Monday 8 January 2024

My Flight Review for 2023

 Welcome to my Flight Review for 2023! 

My flying stats for 2023 (Photo: Flighty app) 


Introduction 

Flying in 2023 is significant to me as I finally did a trip I wanted to for a long time and that was to fly to South America. The year 2023 was easier to travel as the Covid situation has eased in most countries. However at the time of travel, proof of covid vaccination was still required especially travelling in South America and for visits to Brazil, yellow fever vaccination is required from some countries such as Colombia and Chile. That doesn't cost cheap but at least it was a one-time thing and lasts the lifetime. Like they say, travelling can be addicting and now that I have experienced South America, I want to explore more perhaps to new cities and also need to do a few days stop-over in Bueno Aires.

With my flying done for 2023, here is my review of my 2023 flying adventure! Listed below is a summary of each airline and my imaginary award to the airlines in different categories. This is for those who deciding on the airlines to fly, I hope my blog in some ways help you have a better idea choosing the airlines you are considering to fly. So without further ado, let's begin..


My flight routes for 2023


Flights: 36

Total Miles: 55,331

Classes flown: Economy Class, Premium Economy and Business Class 

Most flown aircraft type: Boeing 737-800 (6 flights)

New aircraft types flown in 2023: Airbus A330-900NEO, Boeing 737 MAX 8, MAX 9, ERJ-175 and ERJ-195-E2

Number of airlines flown in 2023: 18

Airlines and the aircraft type flown in 2023: 

Aerolineas Argentinas: Boeing 737-800
Air Asia: Airbus A320CEO
Avianca: Airbus A320CEO
Azul Brazilian Airlines: ERJ-195 E2
Boliviana De Aviacion: Boeing 737-800
Copa Airlines: Boeing 737-700 and Boeing 737 MAX 9 
-Delta Airlines: Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 767-400ER
-Delta Connection (Under Delta Airlines) ERJ-175 (Operated by Republic Airways) 
Emirates: A380-800
Firefly: ATR-72-500
GOL Linhas Aereas: Boeing 737 MAX 8 and Boeing 737-800
Jetsmart: Airbus A320CEO 
LATAM Brasil: Airbus A319 
LATAM Chile: Boeing 787-8 and Boeing 767-300ER
Scoot: Airbus A321NEO 
Singapore Airlines: Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 737 MAX 8 
Starlux: Airbus A350-900 
Virgin Atlantic: A330-900NEO 
Wingo: Boeing 737-800

24 Airports visited in 2023 (15 new airports) 

* means first visit to this airport 

Dubai (DXB)
London (LHR)
Atlanta (ATL)
Sao Paulo (GRU) *
Sao Paulo (CGH) *
Campinas (VCP) *
Rio De Janeiro (GIG) *
Rio De Janeiro (SDU) *
Buenos Aires (AEP) *
Buenos Aires (EZE) *
Santiago de Chile (SCL) *
Lima (LIM) *
Bogota (BOG) *
Medellin (MDE) *
Panama City (PTY) *
Santa Cruz de la Sierra (VVI) *
New York (JFK) 
Boston (BOS)
Penang (PEN)
Taipei (TPE)
Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
Subang (SXB) 
Seletar (XSP) *
Frankfurt (FRA) *

A brief summary of each airline flown in 2023

1. Aerolineas Argentinas 


Introduction 

This has been in my list of airlines that I wanted to fly and to be able to do so in her homeland is definitely one of my highlights of my flying trips. What makes it more special is that this airline would be my 100th airline, a milestone I am proud of.

  EZE (Ezeiza International Airport) is the international airport and the 2nd airport is AEP (Aeroparque Internacional Jorge Newbery) which operates both regional and domestic flights. I wanted to fly to EZE airport but later on I managed to find a way to fly out of EZE (BOA Airlines) so that means I get to experience both of Buenos Aires Airport. 

I was delighted to be able to book with this airline from GRU (Sao Paulo) to Santiago with a stop-over at AEP.  New airports and new airline for my flight logbook, what else can I ask for? 

1st Flight: Boeing 737-800 LV-FUA (Route: GRU-AEP) 

Photo: Fernando Ariel Torre


Economy Class 


For the trip report, click here

2nd Flight: Boeing 737-800 LV-LQB (Route: AEP-SCL) 

Photo: Gonzalos E. Salas 


Economy Class 


For the trip report, click here

My thoughts 

While there is nothing to shout about with the airline's cabin products, I am happy with the experience. This is one of the few South American airlines that I was able to book directly with the airline and although I had a scare during the boarding process as I was told to look for the gate agent because the machine rejected my mobile boarding pass. The ground staff were nice about it and explained everything clearly. It turned out that I need to verify my covid and yellow fever vaccination before they allowed me to proceed on with my adventure. On both flights, there were no IFE system on the 737-800 while for the in-flight snack, the 2nd flight from AEP (Buenos Aires) to SCL (Santiago - Chile) was disappointing considering it was dinner time and only a chocolate bun was served. On the bright side, the in-flight service was great and overall I enjoyed my time on both flights so will I fly with this airline in the near future? Why not? Perhaps I should try the airline's Airbus A330-200 aircraft on the long haul route. 

My rating: 

GRU Airport Experience and In-Flight service:  8/10
In-flight snack: 5/10
Economy Class Seat: 6/10
Cleanliness: 8/10 
In-Flight entertainment: 0/10 

Total score: 27/50
Percentage: 54%

2. Air Asia


Introduction 

Flying with Air Asia came about when Myairlines went bankrupt and this airline wasn't my first choice. Originally I wanted to fly with Batik Air but because of the website issue, I turned to Air Asia. Did I regret my decision? Not at all, it was nice to board one of the special livery aircraft in the fleet. The last time I flew with this airline was more than 10 years ago. Only thing remained unchanged is the seat interior, old type of seats but they are still comfortable. Why fix if it's not broken right? 

The original scheduled aircraft (9M-AHL)

Photo: Ryotaro Shinozaki


Replacement aircraft (9M-AQF) (Route: PEN-KUL)

My photo 


Economy Class 


For the trip report, click here

My thoughts 

Flight delay is part and parcel of air travel and for this, I can't fault the airline though the ground staff could have handle the situation better. The flight was supposed to be a short one but the delay was twice as long, at least we were given a bottle of water and a packet of chips and the staff apologised for the delay and we eventually got to our destination. Fortunately, there weren't any passengers who made a big fuss. One more thing, I have to give the airline extra points for they shifted us to another aircraft instead of waiting for our original aircraft to finish the repair, if that happened we would have left even later. 

The flight was pleasant and the meals came out shortly after take-off. Service on board was not bad and the seats were comfortable although the seat pitch is tight. Overall I recommend this airline. 

My ratings 

Penang Airport Experience and In-Flight Service: 6/10
In-Flight Meal: 8/10
Economy Class Seat: 6/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 6/10 (Online streaming/Wifi)
Total Score: 36/50
Percentage: 72%

3. Avianca

Introduction 

This is also another airline that I was looking forward to fly. From what I heard this airline used to be better in the past but because of financial situation, the airline went into Chapter 11 and had to undergo restructuring and that results in a lot of cost cutting and currently the airline seems to be focusing on operating as a ultra low cost carrier which many travellers complained about the airline these days. Whatever it is, I need to tick this airline off the list of airlines to fly. Flying on the world's 2nd oldest airline with an attractive livery is enough to try the airline at least once. I could have done LHR - BOG but I end up decided to just do a domestic flight from Bogota to Medellin. 

As for booking with the airline, the website looks great however no matter how many times I tried booking, the website rejected my credit cards so that's a disappointment. 3rd party website got my booking done and fortunately, the airline recognised my booking and I was on my way. 

Airbus A320CEO N398AV (Route: BOG-MDE)

My photo 


Economy Class 


For the trip report, click here

My thoughts 

I was fortunate to experience the new cabin products of Avianca so I am able to do a review on how they are like. For the economy class, they are configured in such a tight configuration that it indeeds feels like flying on a low cost carrier with the legroom space being very tight (28 inches) but fortunately, I had no seat mate. So I was able to stretch my leg a bit. At least there is online streaming and understandably on this short flight, wifi was not available. BOB (Buy on Board) service was available and no in-flight snack/drink was distributed. For the expensive airfare I paid, should I be expecting more? I could pay half a price and fly with Wingo and get similar service except maybe minus the WiFi part. 

However, the bright side about flying with this airline are adding another special livery aircraft, the Aviateca Heritage retro livery, to my flight logbook, enjoying the scenic view of the route between BOG and MDE and the wifi streaming connection. In summary, I will fly with this airline within regional routes but not on international flights more than 2 hours, my legs will suffer! However, I am interested in trying the Premium cabin. Maybe one day. 

My ratings 

Bogota Airport Experience and In-Flight Service: 8/10
In-Flight Snack: 0/10
Economy Class Seat: 3/10
Cleanliness: 8/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 8/10 (Online streaming/Wifi)
Total Score: 27/50
Percentage: 54%

4. Azul Brazilian Airlines 


Introduction 

Azul Brazilian Airlines reminds me of Jetblue and that makes sense because Jetblue founder David Neeleman was joined by a cohort of other executives from the U.S carrier and the style of the airline is very much similar. This is also another airline that I wanted to fly as I heard a lot of positive reviews and not only that, I would get to fly on a rare aircraft type and a new one for me, that is the ERJ-195. Originally my flight aircraft was scheduled to be operated by the E1 version, but later it was upgraded to the E2 which makes it even sweeter. However, I had to use a 3rd party app to book as my credit cards were not accepted. Fortunately, once again, I had no issue getting confirmation of my booking and experience this airline's impressive products. 

Original aircraft: ERJ-195 E2 PS-AEC

Photo: Angelo Melo 


Replacement aircraft: ERJ-195 E2 PS-AEK (Route: VCP-GIG) 

Photo: Tiago Deived


Premium Class (Azul Space)


For the trip report, click here

My thoughts 

This airline reminds me of Malindo (Now known as Batik Air Malaysia) as it offers a hybrid service of both low cost and full cost carriers. The legroom space of the Economy class may not be the best but the seat was quite comfortable and plus the presence of the seatback IFE system and WiFi (Which was not turned on my replacement flight) makes it even better. Unfortunately for the airline, the original aircraft (PS-AEC) had an engine issue leaving the airline no choice but to cancel the flight as most likely, they had no spare aircraft available at that time. The ground and airline staff did a good job to organise replacement flights for the passengers and most of them were re-routed to the other airport (SDU), however because I was flying on GOL the following day for the 737 MAX 8, I requested to them to place me on a later flight to GIG and not only did they grant my request, the nice staff upgraded me to Azul Space with a voucher of 200 Brazil Real credit to be used on future flight. This is what I called a great service recovery. Although I lost quite a bit of precious time, but this experience has left me a positive impression on this airline. This airline is definitely in my list of recommendation. 

My ratings 

Campinas (VCP) Airport Experience and In-Flight Service: 10/10
In-Flight Snack: 8/10
Economy Class Seat: 8/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 8/10 (Online streaming and Wifi)
Total Score: 44/50
Percentage: 88%

5. Boliviana De Aviacion (BOA) 


Introduction 

I had a tough time deciding which airline should fly me from EZE (Buenos Aires) to GRU (Sao Paulo) and the list of airlines I had in mind scaled down to just 2, this airline and Flybondi. Flybondi flies direct and the airfare was about the same. I decided on BOA in the end is because I get to fly on 2 flights and also a short visit to VVI (Santa Cruz de Sierra) but the downside is I had to sacrifice my one day stay at Buenos Aires. Well, that's life, you can't have everything you want! 

I am pleasently surprised that I was able to book directly with this airline's website, however even though I received the confirmation, I was unable to do the manage my booking option (as it is not available on the airline's website) so therefore I could not select my seat. I had to go down to the airline's office at Sao Paulo to do so and the nice staff was kind enough to select seats on both flights. She must be wondering why I don't fly direct from EZE to GRU as it is faster, but like any other avgeeks out there, the more flights the merrier especially on a pretty exotic airline like BOA. 

1st Flight: Boeing 737-800 CP-2925 (Route: EZE-VVI)

Photo: Tales De Lass Graciano


Economy Class 


For the trip report, click here

2nd Flight: Boeing 737-800 CP3204 (Route: VVI-GRU)

My photo 


Economy Class 


For the trip report, click here

My thoughts 

While the first flight was uneventful, the second flight would be remembered for a long time for 2 reasons: turbulence and the water dripping incident from the overhead compartment. Anyway, the service on board both flights were great, the crew were professional and they were able to communicate in English. While the airline still uses old technology keeping track of the flights and passenger's manifest, it brings back fond memories of my flying adventure in the past, not a bad thing actually. After touched down, It was great to see the ground staff at VVI airport holding 2 pieces of paper containing the list of passengers on connecting flights and I was the only passenger connecting to GRU while the rest or of the connecting passengers were flying to Miami. On board the aircraft, I wasn't surprised not to see any IFE system, just in-flight magazine  but the seats were comfortable on both aircraft. The in-flight meal was the same on both flights, probably from the same caterer in Santa Cruz (VVI Airport). In the end, this airline did what is expected to do, that is to transport the passengers from point A to B. So if you want something fanciful, this is not the airline to fly with. 

My ratings 

Buenos Aires (EZE) Airport Experience and In-Flight Service: 7/10
In-Flight Snack: 8/10
Economy Class Seat: 8/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 0/10 
Total Score: 33/50
Percentage: 66%

6. Copa Airlines 


Introduction 

Thanks to social media, I came across a very attractive J class airfare flying from Bogota to Santiago with a stop-over at Panama City. Not only that, the aircraft scheduled to operate on both flights were Boeing 737 MAX 9 which would be my new type for me. After a numerous number of flight changes and equipment swop, I got to fly on the airline's 737-700 and very fortunately lady luck smiled on me as the  737 MAX 9 operated on the longer sector (PTY-SCL route). Similiarly with LATAM and Avianca, I wasn't able to book directly with the airline and once again with a 3rd party but I was able to manage my booking directly with the airline, so no issue with that. I have seen Copa Airlines aircraft before in the U.S and I never thought I would get a chance to fly with this airline and experience the Dreams Business Class.

1st Flight: Boeing 737-700 HP-1376CMP (Route: BOG-PTY) 

Photo: Alex Rivera Q. 


Business Class 


For the trip report, click here

2nd flight: Boeing 737 MAX 9 HP-9920CMP (Route: PTY-SCL)

Photo: Denis Gonzalez 


Business Class (Dreams)


For the trip report, click here

My thoughts 

The difference in the old and new business class products is absolutely massive. As the airline is taking delivery of new 737 MAX, one should expect to encounter the old business class products on the Boeing 737-700 and -800 series. All the 737 MAX 9 are delivered with the Edream product and it is obviously an upgrade over the old product. The lie-flat bed was quite comfortable even with the small foothold especially on the window side. I manage to catch 4-5 hours of uninterrupted sleep which is very rare for me and was quite satisfied with the in-flight meal. Considering how hungry I was especially with the pathetic food offering from the Copa Lounge at PTY airport, I finish the food quite fast and after that off to sleep. I didn't get to use much of the IFE system but looking briefly at it, I find it to be adequate for 5-6 hours flight sector. However, the in-flight Wifi was not available on any of their aircraft at that time, that's a bit of a bummer. Overall, I enjoyed my business class experience and looking at the economy class on the 737 MAX 9, I think its worth paying more for the Economy Extra seats as they have the IFE screen system, better legroom space and more recline on every seat. 

My ratings (Based on the 2nd flight)

Panama City (PTY) Airport Experience and In-Flight Service: 7/10
In-Flight Snack: 8/10
Business Class Seat: 8/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 8/10
Total Score: 41/50
Percentage: 82%

7. Delta Airlines 


Introduction 

The reasons why I went with Delta Airlines is to redeem my skyward ecredit which was expiring at the end of 2023 and also to experience Delta Airlines international service. What I like about Delta is the ablitiy to choose the flight itineraries that the airline will give you as options especially when there is a flight delay or cancellation on one of the legs. After much consideration, I ended up booking myself with Virgin Atlantic on the first leg (LHR-ATL) and for the remaining flights with Delta Airlines and one of the legs is operated by Republic Airways on the domestic flight. (ATL-GRU-JFK) were operated by Delta Airlines, while for JFK-BOS (Delta Connection operated by Republic Airways) and the last flight from BOS to LHR was supposeded to be operated by Delta Airlines but because of the lengthy delay, I changed that flight to Virgin Atlantic. What an adventure it was as I got to experience the airline's A330-300, Boeing 767-400ER and 2 new aircraft types for me, Virgin Atlantic's A330-900NEO and Republic Airways's ERJ-175. 

1st Flight: Airbus A330-300 N802NW (Route: ATL-GRU)

Photo: Jason Whitebird


Economy 


For my trip report, click here

2nd Flight: Boeing 767-400ER N832MH (Route: GRU-JFK)

Photo: Claus Witte


Economy Comfort + 


3rd flight: (Delta Connection operated by Republic Airways) 
ERJ-175 N217JQ (Route: JFK-BOS)

By right, Republic Airways should be considered a separate airline but I decided to group this airline under Delta Airlines since it adopts the parent’s livery and cabin interior. 

For those wondering, Delta connection is a regional brand name of Delta Airlines and Republic Airways is a regional airline that operates and maintained the aircraft on behalf of partner mainline airline. This company operates on behalf of American Eagle (American Airlines), Delta Connection (Delta Airlines) and United Express (United Airlines).

Photo: Stephen Furst 


Economy 


My thoughts 

Flying on Delta's Boeing 767-400ER is a unique experience because it is one of the 2 airlines to operate this model and I have to say I prefer it over the 767-300ER. My flight experience on both the A330-300 and B767-400ER are pleasent and the miles I used to upgrade myself to comfort + was worth it for the 9 hour journey. It was even better when I had no seat mate on the 2-seater window side of the Boeing aircraft. For the A330-300, it is a nice aircraft but the problem is how small the overhead compartment but I was lucky to manage to find some space to place my large backpack as I was one of the last to board the aircraft due to some paperwork check was required from the ground staff before they allowed me to board.  The in-flight meals on both flights were not bad and can't say the same for the in-flight service. As for the Republic Airways ERJ-145 ride, it was a crampy experience and I would rather fly on a larger size aircraft or upgrade myself to the domestic first class. 

My ratings 

Atlanta (ATL) and Sao Paulo (GRU) Airport Experience and In-Flight Service: 7/10
In-Flight Meals: 8/10
Economy Class/Comfort + Seat: 7/10
Cleanliness: 8/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 6/10
Total Score: 36/50
Percentage: 72%

8. Emirates 


Introduction 

Flying with this airline came into my mind as I wanted to fly the A380 once again and having flown the airline's A380 before, it was time to catch up and compare the difference between and now and then. The price factor was only another reason why I chose this airline ahead of others as the airfare for Y class was the cheapest. Once the booking was done, what caught my attention was the update of the airline's app. I am quite impressed with the 3D seat map which allows me to see the surrounding of the cabin interior which very much matches the real interior, also features on the app, is what to expect on board such as the choices of in-flight meals and the programmes on the I.C.E (Information, Connectivity and Entertainment). There was an aircraft change on one of the flights, that is the SIN-DXB sector, originally I was supposed to fly on the 777-300ER and it was up-gauged to the A380, it must be due to high demand. 

1st Flight and 2nd flight Airbus A380 A6-EOD and A6-EEJ (Route: SIN-DXB-LHR) 

My photo 


Economy (Old Y Class cabin)


3rd and 4th flights Airbus A380 A6-EVO (LHR-DXB-SIN)

My photo 


Economy (New Y Class cabin)


Click here for the link to my Emirates A380 (SIN-DXB) trip report
For (DXB-LHR) trip report, click here
For (LHR-DXB) trip report, click here (New Y Class)
For (DXB-SIN) trip report, click here (New Y Class)
                  

My thoughts 

It is really nice to be able do a comparison between both the old and new economy class products. What both products have in common is I don't find the seat comfortable especially after a few hours into the flight. While the IFE system is amazing and also with the availability of the WiFi system, I am not a fan of these seats and after a few hours into the flights, I need to stand up and stretch myself a bit. However, the I am impressed with the in-flight meals especially on the LHR-DXB sector, the Tandoori chicken rice is absolutely delicious, I could have asked for a 2nd portion. The amount of food distributed to each pasenger is impressive. I almost couldn't finish all and that's a good thing right? The quality of the food is definitely an improvement compared to my previous experience. As for the IFE system, it is amazing with lots of programmes, movies and music to choose from and not to mention the impressed exterior camera which those passengers without windows are able to view them anytime they want and the in-flight map is amazing. Top notch product here! So apart from the seats, I am quite satisfied with my Emirates experience. 

My ratings 

Singapore (SIN) and London Heathrow (LHR) and In-flight experience: 8/10
In-Flight Meals: 9/10
Economy Class/Comfort + Seat: 6/10
Cleanliness: 8/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 10/10
Total Score: 41/50
Percentage: 82%

9. Firefly 


Introduction 

To fly from Subang (SZB) to Seletar Airport (XSP), the only way is to fly with this airline and for now only turboprops are allowed to operate commercial flights into this airport so I have been thinking of doing this route for quite a while and finally I went for it. This Malaysia trip in December was booked deliberately is to try out Myairlines but the airline went bankrupt a couple of months before the schedule departure. The silver lining is I get to experience a different route to my homeland. Booking with this airline is straight forward, no issues at all. Firefly operates the ATR-72 and Boeing 737-800 but the turboprop aircraft is used exclusively on routes to Subang (SZB) airport. 

ATR-72-500 9M-FYG (Route: SZB-XSP) 

My photo 


Economy Class 


For my trip report, click here

My thoughts 

The turboprop aircraft may travel at a slower speed and fly at a lower altitude than the jet aircraft, it is a cheaper aircraft to operate and is more cost efficent on routes that has lesser demand and better suited for shorter runways. Personally I prefer flying on jet aircraft but once in a while, flying on a turboprop is not a bad idea. I flew with Firefly's ATR-72-500 before so this is not new for me. The 50 minutes flight was surprisingly smooth but its a pity that we approached from Malaysia side, landing in Seletar airport on runway 21, was hoping to catch the view of the central part of Singapore, by flying from the south-west part of Singapore into Seletar Airport. Never mind, next time! The inflight service was so-so, greeted by one of the grumpy crew, I felt she preferred to be somewhere else. Never mind about her, I was pleasantly surprised to receive some snacks and a bottle of water. As for the entertainmeny system, ATR-72 turboprop planes usually do not have IFE system installed so for Firefly's aircraft, it was not a surprise there wasn't any. Overall its a good way of avoiding traffic at KUL or SIN airport by operating through the secondary airports, you might get to town faster especially from Subang Airport. 

My rating 

Subang Airport and In-flight experience: 6/10
In-Flight Snack: 7/10
Economy Class/Comfort + Seat: 7/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 0/10
Total Score: 30/50
Percentage: 60%

10. GOL Linhas Aereas 


Introduction 

I have been impressed with how this airline has evolved and giving the LATAM group a headache on flights operate in South America. I knew that I had to fly with this airline but unfortunately the airline website didn't accept my credit card so I had to go through the 3rd party. Initially I saw a route that caught my eye. I needed to fly from GIG (Rio De Janeiro) to GRU (Sao Paulo) and I spotted one routing which is insane and that is Rio De Janeiro (GIG) to Fortelaza (FOR) to Sao Paulo (GRU), that is a big detour as the Fortelaza is located north of Brazil and that is about 3 hours of flying from Rio De Janeiro and for the flight from there to Sao Paulo, it would be around the same time. Of course the airline probably saw my crazy itinerary and cut the stop-over and changed my flight to a direct one. Another exciting aspects about flying with this airline is chance to fly on my first 737 MAX 8 ride! I booked the flight that is scheduled to operate this aircraft model. Later on, I had to get from SDU (Rio De Janeiro) to VCP (Campinas) and I chose this airline as it was cheaper and it has the flight timing I wanted. 

1st Flight: Boeing 737-800 PR-GUF (Route: SDU-VCP)

PhotoAntonio Carlos Carvalhos Jr.


Economy Class


For the trip report, click here

2nd Flight Boeing 737 MAX 8 PR-GUF (Route: GIG-GRU)

Photo: Emerson Farias 


Economy Class 


For the trip report, click here

My thoughts 

This airline offers complimentary snack and a choice of beverage (limited) together with online streaming and Wifi even on the older aircraft. While I find the seat pitch to be tight, the seat itself is comfortable and I was fortunate to have the whole row to myself on my 737-800 flight from SDU-VCP. Even though my flights were short, we were still given snacks and usually the low cost carriers in my country will charge you for it. Is GOL truly a low cost carrier? This is quite debatable as I find the service to be more of a hybrid but whatever it is I am impressed with the airline's dedication to make every ride a more comfortable one for every passenger. What excites me about this trip with GOL is that I finally caught my first 737 MAX ride and also enjoyed the splendid view from Rio De Janeiro to Sao Paulo although the weather was not the best. Overall I enjoyed my rides with this airline and this airline definitely goes into my list of recommendation. 

My rating: 

GIG and SDU Airport and In-flight experience: 8/10
In-Flight Snack: 6/10 
Economy Class Seat: 7/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 8/10
Total Score: 39/50
Percentage: 78%

11. Jetsmart


Introduction 

This airline reminds me very much of Frontier, with the different animal livery on the tail making it very attractive and because I had to decide between this airline and Sky Airlines (Based in Santiago, Chile), I decided to go for the former. The reason is the attractive livery and at that time of booking, it was scheduled to be operated by the A321NEO. A few weeks before my scheduled flight, the airline unfortunately changed my itinerary and instead of flying into EZE, they changed my arrival airport to AEP. If I had known that they would change, I would have flown with Sky airlines as they were still operating flights to EZE that day. Anyway, I thought since I had 6-7 hours of interval between my arrival at AEP airport and my next flight with BOA which was taking off at 2 am the following day, I thought maybe I can take a bus over to EZE airport and while doing that, I can enjoy the view of Buenos Aires. The main worry I had was worrying about the flight delay because checking the history of this flight on Flightradar24, there had been quite a number of delays. 

Airbus A320CEO CC-AWA (Route: SCL-AEP) 

Photo: Alejandro Torres


Economy Class 


For my trip report, click here

My thoughts 

I am grateful to the ground staff at SCL (Santiago) Airport for helping me out and that was a good start to my pleasant flight over to Buenos Aires (AEP) airport. Our flight departed on time and arrived with plenty of time to spare for my connection to the other airport, EZE. I booked a coach service as it was cheaper than taking Uber or local taxi. The in-flight service was good and my entertainment on board was the magnificent view of the mountains while flying out of the Chilean city towards Argentina. There wasn't a need for IFE system or wifi as it was spectacular, one of the best views from an aircraft so far for me. The cabin is pretty basic, with a tight legroom space expected from a low cost carrier or maybe this is an Ultra Low Cost as you have to pay for almost everything, a service which is similar to U.S Carrier, Frontier. Overall it was a great flight and I am glad I managed to make it for my next flight at EZE. 

My rating 

SCL Airport and In-flight experience: 10/10
In-Flight Snack: 0/10
Economy Class Seat: 6/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 3/10 (I decide to give points for the amazing view) 
Total Score: 29/50
Percentage: 58%

12. LATAM Brazil 


Introduction 

LATAM group consists of different airlines flying out of cities in South America so I decided to split them into different airlines. For the domestic flight in Brazil, I decided to fly LATAM Brazil on one of the most popular domestic routes, CGH (Sao Paulo) to SDU (Rio De Janeiro). These are the secondary airports and I can tell you the view from the aircraft flying in and out is absolutely spectacular. 

Once again, I had to use a 3rd party app to make my booking but I am able to use the airline's mobile app to access my booking. Initially I wanted to fly on the standard economy class but I was offered to bid to upgrade to the premium economy class, I was thinking maybe I will since I was offered an aisle seat on my flight and no window seats was available. Thank goodness, my bid was succesful and I got myself seat 1A which later at the airport, I changed to 3A. 

Airbus A319 PR-MYC (Route: CGH-SDU) 

My photo 


Premium Economy 


For the trip report, click here

My thoughts 

For LATAM's premium economy, the middle seat is blocked. This is quite common for major airlines advertising this kind of seats as business class in Europe, I find it outrageous especially for the amount of money you are spending. I find these seats to be comfortable with the extra legroom space and even better, without a seat mate beside you. The airfare I paid was definitely worth every dollar and for LATAM's A319, there is WiFi available (Chargeable), however there is no need for that on this flight as I spent my time enjoying the spectacular view, the take-off at CGH airport and the approach into SDU airport. GOL, Azul and LATAM fly on this route and which airline to pick? You can't go wrong with any of these airlines, all 3 are great in their own ways. Another thing to mentioned is snack was available for Premium Economy class passengers and I chose the non-vegetarian sandwhich was ok and had water as my beverage. However the in-flight service had a lot to be desire as the crew were not very friendly, I wonder whether the flight delay had anything to do with that. Will I fly with this airline? Yes I will, at the right price of course. 

My rating: 

CGH Airport and In-flight experience: 7/10
In-Flight Snack: 7/10
Economy Class Seat: 7/10
Cleanliness: 8/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 6/10 
Total Score: 35/50
Percentage: 70%

13. LATAM Chile 


Introduction 

The prospect of flying with LATAM was exciting and even better when I saw some great deals on the airline's business class flights within South America. I was looking at which routes to fly and the best for me was to fly from Santiago to Bogota. With a few options of a stop-over, I ended up choosing Lima and a layover of about 20 hours. The airline must be puzzled with my choice and later on I received an email about the change of flight number and offered me a shorter lay-over at Lima airport. I did consider that option but ended with the longer as I wanted to fly on the 787-8 and besides the seats I wanted on the 787-9 was not available. Of course I had to use a 3rd party app to do the booking and once I received the confirmation code, I did the rest myself on the airline's app. Few weeks before my flight, another good news for me, the aircraft that was schedule to operate from Lima to Bogota was changed from the A320 to the Boeing 767-300ER, that means I got to fly not only Business Class, also the new J Class product. Currently the A320 only offers premium economy class. 

1st Flight: Boeing 787-8 CC-BBA (Route: SCL-LIM) 

Photo: Aldo Martinelli


Business Class 


For my trip report, click here

2nd Flight: Boeing 767-300ER CC-CXJ (Route: LIM-BOG) 

Photo: Juan Manuel Temochi - SPJC Spotter


Business Class 


For my trip report, click here

My thoughts 

This has be one of the best deals in my years of travelling. Not only did I get to enjoy business class, I get to experience both the old and new products. In addition , I had a great time at the airport lounges and the LATAM lounge at Santiago is quite impressive. Between the old and new products, I prefer the new product especially the window seat. Sitting by myself by the window has more privacy and you won't have to worry about anyone sitting beside you especially on the old product (2-2-2 configuration). For the in-flight meals, I had almost the same meal from the menu but it was not filling and to be honest, I tasted better business class breakfast meals than this. I find it strange that LATAM does not offer WIFI on their aircraft at that time, maybe in the near future, but their entertainment system is descent. I was able to enjoy a couple of movies on these relative short flights. Overall I enjoyed my flight time with LATAM and won't hesitate to try out the economy class next time. 

My rating: 

SCL and LIM Airport and In-flight experience: 7/10
In-Flight Meals: 6/10
Business Class Seats: 7/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 8/10
Total Score: 38/50
Percentage: 76%

14. Scoot 


Introduction 

Which airlines should I fly to Penang? Scoot came into my mind as the airline was operating the most popular member of the A320 family, the A321NEO and I would love to try the high density configured A321NEO to do a comparison. Once that was decided, I did the booking and thankfully on the day of departure, the aircraft type remained as it is. It can be very frustrating when the airline does a aircraft change and that you can't blame the airline as they have an airline operation to take care of. This would also mark the first time flying on the airline's narrow-body. The rest of the A320 fleet was inherited from Tiger Airways which has since been merged into Scoot. 

Airbus A321NEO 9V-NCI (Route: SIN-PEN)

My photo 


Economy Class 


For my trip report, click here

My thoughts 

Flying on Scoot's A321NEO is like riding a bus with this high density configuration, making it bearable for a few hours of flying. While the airline offers online streaming and WiFi (Chargable), there is no complimentary meal or beverage, you can either pre-order them online or order them in-flight and this depends on availability. For the in-flight service, the crew do look stress and for that its understandable since they had to handle an almost full load of passengers (230 +). My one hour flight went past quite fast and even though it was a short flight, my legs was relieved when we got off the aircraft. As much as I like the A321NEO, Jetblue's configuration of the aircraft is still my favourite so far. Overall I find this flight to be acceptable for this length of the flight. 

My rating 

SIN Airport and In-flight experience: 7/10
In-Flight Meals: 0/10
Economy Class Seats: 5/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 6/10
Total Score: 28/50
Percentage: 56%

15. Singapore Airlines 


Introduction

I am fortunate to finally flown on the airline's 737 MAX 8 as now I can concentrate on flying with other airlines and aircraft type. In addition, I came across a good deal which allows me to travel to Frankfurt and experience this airline's long haul flight. The last time I flew long haul with this airline was in 2011, that is quite some time ago. Expectation of this airline is high as this supposingly one of the best airlines in the world with top in-flight service on all classes are expected. One improvement I have noted since the last time I booked with this airline is the mobile app and website, it is definitely better than the previous version as I was able to navigate through the app/website without issues. It is also nice to be able to check what is served on your flights and for that I have to give the airline some credit for it. 

1st and 2nd flights: Boeing 737 MAX 8  9V-MBG and 9V-MBF (Route: SIN-PEN-SIN)

Photo: Jivesh Chander 

This is 9V-MBF


Economy Class 


For the trip report (SIN-PEN), click here
 (PEN-SIN trip report), click here

3rd Flight: Airbus A350-900 9V-SJD (Route: SIN-FRA)

Photo: Ivan Cabrero


Economy Class 


For the trip report, click here

My thoughts 

I am not overly impressed with my last flight with this airline, the long haul flight from Singapore to Frankfurt for the in-flight service and meals seemed to be below par for SQ's standards. Even the short haul flights on the airline's 737 MAX 8, I was puzzled by the choice of curry puffs as the only snack. The bizzarre behaviour from one of the cabin crew on my Frankfurt has left me stretching my head as all of my years of flying, I never had a crew that pour a drink for me using my used cup and somemore she didn't ask and also pointing her finger at the water bottle when my seat mate requested for water. For Singapore Airlines, I expect better but other than this, my flights went smoothly with the flight crew giving regular updates on our flight (very much appreciated). The seats are definitely not the most comfortable out there but they are still alright for long haul flights, what I really appreciate most is the complimentary wifi for krisflyer members, this is really useful. 

My ratings 

SIN Airport and In-flight experience: 7/10
In-Flight Meals: 6/10
Economy Class Seats: 7/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 10/10
Total Score: 40/50
Percentage: 80%
16. Starlux 


Introduction 

Starlux is the newest Taiwanese airline to grace our skies, managed by the former CEO of EVA Air, Mr Chang Kuo-wei. He is the founder of Starlux and together with Mr Glenn Chai and other investors, the airline currently operates a sizable fleet of Airbus aircraft consists of A321NEO, A330-900NEO and A350-900, giving EVA Air and China Airlines more competition. I had been thinking about flying this airline for a while since the covid situation began and finally this year I was able to find time to fly with this airline. I would experience both the Premium Economy and Economy Class from Singapore to Taipei and return. Unfortunately the flight time from Taipei to Singapore is less than desirable, an early departure time of 8 am is not great for those on a holiday, heading home, that means less holiday time. What I like about booking with this airline is the mobile app which offers photos of the in-flight meals, to let you pre-order your meal ahead of your flight. This is better as you won't be disappointed if the meal option you want doesn't run out by the time the trolley reaches your row.

1st Flight: A350-900 B-58502 (Route: SIN-TPE)

Photo: Justin Lin 


Premium Economy Class 


For the trip report, click here

2nd Flight: Airbus A350-900 B-58501 (Route: TPE-SIN) 

Photo: Jonathan Morgan 


Economy Class 


For my trip report, click here

My thoughts 

Starlux has decent products in both the Y and Y+ cabins and but for the Y class, I find the seat pitch to be quite cramp for a premium airline, while for the Y+ seat, when the seat in front is fully reclined, it can be a headache especially when you need to get past your seat mate to get to the aisle, not fun at all.

The airline has some good ideas like publishing the photos of the in-flight meal online to help you pre-order your meal before your flight and also promoting the airline's cocktail drink which I enjoyed. The in-flight service was not bad while the comfort of the seats in both classes are above average. Lastly for the entertainment system, I hope they add in more contents because the flights I experienced, they had limited contents especially under the movie section. Overall, I enjoyed both flights and will I consider flying them to U.S (With a stop-over in Taipei), yes. 

My ratings 

TPE Airport and In-flight experience: 8/10
In-Flight Meals: 7/10
Economy Class and Premium Economy Seats: 7/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 6/10
Total Score: 38/50
Percentage: 76%

17. Virgin Atlantic 

Introduction 

Thanks to Delta partnership with Virgin Atlantic. (Delta Airlines holds a 49% share in Virgin Atlantic), I was able to select Virgin Atlantic without any charges. This was made possible when I decided to change my flight from London to Sao Paulo onto another date and the option to fly with Virgin Atlantic's A330-900NEO was too good to turn down. The possiblity of flying on my 2nd ride on the airline's A330-900NEO took place when the aircraft, Delta 767-400ER registered N829MH broke down and caused a long delay and as I didn't want to wait, I attempted to change my flight to Virgin Atlantic which was departing that day, about 3 hours after my original flight time and was successful. So G-VJAZ and G-VEII are added into my flight logbook, this has to be one of the best moves I made. If I waited, I would have flown on N829MH but at 0100 hour and arrived at LHR much later. For my seat selection on both flights, I got the same seat, 51K and I enjoyed this seat as the seat can recline and the lavatory noise isn't loud. 

1st and 2nd Flight : Airbus A330-900NEO G-VJAZ (Route: LHR-ATL) G-VEII (Route: BOS-LHR)

My photo (G-VEII)


Economy Class 


For the trip report of LHR-ATL, click here
  For the trip report of BOS-LHR, click here

My thoughts 

I have to say how impressed I am with the performance of the A330-900NEO. It is certainly quieter than the previous generation, the A330-300 and the cabin interior of Virgin Atlantic is impressive. I find the Recaro seats to be very comfortable and with Virgin Atlantic's choices of cabin interior, I have to rate this as one of the best Economy Class products out there, certainly very pleased with my choice to choose them ahead of flying on Delta's 767-400ER. Delta's economy class product is definitely inferior to Virgin's, that's for sure. As for the in-flight meals, I feel there is an improvement in the meals compared to my flights in 2022 and lastly for the in-flight service, they are great. I am fortunate to have experience 2 sets of great crew. My experience with this airline has so far been top notch, I can't ask for more.

My ratings 

LHR and BOS Airport and In-flight experience: 9/10
In-Flight Meals: 7/10
Economy Class Seats: 10/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 9/10
Total Score: 45/50
Percentage: 90%


18. Wingo  


Introduction 

Honestly speaking, I haven't heard much about this airline until I started looking for flights to fly within Colombia. My first choice was Viva Air but as you know that airline had went bankrupt and Ultra Air also followed suit. So it came down to either Wingo or Satena. In the end I chose Wingo because of the livery and also it flies out of MDE airport. Satena flies out from the smaller airport in Medellin and I didn't feel like travelling out of MDE airport, Wingo was the obvious choice. So once that is decided, I did my booking and I was able to book directly with the airline! The user-friendly app allowed me to do all what I need without issue. 

Boeing 737-800 HP-1537CMP (Route: MDE-BOG) 

 Photo: Tomas Acevado S


Economy Class 


For my trip report, click here.

My thoughts 

Wingo was formerly known as Copa Colombia so it's not surprising with the aircraft type and registration of the aircraft connected to the parent airline. These Wingo 737-800 aircraft are leased from the parent airline, Copa Airlines.

For this flight, it is significant to me because it ended up my shortest flight in my logbook, just a flight time of 29 minutes in the air! Amazing when you consider that travelling by land takes almost 11 hours because of the roads require to pass through mountains just to travel from one city to another so flying cuts the travelling time a lot. Anyway, there is no in-flight service due to the flight time which is understandable but BOB (Buy On Board) service was available. As for the cabin, it is very basic, no IFE system or WIFI maybe that's why the airfare is cheaper. Lastly I like to mention about the PIC (Pilot-In-Command) for making an excellent landing at Bogota, it was so soft that you can hardly feel anything, well done! 

My ratings 

Medellin Airport and In-flight experience: 7/10
In-Flight Snack: 0/10
Economy Class Seats: 7/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
In-Flight Entertainment: 3/10 (Points for the Window view)
Total Score: 27/50
Percentage: 54%

My score for these airlines 

Aerolineas Argentinas: 54%
Air Asia: 72%
Avianca:  54%
Azul Brazilian Airlines (Premium): 88%
BOA (Boliviana de Aviacion): 66%
Copa Airlines (Business Class): 82%
Delta Airlines: 72%
Emirates: 82%
Firefly: 60%
GOL: 78%
Jetsmart: 58%
LATAM Brasil (Premium Economy): 70%
LATAM Chile (Business Class): 76%
Scoot: 56%
Singapore Airlines: 80%
Starlux (Premium Economy and Economy) 76%
Virgin Atlantic: 90%
Wingo: 54%

Charles Ryan's Award for 2023 

Do note: This is based on my experience and I am not sponsored by any airline. 

Hope you enjoy this review and if there are any questions, feel free to leave a message or send me an email. 

Best Premium Airline:


 Airlines qualify for this award:

Aerolineas Argentinas
Avianca 
BOA (Boliviana de Aviacion)
Copa Airlines 
Delta Airlines 
Emirates 
LATAM Brazil 
LATAM Chile
Singapore Airlines 
Starlux 
Virgin Atlantic 

Best Low Cost Carrier: 


Airlines qualify for this award:
Air Asia 
GOL 
Firefly 
JetSmart 
Scoot 
Wingo 

Best Economy Class:



Airlines qualify for this award:

Aerolineas Argentinas
Air Asia: 
Avianca 
Azul Brazilian Airlines
BOA (Boliviana de Aviacion)
Copa Airlines (Business Class)
Delta Airlines
Emirates
Firefly
GOL
Jetsmart
LATAM Brasil
LATAM Chile
Scoot
Singapore Airlines
Starlux
Virgin Atlantic: 90%
Wingo: 54%

Best In-Flight Entertainment System (Economy Class):




What more can you ask for? It has almost everything a passenger wants especially from an avgeek like myself. Not only that if you are not satisfied, there is in-flight WiFi although you have to purchase in order to use. 

Airlines qualify for this award:

Azul Brazilian Airlines
Delta Airlines
Emirates
Singapore Airlines
Starlux
Virgin Atlantic

Best On-Time Arrival:


Gol's flight: G31699 (GIG-GRU)
Registration: PS-GPK
Arrived 21 minutes ahead of schedule 

Airlines qualify for this award: 

Aerolineas Argentinas
Air Asia
Avianca 
Azul Brazilian Airlines
BOA (Boliviana de Aviacion)
Copa Airlines 
Delta Airlines
Emirates
Firefly
GOL
Jetsmart
LATAM Brasil
LATAM Chile
Scoot
Singapore Airlines
Starlux
Virgin Atlantic
Wingo

Most Memorable Trip: 


- Get to board 2 ERJ-195 E2 Aircraft (PS-AEC and PS-AEK)
- Technical issue with PS-AEC resulted to flight cancellation and rebooked to a later flight - whole process went smoothly. 
- Get to spent more time at VCP Campinas Airport
- Ground and in-flight service were great!

Best Scenic route:

CGH(Sao Paulo) to SDU (Rio De Janeiro)  

The view of Azul Brazilian Airlines with Sugarloaf mountain in the background


The city of Sao Paulo just after take off at CGH Airport. 


Best Economy Class In-Flight Meal:


Tandoori Chicken with Spiced tomato cream - this is the winner! 


Airlines qualify for this award:

Delta Airlines
Emirates
Singapore Airlines
Starlux
Virgin Atlantic

Best Premium Class Experience:

LATAM Chile's Boeing 767-300ER New J Class product


Airlines qualify for this award:

Copa Airlines 
LATAM Brasil
LATAM Chile

Best Lounge Experience:



Airport Lounges qualify for this award: 

Avianca VIP Lounge (Bogota)
Copa Club (Terminal 2) Lounge (Panama City)
Sumaq VIP Lounge (Lima) 
Latam VIP Lounge (Santiago, Chile)

Most Intriguing Airport: 

CGH Airport (Sao Paulo)
Sao Paulo - Congonhas Airport



Favourite Airport for this trip:
Taipei Taoyuan Airport 

Observation deck for planespotting 


Nice deco at the gates showcasing the Taiwanese culture. This is one of the examples.


Best Cabin Crew Uniform (Singapore Airlines) 

The Kebaya looks absolutely stunning on the female cabin crew. 


Best mobile App:


It gets my vote for my favourite app among the airlines I flown for this year.



Most Interesting livery: 


N398AV (Retro livery of Aviateca)

Photo: Roger Cannegieter


That's it for Charles Ryan's Award! 

Conclusion 

It was another successful year of flying, everything went well and there is one thing that have in common with my previous year flying trip and that is a flight cancellation did occur, in 2022 was with Southwest Airlines and in 2023 was with Myairlines and unfortunately this airline went bankrupt. At the moment, I can't see the airline making a comeback, but you never know. 

My first trip to South America was an eye opener and certainly one would have an advantage if they have a slight knowledge of Portugese and Spanish. Most locals over there don't speak English so it's either I used a translator on my app or sign language which was also effective. For my flight planning, I added in as many flights as I could even the LATAM staff at Lima was shocked when she saw my itinerary. Even though it was tiring, I was satisfied with the outcome. This has to be one of my best flying adventures and I will do this again without thinking twice. 

As for the rest of the flights, it was nice to add some new aircraft types along the way and visiting new airports and that will continue. As for 2024, I have plans to fly as many and for summer time, I am possibly looking at flying to Canada, trying out the airlines there. I think I am too late to fly on the 737-200 but I make do with whatever airlines are available for flights within the main cities. 

Meanwhile I have been doing some blog posts including this one in Greece while enjoying my vacation. Stay tuned for them!

Hope you enjoy this flight review for 2023 and have a good one!

Charles 

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