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Wednesday 12 July 2023

Celebrating My 100th Airline With Aerolineas Argentinas! (Part 1: GRU-AEP)

 Welcome to my 100th airline trip report! 

Fantastic drawing right? This is done by Dimana Petrova, you can follow her on Twitter @AircraftBy for more of her fantastic work.

Based on the original photo (below). What do you think?


There are so many choices to choose which airline would be my 100th airline and it could have easily been one of the U.S airlines such as Spirit or Alligient Air which I will fly with them later on. However, the decision on the airlines to fly on was thanks to the low J class fare with LATAM and Copa Airlines. If I didn't stumble into these special fares, I could be flying somewhere else. So once I confirmed my flight itinerary with the airlines I choose to fly on, I am all set. With the itinerary finalized, Aerolineas Argentinas fell nicely into my 100th airline. 

After reading stories about the South American airlines especially Aerolineas Argentina, I became more intrigued about the idea of trying out the airlines. The biggest challenge about flying with these airlines is the language barrier, worrying about flight delay, worrying whether I be forced to check in my large backpack at the gate which may happen with Low Cost Carriers and the need to show my itinerary for my onward flights (time consuming). At this point, everything went according to plan. It is important to do some research before moving on to your next part of the journey. 

You know when I think about Argentina, few things come into my mind. They are Lionel Messi (The Football player now playing for Inter Miami), Don't Cry For Me, Argentina (Song), Aerolíneas Argentinas and Argentinian delicious Steak. At this point, I was looking forward to know more about the country. :) 

Without further ado, let's begin this trip report! 

My photo of Aerolineas Argentina 747-400, photographed at Madrid in 2012 with my friend, Raymond. 

This time, I managed to book with Aerolineas Argentinas directly with the airline, no issues at all. As my airfare was the cheapest, I wasn't able to many changes such as changing flights and seats, however I was able to choose my seat during the booking process. If you want to change to another seat, you have to wait until check-in time to do so. 

There is English version for the website, so browsing through was not a problem. 

It is not the most user-friendly webpage but it got the job done. 

While for the mobile app version, English language was not available. So it's better to use the webpage to check your flight status or make changes.

As you can see, I wasn't able to do any changes until check-in.

I paid about 200 Euros for this one way trip. I could have just flown direct to SCL, but what's the fun doing that right? 2 flights means a chance to fly on the 737 MAX 8, however it wasn't meant to be. I did a check on the history of flightradar24, the day after, this flight (GRU to AEP) was operated by 737 MAX 8! That's life. 

This is my itinerary with the airline so for this trip report, I will cover GRU to AEP. AEP to SCL will be covered in part 2. 

Checking in online 

I was able to do so on my Ipad and had the option to change seat. Once done, I was all set to go! 

About Aerolineas Argentinas

This airline is a state-owned airline of Argentina, formed in 1949. It has gone through many years of struggle financially and competiting against its rivals. Fortunately for this airline, it managed to survive especially in 2001 onwards as there were a few close moments of being forced to shut down. However, the airline was renationalised and the government takes steps to ensure this airline will not collapse. In August 2012, this airline joined the Skyteam Alliance. Austral Lineas Aereas became a subsidiary of Aerolineas Argentinas in May 2020 and fly together with its parent airline on domestic routes. For Aerolineas Argentinas, the airline operates a fleet of Boeing 737-700, -800, MAX 8 and Airbus A330-200. While for Austral, it operates an Embraer fleet of ERJ-190. 

The airline's fleet 

Austral's ERJ-190 (Photo: Martin Montero De Espinosa)

Aerolineas Argentina's 737-700 (Photo: Christian Mandel)

Boeing 737-800 (Photo: Martin Montero De Espinosa)

Boeing 737 MAX 8 (Photo: Martin Montero De Espinosa)

Airbus A330-200 (Photo: Esteban Vermaasen) 

Checking in at the airport

As I wanted to obtain the boarding pass, I tried checking in at the check-in kiosk but it didn't work for me so I decided to use my mobile boarding pass to board the aircraft. I did this the day before my flight. 

On the day of departure 

I checked out from the hotel I stayed at Sleep Inn Aeroporto de Guarulhos which is about 10 minutes drive from the airport. There is complimentary airport transfer so it is quite convenient, this is useful for those staying overnight and have to connect to another flight early in the morning. 

I walked from the train station to the hotel, the walk took about 15 minutes. 

This is the entrance to the hotel. 

I would have preferred a single Queen/King size bed but this was the cheapest among the rooms, so I took it. 

The view from the room 

My ride to AEP, Argentina's Secondary Airport. It is strange not to see the registration of the aircraft listed. Later on I found out it was LV-FUA, my first ride on an Argentinean registered aircraft. 

About GRU Airport 

Sao Paulo/Guarulhos Airport is the main airport based in Sao Paulo which served both international and domestic flights. This is the biggest airport and is located at the city of Guarulhos. This airport was rebranded in 2012 and is also known as Governor Andre Franco Montoro International Airport, but most of us know it as GRU Sao Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport. This airport is a hub for LATAM and GOL and was opened in 1985. Currently, Infraero is the operator of this airport and has 2 runways, 10R/28L and 10L/28R. 

On the day of departure 

I took the shuttle airport bus which dropped me at the alighting/boarding point of the terminal. Just a few minutes walk, you reach Terminal 2. As my flight was departing at 10.30 in the morning, I made sure I was there about 2 and a half hours before departure. 

I took a quick look at the terminal before heading for the air side. 

This terminal serves mostly domestic and Latin American routes while terminal 3 serves mostly international routes. 

 Terminal 1 is exclusively operated by Azul Brazilian airlines on both domestic and regional routes. 

This is the air side of GRU's terminal 2 

Once the passport and security check was done, I was at the airside. 

The airside of this terminal is not big, I walked from one end to the other end and it took me about 15 minutes. 

Checking my flight, it was departing on schedule. 

I did a couple of check on my flight's progress, it was due to arrive on time. 

There are some eateries, but most of them were not opened at that time. 

An Aeromexico 787 was about to depart, I would love to try this airline some day. 

I bought a sandwhich while waiting for my aircraft to arrive. 

This is where my flight was departing from. 

There she is, LV-FUA. This part of the terminal is not photography-friendly for aeroplanes. 

At this time, there was another flight departing so this part of the hall was crowded. 

Once boarding commerced, the machine went beep beep beep on my air ticket and I was told to head towards the counter to get my boarding pass check. Apparently, I needed to check in at the counter as the airline needed to check my onward ticket, my yellow fever vaccination card and proof of my Covid Vaccination status since I was heading to Chile, Santiago.(At that time, this country was strict about it). When I was being held to one side, I was a bit worried because I thought I was being denied boarding since I only had a one way ticket. After 10 minutes of waiting, with the last few passengers left to board the aircraft, I was issued a proper boarding pass after showing them my paperwork and also my onwards itinerary. Once that was cleared, I was on my way! I was not to be denied my 100th airline flight. 

Initially I was thinking whether I should film on this flight (with the airline’s permission) but after much consideration, I decided to keep this a low affair as I want to do this trip report, reviewing its service without the staff knowing my intention. I would celebrate this milestone by myself later on. :) 

The walkway to LV-FUA! 

Here I am, about to board Aerolineas Argentinas Boeing 737-800! 

My ride: LV-FUA (Photo: Fernando Ariel Torre) 

Boeing 737-8HX with winglets 
Leased from ACG
Delivered in July 2014
Engines: 2 X CFM56-7BE
Configuration: C8 Y162
4995th Boeing 737 built 
Built in Renton (RNT)

Flight route: GRU-AEP 

Miles: 1,052 

Date of departure: 1st June 2023 
Airline: Aerolineas Argentina
Flight: AR1241
Route: GRU-AEP
Aircraft type: Boeing 737-800
Registration: LV-FUA 
Seat: 8A 
Departure terminal: 2 
Gate: 264 
Load: 100%
Schedule departure time: 1030
Boarding: 0953 
Pushed back: 1030
Take off: 1053 
Flight duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Actual flight time: 2 hours 31 minutes
Schedule arrival time: 1325
Actual arrival: 1324 
Departure runway: 28R
Arrival runway: 13 

My flight experience 

Once I got to my seat, almost every seat was taken. My first impression was this is going to be a long flight as the seat is cramp and there is no entertainment system installed on this aircraft. But at least I have my phone or Ipad to use for entertainment.

For this flight, announcement were made in both English and Spanish so I was happy to know what was going on. We pushed back on time and had a little tour around the airport before taking off. Once airborne, we were treated to some nice view, thanks to the good weather. There were small bumps along the way but overall a smooth flight. Complimentary snack meal was served, we were given a packet of chocolate cake and sandwich, I chose water as my drink (Photo somewhere below). The cabin crew were friendly and helpful and for the rest of the flight, I relax by watching some movies installed on my phone, courtesy of Netflix. 

The 2 and a half hours flight went past quickly, by then I was looking forward to stretch my legs. We had a nice view coming into Buenos Aires. I have always dreamt about visiting this city when I was young, and even though I won't be spending much time here, at least I get to enjoy some view of the city and to be able to visit both EZE and AEP airports. More on this city in my trip report with Jetsmart (SCL-AEP). 

When the plane started descending, my ears started to hurt. This is quite unusual because usually it gets blocked and will auto unblock once the plane is about to touch down. The pain was bearable but it took a while for my ears to unblock while waiting for my next flight at AEP airport. By then, the pain was gone. In fact, apart from this flight, the only other time I had this problem was on my LATAM's 787-8 flight but the pain was mild compare to this, I wonder why. 

Anyway once we landed, we parked at a remote parking lot closed to the terminal. We disembarked from the stairs and walk to the terminal. While the rest of the passengers made their way to customs, I was the only one on transit. I had to wait for a while before a staff came to open the security counter to check my carry-ons. Once that was done, I was at the airside. To be continued in Part 2. 

Premium Economy Class 

This is the recliner seats in a 2-2 seating configuration with 36' inch legroom space and 20' inch width with a 5' inch recline. 

The aircraft has no IFE system installed, no WiFi, no seat-back personal TV at all and the funny thing is the Austral's ERJ-190 has Personal TV on the back of every seat. So for the flight duration, I watched Netflix on my mobile phone.

Row 1 and 2 of the Premium Economy seats 

I prefer these seats over the LATAM's A319's Premium Economy seats (3-seater with the middle seat blocked).

Economy Class 

Overview of the cabin (Photo: Robert Domandl)

The seats are at 30" inches in a 3-3 standard configuration. This is the standard cabin interior of the airline. 

My photos of the cabin during the flight. As I was one of the last passengers boarded the aircraft, I could only take these photos. Hope you find them useful if you decide to fly with this airline.

This was my seat. At least I have the window beside me. 

This 14-years old aircraft has the Boeing Sky Interior. 

The bulkhead row seat

More photos of the seat 

Legroom space was tight. 

I was re-issued another boarding pass. I like this kind of boarding pass, its good for my collection. Do you collect boarding pass too? 

At this point, I was glad to be on board LV-FUA, Aerolineas Argentinas (AR) 737-800.

In-flight snack/meal 

We were given some snacks and drink for this 2 and half hour flight. This is a cheese sandwich, nothing to shout about. 

Window shot photos 

GOL's 737 MAX 8 departing before us. 

This Aeromexico 787-8 was heading back to Mexico. 

Another Aerolineas Argentina's 737-800 just arrived from AEP. 

It was a cloudy day at GRU. 

Do you recognize this plane below? That's the Star Wars livery on LATAM's 777-300ER. 

We were rolling down the runway! Goodbye Brazil, I will be back soon. 

Off we go! 

It was certainly a nice day for flying.

We spent a good amount of time flying over the clouds. 

I am so grateful for the beautiful weather that day. It was nice absorbing the view of Argentina. 

At this point, we started our descent. 

For such flights, it is a must to have the window view. 

At this point of time, we were making a few turns before lining up to land 

We were on final approach. 

We landed nicely. However at this point, I was busy trying to unblock my ears and it was a bit painful.

You know whose hub is this! 

Some new registration for me to log in. 

Are you a fan of this livery? I certainly am. 

This is where we stopped. 

Thanks for the ride, LV-FUA! 

This is one of my favourite photos at this airport. (Below)

My flight summary 

Just arrived at AEP Airport

From the aircraft, we walked to the terminal building. The weather was quite cooling so it wasn't too bad.

Once inside, I waited over here (below) to be escorted to the security check for the international flight transfer. 

Here I am, I am at the airside. Unfortunately it is small so not much to see at this airport. 

The airport has Free Wi-Fi, however, I wasn't able to play my online games but you can still do the social media stuff such as surfing Facebook, Twitter (I refuse to call it X or whatever it is called now), Instragram and other apps. 

To be continued! 

About AEP Airport 

This is Aeroparque Jorge Newbery located 2 km northwest of central Buenos Aires. It is the secondary airport located at the Palermo neighbourhood and serves domestic flights and South American destinations. There have been discussion about introducing international flights from this Airport to Miami and once that is confirmed, that will making travelling even more convenient for those visiting this city or returning home as it is closer to town than EZE airport. This airport has been around since 1947 and have only a single runway 13/31. The runway has been upgraded to allow the likes of the Airbus A330 to operate at this airport and currently this is a hub for Aerolineas Argentinas, FlyBondi and Jetsmart Argentina. 

This is the layout of the airport, as you can see it is quite small. 

My rating 

Airline's website/Mobile App: 3/5 
Airport Staff at GRU Airport: 4/5
In-Flight Service: 4/5 
In-Flight Experience: 3/5 
Cleanliness of the cabin: 4/5 
In-Flight Entertainment: 0/5
Seat comfort: 3/5
In-Flight Snack: 3.5/5
Punctuality: 5/5 
Cabin interior: 4/5
Overall rating: 33.5/50
Percentage: 67%
Verdict: Good 

My first impression of Aerolineas Argentinas 

I certainly like the lovely livery the airline has chosen to represent the national carrier of Argentina. Even though the inflight products are basic, at least the airline is doing ok with healthy loads for most of the flights that it is serving. With the current fleet of Airbus A330-200 and Boeing 737NG and MAX, this Skyteam member is definitely putting up some competition against its nearest rivals such as FlyBondi, LATAM and a few others flying into the country. 

Although there is no IFE system installed on this aircraft , I enjoyed this 2 and a half hours hop over to its homeland with great view on route during the flight. This airline is definitely not the best out there, but flying on this airline with its rich history is something that leaves me very satisfied. 

Hope you enjoy this trip report and thanks for reading! 

For my previous trip report (GOL 737 MAX 8 GIG-GRU), click here.

For my part 2 of my 100th airline with Aerolineas Argentina trip report, click here

Have a great one! 

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