Will Possible Avianca Strike Ruin My Adventure?


I’m making final preparations for my trip to South America and Africa. The first leg of the trip is Montana to Los Angeles in coach. From there, it’s all business. I fought United hard to get the routing that included LAX-BOG on Avianca on the Dreamliner. From there, it’s Avianca to Lima for one night. Then I head to Cusco. Yesterday, I read that a Colombian pilots union voted in favor a strike. The strike could last up to 60 days. That could spell disaster for my trip. Who knows if United would rebook my complex itinerary, and if they did, I would be stuck flying TACA Avianca (not sure if that division would be affected) via Salvador. The reviews of that airline are not great. After I leave Peru and go to Bolivia, I will make my way to Santiago, Chile. From Santiago, I am flying Avianca again through Colombia to Sao Paolo en route to Zambia. A strike could mess that up as well.

The Colombian government says that the strike is illegal. I’m not going to interject myself into Colombian politics, but I will say that they should resolve this right away for the sake of me.


  1. I think it’s a little early to try to plan around this. When it starts (if it starts), how long it’s for and what it impacts are unknowns. It’s the Colombian pilots wanting pay parity with other Avianca pilots in the region (say Brazil or Peru) so which of your flights may be impacted is also questionable. Same with TACA, what the metal is, where the crew come from is going to be a variable. On your flights to Brazil – you might want to check the Avianca website. AV85 & AV86 (Bogota/Sao Paulo) have been ‘dropped’ by Avianca and transferred to their Brazilian sub. Whether it’s the same equipment I don’t know – if not you might need to recheck your plans.

      • At this point there isn’t much in the Colombian press about this – and in Colombia that’s where the impact will be felt. The vast majority of business travel in the country is by ‘plane – just because of the topography. It’s 700 of the 1,300 pilots that are involved. However there is a fair amount of the schedule that Avianca could forgo if they needed to. For example there’s effectively an airbridge between Medellin and Bogota. That schedule could be reduced. The same is true of other cities like Cali and Cartagena.
        It’s also said that the Colombian pilots union is threatening not only to strike but also to set up a low cost airline to employ pilots and workers if they are fired by Avianca. Am I the only one who thinks that sounds like a fairly empty threat. How many unions can raise leases on Airbuses at short notice, let alone all the other infrastructure needed?

  2. Taca flies older A320’s and its a nightmare. I have done many flights via Salvador (the star alliance lounge is ok). If that happens your best bet is to fly United via Houston and then as many flights as you can via Bogota. Only lay flat in the region are LATAM and Avianca.

    • Yeah i fought so hard to avoid taca. Uniteds booking system would not let me fly avianca. Try after try until i got it. Now this

  3. Hey, Avianca Brasil (former OceanAir) has a GRU-SCL with a nice A332 with herringbone in business class.
    I don’t think O6 flights will be affected. So you might give it a try.

  4. Nothing new in the Colombian press today – including the business press – which is surprising for a strike that could be a couple of days away. Asuntos Legales – a legal publication has a small article that the Minister of Labour is asking the two sides to keep talking. There was no indication if there was a view on the legality of the strike. To be honest there’s more press here about the Air Berlin situation.

  5. Interesting to read the comments here. Any insight very welcome. I have a friend who is due to fly from Cali to Madrid next week on the 27th, and am trying to get info on whether it might be affected. If you know of anything, let me know.

  6. Latest is a) Avianca isn’t selling any domestic tickets for the next few days for dates up to Sep 22. That would cap travelers on those dates to existing bookings and presumably they will then almagamate flights b) avianca are waiving booking fee changes on any flights up to the end of the month because of the strike potential (typical airline strategy we can’t keep our contract so we’re going to be nice and not charge you a fee!) c) seems as if there were cancelled flights out of Cali yesterday and passengers were shifted to LATAM.

  7. The strike is meant to be starting this morning ‘for a week’. Quite a few cancellations already showing in Medellin for Avianca although the weather is also pretty crap here today. Out of Bogota the same story although all the cancellations are to domestic flights. Many international flights leave later in the day though so the picture may be clearer later.

  8. Yesterday, the first day of the strike over half the domestic flights were cancelled. The only international flight I saw that was cancelled was San Salvador and that could of course been for other reasons (equipment related for example). Given the percentage of pilots who were striking compared with the number of flights that were completed you have to wonder if they will have scheduling issues later on with the non-striking pilots hours availability – that is this might not be representative of what the impact might be if the strike goes longer.

  9. Seems that they also cancelled the one international flight I care about – the flight from Cali to Madrid, AV014. Looking to see what happens to tonight’s flight.

  10. Shows as cancelled on Flightradar24, but Av10 Bogota Madrid shows as going. My guess they’ll move people to that if they can. Cali does seem particularly hit by cancellations today.

  11. So Av14 Cali to Madrid has been cancelled on Wednesday, Thursday and today – I’m assuming this is going to continue. I think I will cancel next week’s flight that I am booked on…

    • i’m sure it will be. did you see their bs bulletin. it says these are flights that are cancelled…until they are like mine was.

  12. Hey, any further updates on what happened here? Doing some last minute checking and saw that my LAX-BOG on the 787 is now going through SAL, and the flight numbers (AV 525;373) don’t show up on SeatGuru

  13. You should be fine, it is domestic Colombian flights affected, itinerary sounds international, the pilots international are not in grievance

  14. Anyone know what United is doing for cancellations? I have 3 domestic flights over the October holiday weekend between Cartagena and Bogota. Should I try to re-book with another airline? Or hope they get enough international pilots to fill these flights

  15. My Flight from JFK to CTG has been cancelled on the 11/24…so much for Thanksgiving weekend!!!
    There is zero help from customer service. This is a nightmare….

  16. Hey you guys, i purchased av 89 lax to bog for december before knowing what a nightmare has been happening, any input on people that have taken this flight before? i noticed on the posts that this had been cancelled in september, did it remain cancelled?

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