To Mendoza for the Masters of Food & Wine: Aerolineas Argentinas from Buenos Aires (AEP) to Mendoza (MDZ)

To Mendoza for the Masters of Food & Wine: Aerolineas Argentinas from Buenos Aires (AEP) to Mendoza (MDZ)

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(Full disclosure: Park Hyatt and American Airlines, sponsors of the Masters of Food & Wine Event, comped my airfare, hotel, and admission to the events)

After an hour long drive through Buenos Aires we were dropped off at the domestic airport. We proceeded to the Aerolineas Argentinas check-in counter, where we were promptly checked in. I got assigned an aisle seat towards the back of the plane.


Airport exterior


Terminal

We had about three hours before our flight, which proved a daunting prospect without Wi-Fi or a lounge. Our gate wasn’t posted yet, so we ended up just sitting in the gate area. It was a good opportunity to get started on the trip report, given the lack of distractions otherwise. It was quite entertaining, however, to be with a handful of fellow web addicts that didn’t have internet.


Terminal


Shopping


Gate area

Watching the traffic at the airport was especially interesting since it was mostly airlines I don’t get to see a lot of, like Austral, Aerolineas Argentinas, LAN, etc. Furthermore, this airport is pretty close to the city, so you have the nice backdrop as well.


Tarmac


Tarmac

While boarding was supposed to start at 1:50PM, it was about 2:05PM before boarding was actually announced. If you think people crowd around the gate at US airports, you need to head over to Argentina. As soon as boarding was announced literally every passenger jumped up and got in line, though in fairness it was well organized and there was no pushing (unlike in some other countries).


Boarding

While it looked as if we were boarding through a gate, we were actually directed down the stairs towards buses, since we were leaving from a remote stand.

Aerolineas Argentinas 1418
Buenos Aires (AEP) – Mendoza (MDZ)
Thursday, March 31
Depart: 2:20PM
Arrive: 4:10PM
Duration: 1hr50min
Aircraft: MD-80
Seat: 25C (Economy Class)

After a five minute bus ride we pulled up to our MD-80, which had the Austral name on it (which seems to be the name of Aerolineas Argentinas’ domestic airline). While most of the Austral planes I saw at the airport had a fresh paint job, this one obviously belonged to Aeromexico previously, as they didn’t even bother to repaint the plane. Ouch.


Austral MD-80


Anyone have a clue what this plane is doing here?


Our modern marvel

In the forward section of the aircraft were three rows of business class, obviously in no way refitted since their Aeromexico days.


Business class

After taking the longest walk back on a plane that I’ve taken in a very long time, I made it to row 25. While I had the aisle seat, one of the other people in our group had the window seat, and I think we lucked out with the single empty middle seat on the whole plane, since it was packed.

The legroom was actually surprisingly good, well above average coach pitch (then again, I might not be the best judge of coach pitch anymore). 😉


Row 25 seats


Legroom

As I settled in I noticed just how damn hot it was in the plane. It must have been close to 100 degrees, as they had absolutely no air running.

By around 2:30PM we pushed back and the safety demonstration began, and we were quickly cleared for takeoff.

One of the advantages of the domestic airport in Buenos Aires is that the views of the city are spectacular.


View shortly after takeoff

Once we leveled off the captain announced our flight time of 1hr35min, anticipating a slightly late arrival due to our late departure.

The flight attendants quickly began their service, consisting of complimentary soft drinks along with a snack. I went with a Diet Coke, as usual.


Diet Coke and snackbox

The snack consisted of a rather dry sandwich and a cookie sandwich type thing, along with caramel candy. While by no means gourmet, it’s a lot better than what you’d get on a US airline for a flight of a similar length (which would be… nothing!).


Snack

About 30 minutes out the seatbelt sign was turned on and we began our descent into Mendoza. Interestingly, the purser announced that the captain had informed her that someone had their cell phone on, and it needed to be turned off. Odd, I always thought that was a myth.

The views were amazing on descent, including of the Andes mountains, only further building my anticipation for the weekend.

Mendoza Airport is tiny, and we were the only large jet there. I think there was one other private jet, but that was the extent of it.

Waiting for us in the arrivals hall were a couple of people from the Park Hyatt, who got us to the Park Hyatt within about 20 minutes.


Arrivals area

And with that, the real fun began…

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  1. Darren

    Great and very thorough review! Would you fly Aerolineas again? I am going from AEP to MDZ in November and considered flying LAN, but they have very few flight time options. Aerolineas had a lot more convenient times, but I've heard mixed reviews on the ariline.

  2. Andy Bluebear

    How would you rate AEP? From your pics, it looked clean and had some decent shopping...

  3. lucky

    @ Taylor -- That's exactly the case. The seats were surprisingly comfortable and well cushioned. Much more so than the 737 I flew on the way back, which gave me a pretty sore rear after less than a two hour flight.

  4. Taylor

    Legroom does look pretty good on the MD80. The seats are obviously old, but they look very thick compared to many coach seats these days, especially on the MD80 family. Did that seem to be the case?

  5. Cliff

    Looks like you had an alfajore (the cookie sandwich thing). Yum!! One of the best things about Argentina...funny that the whole trademark cookie thing is a bit like Delta and her Biscoffs :)

  6. lucky

    @ A. S. -- That would have been it! I was there on March 31.

    @ Bill -- I don't think it's all that easy to drive from Santiago to Mendoza due to the mountains, and like I said in a previous post, I didn't plan the itinerary.

  7. Kate

    I assumed the Czech was a charter...at a conference last year in LAS the company chartered an air new zeland flight direct from Auckland and it just sat on the Tarmac for 3 days since they had to turn around and head back. It was fun to see :)

  8. Biggles209

    GSM phones checking in with the base station can be picked up by audio equipment. They make a "chirping" noise. If you have ever filmed digital video, and wondered what the periodic "chirp" was - you forgot to turn off your phone...

  9. Bill

    Wouldn't it have been easier to fly into Santiago and then Mendoza?

  10. Mary Rambin

    When I lived in Mendoza, there wasn't even a Hyatt there. It was quaint and undiscovered. With the Malbec trend sweeping the globe, now it's a race to get down there. Although, I'm sure the local culture is intact....they also could really use the revenue. It used to be a very impoverished region.

    Thanks for the intro to the blog Gary!

  11. ernperez

    I have a pilot friend who tells me that they can hear some static in their headsets when there is a phone on...

  12. A. S.

    That grey plane you asked about, I believe it's the Czech presidential plane. The president, Václav Klaus, was in Argentina around March 31st on a state visit -- not sure what your dates were... http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_NpINLHeo8rM/R4t42Yk1geI/AAAAAAAAM10/pUewJEd_3ws/s1600-h/15.jpg

  13. Gary

    "Interestingly, the purser announced that the captain had informed her that someone had their cell phone on, and it needed to be turned off. Odd, I always thought that was a myth."

    I assume that they were making it up. Not as though they were singling anyone out, and anyone who DID have their phone on would assume the comment was directed at them.

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Darren

Great and very thorough review! Would you fly Aerolineas again? I am going from AEP to MDZ in November and considered flying LAN, but they have very few flight time options. Aerolineas had a lot more convenient times, but I've heard mixed reviews on the ariline.

Andy Bluebear

How would you rate AEP? From your pics, it looked clean and had some decent shopping...

lucky

@ Taylor -- That's exactly the case. The seats were surprisingly comfortable and well cushioned. Much more so than the 737 I flew on the way back, which gave me a pretty sore rear after less than a two hour flight.

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