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I recently flew in Business Class on the Avianca 787 Dreamliner from Los Angeles to Bogota. After spending a little over a week in Hawaii as a brief interlude between the summers of Europe and South America, I flew United First Class to Los Angeles and connected to Avianca Business Class to the Colombian capital. The entire award cost only 27,500 Asiana Miles + $38.

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The most notable thing on the Honolulu to Los Angeles redeye was that its Economy Plus rows were so empty that I actually left my First Class seat for a full row of Economy Plus because I find sleeping on three economy seats much more comfortable than one domestic First Class recliner. I slept about four hours on the flight.

I arrived in Los Angeles on a half night’s sleep, and unfortunately it wasn’t the smoothest transfer. LAX has a terrible design, such that very few terminals are connected airside. I had to leave terminals 7 and 8 where United is to catch a free bus to terminal 2 where Avianca is.

United had been unable to print my Avianca boarding pass in Honolulu, so I went to the Business Class check in line. The line wasn’t moving. It turns out the computers at the desks were down, so the flight attendants were taking passengers’ passports to a back room and emerging with hand written boarding passes. I’d never seen that before!

I spent about 30 minutes in the line, and the computers finally started working in time to get me a printed boarding pass. Then I had to re-clear security, since I had exited United’s terminal.

All of that greatly limited my time in the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge, which I got into for free with my Avianca ticket and would have gotten into for free also as a Priority Pass member, which comes free with my Citi Prestige® Card.

The Air Canada lounge offers a weak continental breakfast. I left the lounge at about 9:30 and got to the gate with boarding underway. There was no separate boarding lane for Business Class passengers, so I was delayed a bit getting onto the plane.

Avianca 85
Los Angeles (LAX) – Bogota (BOG)
Depart: 9:55 AM on Tuesday September 22, 2015
Arrive: 7:10 PM
Duration: 7:15
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Seat: 7A (Business Class)

Once on the plane, I was very impressed with the Business Class layout in a 1-2-1 configuration that gives all seats direct aisle access. There are 28 Business Class seats in seven rows.

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I had a window seat, which had a pillow and blanket.

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The television is built into the seat in front at an impossible to view angle without releasing it and rotating it toward you.

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Unfortunately the television needs to be stowed for take off and landing, so you can’t enjoy the entertainment system the whole time you are on the plane. I don’t know why any planes are designed such that you can’t enjoy the entertainment system the whole time you’re on the plane. What a no-brainer.

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During boarding, there was a repeated series of ads and this music video, which is my current favorite Spanish-language song and doubles as a great tourism video for Colombia.

Under the television is the ottoman, which was too far away for me to comfortably rest my feet while sitting, and I’m 6’4″.
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Next to the seat is an arm rest that is also where you’d place a drink or anything else you want to keep at hand. Above that is the large window that is one reason I prefer to fly 787s over other planes.

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Also next to the seat is a remote control for the television, a light, the intuitive seat/bed controls, headphone jack, USB plug, and universal plug.

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On the other side of the seat, next to the aisle, was a small storage cubby built into the seat. I used the overhead bins instead.

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Before take off, flight attendants offered water or champagne from a tray. I went with the less fun option because I was planning to get my other half-night of sleep after take off.

After take off, flight attendants brought an amenity kit and shoe bag.

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The amenity kit contained the standard socks, eye shade, ear plugs, lip balm, toothpaste, toothbrush, and lotion. In addition, it contained a sticker to put on your seat if you wanted to be woken up for the meal service. That is a simple and brilliant invention because even some of the best airlines occasionally wake you up when you asked not to be or vice versa.Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 11.31.25 AM

I actually always travel with two amenity kits full of my own toiletries. One is the Emirates amenity kit I just got (which replaced a Cathay Pacific amenity kit) and the other is an Avianca Tumi amenity kit that I got a while back, which is identical in size and material to this one. It’s a perfect size for my needs.

As soon as we took off, I put the seat in bed position. I was hungry, so I figured if I was still awake when the meal service came around, I’d eat. If I was asleep, I’d make do with the snack later on.

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I immediately fell asleep and woke up about four hours later over Guatemala.

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The bed is adequate. I’d call it very good if I were 6’1″ or less, but at my height I was a bit scrunched. I also don’t like the cubby hole for the feet, which is a tight squeeze. But the point of the bed is to be able to sleep. I got all the sleep my body wanted, so the bed passed the test. By any metric besides comparing it to a bed in my house or a bed in Cathay Pacific First Class, the bed is excellent and easily worth the premium in miles you’d pay over an economy redemption.

Pretty soon after waking up, the end-of-flight snack service began with a table cloth placed over the spacious table.

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From a cart in the aisle, we were served a ham and cheese sandwich, peanuts, and a drink. I went with water again.

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The main course would have been a lot better, four courses with chicken, steak, or ravioli as the main course and a dulce de leche cheesecake for dessert.

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Bottom Line

Avianca Business Class on its new Dreamliners is a very comfortable way to get from the United States to Colombia, within South America, or from South America to Europe.

The bed is flat and adequate for sleep. The entertainment system, when you can access it, has solid television and movie options. The service is a bit bare bones, but no worse than on American airlines.

I arrived rested in Bogota with a smile on my face.

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Post Script

Avianca breaks drivers. My driver arrived in Bogota in two pieces.

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After two months and dozens of emails, Avianca gave me $400. Here’s my full post on the subject.
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