Avianca is rather well-known to most of us thanks to its frequent flyer program LifeMiles which provides a good award chart without any fuel surcharges (changes coming October 15th though).
Avianca has a mini-hub in Cartagena with direct flights to Miami and New York. The airport is rather small but it seems to pay off. After using the Avianca VIP Sala Lounge, I made my way to the boarding gate.
In Cartagena there are no actual gates, so you simple walk out to your plane (think Air Asia's old terminal). It's really hot during the day and the planes get an external AC to stop them from heating up beyond 100 degrees.
The plane was a brand new A320 with private TVs. Unfortunately, I got a seat just in front of the emergency exit row, so no recline for me, but the person in front of me reclined the second the fasten seat belt sign came off. The seat pitch is small – just about 31''.
Going up was a crazy experience. The humidity in Cartagena is enormous and for the first 10,000 feet of climb, the cabin was completely fogged up from the water vapor the AC produced. Nobody seemed to care much – I guess they're used to it – but I have never seen so much 'smoke' in the cabin.
The entertainment system needed a reboot and you could see the Linux boot screen for about 10 minutes. It only came up once in the air. There are no movies – just TV shows, music and games. Why have a new entertainment system when you do not load anything more useful?
MDE Airport is actually in Rio Negro – a neighboring valley at more than 8,000 feet. The plane dives into the valley with hills coming up left and right. It's almost like landing in Cuzco.
We touched down hard and taxied for only a couple of seconds. Deplaning was quick and the bags showed up immediately.
This was a good economy flight – new equipment and efficient crew – but a tight seat pitch.