I took a trip across Bolivia with BoA (Boliviana de Aviación) to try out their little known Boeing 767 and Boeing 737-300, in both business class and economy class. My trip took me to Cochabamba, Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Viru Viru) and onwards to Buenos Aires.
First step was to check in.
As I headed to the lounge, I soon discovered that life in Cochabamba right now wasn’t quite as fun as I’d imagined.
My ride to Bolivia tonight was this 25 year old Boeing 767. It was delivered in 1994 to Alitalia, and has since flown for VARIG and tAM before going to Boliviana in 2014.
The gate area was absolute chaos, but as soon as somebody saw my business class boarding pass the ocean of passengers parted and I was waved to the front.
The business class cabin on the Boliviana 767 is in a 2-1-2 configuration, with just two rows.
I was handed out Form number 250 to complete, which basically ensured I wasn’t smuggling millions of pounds into Bolivia.
Fairly soon, we pushed back and started our taxi out to the runway.
The safety demonstration is carried out manually by the cabin crew.
Our route tonight took us across Portugal to cross the North Atlantic Ocean.
We crossed the Canary islands and Cape Verde before crossing the South Atlantic towards Brazil.
We crossed Brazil and commenced our descent over Bolivia into Cochabamba, with a flight time tonight of 11 hours and 18 minutes at a cruising altitude of 36 and 38,000ft.
The seats were fairly similar to Norwegian’s Premium Economy, albeit without power sockets.
The overhead bins were the original ones fitted to the first Boeing 767s.
The amenity kits were bought round, and to be honest they were pretty well packed with goodies.
Aside from branded eye mask, socks, hairbrush and toothpaste, there was a shoe horn and an empty bottle of cologne.
The tray table was not particularly flat, which meant my dinner ended up being a little wonky.
Aside from the undercooked potatoes though, it was a relatively nice meal. The pork was delicious, and hot bread rolls with butter are always a bonus.
The white wine was also pretty nice too.
Dessert was a cheesecake which was really pleasant.
Although there’s wifi on board BoA, it only gives you information about Boliviana, and their fleet of BOING aircraft. Bouncy.
Breakfast was formed of this quiche, which was really nice. THere was also a strange sandwich that didn’t taste that great. There’s also a small bowl of fruit and some bread rolls.
Pretty soon we were on approach to the city of Cochabamba.
I followed the signs for transit passengers which, strangely, just led me right back to the beginning of the passport control queue again. The door was wide open which seemed that it would let anybody straight into the country without going through passport control.
I was found by an employee who directed me to go through customs to landside, before reclearing security.
I was landside in Bolivia, which was a little nervewracking, but I dared to go and step outside the terminal – at least for a few seconds before bottling it and heading straight back inside.
Once back through security, I headed for the gate.
It was soon time to board my flight to Santa Cruz.
Like my flight through Africa, you board by walking straight across the tarmac – an aviation geek’s dream.
My ride to Santa Cruz was this Boeing 737-300, originally delivered to British Airways in 1997 as G-OAMS. It then went to Air New Zealand in 2002, and finally to Boliviana in 2015.
As we waited to depart, I was stunned by the sheer variety of cargo being loaded. There were huge bags full of plants, as well as numerous boxes of goods.
I was soon joined by my seat mate which made it slightly less comfortable.
Takeoff was incredibly long, considering that Cochabamba sits at almost 9,000ft altitude.
Our route to Santa Cruz today was fairly direct – heading directly east for the short flight. We cruised today at 26,000ft, with a flight time of 26 minutes.
There was a snack service and drinks on this short flight.
We soon arrived in Santa Cruz and flew directly over the airport before beginning our approach.
Boarding was confusing today, as groups 1 and 2 were separated, but group 2 were alloweed to board first.
Finally I was able to board, and made my way down the jetbridge to today’s ride.
My ride to Buenos Aires was a 24 year old Boeing 767, originally delivered to Royal Brunei in 1996. It’s since flown for Air Mauritius, Air Algerie, Vietnam Airlines, Skymark Airlines, Varig, GOL and Nordwind Airlines, before going to Boliviana in 2016.
The cargo was loaded on and it was soon time to push back for today’s flight.
It was getting incredibly hot onboard, and the crew came around handing out water. Drinking it just wasn’t cutting it any more.
Finally the engines were started, and we taxied out to the runway.
Our route down to Buenos Aires took us south out of Santa Cruz, into Argentina and down towards Buenos Aires. Flight time today was 2 hours 41 minutes, at a cruising altitude of 37 and 39,000ft.
There was a snack service of a sandwich and more cookies.
Pretty soon we commenced our descent into Buenos Aires.
My flight from Madrid to Buenos Aires cost me £1100, or $1500 US dollars. This was for a distance of 7,000 miles making a cost per mile of 17 pence.
As we pulled onto stand, the APU issues continued, as the engines stayed running and the power kept tripping and coming back on again.
Overall, this was a fun but exhausting way of getting to Argentina. It was really interesting to fly on Boliviana, and despite the moaning I did enjoy my flights across Bolivia. The crew were so friendly, and every member of staff I met throghout the journey was so incredibly helpful. Yes you could probably take this trip in luxury on Avianca, Iberia or LATAM, but would it be anywhere near as fun as three flights on ancient aircraft, through an exotic country like Bolivia?
I took a cab to downtown Buenos Aires, where my hotel was waiting for me.