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Saturday 16 September 2023

Flying The Long Way To Sao Paulo With BOA (Part 2: VVI-GRU)

 Welcome to my 2nd part of Boliviana de Aviacion trip report! 

My ride: CP-3204, BOA's 737-800 


Bolivia is one of the countries that I didn't expect to come to but thanks to the search of flights, I decided to include flying to one of the cities with the national airline. I was glad to experience the Bolivian hospitality at the airport and in-flight. Unfortunately the weather at the airport was quite nasty but not strong enough to cancel the flights. There wasn't much view for me to see during my time at the airport and during take-off, thanks to the bad weather. At least, free WiFi was available but only at certain parts of the airside. 

Without further ado, let's start off with the 2nd part of the trip report. 

About Viru Viru International Airport 

This is Santa Cruz de la Sierra's airport located in Bolivia and is the largest international airport in the country. It handles both domestic and international routes and flies to Europe, North America and regional flights. This is a main hub for BOA and Amaszonas and has a single runway, 16/34. While this airport is small, it is still capable of handling larger aircraft such as Airbus A340-600, Boeing 777-300ER and even Boeing 747-400. 

Viru Viru International Airport (Photo: Bolivia Travel site)

After arrival from my previous flight, I had about 2-3 hours to spare. As outside was raining heavily, I was a bit concern whether my next flight will go ahead. Only thing I could do was just hang around, use the wi-fi and see whatever is available at this airport. 

Photos of the airport departure (airside) 

There are a few cafes at this airport including Juan Valdez Cafe.

This was the traffic happening while I was there, no prize for guessing who dominates this airport.

This is how small the terminal is. 

I stayed at this side of the departure hall due to the stronger wifi connection.

My flight was departing from gate 5.

This is my ride, CP-3204.You can see how heavy the rain was.

The VIP lounge - Priority Pass members can use this lounge. The maximium hours you can stay is 4. 

Looking at the weather outside, I knew I would be in for a turbulent ride, at least flying out of this airport.

My 2nd ride with BOA airlines. 

My ride: CP-3204 (Photo: Antonia Carlos Carvalho Jr.)

Boeing 737-86J (Leased from SMBC)
Took delivery on November 2022
First operator: Air Berlin 
Configuration: Y168
Engines: 2 X CFM56-7B27
2834th Boeing 737 built 
Built in Renton 

Flight route: VVI-GRU 

Miles: 1,150 

Date of departure: 11th June 2023
Airline: BOA 
Flight: OB736 
Route: VVI-GRU 
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Registration: CP-3204 
Seat: 23A 
Gate: 5
Load: 100% 
Departure time: 0855
Boarding: 0827 
Pushed back: 0916
Take off: 0934 
Flight time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Actual flight time: 2 hours 29 minutes
Schedule arrival: 1250
Actual arrival: 1302 
Departure runway: 16
Arrival runway: 28L

My in-flight experience 

We boarded our aircraft a bit late but I believe it is due to the weather which was the main culpuit for the delay. One thing I noticed after boarding the aircraft was the different interior of the cabin, black leather seats and this reminds me of my Aerolineas Argentinas experience. Once everyone settled down, we were ready to go. Our engines were started at the gate and I suspected our aircraft's APU was not working. APU stands for Auxiliary Power Unit which provides electrical energy for the aircraft to run on its own without the power from the engines so this means if this unit is not working, the aircraft has to be attached to a ground vehicle that provides power for the aircraft and this is important to do essential things such as starting up the engine. 

Anyway, after pushed back, announcement were made in the local language and not in English so I had no idea what was going on from the flight deck. We taxied to a spot and hold short for a while with our flaps in take-off setting and after an announcement were made, the aircraft's flaps were retracted and after that we taxied back to a spot just outside our gate and pause for a while. Another announcement was made and we were on our way to the runway for the 2nd attempt for take off. I assume the pilots have found a way to take off through the storm. I can tell you after a smooth climb towards the clouds, it got quite bumpy flying through the nasty clouds. The heavy turbulence went on for about another half an hour before we finally saw sunshine and smooth air for majority of the route. 

During the flight, there was a water dripping incident, which I have explained in my later part of the trip report and the passengers especially the nervous flyer sitting beside me thought that that was the end of the turbulence but it was not the case when we started our approach into Sao Paulo GRU airport. From the photos you see, it looks like a beautiful day right? However, it was very different inside the aircraft, we were pretty much rocking sideways for most parts of the landing but we landed safely at the airport, about 12 minutes late, for the late arrival, the airline can't be blamed for it. Among my flights so far in this trip, this has to be the most turbulent flight, the take-off especially was the worst. Still I have no regrets booking with this airline, its actually not a bad airline! 

This time I chose the seat near the rear. (Photo: Seatmap.com) 

If you read the part 1, this aircraft has a different cabin interior and I find this seats to be equally as comfortable. 

Cabin photos (Economy Class)

The bulkhead row offers a good amount of legroom space. 

This was my seat, 23A. Look at the legroom space, that is pretty good. 

No headrest though. 

Standard Economy Class without usb charging port and In-Flight Entertainment system.

Notice the tissue near the seat belt sign? (Photo below) There was a water leak coming from the overhead bin. The affected passenger called the crew who came and took out a backpack from the overhead compartment, asked the passengers around whose bag was it. It took me a while before I realised that the backpack was mine (oops). That passenger wasn't happy and glared at me, I was puzzled at first but later on I realised what was going on and explained to the cabin crew and the passenger that the leak couldn’t be from my bag as I had no water bottle in it. 

Fortunately, the crew understood and continue to investigate and later found out another bag was the cause of the water dripping. All was good between the passenger and me, he smiled and everything went back to normal. The bag that was leaking belonged to a passenger who changed seat (originally sitting in the middle seat beside the affected passenger) to the rear so his bag was passed to him and my bag went back to the overhead compartment. I have to give credits to the crew for handling this situation well. 

Overall, I was quite satisfied with my joyride on the 2nd flight even though it was a turbulent flight.

The overhead compartment of the old Boeing's cabin 

The emergency row offers slightly bigger legroom space.

Like the previous flight, this is a single class configured 737-800.

In-Flight snack

This is the same meal I received from my previous flight. 

Window shot photos 

The aircraft you see below is BOA's Boeing 767-300ER which is departing for Miami.

We stopped here for a short while before returning to our gate area. 

Finally we were on our way. I actually don't mind waiting out a bit for better flying condition. 

There we go, the turbulence wasn't so bad at this point. Below, I spotted some abandon old classic planes. 

Soon we were flying through the clouds and this was quite bad. If you ask me to give a rating of the turbulence, I would give it 6/10. 

Just a brief break from the turbulence before we went through another round of bumps. 

See how dreadful the weather is? The last time I experienced this was on my ANA's 787-8 flight experience departing out of HND airport in bad weather. 

There were a lot of shakes at this point but it wasn't as bad as the turbulence earlier on.

Finally, we were out of the dreadful weather and this is the kind of view we all enjoy. 

It was beautfiul view all the way however when we descended to a lower altitude, it started getting bumpy. 

I like the airline's logo, quite stylish. 

Such beautiful view right? I am glad to have photographed all these. 

At this point, we got quite a bit of cross wind meaning turbulence once again for us. 

We were on final approach as the pilots had to battle against the wind to ensure our aircraft landed safely. 

This is beautiful, don't you agree? 

At this point, I think the nervous flyers must be glad to be landing. 

Touched down and that's the end of my South American flying trip. 

I am hungry for more of such trips so stay tuned for my plans for my next South American flying adventure. :) 

This is GOL's Brazilian special livery plane.

GOL and LATAM, thanks for the memories!

We parked besides the LATAM's A321. 

My flight summary 

Welcome back to GRU Airport! 

GOL 737 MAX 8

Air Europa Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

LATAM Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

I enjoyed a nice dinner on my last night in South America at the hotel. 

A glass of gingle ale. 

The hotel's signature steak. 

This is located outside the reception area of the hotel. 

I spent the night at this hotel before spending the day at the airport with a night flight to catch. I enjoyed myself doing these trips even thought it was exhausting, hope to return in the near future. 

My rating 

Airline's website: 2.5/5 
Airport Staff at VVI Airport: 4/5
In-Flight Service: 4/5
In-Flight Experience: 4/5
Cleanliness of the cabin: 5/5
In-Flight Entertainment System: 0/5
In-Flight Snack/Meal: 4/5
Punctuality: 4/5 
Seat Comfort: 4/5
Cabin interior: 4/5 
Overall rating: 35.5/50
Percentage: 71%


BOA is actually quite a decent airline to fly with but you need to know that the airline's aircraft interior is quite basic, without the amenties such as the IFE system and charging ports so be prepared to bring along your own entertainment and make sure they are fully charged. For the airline's recently delivered A330, there are 3 of them on lease, they are replacement for the aging Boeing 767-300ER. Currently the A330s are deployed from VVI (Santa Cruz) in Bolivia to Miami (MIA) and Madrid (MAD), sometimes they are deployed on regional routes such as Bueno Aires (EZE). 

Overall, I enjoyed my flights with BOA and it was an eye-opener visiting VVI (Santa Cruz de Sierra - Bolivian Airport). Unfortunately, the time I was there, the weather was bad so I didn't get to see much of the city from the air and the 2nd flight was remembered more for the turbulence and the water-dripping incident that happened during the flight.

What you need to remember is once your air ticket is confirmed with the airline, you are more or less set to go. To get confirmation about your flight itinerary, it would be better to call the airline's office or visit the office.

Hope you enjoy this trip report! 

For my previous trip report (BOA's 737-800 Part 1 EZE-VVI), click here 

For my next trip report: (Delta Airlines 767-400ER GRU-JFK), click here

Have a good one and thanks for reading!


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