Am I Crazy For Flying To Spain Via Mexico And Colombia?

Filed Under: Aeromexico, AviancaTaca

At the beginning of the year I wrote a post about the 16 airlines I want to review in 2016. You guys have asked for me to review new airlines (especially in business class), so I’ve been doing what I can to check out new carriers.

So far in 2016 I’ve reviewed the following new products:

Air-India-Lounge-London-Heathrow - 46
My flights on Air India were interesting, to say the least…

On top of that, I recently booked a trip from Los Angeles to Auckland on Fiji Airways in one direction, and Air Tahiti Nui in the other direction. That means I’ll be flying from Los Angeles to Nadi to Auckland on Fiji Airways, and Auckland to Papeete to Los Angeles on Air Tahiti Nui. With that trip I’ll be checking two airlines off my list which don’t have flat beds in business class.

I’m now working on planning trips which will allow me to review more airlines, so have been trying to figure out the best way to pair the remaining airlines on my list. For me, the ideal opportunity is to do two segments on one airline, so I can get a better sense of how the product is, in the event that one flight is an outlier.

With that in mind, I’ve been planning on reviewing the 787 business class products on Avianca and Aeromexico.

Avianca’s 787s have a fantastic reverse herringbone business class product, which is among my favorite hard products out there.

Avianca’s 787 business class

Meanwhile Aeromexico’s 787 business class product is a bit less private, as it’s in a 2-2-2 configuration, with similar seats to those in American A321 business class, Air China 777 business class, and Qatar Airways A320 business class.

Aeromexico’s 787 business class

I’ve found a way to compare the two airlines head-to-head, which I’m quite excited about. While I realize Mexico and Colombia are very different countries, in many ways the airlines are in the same competitive set, as they’re generally regarded as two of the better airlines in Latin America.


How did I book the trip? On the way there I managed to redeem 60,000 Avianca LifeMiles for Avianca business class from Los Angeles to Bogota to Madrid, with the following flights:

AV85 Los Angeles to Bogota departing 10:15AM arriving 7:30PM
AV10 Bogota to Madrid departing 9:43PM arriving 2:25PM (+1 day)

Then on the return I managed to redeem 62,500 Air France FlyingBlue miles for Aeromexico business class from Madrid to Mexico City to Los Angeles, with the following flights:

AM22 Madrid to Mexico City departing 11:30PM arriving 4:35AM (+1 day)
AM19 Mexico City to Los Angeles departing 9:45AM arriving 11:40AM

All flights are operated by 787s, so I feel like this will be a fun way to compare the airlines in quick succession.

LAN-Business-Class-787 - 9
Avianca 787 in Madrid

The airlines left on my review list are a bit tougher and less desirable to try, like figuring out how to squeeze Saudia and Kuwait into one trip.

Bottom line

I’m excited to review Avianca and Aeromexico, as they’re useful airlines both for travel to South America and Europe. Air France FlyingBlue lets you route from the US to Europe via Mexico City without fuel surcharges, and Avianca LifeMiles also lets you route from the US to Europe via Bogota, so if the airlines are good, perhaps others will be interested in experiencing the products as well.

Are you more curious about business class on Avianca or Aeromexico?

  1. I would do something like this. When will you be in Madrid? One of my favorite cities in the world!

    Btw, when will we see your trip report for Avianca? I’m very curious.

  2. You mentioned a little while ago that you wanted to visit Israel, and Air Canada flies their 787 there, which is on your list of Airlines you want to review….

  3. I’m interested in both! I have AM B787 J booked for XMas so would love a preview. And I may book AV B787 J soon.

  4. Personally more excited for AM as it’s an airline I’ve flown several times (though never long haul). A shame they went 2-2-2 in business, but I suppose they aren’t dealing with as premium markets as other carriers.

  5. Do it, is a great opportunity to review other airlines!!!
    I can’t wait to read your review, I am mexican but most of the time when i fly to europe i do thru US carriers because is cheaper than Aeromexico, so it would be nice too read what Aeromexico offers.

  6. Is LAN in your list to review? They are now together with TAM and are very reputable in Latin America.

  7. Nope I don’t think you’re crazy at all for flying those routes to/from MAD. I’m currently more interested in Avianca since I plan on going to South America in the future. I’ve flown AeroMexico 787 and felt it was just ok. I am also looking forward to reading your review of Air Tahiti Nui. I flew on that same route on both the old and new J seats and surprisingly found the old J seats quite nice. If you do get the older plane, try to get the front row — as that is the old TN first class (of which business class passengers can sit on.) Enjoy!

  8. I see that you have a connecting international flight with only 2.25 hours in between flights; I am always concerned about the amount of time it takes to go through customs & immigration when landing in a foreign country; do you have any guidelines on what is a good time to allow for processing?

  9. @Susan: Don’t think customs and immigration applies to this case. He is connecting through Bogota to Madrid and through Mexico City to Los Angeles so he should not need to clear customs and immigration since he is not “entering” into Colombia or Mexico.

  10. @Santastico Unless they changed it you do have to clear immigration in Mexico City even in transit and depending on when you land the line can be super long.

  11. Transiting MEX will suck. For if there are delays, the AM staff in their lounge will know nothing, yet you need to stick around there since they’ll have more info than the staff in the Centurion lounge.

    I did this nonsense in Aeromexico’s business from LHR-MEX-DFW last November.

  12. And yes, the passport control line at MEX can suck. You do need to clear it, even in transit to a third country. I practically ran from my 5am arrival flight and had only 10 people in front of me. Very quickly there were nearly 100 behind. Took me almost 30 minutes to move on to customs. Fortunately that was speedy, as the random red/green light shone green for me.

  13. I flew open-jaw with my parents JFK/MEX/EZE and SCL/MEX/JFK last Oct for one week. 125K SkyMiles + $88 tax/person on AM787, all 4 legs. The aircrafts are beautiful. The service was less than stellar. We 2-2-2 seats are exactly same as DL B757 transcon as well as the other airlines you listed. Always order the beef entree if you can. Wines are great. The same cheese/cracker amuse-bouche though, and omelets for breakfast–the last breakfast from SCL to MEX got me food poisoning so I was vomiting before deplaning, through the custom and the outdated AM Mex lounge. And that made me late to the gate as I didn’t have a chance to check the monitor and I was too sick to remember the boarding time. We ran out of the lounge and I fell once, hurting my knee. A ground rep came to lounge to find us and intercepted us on the way there and ran with us. Perhaps he should’ve put us on a golf cart since my mom couldn’t really run. We boarded on time still, thankfully. But I didn’t enjoy the last leg back to NYC.

    The custom at MEX is indeed horrible with long long long queues of people. No transit desks nor SkyPriority. Also passengers need to take out checked-in luggage to re-check and go through security again with hand luggage. What a mess.

  14. @Ben/Lucky, if you’re interested in publishing my reviews of AM787 to South America…

    PS: LAN is running $2200 biz class to So Am again.

  15. MEX used to have sterile transit. There was even an attractive and new international terminal to wait in. It was removed in the remodel in 2005. Now every arrival must pass immigration and customs, American-style. The throughput into Mexico City is supposedly higher in the new building.

    But AM doesn’t even use the original terminal anymore. Now AM ops run through the new (2007) Terminal 2. It has its own customs and immigration center. At least the customs line in T2 has windows and very high ceilings; the new T1 area is a stuffy dungeon. The T2 terminal is airy and spacious to wait in and AM has a lounge; you can leave security and take a day room at the NH hotel in terminal if you have enough time. (T1 has a Hilton in terminal.)

    The capital is planning a new airport in five or six years built on stilts over the Texcoco Lake bed. Doesn’t seem like they can afford all the new parking and freeway flyovers they’re planning to hook it into the city, though. There’s no discussion of depending on mass transit instead, of course. If it does happen, I hope sterile transit comes back. With four to eight new runways and approaches over the lake, they’d have space to become a hub and sterile would help.

    @Erick AM is more expensive than US carriers TPAC and TATL because US carriers require pax to clear immigration in the USA while AM can fly direct. Most Mexican citizens can enter Japan or EU without much paperwork but a US visa requires intrusive interviews, months of waiting, and $130 in fees. AM is capitalizing on avoiding the nastiness of US bureaucracy by charging for the convenience of skipping it. US officials are costing their national carriers profits once again by their lack of competence.

    @Lucky With five hours in the early morning in Mexico City, you could have breakfast. None of my favorite places open early enough for your schedule, though. You’ll have to get advice elsewhere for the world’s greatest food city that early.

  16. So glad you’ll be reviewing AeroMexico. Its one of the least reviewed airlines. I’m sitting on 100K kilometers and am trying to decide whether to continue banking them for a long distance flight (US – South America) or keep it relatively short with a US – Mexico flight.

  17. The BOG transfer should be relatively easy. But the AV hard and soft product on the 788 leave an awful lot to be desired.

  18. You should stay in Mexico City some days. Im curious about what you think of the city. There are great hotel like St Regis and W.

  19. AV’s J on the 787 was mediocre at best (SCL-BOG-SCL); I hope you have a better experience. The seats look nice, but they seem to be the “discount” version of what AA and CX have, with very uncomfortable armrests and things that just aren’t well-positioned. Meal service was via a cafe-style menu (food stains and all!), and they tell you which page they’re serving from that day, then take the menu back for use on the next flight. Now that I’m branching out down here, away from strictly LAN flights, I have noticed that LAN’s service isn’t unique in South America – once they’re done serving dinner, don’t expect much attention after that.

    As OW Emerald I suggest you use the LAN lounge in BOG rather than spend much time in the AV lounges – even the Diamond lounge is not much (even when compared to domestic US lounges!).

    I look forward to your reviews so I can see how your experience stacks up against mine!

  20. So SV LAX-JED B77-300ER ( First ).
    SV JED-RUH B787-9. ( Business ).
    KU RUH-KWI A320 ( Business ).
    KU KWI-BKK A330-200 ( First ).
    JAL BKK-NGO B787-8. ( Business ).
    AC HND-YYZ B787-9. ( Business ).
    Good luck!

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