How is to fly in Brazil

During the past weekend, several airlines “threw the house out of the window,” as we say in Colombia. There were two days of super deals on tickets for multiple domestic and international destinations. Deals caused exaltation in the tripping souls, including myself, of those who by a value much lower than the usual bought tickets for their next vacation trip.

In the middle of the excitement, however a few people stop to think about the quality of service they are buying. Invariably, there are differences between the airlines companies and it is good to have this in mind when buying a ticket. Therefore, I did a brief review of the main positive and negative highlights of the main Brazilian companies that I have flown.

I did not evaluated some aspects, like the comfort of the seats, since most aircraft have chairs and standardized spaces. Besides, I am not a big person, so I feel comfortable anywhere.

In addition, I did not consider the waiting time for baggage drop off and check-in because when I have luggage to drop, I usually arrive early at the airport to avoid lines and always do web check in a few days before, which saves me a lot of time.

TAM

TAM is By far one of the best companies that operate in Brazil. They have a greater effort in customer service and enjoy working in subtle things that does not seem to be very important, but they do in the subconscious of the passengers.

– Boarding Pass: the only company in Brazil that gives you a QR code on your smartphone as a Boarding pass. Alternatively, you can print your boarding pass at the airport auto-check in machines with your reservation number. You save a lot of time and don´t have to worry about printing, forgetting or losing the ticket back home.

– Onboard – Service: The food is always good and well prepared, no matter the length of the path, always has a snack or something to eat during the trip. It may seem silly but is the only airline that gives candies of different flavors, when you board the plane. You can say, is just a simple candy, but without knowing they are doing your body have a positive and pleasurable unconscious physiological association with the experience of flying with Tam

– Punctuality: It is hard to remember a delayed flight of Tam, and perhaps you do not know, but memories associated with negative situations are strongly retained, therefore I can remember exactly which airlines made me spend hours bored at an airport. TAM was never one of them.

– Foreign Credit-Card: one of the few companies in Brazil that allows buying tickets with a foreign credit card in their website. Generally the other companies ask you to go to the store (there will now charge for the service in the store).

– One World Alliance: The alliances are not always good or beneficial to users. In my case, I travel a lot to Colombia, and the One World Alliance allows me to make flights with LAN (another good company in Latin America). Additionally you can accumulate miles on TAM and LANPASS loyalty program and use them in any other One World airline partner.

-Price: flying inside Brazil it is expensive, but TAM usually makes many deals facilitating the life of the frequent flyer.

Gol 

The Gol Company is like that college colleague you don´t like a lot but is very smart and you have to work with. It offers a good service that is bad, but it makes tons of deals.

– Onboard – service: it is the only company that I knows that doesn’t provide food on board, on the contrary offers a menu of sandwiches and snacks with high values that could easily be considered an assault. The only thing you can have on the plane without paying is water. So if you are flying by GOL, take food with you from before entering the airport, it is not a secret to anyone that the prices of food at Brazilian airports are really high, or prepare to starve or pay US$18 for a chips potato package with soda on the plane.

-Deals: I believe that GOL makes more deals than other companies in Brazil and with very competitive prices. However, I prefer to wait until other companies launch promotions before flying Gol. Unfortunately, the competition does not always respond to their promotions, so give you no choice.

AVIANCA

Although the Colombian company is one of the first airlines in Latin America and has recently joined the StarAlliance, is relatively new in the Brazilian market operating flights from the old Ocean Air. Like any major change, I believe that Avianca is passing through difficult time adapting because they are trying to expand rapidly and may not have enough infrastructure to achieve it. The service it is more than acceptable and maybe I have this feeling by comparing it with her service within Colombia. However, I am sure that will be a great deal to fly with them in the near future.

– Aircrafts: Unfortunately, Avianca is still using some of the old fleet (really old!) to cover the local routes. It may happen that you to come in on an international flight in a modern airplane and during your connection to another city within Brazil, you feel like you traveled back in time as you board the plane. The chairs are old and you can forget the on board entertainment system.

-Punctuality: Do you remember the negative memories? Well, Avianca has been the airline that most hours of delay caused me during my trips. If you are doing connection, may have a scale with 2-hour wait easily converted into an endless wait. Pretty annoying given that you are tired, hungry, and wanting to get home.

-Boarding pass: Another thing that annoys me a lot is this. I often do web check-in, but I do not always have the possibility to print the boarding pass before arriving to the airport, you cannot print your boarding pass in in the auto – check in totem if you already did the web check-in. Therefore, you have to do the line to print it. To avoid this problem it is better to not do web check-in the day before and do it on the airport totem. However, if you are a person who likes to choose your window seat (like me) can forget about this.

Azul

The Azul Company is the good one and shy sister of the family. Is a small company that works very well. It is simple but with great service. They have what it is called “Azul Experience” with a few benefits that they offer as free bus to the airport that works in some cities. Nevertheless, the price of their tickets is uncompetitive, they hardly make deals and depending on date; there is not always availability of flights.

And so, if you ask me in which  airline  company to buy tickets for the upcoming deals, I’ll tell you to buy in TAM (eyes closed) or Azul (if happens that they are doing miracles), and then by Avianca and finally Gol. Just so you understand that I do not care so much about waiting two hours late sitting in an airport as long as I get on the plane they apologize and offer me something to eat and drink of good quality and “for free.”

Cristian Figueroa

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