Viva Air Colombia: Discount Carriers & Baggage Fees

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Viva Air Colombia Flight Review is part of the Punxsutawney TPOL Trip Report, where TPOL leaves the basement. It’s finally happening despite inconsistent policies, interruptions, and human stupidity as explained in these posts:


The Bag Drama 

Continuing with the train wreck of logistics that is this trip (see TPOL Forgets How to Travel), I present to you my almost misstep. Originally, I had booked an afternoon flight to Bogota for $25  Since I woke up promptly at 7AM and since I had nothing left to do at my friend’s house in Medellin (see Hostel v. Hotel v. Friend’s Home), I booked an earlier flight so I could enjoy the JW Marriott Bogota. I saw one was available on Vivair, a budget carrier, at 10AM for $54.

In a little bit of a hurry, I accepted all terms, booked my flight, and called Uber. And that’s where the dumb begins. First, I forgot that my trusty Blackberry did not update the time. It was actually 6AM, not 7AM. Not only was there no rush to get to the airport, but also I would be stuck there for three hours, hoping the Priority Pass lounge would be open (see Back in a Lounge: Priority Pass Medellin Review).

When I arrived obscenely early, I followed the crowd to the security checkpoint, not realizing that this was the line for security screening. With no boarding pass, I was turned aside. I went to the check-in counter and was told to put my backpack in the carry-on bin. Of course, it did not fit and the agent said I would have to pay to bring it as a carry-on. What’s worse is that my overhead roller would also be an additional cost. Why I brought this oversized backpack for a short trip is yet another example of my absent-mindedness.

Waiting in line to pay the shameful fee, I went on Viva’s website and was able to check-in. Boarding pass in hand (phone), I hopped out of the line and went back to the security checkpoint.

Three hours later, I waited for Viva to begin boarding. Unlike Allegiant or Ryanair, which will stop you at the gate if you have one ounce or one centimeter more than you are allowed, Viva’s agents did not care. I boarded the plane with no issues.

Smuggling bags worked out for me this time but the incident will go on my Travel Lessons page. I refuse to endure the stress of wondering if I’ll be slammed with bag fees and would rather be responsible and pay in advance. A better alternative is to avoid discount carriers altogether.

The Flight Experience 

Say you want about discount carriers, but when they run smoothly, they are a model of how airlines should be run. Fifty minutes before the scheduled departure, the plane was still not at the gate. I thought there was no way we would take off on time. Then the gate was changed and the herd moved. At the new gate, there was a queue of people paying cash for what I thought was luggage. There was another line with people with other requests. There was a third blob of people loitering around. As the departure time drew closer, I regretted, bags aside, not flying a normal carrier that presumably had more structure. “How is this company allowed to put planes in the sky?” I wondered.

After calling a few rows to board, the go-ahead was given to all passengers. Everyone got on board and, as indicated on my ticket, we took off right on time. It was like the chaos from before did not happen.

As for the flight, it was 30 minutes. We went up, we came down.

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