Avianca Eliminates Business Class On Most Routes

Avianca Eliminates Business Class On Most Routes

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Avianca has been trying to transform its business since the start of the pandemic, including becoming a more efficient airline. The next step in that process has just been announced.

Avianca cuts business class on all non-Europe routes

As of October 1, 2022, Avianca will cut business class on all routes within the Americas, meaning the airline will only offer business class on flights to Europe. This comes as Avianca is changing how fares are bundled, and the airline is promising a simpler product and more competitive fares within the Americas.

Here’s how Manuel Ambriz, Avianca’s Chief Commercial Officer, describes this development:

“We are making progress on our path to becoming the airline that everyone can fly with. That is why today we are presenting a new international fare scheme so that customers can enjoy their trips by choosing how to fly, which attributes to pay for, accessing a more practical and simple flight experience, without being tied to a particular class, and also with the option to add more than 15 products or services to your purchase if you need them. Thanks to the changes implemented in the aircraft cabins, we reached the same levels of seats offered in 2019 in the Colombian domestic market with 15% fewer takeoffs, which means a very important contribution to reducing the carbon footprint.”

In October 2021, Avianca announced plans to reconfigure its A320s with 20% more seats, all while eliminating personal televisions. As part of this, Avianca eliminated a dedicated business class cabin, instead introducing a premium economy with blocked middle seats.

It seems that Avianca is now taking this to the extreme, as even longer routes to the United States will no longer feature first class. I’m curious how this is going to work. For example, Avianca typically flies 787s between Bogota and Los Angeles, which is a 3,500-mile route that can’t be operated by any of Avianca’s narrow body aircraft.

The airline has stopped selling business class on this route as of October 1. So will the airline really keep flying a 787 and just not sell business class in the name of consistency, will Avianca reconfigure a wide body without business class, or what?

What will happen to Avianca’s LAX route?

I see where Avianca is coming from, but…

I can appreciate Avianca’s need to cut costs and become a more efficient airline, as the airline filed for bankruptcy protection during the pandemic.

That being said, I’m surprised by the extreme direction the airline is taking. As much as I love a great passenger experience, I understand that the economics of offering generous legroom and personal televisions in economy may not be great in all markets.

But you’d think that there would be something to be said for investing in a premium experience while also offering a lower cost product in economy.

It seems to me like Avianca will increasingly struggle to sell premium seats in business class on flights to & from Europe, at least for those connecting beyond Colombia. Other airlines offer business class for the entire journey, so unless pricing is really competitive, there’s not much reason to choose Avianca on a trip like this.

I suppose Avianca moving in the direction of not offering business class also makes sense when you consider that the airline is merging with GOL, and that carrier doesn’t offer business class either.

Avianca will only offer business class to Europe

Bottom line

Avianca is continuing its transformation by moving more in the direction of a low cost carrier. As of October 2022, Avianca will cut business class on all routes, except those to Europe. That means Avianca will no longer offer business class to the United States. I’m curious how exactly that plays out, especially for routes like Bogota to Los Angeles, which are operated by wide body jets.

What do you make of Avianca cutting business class on most routes?

Conversations (59)
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  1. Ricardo Ramirez Guest

    I have an award ticket booked via United. I was booked in J, and have now been downgraded to Y. Do I have to call united for a refund of the miles due to the downgrade, or do they process this automatically?

  2. Hector Guest

    No wonder I was having trouble booking a business class flight in November. Extremely disappointed.
    I guess I’ll have to fly United for 2-3 times as much.

  3. Charlie Guest

    Flew AV83 on A330 couple days ago. Still angle-flat seats but no premium service whatsoever. Water, Coca cola, Coffee, Tea and a plastic-wrapped sandwich for all the aircraft and that’s the extent of their inflight service. Disappointed emoji.

  4. JW Mathews Guest

    Avianca used to be a reasonable alternative, however, since the bankruptcy, it is a disaster. Zero customer service, phone lines not answered and a disgrace to a great country. In Colombia itself, LATAM Colombia, Viva and more offer better service at reasonable fares. The former even has Premium Economy which is head and shoulders above anything Avianca offers. Avianca is on borrowed time.

  5. Daniel Guest

    Flew BOG to MEX business class in February 2022 on an A330. Flew the same route in June 2022 on a A320 and paid $300 more than economy for a slightly larger seat with no other benefits or amenities. Hasta luego Avianca, moving this status to Copa and LATAM.

  6. Ron Guest

    So, how will AV treat a Star Alliance RTW business class ticket in terms of luggage allowance, lounge access, etc? We now know they're not gonna provide a business class cabin, but how would the soft product change? Same as intra European business class (as in same economy class seat with the middle seat blocked but with lounge access and the old business class luggage allowance) or what?

  7. robbo Guest

    Plenty of other options available than this lot, have awful Business Class anyway, won't be missed, the hairy armpits brigade trizzying up and down the aisles full of attitude also not missed LOL

  8. Bill Garcia Guest

    I just got back from El Salvador to L.A.trip on Avianca. I was on a first class seat. I will never fly them again. They have already started transition to being the El Cheapo airlines they want to be. Worst food experience ever. Forget the first class treatment. That went out the window..I will go back to flying an American airline.
    Calling customer service is even worst.

  9. GLCTraveler Guest

    Sounds ugly all the way around!! The Spirit Airline of South America! No thank you.............

  10. Lieflat19 New Member

    Honestly, their business class sucked anyways so who cares? I flew the 787 to London and the food was horrible, service was average at best. better than economy yes, but not worth paying for. Then flew it to SJU and it was absolutely a waste of money/points. meal and service sucked. avoid this airline!

  11. glenn t Diamond

    I really wonder if becoming a ULCC is the way to go.
    Personally I couldn't care less what they do as I have never contemplated flying any of their routes, and this development can be added to the reasons why.
    As I understand it, the LM mileage program is separate to the airline business and operates at a profit. If the other *A members further restricted the premium inventory to LM, that could...

    I really wonder if becoming a ULCC is the way to go.
    Personally I couldn't care less what they do as I have never contemplated flying any of their routes, and this development can be added to the reasons why.
    As I understand it, the LM mileage program is separate to the airline business and operates at a profit. If the other *A members further restricted the premium inventory to LM, that could all change too.
    @Sam needs to think strategically how to redeem his 'orphaned Lifemiles'. Use them for parner awards only; don't bother with Avianca flights!

  12. Sam Guest

    Time to liquidate any orphaned Lifemiles. Just dont book on their metal. Polaris to Asia here I come!

  13. GringoLoco Gold

    The REAL news here is that people actually FLY on AV! Guess they all missed the memo that AV's one true mission is to be THE discount *A award booking service?

  14. nicolas Guest

    Avianca is a disgrace and I hope it will actually go bankrupt at some point. Never have I encountered such terrible on ground service as with Avianca. Their refund process is right out stupid (maybe on purpose) and buggy as hell. avoid at all cost.

  15. Miguel Guest

    I have an award flight LAX-BOG next March in Business class lol.

  16. XPL Diamond

    "I suppose Avianca moving in the direction of not offering business class also makes sense when you consider that the airline is merging with GOL"

    When I read of the merger I imagined the two airlines would be operated separately: GOL would continue to be a popular LCC, and Avianca would be free to refocus on its full service roots. It seems that was merely wishful thinking on my part. Too bad, because Avianca used to be good.

  17. RCB Guest

    I used United miles to book first/business on Avianca from DC to Lima in November (through El Salvador), and it was a really good deal (36,000 miles). Avianca changed me to Economy, which obviously I wasn't willing to accept, so I called United and they switched me to widebody flights in Polaris for no extra cost, so I am VERY happy with this switch, even if it screwed up my plans somewhat.

    1. Steve Guest

      @RCB
      Why it’s a better seat

  18. ec Guest

    If Avianca can truly be competitive on price with the Spirits of the world, then that will be great.

    But if they expect people to pay more for an even lousier product, it's going to be ugly.

  19. riku2 Guest

    >>It seems that Avianca is now taking this to the extreme, as even longer routes to the United States will no longer feature first class

    Is the article about first class or business class? so they will still have business class to the USA but not first class anymore ?

    1. Juan M Guest

      There's no business class for the US nor Canada. Only for EU

  20. Greg Guest

    What does the GOL merger mean for LifeMiles?

  21. Dora Guest

    I flew business class between Bogota and San Juan puerto rico and it was a disgrace I feel robed by how much I pay for the food and service I received I will never fly with them again so I don't matter if they don't offer business class again

  22. Brianair Guest

    Expected nothing less from Avianca, not gonna lie. Those nonstops from the US west coast and Northeast Corridor to San Salvador, which can be up to 5-6 hours and/or red-eyes, will surely be a real pain going forward.

  23. AC Guest

    I specifically just used LifeMiles to book LAX -> SCL on Avianca J in December and back, with each leg on the 787 as it was the best hard product I could find miles for (58k LifeMiles). This makes me really, really, really nervous as I transferred over 200k LMs for two of us. Do you think they’d rebook us on another airline (esp if they’re going to try to route us through SAL)? Or any recommendations? Ugh

    1. Juan M Guest

      They dont have any other option to rebook you from another Star Alliance partner, because their CoC is to carry you from one point to another (via BOG). You're guaranteed to get a 320 in your BOG-SCL leg, and most likely a 332 with pReMiUm seats on LAX-BOG.

  24. Max Guest

    They fly an A330 in one of their frequencies to Santiago. What I'm seeing in their booking process now is that they only sell economy like Lucky says, and if you try to purchase an L class fare, that includes Avianca Plus seats for free they let you select first row economy and emergency exit seats, but no Business class seats. I guess they are going to use it only for crew rest when flying to destinations within the Americas??

  25. Kanaka Member

    UGH. Well, Avianca and Copa have the worst business class experiences in the Americas anyway... Come to think of it, Lucky should do an article of the 10 worst business class experiences.

    1. Juan M Guest

      Lucky did like ... 5 years ago a Copa review on their business experience, and it wasnt bad. His first leg had a very nasty FA but the second flight had an amazing FA.

    2. XPL Diamond

      I've flown Copa business class a couple of times and never had a bad experience. I even had a stellar experience once (in economy no less) which earned them my loyalty. That doesn't blind me to the fact that I've been lucky and Copa's soft product is inconsistent. But at least it's not Avianca, which is consistent in a very bad way.

  26. Justin Guest

    A loss for Star Alliance. That said, Avianca's business class experience was not great to begin with.

  27. Andrew Guest

    Very sad... My first business class flight was NYC to Avianca. It was angled flat, but at the time I was completely wowed at the time. Now 20+ business/F flights later I realized it wasn't anything special, but for $620 roundtrip, it was quite the deal.

  28. Dick Bupkiss Guest

    So, they are essentially transforming into Aerolineas Espiritu. Got it.

  29. CH Guest

    "with the option to add more than 15 products or services to your purchase"

    I'm guessing that using the restroom will be one of those paid "options". I think that's the only thing I wasn't dinged for on my last flight with Avianca.

    1. Juan M Guest

      If you try to book flights already, some of the products/services to purchase are as follows: Extra bags, assign seats, include sporting goods, access to lounges, flight insurance. I can guess they're gonna add WIFI for a price as well, since the new seats dont include IFE, and food services may come as well.

    2. glenn t Diamond

      I guess they have perused the Ryanair list of optional extras.
      Waiting to hear of the first timed coin-op lavatories....

  30. Juan M Guest

    @Lucky They're gonna do either one of two things:
    A. No longer fly LAX nonstop, but with a stopover in SJO.
    B. Use their old A332s with their "premium" seats on top lol.

    Guess its gonna be worthwile to try dummy bookings for october/november on LAX, and see whats the plane offers.

    1. XPL Diamond

      I would predict SAL rather than SJO. The former is an Avianca hub that already has flights to both LAX and BOG. The latter is just a smallish destination for them. Otherwise agreed.

    2. Juan C Member

      Oh shit Yes, i meant SAL but couldnt remember the exact ICAO and ended up with SJO.

  31. RF Guest

    This is just a bad move. Avianca will continue to get worse if they go down this path. Should they still be allowed to remain in *A?

  32. CG24 Guest

    I too am booked on business class in November to Chile connecting in Bogota - paid cash. Flight was already downgraded from 787 to a319 and now this news. Are they going to issue a refund?!? I’m not flying 10+ hours in an economy seat when I paid for business.

    1. Juan M Guest

      They wont issue you a refund. You're gonna have to call the infamous AV call-center and find out what they're gonna offer you in exchange.

    2. Miguel P Guest

      I'm in a similar boat. Fantastic.

  33. Eric Guest

    I was holding out as a loyalist with Taca/Avianca business class but since their bankruptcy and the terrible food, no inflight booze and now no business class, I’m done with Avianca. I have flown Taca/Avianca for over 25 years and they have progressively gotten worse, starting when Taca Merged with Avianca. I am gold status with many miles accumulated, maybe give them away.

    1. Juan M Guest

      I'd actually love to have some of your miles, that way i can spend them (and what i have) in one go and not bother with AV again.

  34. Nathaniel Nally Guest

    So they will stop selling business class seats in October or that’s when the retrofits are done? I’ve booked biz class seats in November.

    1. Juan M Guest

      What they said is actually .. both. They will, no longer offer business in that time, and also the service you'll get starting october wont be business either. Suggest to call AV and ask them about it directly, so you know your options.

  35. Jason Guest

    The vast majority of the people on Avianca flights between Colombia and Europe are just going to/ from Colombia. Very very few are connecting to onward countries. Those that are are normally in coach on cheap fares only going on Avianca because it offers a low fare versus a nonstop from whatever country the passenger is traveling through. I dont think that traffic is a priority, and Avianca clearly, in my mind, knows where there...

    The vast majority of the people on Avianca flights between Colombia and Europe are just going to/ from Colombia. Very very few are connecting to onward countries. Those that are are normally in coach on cheap fares only going on Avianca because it offers a low fare versus a nonstop from whatever country the passenger is traveling through. I dont think that traffic is a priority, and Avianca clearly, in my mind, knows where there are people willing to pay a premium for travel. I do agree that the LAX market will be a headscratcher, but most of the rest of the Colombia- USA market is increasingly being dominated by ULCC and LCC low cost providers, especially in bread and butter markets to Florida and NYC. Avianca has to adapt or die.

  36. Razzak Memon Guest

    Even more reason to fly Americas Sweetheart...American Airlines.
    Once you go American, You never go Back. Its the same as OMAAT..Once you go OMAAT, you never go TPG.

    1. Juan M Guest

      There's NO reason to fly AA when you can fly COPA or Delta.

    2. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

      Ahhh, “improving the customer experience” by removing the things that customers actually want. Great work! Hope the short-term CFO bonus is worth it for the long-term shareholders…

    3. Eve Guest

      Why do you keep promoting AA in your comments everytime? You know, out of all the major US carriers, they have the worst long haul (except the flagship first) and now even the worst short haul product. When competition is moving toward adding IFE on every seat, they choose to remove it and say this is what pax wants. I don’t know why any pax would want that. UA even had to do a 180 on their decision to remove IFE because pax do want it

    4. XPL Diamond

      You forgot the winky emoticon to make it clear you are being sarcastic

  37. skimegheath Gold

    I was trying to decide between Avianca and Copa Airlines. It was tough choice but I guess I’m gonna go with Copa Airlines. I have never flown them before.

    1. XPL Diamond

      Good choice. While you can't count on Copa to be consistently good, you can count on Avianca to be consistently mediocre or worse. I personally have had nothing but good experiences with Copa even when I'm at the back of the plane, but I recognize that others have not been so lucky.

  38. Robert Guest

    They have already done this on J to Europe. It’s business in name but economy / premium economy in service! Strapped for cash they have continued with cutbacks on passenger experience on ground and in the air in the name of covid. I am sure when they do a long haul route in americas they will just call it premium, use the J seats, and offer the same shitty service they already do. Not surprising, but quite sad.

    1. Juan M Guest

      They cant remove Business from transcon into Europe, as thats one of the min. requeriments to remain in Star Alliance. If they do so, they lose Star alliance membership, and their LM will become worthless.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Brianair Guest

Expected nothing less from Avianca, not gonna lie. Those nonstops from the US west coast and Northeast Corridor to San Salvador, which can be up to 5-6 hours and/or red-eyes, will surely be a real pain going forward.

3
Dick Bupkiss Guest

So, they are essentially transforming into <i>Aerolineas Espiritu</i>. Got it.

3
nicolas Guest

Avianca is a disgrace and I hope it will actually go bankrupt at some point. Never have I encountered such terrible on ground service as with Avianca. Their refund process is right out stupid (maybe on purpose) and buggy as hell. avoid at all cost.

2
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