Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cheap flights to Colombia

José María Córdova International Airport - Medellin, Colombia

It looks like there will be more flights to Colombia from the US in the very near future. This is good news for travelers on a budget, like myself.

The airfare for my first trip to Medellin in March was $500 through American Airlines. My second trip in June, also American Airlines, was $600. For my third trip in September, I booked my flight using 35k miles on Continental Airlines, connecting with its travel partner Copa Airlines.

My next trip in January will be for FREE!! YES!! You read it correctly, FREE!!

Let me tell you how. Upon my arrival at Medellin's international airport, José María Córdoba, for my early morning depature from Medellin to Chicago, the place was a madhouse. I checked my bags and was waiting in line, half asleep. Too much partying the night before. Anyways, I overhear an American Airlines employee asking several people in line if they would be willing to postpone their departure. This got my full attention.

I asked the AA employee why the airport was packed. She informed me that the day before a flight was cancelled do to mechanical problems and that they did not have enough seats for everyone. She then mentioned that they were looking for volunteers to give up their seats. I asked her what they were offering and she replied, a $600 flight voucher, $100 for a hotel in Medellin, a lunch and dinner voucher, as well as taxi fare to and from the hotel to the airport.


After informing them that I would love to volunteer, they gave me the VIP treatment as they worked out all the details and provided me with all my vouchers.

In the photo, taken at José María Córdoba, you can see my red suitcases after they were taken off the airplane.

Anyways, let me share this article regarding interest by JetBlue in aquiring flights to Colomnbia. Hopefully, for those interested in traveling to Colombia sometime next year there may well be more afforable airfares.

South Florida Business Journal
JetBlue Asks For Colombia Flights - Tuesday, October 17, 2007
JetBlue Airways has filed for authority to fly between Fort Lauderdale and Bogota, Colombia - which, if granted, would make it the first low-cost U.S. carrier to fly that route.

Under a 2000 treaty, U.S. airlines are limited to 70 weekly flights to Colombia's main cities, which are currently allotted to American Airlines, Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

However, in it's filing with the U.S. Department of Transportation, JetBlue cites a September 2007 agreement between the two countries that opens up to 21 additional weekly flights. JetBlue applied for 14 of them - seven from Fort Lauderdale beginning in October 2008 and seven from Orlando beginning in April 2008.

JetBlue's proposed schedule lists daily round-trips to Bogota from both cities.

Currently, American Airlines - flying from Miami International Airport - is the only U.S. carrier flying to the country from South Florida. Colombian airline Avianca is the only carrier flying to Colombia from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

"Latin America is crying out for high-quality, low-fare service to the U.S.," JetBlue spokesman Sebastian White said. "We believe JetBlue is the best choice to inject competition into what is a notoriously overpriced and underserved market."

The limited flights have been the source of competition between airlines in the past.

In April, Miramar-based Spirit Airlines in April requested 14 unused American Airlines slots be reassigned to it. It wanted to fly daily between Fort Lauderdale and Colombian cities Bogota and Barranquilla.

A month later American Airlines, which holds the authority for 42 weekly flights to Colombia, announced it would add 14 flights to Colombia beginning Dec. 13. Regulators OK'd that plan, but said if the airline did not launch the flights, the permits would be automatically revoked.

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