Tried & Tested

Flight review: Viva Air A320 economy class

31 May 2022 by BusinessTraveller
Viva-Air-A320

Background

Viva Air is a regional airline with its hub in Medellin, Colombia, with a fleet of Airbus A320 neo aircraft. It was originally called Viva Colombia but changed its branding to Viva, “A new brand with a heart of yellow” with the ‘V’ resembling a boomerang because “A V represents several things: A boomerang. Our symbol that flies, that comes and goes. A round trip, like what we take every day when flying.”

The airline flies to destinations throughout Central and South America, though this flight was an internal one within Colombia from Medellin to Bogota’s El Dorado airport.

The booking process on the Viva Air website was difficult to the point of being impossible and in the end we booked through an Online Travel Agent (Opodo). The problem seemed to be that the website would not recognise debit cards. We had to return to the Viva Air website to check in online, because failing to do so leads to an extra charge at the airport of around 10 dollars.

After considerable effort, I managed to check in our group of three travellers online, but only two of the boarding passes were sent initially. After repeated attempts we got all three boarding passes.

Medellin Airport The-Gate

First impressions

Jose Maria Cordova (MDE) airport is well connected due to a series of new motorways and long tunnels from the city centre and takes 30-40 minutes from the tourist zones in Medellin. Uber is discouraged but possible, and also avoids any confusion between Jose Maria Cordova, which is situated outside of Medellin, and Olaya Herrera (EOH) closer to the centre of the city.

Check-in

We arrived at the airport just before 1000, for our 1130 flight on VH5571. Check-in was fully manned and well organised, with separate queues for priority passengers. The attendant did not speak English, but was helpful and straightforward in directions, with a small amount of Spanish on my part.

I was dropping a bag, and this seemed to mean that the whole check-in procedure was completed in full once again despite the online check-in, adding to my suspicions that the online process was purely for extra revenue.

The airport has efficient security, and a walkable terminal, but the Art Deco style terminal has glass-roofed gate areas, which has a greenhouse effect magnifying the strong Colombian sun. Our flight departed from Gate 2 which  was close to several mediocre food outlets, so we ate before the flight.

Medellin Airport Gate 2

Boarding

There is no seating next to Gate 2, so it is better to stay in the café until you hear the flight called. Boarding for this flight was conducted entirely in Spanish, and did not have any noticeable method. Once on board people spent time trying to find space in the overhead lockers, so it took a while to get to our seats, ironic since on Viva’s Air’s website it says one of the attributes of the A320 neo is that it had wider aisles to facilitate boarding and deboarding.

Viva-Air-seating

Seats

Seating is in a 3-3 layout, with rows 1-7 designated ‘Space plus’ and rows 11, 12 and 13 having exit row legroom also. There are 188 seats in total, none of which recline. I was in a middle seat, as were my companions, as we had not paid for seat selection, and so had been assigned the worst seats.

On the plus side I was in 8B, and my neighbours in 8A and 8C were quite small. Legroom is negligible, but then I am 6ft5. The blue leather seats felt slimmer than usual, perhaps a more modern design than others we had encountered in our travels through Central and South America. The interior of the cabin is predominantly grey, but there are splashes of Viva Air’s yellow branding. The seating area was spotless, and the general cabin in good condition.

Viva Air Economy-seating

Flight

Announcements from the pilot were mostly in Spanish, with important notices in English also. Take-off was on time, despite a baffling number of French bulldogs being boarded with passengers quite late in the process. This was an extremely short flight of around 55 minutes and inflight food and drinks were not complimentary. The seatbelt signs remained on throughout the flight, despite it being a smooth journey.

Viva-Air-leg-room

Arrival

Arrival was on time, using an air bridge to disembark, followed by a short walk into a well signposted bagged area. This was an internal flight, so there was no immigration, and our bags arrived on the carousel promptly.

Verdict

This was a low cost flight, which was on-time, safe and with no delay to our bags. As you would expect legroom is not generous, but the flight experience was fine due to the friendliness of the flight attendants. The only negative is the Viva Air website which is difficult to use.

Nathaniel Otley

A view over Medellin, Colombia

Fact box

Seat pitch 29 inches

Seat recline N/A

Seat width 18 inches

Contact: vivaair.com/co/es

 

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