Knowing we like a few bevvies you may be thinking this post will be about partying the night away. It’s not. We were flying from Lima in Peru to Bogota in Colombia with Viva Colombia which is basically Colombia’s equivalent of Ryan Air. Only much shittier as it turns out. We had a long night ahead of us anyway as we were due to arrive in Bogota at 1:05am after a 3 hour flight then had a few hours wait until our next hour and a half flight to Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast of Columbia at 5:34am.
We’d taken the budget hit of flying (less a nights accommodation cost) as it would have taken over a week via bus to get to where we wanted to go in Colombia and we wanted to squeeze as much as we could out of South America before we flew to China mid April. We were due to go straight to Embassy the morning we arrived in Barranquilla to make our visa applications. That didn’t happen, instead at that time we were still in Lima airport in Peru having extortionately priced coffee.
US$9 for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc! At least it was nice.
Our flight was supposed to board at 8:10pm but due to bad weather in Bogota it hadn’t actually left there yet meaning there would be at least a 3 hour delay. We would miss our next flight and could only hope that had been delayed too. In the meantime until the next update in 25 minutes we had a very substandard and overpriced pizza and another glass of wine. When we went back for said update there was chaos at the boarding gate. It was clear from a way off there were some very angry people. We feared the worst. The flight was cancelled.
The only option we were given was to book on another for 9:00pm the following evening with no compensation for overnight stay, meals, lost onward travel or accommodation. It was like a comedy sketch. We reluctantly handed over our passports to get re-entry stamps to Peru as we were firmly told we couldn’t stay in the boarding area of the airport. Crazed South Americans swarmed around the boarding gate desk so we did the only thing we could. Went and got a beer and sat down. To top it all off you only got 10 mins free wifi which we had already used and they ‘couldn’t’ give us anymore to email the other flight operator or our booked hostel in Barranquilla. It was a joke.
After what seemed like an age we finally got our passports back and were ordered onto a bus to reclaim our baggage. Back in the check in area of the airport we found a tiled floor corner and settled in for the night. We bought some expensive but necessary internet ($15 for 24 hours) and emailed the hostel and the next airline to see what could be done. To their credit the airline were quick to respond, but the answer was nothing.
Airport sleeping is obviously not the most comfortable, I once had a drunken nap on my kitchen floor and it was much the same except without the underfloor heating and drunkness. At least I had my ritualistic airport spritz from earlier in the evening of my sisters perfume from duty free to comfort me. As I drifted off to sleep, eye mask on and earplugs in, I thought we should have got the bus. It felt like it was going to take a week to get there at the rate we were going anyway.
Our corner for the night!
To no surprise we woke early from a broken sleep. Our morning in the terminal passed without much event. Coffee for breakfast, Chinese for lunch. A nap back in our corner and some people watching. There was the odd sports personality having photos taken with people but had no clue who they were. Throughout the day a couple of confusing emails came through, J went to try and find out what was going on but the Viva Columbia check in desks were closed until 5pm.
Hoping for the best we went to queue up once they opened. It was SO slow. I almost died from boredom whilst J reprimanded the airline on Twitter for the treatment we’d received. After 2 hours of queuing we finally check in. Hallelujah! We are told we had to rush to the gate because boarding was starting. Of course it was. I’ve never heard of let alone witnessed passengers on a plane cheering and whooping as it started moving but that’s what happened. We were finally on our way.
J v Viva Colombia
The storey doesn’t end there though. The only downside to actually getting to Colombia was that because we weren’t sure when we would actually make it we didn’t want to waste even more money booking the next flight or hostels. When we arrived at Immigration there was the longest queue I’ve seen, another hour and half of my life I won’t get back. I’m impatient by nature, I’ve tried to minimise it but to no avail hence I hate queues.
By the time we had collected our bags it was nearly 2am. You can’t book hostels online retrospectively for the night you are in so we had no option but to sleep in the airport again (at least Bogota airport has free wifi). We found a safe spot just behind a police desk and bedded down. We woke at 6am groggy and aching. After a pretty decent breakfast of fried eggs on toast we took a taxi to our hostel. I fell asleep, dreaming of being in a real bed. It wouldn’t be long.
(As it turns out our experience with Viva Colombia could have been worse though). A fellow traveller buddy of ours got the same flight only a few hours before us and the plane had to turn back to do an emergency landing. This was after the oxygen masks had all been released due to a sudden drop in cabin pressure – it turned out one of the flight attendants hadn’t closed one of the doors properly! Insane.)