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Monday 17 July 2023

Boeing 737-800 or 737 MAX 8? Flying with GOL Linhas Aereas From GIG TO GRU!

 Welcome to my trip report on my 2nd flight with GOL!


When I did my planning on my flights in South America, I had to fly with this airline and it was one of the first flights I booked. As mentioned in my previous flight report on this airline, I had to use a 3rd party website to book (Cheaptickets.sg) and I chose the early morning flight as it was only flight of the day that was operated by the 737 MAX 8 (7M8) but later on, the aircraft was changed to the 'boring' 737-800, thanks to the notification from Flighty app. I tried to change to another flight (glad I didn't) but making changes via Cheapticket.sg might give me a headache not to mention the extra expenses so I decided to stick with it. 

GIG and GRU airports are well known to travellers as they are international airports that fly to both Europe and U.S. For GRU airport, there would be flights resumption to South Africa, starting in the Q3 part of 2023. However, flights from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo or vice versa are more popular at the smaller airports, SDU to CGH. So looking at the stats, GIG-GRU route is not even top 10 of the busiest route in Brazil. The reason why I am doing this route is to fly to check out GIG and stay overnight at GRU before continuing my South American adventure to Chile the following day. 

About GIG Airport 

Rio De Janeiro/Galeao is the primary airport in Rio De Janeiro that serves both domestic and international flights. This airport is named after the neighbourhood of Galeao. Since 1999, this airport was also named after Brazilian musician Antonio Carlos Jobim. The history goes back to 1952 when this airport was built as the other airport Santas Dumont Airport (SDU) was unable to handle more international routes and an increase number of passengers. So this airport was built and by 1970, this became the major airport for both international and domestic flights. The Concorde made an appearance at this airport, thanks to Air France which flew this iconic aircraft from Paris CDG Airport to GIG via Dakar. However, it lasted for 6 years. Right now this airport has 2 runways. Runway 10/28 and 15/33 and currently RIOGaleao is the operator running this airport. 

GIG Airport and the airport hotel! 

After arrival from my previous flight (AD4040 from VCP), I made my way to GOL check-in counter to collect my boarding pass before heading to the hotel to rest. As I wasn't able to do the check-in online, I want to make sure that everything was ok before I could settle down. Funny thing is checking in on my previous flight with this airline had no issues but on this flight, I couldn't check in for whatever reason. 

This terminal reminds me of GRU's terminal 2. 

At this time, GOL Airlines' check-in counters for the domestic flights is at row D. 

I tried using the self check-in kiosk, but I still wasn't able to check-in, so I had to use the check-in counter. 

Fortunately the staff spoke English and after asking me more details on my side, I was able to obtain my boarding pass. It seems that some information was missing. 

Once that was done, I made my way to the hotel. 

These are the airlines that are flying out of this terminal.

There is a connecting bridge linking to the next terminal. 

This looks pretty spooky right? 

At this hour, there was very few people around. 

Once I reached this section, I had to take the lift up. The signboards are clear in the direction. 

I took a very old lift and was worried it might break down. I was so glad to be out of it.

After another 5 minutes of walking, I was there. 

I booked the hotel airport - Rio Aeroporto Hotel Galaeo and it cost me around US$60 per night. It takes about 10 minutes to walk from terminal 2 to the hotel. 

For this price, you can't expect much from the room to be honest as you are paying more for the convenience (Airport location). The bed was a bit hard for my liking but I managed to get enough sleep to wake up very early for my 6.40 am departure. 

On the day of departure 

I woke up about 4 am and it was a bit tough waking up. I made my way back to terminal 2. The hotel offered complimentary coach ride to the terminal but I decided to walk instead. 

The entrance to Terminal 2 

I can skip past the check-in procedure as I had done so the night before. 

There was not much to see so I headed forward to the airside. Goodbye Rio! 

Once security check was done, I went through these duty free shops. 

Plaza Premium Lounges are everywhere! 

There is free-wifi at the airport.

Checking what aircraft I was flying on, PS-GPK gets the honour to fly me to Sao Paulo. 

I walked quite a bit, almost forgot to board my plane! When I reached the gate, boarding had already begun. 

The passageway to my first Boeing 737 MAX ride, the -8 series. 

My first 737 MAX 8 ride: PS-GPK (Photo: Emerson Farias)

Ex- Corendon Airlines aircraft (NTU - Not taken up for delivery)
Delivered to airline on July 2022
Engines: 2 X CFM Leap-1B 
Seat: Y189 
Age: 3+ Years old (July 2023) 
7844th Boeing 737 
Built in Renton (RNT) 

Flight route: GIG-GRU 

Miles: 210

Departure date: 31st May 2023
Airline: GOL Linhas Aereas
Flight: G31599
Aircraft: Boeing 737 MAX 8 
Route: GIG-GRU 
Registration: PS-GPK 
Gate: B28
Seat: 9A 
Load: 90% in Y Class 
Flight duration: 58 minutes
Actual flight time: 50 minutes
Schedule departure: 0640 
Boarding: 0600
Pushed back: 0629
Take off: 0638
Schedule arrival time: 0750
Actual arrival time: 0729
Departure runway: 27L 
Arrival runway: 10R 

Once on board, I was greeted by the friendly crew and my seat mates were already there. Everything on the inside looks similar to the 737NG aircraft with the Boeing Sky Interior. Once seated, I look at the view outside, what strike me was how huge this CFM Leap-1 engine is. Unlike my previous flight (Azul), we pushed back about 11 minutes early! (A big thank you to the other passengers for turning up early) and took off about 2 minutes before our schedule departure time. 

The take off was definitely quieter than the 737NG and perhaps about the same noise level as the A320NEO. For this flight, English announcement was made by both crew and the Captain and that's great.  However WiFi was not turned on on this flight, but it doesn't matter for such a short flight. The crew came around to distribute snacks and a complimentary drink for all of us. Not so Low Cost with GOL Linhas Aereas I feel. The crew were friendly and great, I enjoyed my flight with them. 

The weather on route was fine in general except when approaching GRU (Sao Paulo) Airport. It was raining quite a bit but we landed early, about 20 minutes early in fact! We taxied to the remote parking lot which was a disappointment because of the rainy condition. However, when the bus came, there was just a small gap between the bus and the staircase so you don't get too much rain on you. Overall, I enjoyed this 737 MAX 8 ride. I would get to fly on the 737 MAX 9 with Copa Airlines few flights later, so stay tuned for my trip report on the -9. 

Economy Class Seats 

The first row offers better legroom space 

The Boeing Sky Interior 

The seat is comfortable for flights up to 2 hours. Any longer for me, I need to book the seats with better legroom. 

This is a typical airline configuration on a Low Cost Carrier.

This seat (below) is mine. 

Of course we have one or two seats with seat misalignment like the one below. 

The cabin crew (right below) and I managed to take a peek at the 737 MAX cockpit. 

More photos of the seats 

Legroom space is at 30' inch. It was bearable for me.

The mood lighting was activated during the flight. 

I really enjoy this kind of lighting, it makes me feel more comfortable. 

The overhead bin 

What's inside the seat pocket? 

This is to certify I flew on the 737 MAX 8! :D 

4th time lucky! I got my first 737 MAX 8 ride. :) 

Little snack and a cup of beverage were distributed. 

Window shot photos 

It is hard to say goodbye, Rio, I hope to be back in the near future. 

We taxied quickly to the runway and took off powerfully into the skies. 

V1.... Rotate.. Positive climb, gears up! 

The weather improved from the day before as the skies was clearing up.  

Spectacular view, isn't it? 

The view of GIG Airport. 

However at this point, the weather was deteriorating especially on approach to Sao Paulo. 

Flying through the clouds, fortunately not much turbulence. 

This is not the weather we like to see! 

As you can see, it was raining at this point. 

We touched down smoothly after 50 minutes in the air. 

This is the sight I miss, the domestic airlines in Brazil. 

We parked besides this pretty A320 of LATAM.

Goodbye, PS-GPK, thanks for the ride! 

My flight summary 

With that, my domestic flights in Brazil has come to an end. I took a walk at the air side area before making my way out to the land side. 

The baggage carousel 

My thoughts on the Boeing 737 MAX 

This aircraft is certainly an upgrade over the 737NG with better and more powerful engines. They are also quiet on the inside and fly smoother. However, the interior is similar to the 737NG (no upgrade in the cabin) , with a slightly reduced diameter of the cross section compared to the Airbus A320, it can be similarly tight when flying on a full load of passengers but I guess the bean counters are happy as long as the aircraft brings in revenue. Another observation I made was how huge the engines are when I was sitting at a window seat next to the engine and miserably small the lavatory is. Apart from that, the rest of the cabin is pretty much the same as the 737NG. 

It is a pity that the history of this aircraft is tarnished by the recent incidents but with Boeing and FAA working together to make things right, I believe that the aircraft is now safe to fly. Most of the 737 MAX operators have resumed its MAX operation and there are orders for more, that shows how much confidence these airlines have in this aircraft. But still Boeing have a lot of work to do still to get the MAX 7 and 10 certified. The airlines that are currently waiting to take delivery of the MAX 7 and MAX 10 will not want to keep waiting but what other choices do they have? Besides Airbus, there are no other manufacturers that can produce an aircraft similar to the capacity of the 737 MAX 10. The only option they have is the Airbus A321NEO which has been selling like hotcakes. The likes of Icelandair and even United Airlines have turned to Airbus to replace the 757-200. Will I fly on the 737 MAX again? Answer is Yes. I will certainly choose it over the 737NG. 


Airline's website/mobile app: 2.5/5
Airport staff at GIG: 4/5 
In-Flight Service: 4/5 
In-Flight Experience: 5/5
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: 41/50
Percentage: 82% 
Verdict: Great


Never I expect my first 737 MAX ride comes from Brazil, a long way from home. GOL has a sizeable fleet of 737 comprising of both NG and MAX fleet. The chances of flying on the MAX is about 40% (June 2023) and there are times aircraft can get swop due to operation reasons. I got to say this has to be one of my highlights of the trip! Anyway, when you book with this airline, do check the aircraft type. If it states 737-800 MAX, then you know you are flying on the -8 MAX. Why is it stated as 737-800 MAX, only the airline knows better. 

Both of my flights went well, the crew were pleasant and the seats, you know, its similar to other Low Cost Carriers. It's better to pay more for legroom space especially on longer flights. What I really like is that the airline offers complimentary streaming which you need to have a device to enjoy. In addition, complimentary drink and snack were available even on such short flights like mine. Do I recommend this airline? Yes definitely. In fact, for the domestic flights in Brazil, all 3 airlines (Azul, Latam and GOL) are great, with Azul perhaps slightly ahead for the In-Flight Entertainment System.

Hope you enjoy this trip report. 

For my previous trip report with Azul Brazilian Airlines (ERJ-195-E2) VCP-GIG, click here

For my trip report with GOL Linhas Aereas (737-800) SDU-VCP, click here

For my next trip report, I invite you to celebrate my 100th airline with Aerolineas Argentinas! Click here 


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