B A C K G R O U N D
The propose of this trip started when my boss received an invitation to attend to the ICEF 2010 in São Paulo. Because nobody from the high level management of my company would be able to make it to São Paulo on the required date, they asked me if I would like to go. I thought: "what's the harm in going to São Paulo and staying at the Grand Hyatt with everuthing included?". Uniting this thought to the fact that I really like to travel, no matter if it's for work or vacation, I told them that I would go.
They told me to find the cheapest transportation option available, so basically I researched three options: 1- flying into Congonhas Airport, which is less than 9 km (5.5 miles) away from the Grand Hyatt; 2- flying into Campinas/Viracopos Airport and getting to try Azul's service; 3- flying into Guarulhos International and taking the free bus from there to Congonhas.
The first option would cost about R$ 300 roundtrip ticket, including taxes and fees. The second option looked very tempting to me, but Campinas/Viracopos Airport is located about 90 km (60 miles) away from São Paulo and, because of the return leg, it would be even more expensive than flying into Congonhas. Finally, I realized that flying into Guarulhos would be the most reasonable choice, costing R$ 167 for the roundtrip ticket, including taxes and fees.
R E S E R V A T I O N
I bought the tickets online, directly from Gol's website. Once I completed the process, it seemed that everything was ok. However, after reading the confirmation printout a couple days later, I realized that they included travel insurance on my purchase, because they have a pre-checked box on the payment page that states that "I agree with including insurance on my trip". This is very tricky and new, because I had bought tickets from Gol's website before and travel insurance was never added automatically on the final payment page. I really don't like this kind of thing. That having happened, I went online again to see what I could do and the system would not accept my username/password combination because during the purchase process I had changed some personal information and included both my Smiles number AND the AAdvantage number to my profile. Apparently this caused some sort of conflict in my account, so I had to call their support. The agent was able to refund the money that I paid as travel insurance but could not restore my account. Actually, my Gol account still doesn't work even though I did everything to reset my password an all of that.
T H E F L I G H T
Flight: G3 1569
Aircraft: Boeing 737-76N
(previously with Aloha as N748AL)
From: Curitiba Afonso Pena International Airport (CWB
To: São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU
/ Actual: 16:59
/ Actual: 18:02
It was a cloudy Wednesday afternoon. I got to the airport very early, at about 15:10, considering that my flight would leave at 16:45. Because I took the city bus to the airport, it drops off all the passengers on the arrivals level, so I headed straight to departures to check in. Checking in was a breeze. There was no line at all, so I walked up to the counter I had a Gol agent check me in. Because I hadn't assigned my seats when I made the reservation, I asked the agent to give me a window seat, so she assigned me to 11F. Since she was already doing it, I requested that she assigned me a seat for my return flight and she was very kind to give me 9F and also added my Skymiles number to the reservation, so I would earn miles on Delta's program.
After checking in I decided to walk around and take some pictures. Despite having lived in Curitiba for many years and flown in and out of Afonso Pena Int'l before, I was never there with a camera, so I decided to snap some shots of the terminal. Because the terminal is not very big, it only took me some 20 minutes the cover the landside area. Once I was done taking pictures and headed to the security checkpoint, so I could go to the gate area. Security was very quick and I think it had never been as easy so far. On the airside area of the airport I walked around a little bit more to snap more pictures. Basically, Afonso Pena is divided in two main gate areas: gates 1-5 to the left of security and gates 6-10 to the right of security. Gates 1-8 are domestic gates, whereas gates 9 and 10 are international gates. Gates 3 (3A-3C) and 8 (8A-8C) are bus gates, so they are not connected to jetways.
Entrance to the terminal, departures level
Curbside, departures level
Curbside, arrivals level
Entering the terminal through the arrivals level
Panoramic elevators, landside
Up to departures
Airline ticket offices
Pluna, the only foreign carrier to regularly operate in Curitiba currently
Some check in counters
Retailers on the departures level, landside
Departures level, landside
Departures level seen from the third floor, where the observation deck and some retailers are located
The observation deck, located on the third floor
A restaurant is located by the observation deck
A Gol aircraft seen from the observation deck
Entrance to security and all gates
Overview of the area where gates 1-5 are located
Access to gates 3 (bus gates)
Overview of the area where gates 6-10 are located
Gates 6 and 7, where I would be boarding a few minutes later
Access to gates 8
Gates 8 -- almost no seats here
A Boeing 737 seen from gates 8 lounge
Stairs back to the concourse
Gates 9 and 10, the only two international gates at Afonso Pena
A peek into Afonso Pena's international gates
Sterile corridor from the gate to the jetway
The plane that would be taking us to São Paulo was coming from Caxias do Sul and arrived a little after 16:30, when boarding was supposed to start. However, passengers deplaned really quick and in about ten minutes after arriving at the gate, the agents started the boarding process. Needless to say, however, that we left a little late, having our pushback only at 16:59.
PR-VBV, the Boeing 737-700 scheduled for flight G3 1569 on that afternoon
Almost ready to leave
Provided the size of the airfield, in a few minutes we were taking off from runway 15 and were airborne. With less than 55 minutes to serve the passengers, the cabin crew started serving beverages and snacks. Gol now offers BOB on many flights, but not on this one, since it doesn't last long enough to have such service. Therefore, the cabin crew served everyone two cookies and a soft drink.
Earlier than I could realize, we were on final approach for São Paulo International. We landed and taxied straight to gate 15, with no traffic ahead of us. Deplaning was very usual. I walked out of the jetway and found myself on a sterile corridor leading to baggage claim and connections, since most brazilian airports segregate arriving and departing passengers airside. Within 2 minutes after deplaning I was in the baggage claim area. So far so good, but then I had to wait for 20 minutes for my luggage to arrive, which is a very long time in my opinion.
Deplaning in São Paulo
Sterile corridor leading to baggage claim and connections
This is where the sterile corridor ends -- sorry for the blurry pic
Terminal 1 Connector
That was supposed to be a transfers desk
Down to baggage claim
Finally I got my bags and was off to find Gol's bus that goes to Congonhas Airport. I found it very quick, because it stops at a convenient location, near the arrivals hall on the lower level. It was scheduled to leave at 18:30, so I guess having to wait 20 minutes for my luggage was not so bad after all, because otherwise I would have to wait for the bus much longer. As soon as I got on, the bus left to endure São Paulo chaotic peak hour traffic. At 19:33 we arrived at Congonhas Airport, having spent more time on the ground than in the air.
Overall, the trip was ok. Nothing major happened and I got to my final destination within the expected time frame.