With budget airlines cropping up here there and everywhere, airfare prices are becoming increasingly affordable. But cheap isn’t always best – the rock bottom prices include only the bare minimum and force you to pay for virtually any privilege or extra.
Over in South America, Viva Air (formerly Viva Colombia) are fast becoming the country’s market leader for budget flights; their prices even rival those of the far longer and sometimes uncomfortable buses.
Read more: what to do in Medellin – my highlights.
However, like most budget airlines, Viva Air flights don’t come without their drawbacks. Here are my top tips for getting the most out of your flight with Viva Air and preventing those pesky add-ons from bumping up your price:
Check in 72 hrs before flight
Avoid on-the-spot fees for airport check in by checking in online – you can do this on their website up to 3 days prior to your departure time.
Print your own boarding pass
Believe it or not, Viva Air will charge you for printing boarding passes at the airport desk (currently US$16/£12) – avoid this policy by printing all your boarding passes (including connecting flights) at home or at your accommodation before you go to the airport.
Pack carry on as light as possible! (<10kg)
Viva Air have the standard 3 classes of luggage – personal items, carry-on/cabin and checked. Personal items are free, cabin bag prices start at COP$69,000 (£18/US$24) and checked luggage fees are from COP$55,000 (£14/US$19) – these charges vary depending on your flight route (domestic, San Andres or international) and where you decide to pay (web page, call centre, check-in counter or boarding gate).
Unless you travel super light (less than the personal item 10kg limit) or purchase a premium class ticket (which includes luggage), you’re going to have to pay for either cabin luggage, checked luggage or both. So my advice would be to pay for one piece of checked luggage (far bigger size and weight limits than cabin bags and considerably cheaper) and then ensure that your personal item conforms to the size and weight restrictions (40x35x25cm & 10kg) – that way you’ll only have to pay for 1 piece of luggage.
Ask at airport where Viva counter is
You’ll want to arrive at the airport early and suss out where the check-in/bag drop counter is located. This way there’ll be plenty of time to get sorted and resolve any potential issues (better than getting caught up in queues and if the airline staff are rushing then they’re more likely to dump fines on you).
Get luggage ticket
At the bag drop counter, staff should give you a luggage ticket for each item of checked baggage. Be sure you receive these and keep them until you land as you may need them if there are any problems retrieving your bags.
Try to board as soon as possible
Some people like boarding flights early to get settled in their seat and secure a space for their cabin bag, where others are quite happy to wait until the last minute in order to reduce the amount of time sat down on the plane. With Viva Air it’s definitely worth boarding as soon as possible because cabin bag space is limited – there have even been cases where people weren’t allowed to board to due to a bizarre lack of seats. So get to the boarding gate early, queue up when the time is right and be one of the first on the plane!
Armed with my top tips, you can now book a Viva Air flight with confidence – making sure you get the most bang for your buck!
Don’t forget to comment below if my tips have helped you out!