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Experiences with Aerolineas Argentina 2012

Welwyn Garden City...
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Experiences with Aerolineas Argentina 2012

This is one of several entries about our group of eight’s 3 week tour of Argentina Oct-Nov 2012. Aerolineas Argentina was one of the few unenjoyable aspects of our trip - and it charges foreigners more for flights too. They have an airpass which saves a little on domestic flights but you have to do the international flight with AA to qualify. This is a high price to pay when BA has a convenient direct flight from London that was also cheaper than AA via Italy/Spain when we booked 11 months ahead.

Our six domestic flights, BA – IguazuSaltaMendoza – BA - El Calafate – BA, cost £835 per person booking 8-9 months ahead in Feb 2012 (sorry I cannot break that down to individual legs). Our trip was planned to use the direct flights Iguazu-Salta-Mendoza which only run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday but we had to go to from Mendoza to El Calafate via Buenos Aires. I did not find the website easy to use and was puzzled that I did not have to pay when booking until I received an email and realised you have ring up one of their offices with your booking number to do this.

You can only book four flights at a time on-line but the London Office (or at least one person there) was helpful when I rang to pay and amalgamated our bookings under one reference and made some helpful suggestions. She explained that there are two airports, EIZ with mainly International flights, (35k from centre) and AEP for most of the domestic flights (about 15 minutes drive from the centre) and that going from EIZ to Iguazu at 8am was actually less convenient than going from AEP at 7am. (Address: 1st Floor, Mayfair, 22 Conduit Street, London W1S 2XR. Tel 020 7290 7887).

SCHEDULE CHANGES. Then the fun began. We had 14 changes of schedule before we set off and another one after we left. These were mostly insignificant, but our Mendoza to BA flight was postponed 12 hours and had us arriving 7 hours after our coneection to El Calafate was due to depart. The London Office rejigged our flights but had to get permission from Head Office not to charge us more. A couple of other flights were postponed 1.5 hours reducing what we planned to do on arrival in Salta and Mendoza.

DELAYS AND CANCELLATIONS. Four of the flights were almost on time. The Iguazu-Salta flight was delayed an hour and our Buenos Aires to El Calafate at 15:00 was cancelled just after it was due to leave. We were put up in an OK but not great hotel in Belgrano (whose staff were helpful and all too used to this) and put on the 6am flight the next day instead. The cancellation was ostensibly because of heavy rain in BA but few other flights were cancelled and the weather in Patagonia was good. There were fewer than thirty of us and we all fitted on to the 6am flight. The thought crossed many of our minds that Aerolineas Argentina cancelled our flight to save money.

In flight food consists of a snack box whose contents are mainly very sweet confections that we found inedible but there was an unexciting sandwich on the 6am flight. Drinks were water, soft drinks or poor coffee.

Domestic Airports in Argentina have most facilities before security and you are not expected to enter the small departure lounges until called. This can result in queues for the X-ray machine as departure time approaches but the only place we ran into problems was Iguazu. Three flights were scheduled to leave within five minutes of each other with a sign for a queue for the LAN flight but not the two Aerolineas ones, leading to an air of chaos in the packed departure lounge. Our delay was not indicated until after the expected departure time causing many on the Salta flight to worry they had missed it and get in the unmarked Buenos Aires Queue. So do not leave it too late to go through, especially as it is easy to miss the mainly Spanish announcements.

CONFIRMING FLIGHTS. Aerolineas Argentina is one of the few airlines to still suggest you confirm flights within 48 hours of departure. I guess this is also because of their frequent schedule changes, but you can check this if you have access to your email. Checking in on-line (24 hours before flight) gets around this but we were sometimes in places with irregular internet connections and it is not allowed for group bookings. A phone number is provided but this means getting your hotel to ring as it is in Spanish and one of our hotels could not get though, causing some anxiety. I felt that I was wasting time and fussing about nothing but did not like to take a chance in case we were turfed off a flight.

Argentina is a great place to go on holiday, especially as the seasons are reversed, and it is a shame that their national carrier is letting them down.

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1. Re: Experiences with Aerolineas Argentina 2012

I have to say I had quite a different experience with Aerolineas Argentina. I used them for 3 flights during a trip in November 2012 (Buenos Aires - El Calafate - Ushuaia - Buenos Aires). We didn't have any delays, and 2 of our flights actually landed ahead of schedule. Prior to our trip, we had one schedule change (one flight left 40 minutes later).

I did not reconfirm any flights (didn't know I was supposed to!) and also did not check in online. It didn't seem to cause any problems. I liked the fact that they sent an email to me 24 hours before each flight confirming all the details.

I was quite worried about using AA, having read many bad reviews, but it worked out fine in the end. What helped me to put my mind at ease in the months before our trip was checking the live departures/arrivals information on the Aeropuertos Argentina website. I noticed that delays/cancellations were quite rare, and concluded that the airline had made some improvements (possibly after joining the Sky Team alliance in August 2012).

Link for the website:

http://www.aa2000.com.ar/

Note that if you reside in a country that AA does not fly to, then you are still eligible to use the airpass. I live in London and flew on British Airways, and was still able to book my AA flights using the discounted airpass rates.

Also note that AA's London office has now closed. There is an 0800 number to dial (can't remember what it was), and this will put you through to their European office. This didn't make much of a difference to me, except that I was charged in Euros rather than GBP (worked out a bit more expensive due to credit card charges).

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2. Re: Experiences with Aerolineas Argentina 2012

We only used them twice on our trip but both times they rescheduled the flights which casued us no end of problems, we found that the best method of transport in Argentina is the bus.

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3. Re: Experiences with Aerolineas Argentina 2012

Me too - the bus was fab

AA was bad - they cancelled one of our flights and we ended up sleeping at BA's domestic airport on the floor as all the hotels were full

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4. Re: Experiences with Aerolineas Argentina 2012

I flew Aerolineas for some domestic flights on our recent trip, the actual flights were fine, but the pre flight lack of communication, just god awful. And EZE could be the worst run airport in the world, only 6 machines where everyone is forced to check in for flights of about 10 airlines. Hate that airport.

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5. Re: Experiences with Aerolineas Argentina 2012

We had decent luck with AA in Oct. Our only major delay was not due to AA, but because of the announced airport worker's union protest so all flights at AEP (and EZE) were delayed. Communication was sketchy, at best.

However, AA did cancel our Calafate - Trelew flight 6 weeks before our trip which forced us to fly back to AEP to connect losing 1/2 day. At least we knew about it and could plan accordingly.

We actually left Calafate 30 minutes early and were on time for other flights.

It was interesting that AA was promoting Skyteam alliance, but none of the ticket agents knew how to add my Skymiles number to my tickets.

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6. Re: Experiences with Aerolineas Argentina 2012

Our experience with AA was mixed. We took several flights domestically and all but the last one departed/arrived on time.

Of course, it was our last flight from Calafate that was 2 hours late and we needed to change airports from Newbery to EZE to catch our flight home. It was actually pretty nerve wracking, collecting our luggage at 6pm on Friday night was a disaster. It took 45 minutes to get our luggage on the carousel and it was almost 2 hours to drive from Aeroparque to EZE. The taxi line outside was INSANE. At least 100 people waiting for cabs. Luckily we had a driver waiting for us otherwise the 5.5 hours we originally had would have shrunk to nothing. We made it to the gate with about 30 minutes to spare but it was still far too close for comfort.

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7. Re: Experiences with Aerolineas Argentina 2012

AA use flight schedules like fishing lines - throw out as many as possible and pull back the ones that don't get any bites. I wouldn't advise making any bookings with AA for dates you can't handle a reschedule on.

About the airpass: If you fly in with BA (British Airways), look into the OneWorld airpass.. Then you can fly LAN instead of AA. Two birds, one stone.

Welwyn Garden City...
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8. Re: Experiences with Aerolineas Argentina 2012

Thank you for your comments and Ishan23 for his corrections regarding the airpass and closure of the London Office. I had forgotten why we did not used the airpass and so checked the airpass webpage before I posted. www.aerolineas.com.ar/arg/main.asp…

This says "To purchase this pass an international one way or return ticket to Argentina with Aerolineas Argentinas is required" with a list of prices. HOWEVER, IF YOU SCROLL DOWN there is a second heading for the airpass without AA international flights (as ishan23 commented), albeit with higher prices.

This reminded me that we did not use the airpass because it was no cheaper when we booked 9 monts ahead - the limited number of airpass seats was sold out on one flight and the flights to/from Patagonia were more expensive with the airpass.

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9. Re: Experiences with Aerolineas Argentina 2012

Thanks for your detailed account of your experience.

I was recently planning a trip to Argentina, but have since decided to cancel my plans because of the many horrible experiences I've heard about Aerolineas airline here on Tripadvisor and on Fodors and Lonely Planet's blogs. In addition, all of the flights that I was looking into were exactly TWICE the price for foreigners compared with Argentinian nationals. This illegal and unethical practice has got to stop. And the only way to get their attention is to give them lots of bad press and air their dirty laundry in public!

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10. Re: Experiences with Aerolineas Argentina 2012

Hello,

The pricing issue for non residents is not Aerolíneas Argentinas' responsibility, but a differential fare system enforced by the Argentine government. All airlines within Argentina have to comply.

This issue is discussed very often in this forum.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294266-i977-k4736…

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g312741-i979-k4634…

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