I recently traveled to Argentina on Aerolineas – the country’s recognized airline – via Kennedy International in New York and thought I might offer a few comments about my experience for our east coast travelers. On a whim, I upgraded to business class (don’t tell my boss), and it was an extremely pleasant experience.
My first observation is that the Buenos Aires flight from Kennedy departs from Terminal 7, which is not the newest or most progressive of the terminals, however, it was adequate. If I had one “grouse” it would be that Terminal 7 offers no TSA Pre or GOES (Global Online Enrollment System) security line. I had recently joined GOES or “Known Traveler” program and was eager to use my new status. The regular line was quick, though, and I had an ample connection. So no harm or foul and all went well. If I had one compliment of the terminal it is that Aerolineas shares a VIP lounge with British Airways and a few other carriers. The lounge was very spacious, well-stocked and remarkably comfortable with plenty of natural sunlight. Several serving stations loaded with necessities such as finger sandwiches, dried fruit and cheese plates, multiple draft beers (I’m working though) and every beverage under the sun was at my disposal. The staff was friendly and quick with my requests and the internet was speedy, making my time in the lounge pass by quickly and comfortably.
While not brand new to the market, my designated aircraft was a plane new to the Aerolineas fleet. The Airbus Industrie A330. The business class configuration was a 2/2/2, approximately four rows deep and accommodating 24 travelers in a quaint and comfortable style. The seats were of the “angle-flat seats” which is a term that seems to contradict itself. Regardless, they are comfortable and afford a nice night’s rest. Complementing these mechanical wonders are private video screens with all the expected music, movies and shows as well as charging ports for electronics and plenty of compartmental storage.
I chose to write this blog not because I flew business class and not because of the aircraft. I chose to wax poetic because I found the staff to be marvelously attentive and friendly on this flight and it really made the journey – an uncommon experience for me – a pleasure. Always smiling and attentive – both on my southern and northern departures – and quick with a request, I was reminded why customer service is such a key element in any experience, something we cherish and strive for every day here at Frontiers. To boot, the food was surprisingly wonderful and broke the boundaries of the age old joke about “airline food.” Being an Argentine carrier, their Malbec wine selection was memorable. Yes, I broke down and had a glass with dinner… after all nobody can work 24/7!
The arrival and departure into Buenos Aires International (often referred to as Ezeiza) is a double-edge sword. The flight departs New York in the late afternoon, which is uncommon, and arrives at approximately 4:30 AM into the great Argentine city. Aerolineas has recently built a new terminal just for their own international arrivals, and lines are quick. There are many connecting internal flights from the same terminal to outlying cities in Argentina, which is a completely new phenomenon, as any seasoned Argentina traveler will tell you. If one must connect to the internal airport, Aeroparque, the airline offers a free motor coach connecting airports for only Aerolineas passengers. Not a bad option, even though I still prefer the private transfers recommended and provided by Frontiers representatives in country. On my return to the United States from Northern Patagonia, San Carlos de Bariloche, I had an easy connection both into and out of the international airport and was able to check my luggage all the way home, smooth and easy.
In Ezeiza, the Aerolineas VIP lounge is across from Gate 13 and is sizable. My one tip is to “keep walking” as the lounge is separated into two areas and few realize that the back – fully stocked and attended to – is even there. I worked on my computer for three hours with only one other passenger in the large lounge while the front was quite busy.
My final comment is that this international route is relatively new and Aerolineas is making their push into the market the international business class fares are more than competitive, they are often a fraction of the major US carriers. Additionally, Aerolineas is the recognized carrier of Argentina and your necessary internal connecting flights are often included or are substantially reduced in cost when affiliated with an international departure.
Since Aerolineas does business in the USA, they are fully monitored and governed by the FAA and follow the same standards and practices as US carriers. Unlike many travel companies, Frontiers maintains our own in-house comprehensive airline department. We do not “farm” anything out. Due to our tenure in Argentina, Frontiers offers marvelous exclusive fare offerings on the carrier both from New York and Miami, Florida.
On your next adventure, I encourage you to have a look at Aerolineas as a comfortable and viable method of travel to and from Argentina. Oh, and try the Malbec… it really was good.
By: Hank Ingram, South America Department Manager