Avior Airlines Flies A340s To Miami, And They Have First Class?!

As you guys know, I have an obsession with “random” airlines. I’d like to think that I at least know the basics of just about any airline that operates transatlantic flights, as well as any airline that operates jets to the US.

But then time and again I’m proven wrong, like when I recently discovered that Surinam Airways operates flights between Paramaribo and Amsterdam using an A340-300. How. Darn. Cool.

So I’m sure you can appreciate my surprise (or not) when I discovered that there’s an airline I’ve never heard of that operates A340-300s to the US, and arguably this airline even has an international first class product.

Specifically, I’m talking about Avior Airlines, which is based in Barcelona, Venezuela. In addition to flights within Latin America, the airline operates the ~1,500 mile flight between Miami (MIA) and Barcelona (BLA) daily. The flight is operated 5x weekly with an A340-300, and 2x weekly with a 737-400.

Avior Airlines’ widebody fleet consists of a single 21 year old A340-300, which used to fly for Air China, then Cathay Pacific, then China Southwest Airlines, and then Air China again.

The craziest part? Avior Airlines has first class!! Nowadays there are just over two dozen airlines that have an international first class cabin, and I guess Avior Airlines is one of them.

Avior Airlines’ A340 has a total of eight fully flat first class seats, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Then business class has 28 angled flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration.

And economy is in a typical 2-4-2 configuration.

So, how much are tickets? A one-way ticket in business class between Miami and Barcelona costs ~$770, while a one-way first class ticket costs ~$1,170.

Of course the problem is that this is perhaps not the ideal time to go to Venezuela… though I’m curious.

It looks like it would be possible to do a same day turn and just spend about six hours on the ground in Venezuela, possibly without leaving the airport. At least it’s possible to book that, which isn’t to say that it’s possible given the current climate.

Anyone know if there’s any way I can make this work with my US or German passport, or am I nuts? Has anyone flown Avior Airlines?

(Tip of the hat to Giuseppe, all pictures from Avior Airlines’ Facebook page)

Comments

  1. you are nuts, but what the heck. 🙂 how do you know that the return flight will leave on schedule…..

  2. What could go wrong Ben ? I’m thinking Angola all over again 🙂 Having said that it would be another epic trip report. Do it.

  3. Don’t do it. There are people now operating in the airport looking to rob anyone they deem a tourist or carrying foreign currency the law has pretty much vacated the airport

  4. I wouldn’t recommend you to visit Venezuela… got family there and I personally wouldn’t even feel safe in the airport

  5. Is it like having a split personality having two nationalities?

    I firmly disapprove of dual nationality as it means a person is NOT showing 100% commitment to a country.

  6. I use to fly out of this airport a lot when I lived in Venezuela, there’s nothing to do here. In case your flight got delayed or cancelled, you’ll have a hard time getting a hotel and transportation to and from the airport. The A/C at the airport was not working for a long time. Also, the airport used to have a Priority Pass lounge with barely water, I don’t know now.
    The airport is really small and with a couple of places to eat, food is not good at all. Skip this one and you’ll be safe.

  7. I fly they
    MAO-BLA-CCS
    Economy and bussines
    In these routes they don’t have nothing, just water.
    The 737-200 isn’t a safety chose, don’t know the others planes
    If you want that route you can go to caracas and get a AA flight Back, or came to MAO and add some brazilian flight on azul and avianca inside Brazil and them get a Nice flight on Gru. Or use gol 737 Max

  8. I mean if you’re going to fly to Venezuela this would be the place to go to as it’s safer than Caracas. That being said, Venezuela is NOT a tourist destination right now and you might get caught in a service disruption. I would only attempt this with a Spanish speaking travel companion also.

  9. First Time Poster… I love your blog and your sense of duty try each and every first class but Ben don’t do it!! I’m not Venezuelan but have traveled and studied and recently have done business in the country (its was insane) and you need to know that your airport experience could quickly turn Kafkaesque. Let this be the one the one that got away. Let this be the one you lament not having tried. Truly not worth it.

  10. Ben, do yourself and all your fans a favor and a stay the hell away from Venezuela. It’s a shithole thanks to Maduro and Chavez, and its really not safe. They will rob you of everything you have. I have done business there, and was just asked to take a trip there next week, was offered a private jet, security and all kind of other protection and I declined it. Thanks, but no thanks. Not interested. Don’t do it.

  11. However exciting this airline may seem, for your own safety, this is probably the point at which to draw a line. Venezuela is currently a very unstable country and traveling there at this time is not advisable. Maybe sometime in the future when things have settled there..

  12. Do not do it! My husband is from Venezuela and he and his entire family have fled the country. He will never go back there and he said I could never go because I look so “American” (light skin and hair) and would be an instant target. While there, he was robbed multiple times at gunpoint, as was most of his family members. It is way too dangerous, and even the airports are extremely dangerous places to be with numerous robberies. It just isn’t worth it, don’t go.

  13. Ah, Avior… Never flown with them, but I have a close friend who did and it was a nightmare organization-wise.
    Basically the airline rescheduled a short CCS-CUR flight two hours later, then moved the departure time forward without telling anyone, so a large portion of the passengers got stuck at the check-in area at Caracas. We tried to provide emergency travel support from Europe, but it proved extremely tricky – flight information from Venezuela was extremely unreliable (multiple sources directly contradicted each other) and nobody would answer the phone at Avior offices in Caracas.

    Ultimately, my friend was re-accommodated on another airline a day later, after spending a night of uncertainty at CCS airport.

  14. @James Schmidt – I wish more people had multiple passports, as it shows a strong commitment to the entire world, rather than just one country.

  15. MIA – BLA (Avior Air), BLA – CCS (Avior Air), CCS – POS (Caribbean Airlines), POS – PBM (Caribbean Airlines), PBM – AMS (Surinam Airways), AMS – IAD/SFO on the KLM 787

  16. Ben, I know you’re curious and all…but this is probably not the best idea.

    If you were flying to CCS I’d tell you to even spend the night while you’re at it (wild, I know) but BLA? 80% chance that airport won’t have air conditioning or running water. Power, if lucky. (NOT kidding)

    6-hr turn around without leaving BLA? Nah, bro…chances are you’ll have to exit and re-enter. Can only imagine how that will sound when the National Guard asks you how long you were in the country. Probably better off leaving that US passport in MIA while you’re at it.

    Avior does the job for a lot of Venezuelans but it’s probably only better than Air Kyoto.

    No scare tactics, just facts. If you reaaaally can’t help yourself, check when that A340 flies to CCS. Almost certain they do sometimes. Fly with them, spend a few nights in Caracas (there are still some nice hotels), check Venezuela off the list and return with American Airlines. Make it a proper visit.

    I’m sure some of us here could help you with the logistics. You’ll definitely need a fixer to show around like Bourdain would have had. It could actually be a great experience and plenty of material for a bunch of posts.

    PD. If you do go for it, don’t let the 3-4 checked baggage allowance you’d have go to waste. There’s some NGOs that would gladly take that space to send medicines and other supplies.

  17. I bet the Caracas lounge was still too busy to allow Priority Pass guests to enter, most of the time, even if water was the only offering

  18. Don’t go there. One friend of mine just went back from Venezuela to Mexico and told me that the airport is pretty much lawless and that being a foreigner in Venezuela is really dangerous as people there are desperate for dollars and if they see you as a foreigner, they are will assume that you have dollars.

  19. MIA – BLA (Avior Airlines), BLA – POS (RUTACA Airlines), POS – PBM (Caribbean Airlines/Surinam Airways), PBM – AMS (Surinam Airways), AMS – IAD/SFO on a KLM 787

  20. I’m from Venezuela. Don’t want to discourage you from going since it’s not as bad as it sounds (doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe either) and I can think of lots of worse places to visit. Chances of getting delayed are somewhat high but that just means you may want to have a good backup plan in place if you have to overnight. As many have described don’t expect much at the airport and carry only the essentials. And by all means don’t go anywhere alone. Ping me if you want more details or if you need a Venezuelan buddy for the trip.

  21. James Schmidt:

    Regardless if someone has dual citizenship is NOT the topic in itself! Reread the article

  22. James Schmidt – The world would be a much, much, much better place if it wasn’t full of people who have “100% commitment to a single country” – whatever that even means? Perhaps international travel is also wrong?

  23. I always find it amusing to see what routes you find wild and unexpected!

    I can’t say it remotely shocks me that a former Dutch colony has regular flights to Amsterdam. Not least because it was actually in The Netherlands until not that long ago

  24. Can you not book a connection through BLA so that you don’t have to clear customs. Maybe easier said than done but could be a possibility.
    And you’d better start showing 100% commitment to either USA or Deutschland ;-). Was erlaube Schlappig?

  25. In this case better use the German passport. In some places US passports (rightfully) attract the wrong kind of excitement.

  26. Hi, first of all, omg I wasn’t able to believe that you made an article about something that I told you. Anyway, I have flown this route twice, one in the 737 and another in the A340, I mean, I like my country but is very risky to visit this days. In the very special ocassion that you decided to come, I would say that you shouldn’t let the airport, I mean it has a missing wall on the side, but is rather safe than being outside. Pd: Avior isn’t the best airline in the world but they make their job, it would be awesome if you do the flight. Pd2: I can say with security that the flight from MIA is going to depart on time, but I can’t say the same from BLA, it depends of the day, I don’t know. Cheers!

  27. @Callum it’s been almost 45 years since it was part of the Netherlands! The flights do make sense, still, given the cultural history.

  28. Venezuela is actually incredibly dangerous. No one has money, people are hungry, going there is absolutely fucking stupid.

  29. Ben – I’d consider that recent in terms of colonial history. Almost half the current population of the Netherlands would have been alive back then after all!

  30. I’m from Venezuela and live in Miami… some advice

    1. Don’t go to Venezuela, not worth the risks, (haven’t been back in over 10 years)
    2. Don’t fly with any Venezuelan airline… I fly my family on AA or SwiftAir… for example, the defunct SBA used to fly a 767 CCS-MIA making a fuel stop in SDQ because not all the gas tanks were operational and it didn’t have enough range to make that flight non-stop
    3. Since you love random airline facts and airlines making absurd claims they don’t follow through, they announced 2 years ago they had $150M to invest in 6 A340’s. Two years later they only have a single one on their fleet http://elestimulo.com/elinteres/avior-invierte-cerca-de-150-millones-en-seis-nuevos-airbus-340-300/

  31. You could do it with your German passport
    No, going to Venezuela is beyond nuts, Plan and simple:
    JUST DON’T DO IT! please
    My hometown is a couple of miles from BLA, even if I was there, I would still tell you the same, just don’t!.

  32. My Venezuelan pals living in Miami now, said if I visited there would be 100% likelihood that I would be assaulted and robbed within 20 minutes of landing (I am blonde/blue eyes). Even inside the terminal, officials of the state double deal and are corrupt. My friends have ceased visiting as kidnapping + ransom is a major concern.

  33. Ben,

    What dates are you looking at? I searched MIA-BLA flights for both August and September and they are being operated by a 2-class 737-400, not a 3-class A340-300.

    Also, you should make an effort to show some integrity. You didn’t discover Surinam Airways, as I was the one who told you about it and within days you made a post about it.

  34. @SQFirst

    The A340-300 operates on the route usually 3-4 times a week, anyway this is Venezuela and you don’t have any guarantee it will operate the day you booked it (they can change it for the 737), nor expect any kind of consideration-refund (without a great effort) in case of equipment change.

    An although Avior is on the most punctual airlines in Venezuela (an tbh the BLA airport have lighter, thus smoother operations than CCS), be sure you don’t depend on a punctual schedule.

  35. @BBK
    Thanks! By any chance have you flown on this plane? The reason I ask is because I found a twitter message from Avior Airlines displaying a seatmap of their A340 but it shows the First Class cabin being 2x2x2 as the aircraft came from Philippine Airlines.

  36. Would you do a favor to us by not going because when I went I nearly lost a MacBook and my iPhone…..
    We wouldn’t want you to go to Venezuela as…. well maybe it could be that trip reports maybe epic but you won’t be safe…..

  37. Is it my imagination, or does that F Class cabin look strikingly similar to the old LH F product?

  38. Several decades ago Venezuela was the first Latin American country I visited. Physically, it is one of the most beautiful countries anywhere, from glorious Caribbean beaches and pristine rain forests to the staggering Andes and the unforgettable Angel Falls. At that time, Colombia was effectively in a civil war and next-door Venezuela was a regional safe haven.

    I’ve returned to Venezuela over the years for work, usually once every couple of years. The deteriorating security situation was troubling; about 4 years ago, on my last visit, I sought advice from the relevant European embassy. The embassy itself was at its third address in ten years; as corrupt police chiefs took over the previous two districts where it was located, it was then moved to the last remaining central Caracas district where the local police chief was apparently not corrupt.

    The commercial counsellor was frank: he outlined their own rules about travel through CCS (hand baggage only; only arrive in daylight, with enough time to get from airport to the city before nightfall; have a minder to meet you in the terminal – but accept there’s a good chance that an “official” will rip you off while you’re airside; bullet-proof cars and armed guards; always have two cars, in case one breaks down – and never stay with the broken car; never leave the airport-city highway; recognise that police and army checkpoints are usually just for lawless shakedowns and give them whatever they ask).

    I asked if any other gateway to Venezuela was safer than CCS: he looked horrified and said they were all worse (Maracaibo was apparently particularly notorious).

    Caracas itself is (or was) a vibrant Latin American big city – full of traffic and noise and energy. Until dusk, when the city is suddenly, eerily deserted and silent. Only the foolish or desperate venture out after dark. The empty streets and absence of noise are unnerving.

    That was my last visit, and things may have changed (for better or worse). The reports I have suggest, for me, that the risks of travel there remain too high. I am terribly sad about that.

    And if you do go, I’d leave that US passport at home.

  39. Why don’t you take them down, transfer to Caracas and then take Plus Ultra Lineas Areas business class to Madrid or Tenerife? They also use A340s with ~24 Business seats, lie flat beds.

    Their lounge also sounds…interesting

    VIP Room
    Tranquillity, entertainment, comfort… whatever you’re looking for, you can find it in our VIP Rooms. Plus Ultra gives you everything you need to ensure that your flight is not just a way to reach a destination, but an experience that will delight all five of your senses.

    https://plusultra.com/en/clases-de-viaje/business/

  40. I recommend you take the $1170 and donate it to a non-profit working to help the people suffering in Venezuela. And maybe when there’s less of the suffering, you fly there in first class for six hours. Just my vote…

  41. Hereafter, when you talk about the number of first-class products you have flown, say: ‘I have flown all international first-class products except Kuwait Airways and Avior Airlines.’

  42. Skip this trip.

    Work buddy went to Venezuela a few months ago on a relief trip

    Robbed within minutes of getting off plane… by gunpoint. In the airport
    Took his wallet and phone.

    Went to file report with police… who then detained him and forced him to pay money to get out of airport detention. Since he was robbed (no wallet) they forced him to call home and wire money to make payment

    His bogus charge was illegal entry to Venezuela (he had all appropriate documentation) and smuggling so they took his relief supplies. (Medications)

    Venezuela is pretty hairy right now for people who look like they have money.
    Like a first class passenger

    If you go, bring nothing.
    Dress in very poor clothing
    No American phone, keys, watches, etc
    Get a cheap burner phone
    Hide your passport, a credit card, and dollars (like in your underwear)
    Have a fake wallet you can let someone rob, with Venezuelan currency in it

  43. I would not recommend you to take this on bud. There are many others I know who would be fine in Venezuela, but not you.

  44. Been, please take my advise and don’t go to Venezuela. It is a flight straight to the uncertain.

  45. No. God no. As much as I’m intrigued by failed states, this is a major no for me.

    Ben, I know you love to think about future trips and I appreciate your ambition, but I can’t imagine the flack you’d get on CNN if something were to happen. “Travel Blogger Killed by Venezuelan Gang” with some commentor saying that people warned him not to go.

  46. Like many others say, don’t push your luck. While Venezuela is a stunning country and its people in general terms are really nice, it ia true that is a dangerous place rigjt now, poverty runs high and you don’t exactly look the “local” part.
    As others mention, unless you find a Venezuelan travel companion, not just spanish speaker, don’t try it.

  47. Just a suggestion, Ben.

    If you REALLY want to fly them, book a ticket to Brazil or any other south american country they fly to with a short connecting time in Venezuela, then take the most convenient way back home. I’ve heard that a very comfortable way of doing so is connecting in BLA to Manaus, with a 3 hours ground time i guess.

  48. @SQFirst

    You´re very welcome. Nope, never flown on the A340, just their 35 year-ish 737’s a couple of times.

    But I was indeed curious since the beginning for their 3-Class service on the A340, and I’m expecting for someone to send me some real pictures someday.

    @The nice Paul Sadly to the worse, at a speed we could never imagine in our worst nightmares.

  49. @Nicholas

    Absolutely bad advice, why someone should expose unnecessarily to the local ‘authorities’ ? just the immigration-customs experience could end very very bad. And Spanish is a must.

  50. @ BBK

    I’m very sorry to hear that – though I had suspected as much.

    The IMF is currently forecasting that Venezuelan inflation will hit *one million percent* by the end of 2018 – levels not seen anywhere since the collapse of the Weimar Republic. And we all know how badly that ended.

  51. You are likely to get robbed in the airport at gunpoint. Why not wait a bit until the situation stabilizes?

    Have you been to Bolivia yet? Boliviana has biz class and you don’t even need a visa with your German passport. There are all sorts of interesting places to visit and it’s safe.

  52. Hi Lucky,

    I am venezuelan and I follow faithfully your blog.

    If you go there, please use your German passport, and if you can, try flying to CCS instead of BLA only because there are more ways out from CCS rather than BLA (in case of emergency).

    My country is not in its best shape right now, so bring the minimum (no valuables) and try to find a local to guide you through (if you decide to stay in Caracas).

    You can definitely go, but you have to take several precautions beforehand.

  53. Ben, I’m a frequent reader of OMAAT and I was a surprised to see this article about Avior. As a Venezuelan -who currently lives in Venezuela- I can provide objective comments on your proposed trip. Yes, I agree that Venezuela is unfortunately not the safest destination as we speak, but with certain precautions, it can be made. I work for an American company and we have expatriates working in CCS with no issues. Actually, one of our senior executives flies in every week using a standard security detail (i.e. armored vehicle) and in 4 years that executive has not experienced safety issues (+150 incoming international flights to CCS). You would need to use your German passport as US citizens require a tourist visa to enter Venezuela. getting one takes more than 1 month if you are lucky. I fly out several times during the year as well, and with standard precautions, trips are quite doable. Hope this helps!

  54. Venezuela is more dangerous than flying to the sun. You will immediately be robbed, probably by cannibals as there is no food there.

  55. In addition to the current danger posed by travel to Venezuela, Avior has recently been banned from operating in the EU for failing to meet safety standards; I don’t think this is an airline you want to be flying with.

  56. Ben, enter with your German passport visa free. US citizens need a visa and probably best to not say you’re American.

    If you can pull this off, you will be a legend! Hell, I would like to go with you! I think we can do it! But I don’t have another citizenship so I don’t think I can go since, they definitely not giving me a visa.

    You will be my hero if you make it back alive!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *