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Thursday 6 July 2023

Flying GOL' s Boeing 737-800 From SDU to VCP

 Welcome to my exciting Brazilian domestic flight trip report! 


This airline has always been in my mind for a very long time. I have always been following it with interest and since I have the chance, I am glad to be able to take it and book not once but twice with this airline. Flying the Boeing 737 MAX 8 is one of my top priority and I hope that I would be 4th time lucky. However, checking the history of the flight G31507 it was more or less scheduled to be operated by Boeing 737-800 as most of the time it was operated with this type, and just a small percentage of flights were operated by -700 series. At this time, my 2nd flight with GOL was still scheduled to be operated by the 737-800, find out in my 2nd GOL trip report whether that has changed. 

What makes me decide to choose this airline for the SDU-VCP sector? Well, mainly because of the flight timing and the airfare was cheaper than Azul. Azul was my first choice and I could have completed my E195 collection by flying the E1 version since the ERJ-195-E2 was definitely operating on my VCP-GIG flight. Never mind, for the ERJ195-E1 version, I try again next time! 

So let's get going, let's find out more about my adventure with this airline! 

Airline's website/Mobile app

The interface of both the mobile app and website is quite basic. 

Now this is puzzling, how do I anticipate my flight? I kept clicking on the orange button, but nothing came out of it. 

I was able to do my online check-in without issue. I would still go to the airport to collect the boarding pass. 

About GOL Airlines 

Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes Airlines is based in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. This airline was established in 2000 and started operations a year later. Operating just a single type, the Boeing 737. The airline has grown these years operating the 737-300 - Classics followed by the 737NG - 737-700/-800 and now the 737 MAX 8 type has joined the fleet. GOL Cargo has started operation recently with a fleet of 6 Boeing 737-800BCF in total with just one (for now July 2023) in operation. This airline introduced a new corperate livery few years ago and I really like it. Which livery do you prefer? 

The old livery of GOL Airlines 737-300 (Remi Dallot) 

The current livery of GOL Airlines (Photo: Emerson Farias)

Some photos of Rio De Janeiro 

This is Cosme Velho where you take the tram up to the Christ the Redeemer statue.

The ride takes about 15-20 minutes and I paid about R$131(US$27) for the return trip.

This is the terminating point and at this point, we need to walk up. 

Presenting to you, one of the wonders of the world! 

Christ the redeemer! 

The view was spectacular! I was so happy that the weather on that day was superb. 

One of the streets in Rio. 

This is Lapa 

This is Arcos Da Lapas/ Aqueduto Da Carioca, the famous bridge where the tram will pass through. 

The business district 

This is Catedral Metropolitana de Sao Sebastian do Rio De Janeiro, a famous catholic cathedral. 

This is Escaderia de Selaron 

As you can see the weather wasn't very good. This is Mirante do Rato Molhado.

The good old tram is a perfect way to enjoy the view especially for tourists. 

Thanks to my guide, he showed me around this area and I got to enjoy this lovely snack and local drink. 

A shortcut back to our apartment 

This is the view from my accomodation. 

Evening lighting 

Night lighting 

About SDU Airport 

Santos Dumont Airport is the 2nd major airport based in Rio De Janeiro named after a local aviation pioneer, Alberto Santos Dumont. This airport has 2 runways, 02L/02R (20L/20R) and served only domestic flights in Brazil. It was originally known as Calabouco Airport, started operation in early 1930s. This airport used to serve international flights but once the Galeao Airport was opened in 1952, this airport became a major hub for domestic flights. Infraero is the company that runs this airport and currently only 3 airlines are operating here. They are LATAM, GOL and Azul. This is one of the 5 brazilian airports that have slots restriction which only allows a maximum of 19 aircraft operating in an hour. What is unique about this airport is the location. While it may be conveniently located near the city centre, it's approach path is problematic for the pilots as the Sugarloaf Mountain is directly affecting the glide path for the ILS approach on runway 02L/02R. Special trainings for pilots are needed to land at this airport. They would either have to fly over the bay entrance, swerve quickly behind Sugar Loaf and onto the runway glide path or fly over central Rio and fly around the mountainous terrain in addition to Sugar Loaf  mountain before making a turn towards the runway. I highly recommend you guys to fly to this airport and see how the pilot does it. 

The map of SDU Airport 

This is a shopping mall (Bossa Nova Mall) connected to the airport terminal. 

On the day of departure 

I took the Uber and arrived about 3 hours before my scheduled flight. I like to thank the Airbnb host, Marina for allowing me to stay longer at their place.

This is the arrival hall. The airport looks dated. 

The check-in counter for GOL, I went to collect my boarding pass. 

I used the automated machine to do so. Fortunately, English version is available. 

This was when I changed my seat after viewing the seat map. 

I am ready for my 98th airline! 

This view looks more like a shopping mall than an airport, do you agree? 

There is where you can connect to the hotel and shopping mall. 

The view outside the shopping mall.

There are some bars located outside the mall. 

That short building is the airside of the airport. 

If you have enough time, you could come and walk around the mall before heading back to the terminal. 


There are enough cafes and restaurants to hang around. Airport WiFi is complimentary and charging ports are found at certain parts of the departure hall. 

Somehow the interior reminds me of the underwater world, where the world of marine life appears around you.

Checking my flight, it was operating as schedule. I was fortunate because the day before, this flight was cancelled. 

You can see how gloomy the weather is that day. It was nice to catch one of Azul's special livery, this is the Mickey mouse version. 

GOL's Brazilian team special livery 737-800 and Azul's ERJ-195 E1. 

This is Daisy Duck (Azul's Airbus A320NEO). As you can see the weather was not cooperating. 

I did a check what aircraft I was flying, PR-GUF is my ride. She was coming in from Brasilia, about an hour of flying from the airport I am at. 

Look at the number of passengers queueing up for a flight! 

This is where my flight was departing from. 

My ride: PR-GUF (Photo: Antonio Carlos Carvalhos Jr.)

Boeing 737-8EH (Leased from Carlyle Aviation Partners)
Configuration: Y186 
Engines: 2 X CFM56-7B27
3508th Boeing 737 built 
Built in Renton (RNT)
12+ years old (2023)

This is the best shot I can get of my aircraft. 

Time to board! 

My flight route: SDU-VCP 

Miles: 253

Date of departure: 31 May 2023
Flight: G31507
Airline: GOL Airlines 
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Registration: PS-GUF
Flight Route: SDU-VCP 
Seat: 25F 
Departure Gate: 5 
Schedule departure: 1745
Boarding: 1718 
Push back: 1747
Take off: 1757 
Flight duration: 55 minutes
Actual flight time: 58 minutes
Schedule arrival: 1900
Actual arrival: 1855
Departure runway: 20R
Arrival runway: 15

Photo of the cabin 

The size of the overhead cabin. This 737-800 features the non-Boeing Sky Interior cabin (older cabin). 

This aircraft features 6 rows of Conforto seats from the front. You have to pay extra for them. What's special about these seats? They have extra legroom space. I didn't pay for it since it wasn't a long flight. 

These seats have the orange stripes on the sides of the seat. 

The standard seats do not have the stripes on the side of the seat. (compare above and below photos)

Legroom space was at 30' inch. 

Emergency rows with better legroom space and like the Conforto seats, you need to pay more for it. 

This row (below) is my window seat. Do you know what's the best thing? I had the whole row to myself. 

If the seats beside mine were occupied, I don't think I feel comfortable as I find the legroom space quite tight. 

The flight was about 70% full with many vacant seats near the rear of the aircraft. Originally I chose seat 9A but when I saw the seats beside mine were occupied, I shifted to a seat near the rear (during check-in). For this airline, it doesn't charge the passengers for seat selection during check-in. 

More photos of the cabin

This is good as there are 2 languages to inform you how to connect to the airline's Wifi. 

The infamous recline button! Usually I won't recline, unless I am on J class seats or sitting at the last row of the cabin section. 

The safety card 

The older Boeing version of the overhead compartment

It was great to be able to stretch my legs. 

Power socket at every 2 seats a row, but there is no USB socket. 

The view from my seat. 

My in-flight experience 

Boarding took place very much on time. The gate agent was surprised when he saw my passport. After a short friendly exchange, I was on way to the aircraft. Once on board, I was greeted by this set of friendly crew. They were definitely better than the ones on my LATAM flight. The cabin of this 737 is very similar to any other Low Cost Carriers but the main difference is it offers free streaming on your devices, no need to download any apps or pay to use it. I suppose for the Internet service, you need to pay for it. As this is not available on my flight, so I can't comment further. 

By the time our plane took off, it was almost dark outside. The flight was mostly smooth, with some bumps while descending towards VCP Airport. This was also another enjoyable flight, flying to a new airport in my list. I didn't expect to be flying to VCP airport but I am glad I made this happen. Among the airports in Brazil, VCP is my favourite and I would gladly fly from Europe or U.S to this airport instead of GRU. I will explain why on my next trip report. 

Anyway, we touched down a few minutes early and took about 5 minutes to reach our assigned gate. Our aircraft, PR-GUF will return to SDU an hour later. 

In-Flight Entertainment (Wi-Fi)

I was able to enjoy the movie from gate to gate on this flight. 

Just like my previous flight, I was able to keep track of my flight's progress. 

Considering GOL is a Low-Cost Carrier, I think it is amazing. 

 Some blockbuster movies were available.

In-Flight drink and snack

Just like on my previous flight with LATAM, I was given a complimentary drink and snack. I chose Coke for my drink. 

The lavatory check 

Window shot photos 

At this point, it was raining. 

As our load was light, we lifted off powerfully.

Goodbye SDU Airport! 

Comparing the day before, the weather was completely different. 

Once we were out of the gloomy weather, we got to enjoy some nice lighting. 

The weather at Sao Paulo was better. 

We touched down smoothly at VCP airport. 

Once again I see this pink plane of Azul. 

My flight summary 

Welcome to Viracopos International Airport (VCP)

After some walking, I was at the land side. The walk to the airport hotel was less than 10 minutes. All you need to do is find a bridge connecting the airport to another building. There will be sign boards to lead you there. 

I made my way to the airport hotel for the overnight layover as I was flying to GIG the next day. More photos of this airport in my next trip report. 

I chose this hotel as its the most convenient out of the ones I shortlisted. 

The smallest airport hotel room I ever stayed in and it cost me about US$60 per night. However, I managed to get a good night sleep. 

After settling in, I went out to the airport terminal to grab dinner. 

This was my meal. I can't remember what is it called but it was delicious. 

My rating 

Airline's website/Mobile app: 2.5/5
Airport Staff at SDU Airport: 4/5 
In-Flight Service: 3.5/5 
In-Flight Experience: 4/5 
Cleanliness of the cabin: 5/5
In-Flight Entertainment (Wi-Fi): 4/5 
Seat comfort: 3.5/5 
In-Flight Snack: 3/5 
Punctuality: 5/5
Cabin interior: 5/5 
Overall rating: 39.5/50
Percentage: 79%
Verdict: Great! 


It was an enjoyable flight especially I got the whole row to myself. The friendly cabin crew and the ground staff at SDU airport gave me a good impression so far. GOL Airlines is one of the leading LCC (Low Cost Carriers) in South America and I finally get to ride on it. Is this airline better than the LCCs in Asia? I come to that when I complete my South American trip reports later. Only negative thing about the experience was the website, not able to do the booking due to some requirement which is meant for the local people and I couldn’t find a way to get past it, leaving me no choice but to turn to 3rd party travel agency to do the booking for me. I was impressed with the complimentary streaming which offers good selection of movies and TV shows. The Internet service may not be available but for such a short flight, that is alright. Overall, I was happy with my flight experience with GOL, I still have another trip report of this airline to come, stay tuned for it! I will do an overview impression of this airline in that report. 

Hope you enjoy this trip report!

For my previous trip report (LATAM CGH-SDU A319), click here

For my next trip report (Azul VCP-GIG 295), click here

Thanks for reading!

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