*updated in October 2017.
We’ve been traveling Avianca for a while now. We bought all the tickets as one because it was way cheaper that way.
I’m going to tell you how flying with Avianca was for us with kids
Our flight from La Paz to Lima was early, we left home before 5. When we arrived at the airport, the check-in was already open. We dropped Angelo’s bag and headed straight to the departure area. Everything went smoothly. It was just an hour of flight, so we didn’t have any entertainment or food on board, which was fine. The flight attendants were ok, everything went fine.
The second Flight
Then our flight from Lima to Bogota was longer, around 5 hours. There was the in-flight entertainment only for those who had the app downloaded onto their devices, which we didn’t. We thought there would be some kind of entertainment since it was a long flight, but no. They did serve food, which was just bad, but we almost never eat at the airplane anyway.
Everything went smoothly, though.
The last flight
The last flight, from Bogota to Toronto was also long (6~7 hours), including one stop in El Salvador. Our flight was at 5 am, but we arrived at the airport at 11 pm the night prior, on a flight from Medellin. We spent 6 hours at the airport doing nothing. Well, we ate and Coral and José slept for a few hours.
The annoying thing about this flight was that we wanted to drop Angelo’s bag to be able to walk around without huge bags around. They told us the check-in would open at midnight, so we went to eat, and arrived at the check-in area a bit after 12. Nothing. We had a coffee for an hour. Nothing. We walked around (and everything was closed) for another hour. Nothing. They opened the freaking check-in at 4 am. We’d asked every single Avianca employee and none of them would tell us properly. One of them even told us there was no such flight today. We had a slight panic attack.
There was no entertainment option on the first flight, as it was a short flight.
In El Salvador, we had a 50 minute connection time and nearly didn’t make it. We had to cross the whole airport and pass through the most annoying security ever. They made us re-scan our bags, take everything out of half of them (which was 5 bags), complained that we couldn’t carry as many liquid items as fit in a quarter size zip bag – but that each passenger could only bring 5. It was still fine, we just had to separate our items and place them in different bags, which is ridiculous and I then put them all together again right after. I need all the meds to be together, as I need all the toiletry to be together. They didn’t listen to me saying that I could cram as much as I wanted, with the TSA website on the phone. Those were the rules for those entering North America, they said.
We boarded the plane almost full then and nearly had no space for our bags. This airplane HAD onboard entertainment. A little 11’’ screen for every 3 rows of passengers. So nice. Luckily, they didn’t screen anything too awful – except for The Passenger, which I hoped the kids wouldn’t watch, and they were too busy playing on their devices anyway. It’s lucky that we were tired, we slept almost throughout the entire flight.
Angelo’s bag arrived fine. I love that they allow 10 kg of carry-on, so the rest of us was able to carry-on only. The food is the regular horrible airplane food. If you don’t need anything special, it’s just fine. And if you’re fine with the unruly times of check-in openings too. It’s not the best airline ever, but it’s fair enough one. We’ll use it fine when we find cheap flights with them again, but we’ll bear in mind they don’t really care about time.
The kids didn’t get anything to pass the time in any of the flights, which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your kid, really. My kids were happy playing on their devices and Coral has a problem letting go of ‘gifts’ so we’re glad she didn’t receive anything.
They still let us board first because they let families with 5 year-olds and under board first. We love it.
So, overall, it’s an OK experience. Not too good, not too bad.
Our last Avianca flight – from Brazil to New Zealand
Both flights were overbooked and they literally shoved us in every spare seat they had left, all scattered around. We always do the online check-in, but their website was having problems and we couldn’t do it, even over the phone.
The check-in guy wasn’t in the mood, and he was asking us stuff that was in our passports – they were with him – and taking way too long to do anything at all. In the end, he said we had to do the check-in for the second flight in Santiago (which is a lie, don’t ever accept it) and refused to do anything further. We had to get someone else to redo it for us. We’d be losing our second flight otherwise.
The land personnel was unbelievably unhelpful, disrespectful, and rude. They said it wasn’t their problem and refused to help at all – not politely.
We ended up getting seats nearby, the youngest kids with the adults and the 2 older kids nearby but alone.
It was a short flight (an hour) and we knew they were able to manage it, so we accepted it.
The second flight, on the other hand, was 14+ hours flight. There was no way we’d let the kids sit with strangers. The land personnel in Chile was incredibly polite, and yet, refused to help at all. They did reassure us that we would travel with them, that the cabin crew would be able to fix it all. We even offered to stay and take the next flight, but they refused our offer.
The flight attendants were great and they managed to fit us in 2 really close rows all together, after 40 minutes. They didn’t give up even when I’d given up. They had managed to find 5 seats together, and I was fine sitting with strangers as long as the kids weren’t.
The food, the service, everything was great on that flight.
Do we recommend Avianca for families?
Honestly, we had one excellent flight, 4 average flights, and one horrible flight with them.
I don’t know if the chance of getting that amazing crew is worth the risk of getting the worst flight crew in history.
If you have kids that are under 12, they have to place them with you even if they have to upgrade someone so it should be fine.
The problem comes if your kid is over 12 because then they can fly alone – or so they say.
If your 12 and over and isn’t highly independent, I wouldn’t risk it. And definitely, avoid long flights.
Have you ever flown with them? Tell us in the comments!