, the only piece of the puzzle that was left was getting from Rio De Janeiro to Sao Paulo. When I first looked, I thought that I might be in some trouble with close-to-departure fares around 580$. While I didn't take a picture, these are what next-day fares look like...


This is ridiculous, obscene for economy

580$ for a flight of 51 minutes?? You must be pulling my leg. However, since I am a travel blogger it is my duty to know that I can book GOL with AA Miles. It was surprising to see that there are flights available with miles on almost every flight of the day.


Much better

In total I paid 7.5K miles+ 8.80 for my flight over to Sao Paulo, a deal coming out at 13 cents a mile. Fantastic!


Getting To SDU


After bidding farewell to my newfound friends on the tour of Christ The Redeemer, it was time to hop in an Uber to Santos Dumont Airport.


good prices in Brazil for Uber

Santos Dumont is located on the waterfront, approximately a 15-minute drive from Copacabana Beach.


On the way

Check-In


Seeing as I was there about 3 hours before my flight, I made my way over to check in to enquire about an earlier flight change. Reading online, I found that GOL is a low-cost carrier, and I was expecting them to charge me more to get on an earlier flight.


Here we go

The airport was practically empty, and after a few minutes, an agent came back from break to assist me. After asking if I could get on an earlier flight she responded with, "Would you like a window or aisle".


A bit shocked, I said, "For the earlier flight"?


She said, "Yes, it's confirmed. I have a window seat with extra legroom in the exit-row I can give you for free, no charge."


Huh. Where has this airline customer service been my whole life?? Whomever you may be, I appreciate you!!


Stunning airport with no people and great staff

There was a beautiful Starbucks near check-in, and I checked the departure board to confirm my new 4:40 pm flight to Sao Paulo.


Might rank as one of the most efficient airports in the world

I headed upstairs towards immigration. However, I had to buy the obligatory bracelets/shot glasses and coffee mug for my professor.


Immigration is upstairs at SDU

Immigration was easy to locate, and a staff member ushered me through.


Where is everyone?

Not joking, by the time I got to the checkpoint there wasn't a single person in front of me, what was going on? Is this the most efficient airport in the world?


Loving this, but now how will I ever go back to normal?

It was a murky day at SDU but the planes were still gorgeous!


LATAM A319

Santo Dumont is a small airport with about 15 gates I would estimate. A roughly 3-minute walk later I arrived at our gate where our 737-700NG was waiting to take us to CGH.


Pretty

A beer was grabbed, some photos were edited, and soon enough we were boarding right at 4 pm.



Boarding


Unlike many carriers around the world, no one was rushing to get on board or queueing up. Everything was very leisurely.


At about 4:10 pm, I got in line to board.


I had group 2 but I am on Brazil time

Boarding was efficient and the gate agents were smiling and cracking jokes. GOL, you have set such a good image in mind.


Rain rain go away

Heading down the jetbridge, I got up close and personal with our 737-700. Many times I have flown the 800 and 900, but rarely do I get to fly the 700 variant.


GOL 737-700NG

The livery is gorgeous. The primary color is white and the secondary is Orange.


GOL livery

Do you think it's difficult to operate one of these jetbridges?


Jetbridge SDU

I quickly settled into my seat 12A for today's hop.


unlimited legroom all for free

Departure


Boarding was completed by 4:27 pm and we pushed back a minute later (12 minutes ahead of schedule)!


We had a short taxi by some GOL and LATAM aircraft awaiting their next destination.



Before holding short of the runway. Taxi times are very short here due to the tiny runway😅.


Patiently waiting our turn

A fellow GOL plane was on a short final. Really have to get the landings perfect here.


A bit unnerving

We made our way out past the first (shorter) runway at 4:35 pm.


Erm we are a little close to the ocean

Until we arrived at our runway.


Why are we turning into the ocean

The captain turned left before right to make sure we got all of the runway we could. Gotta say when the captain turns the plane towards the ocean you get a little uneasy feeling😅


Ready for departure

Runway Santos Dumont

We took off exactly at 4:36 pm local time, four minutes earlier than our scheduled pushback time.


Takeoff is a one-of-a-kind experience here. The engines fire up with the brakes on for about 5 seconds before there is a sudden jolt sending you forward at a rate of knots.


It's a rocket ship!



We climbed at a high vertical speed. I wonder what the actual altitude per minute was.


Steep ascent

Wow, this picture does it justice. When departing to the south like we were, there is an immediate left bank upon takeoff to avoid Christ The Redeemer.


Buh bye cloudy Rio

We kept climbing up to get through these clouds.


Winglet GOL 737-700

We managed to break the first layer but still had another layer to go.


Just keep swimming

Eventually, we broke the layer and were greeted with the Brazil sunshine I have come to love.


This is more like it

The Seat/Cabin


Upon disembarking, I had nowhere to be so stayed behind to snap a couple of pictures of the GOL cabin.


3-3 standard config

Seats are arranged in a 3-3 configuration with the first few rows offering the "premium seats". On this route, I didn't see the middle seat being blocked, but these seats only went for an additional 15 reals.


Premium seats

Even the non-premium seats seemed to offer decent pitch. Very impressed with GOL.


Adjustable to display premium

The only issue with the exit row window seat is the lack of an armrest on the far side.


Modern and comfortable

USB plugs and a tray table were provided. These are just the basic necessities, but I don't see a reason for anything more on these shorter flights.


Exit row legroom is incredible

There was IFE provided through a Wi-Fi connection, although the flight was so short I didn't even have time to check it out😒. Free movies and TV shows are offered.


Snack Service


15 minutes after takeoff, the crew jumped into action to offer a snack service. The crew gave out 3 snacks to each person consisting of a chocolate ball, chocolate cookie, and cream crackers. Water was offered as well as a few other beverages.


Snack Service SDU-CGH

Okay, for a flight of 45 minutes, the snack offering was incredible. The cookies were marvelous and the crackers were good as well. It's the perfect way to tie me over until dinner.


No skimping out like United 🤨

The cabin was cleared up at 5:11 pm as we began our descent into Sao Paulo.


Arrival


By 5:11 ish, we were on initial descent into a rainy Sao Paulo (again with this rain man, come on).



By 5:21 flaps went down, and Sao Paulo came into view.



We touched down at 5:27, after a flight time of 51 minutes. The good thing about CGH airport is the lack of traffic compared to GRU.



Another great aspect of the airport is how small it is. That meant a 4-minute taxi to the gate.


CGH airport arrival

It's not as small as the airport in Rio, but still a lot smaller than its neighbor. 19 minutes early on a rainy day in Brazil, props to you GOL.


A fellow GOL aicraft heading back to SDU

Part of waiting on the plane was measuring how long it took to deplane everyone. The answer was 6 minutes! Impressive Brazil!


Arrival into CGH Terminal

Thanking our baby 737 that flew us over to Sao Paulo today.


Thank you for your service sir

Once off the plane, I found this gorgeous Azul Walt Disney livery!!


This is incredible

Heading out of the terminal was efficient and I made my way to the transit buses.


CGH airport

Baggage claim

Pretty terminal

The GOL staff directed me downstairs, but I later found out there were no buses operating by the airlines anymore🥴. At least that is what the bus drivers told me.


Guess I'll have to find another way

My plan was to review the bus service to see how it worked, but after finding out the buses didn't work, I decided to call an Uber. At the end of the day, it was 15 dollars for the one-hour drive to Sao Paulo GRU, not too bad at all.


The best thing about CGH airport is that you can just hop in the Uber from the exit. There's no need to walk like at GIG 😪.


Final Thoughts


Not only did GOL tick all the boxes and get me from point A to point B early, but they also thoroughly impressed me on a 50-minute flight. It's difficult for an airline to impress me in economy on a 50-minute flight but through stellar ground service, free upgrade (sort of), amazing gate agents, friendly FAs, and a sublime snack service; I would actively seek out flying GOL in the future.


I have flown Azul and LATAM but GOL tops the list of all three of those carriers in economy. LATAM wins the business class award. Now I want to put it to the test by spending 8 hours on the 737 max 8 in economy from Miami to Brasilia. Plan on seeing that review in the next 12 months!


JETTOAJET SCALE


Snack Service

9/10

Seat (12A)

9/10

IFE

7.5/10

Ground Experience

9.5/10

Overall Service

9/10

Total

44/50



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