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Colombia’s Aires Opens New Route: NYC to Bogota

Aires planes at the Bogota airport
Aires planes at the Bogota airport

Spirit Air was my first choice of airlines for the flight from New York City to Cartagena, if only for the cheap rates. 

When their pilots went on strike a few weeks ago, I didn't have the stomach to continue taking a “wait and see” approach.

I combed Kayak for other affordable options. The rates for Colombia's national airline, Avianca, were over $500, putting them in the same category as JetBlue (which only flies to Bogota) and other prominent international carriers. 

Then I recalled a contribution made to Medellin Living about domestic flights in Colombia.

I pulled up the Aires website and found they operated flights from New York City to various Colombian destinations via Bogota. 

At the time, I didn't know that this international route was brand new for the Colombian discount airline.

Unlike most of Spirit Air's flights, which would've cost about $260 to fly 1-way from NYC to Cartagena, including taxes and 1-checked bag (almost all of which involved long layovers at their hub in Florida), Aires' flights departed NYC at 3 AM, thereby putting me in Cartagena just before noon that same day. Perfect.

I paid the $289.20 for the 1-way ticket (including one checked bag) and breathed a sigh of relief.

Of course, Spirit's pilots settled their strike the next day, but it was too late. I was about to ride the friendly skies with Aires.

Aires plane
Aires plane

On my last night in NYC, I caught up with Olga over the phone, as we missed meeting in person that week. 

Incidentally, she is Colombian and spoke highly of Aires. Now I was curious.

A little before midnight, I left my brother's apartment in Chelsea and caught a taxi to JFK airport. 

At that hour, there was no traffic, and with the window rolled down, a cool breeze blew into the back seat.

Cab rides to and from airports are the quintessential travel experience for me. 

On the way to the airport, given you're heading to a new destination or beginning a new adventure, one's mind is filled with anticipation of the experiences that lay ahead. 

Taking a cab from an airport, upon arrival in a new city or country, you make your first observations while talking to the cab driver if you feel so inclined.

Seared in my memory are the cab rides from countless airports: Bali, Singapore, Kathmandu, Cairo.

It was at JFK, after waiting in a short line at the Aires ticket counter, that I learned my flight was only the second time the carrier had flown from NYC, and the first time was just two days prior. 

The newness of the route added to the excitement.  Not only was I getting a good deal on airfare, but I was also blazing a new path from my country to Colombia. Or something like that.

The plane was smaller than I expected, given the distance, we were covering. 

I had paid an extra $5 to sit near the very front, seat 2A.  On any other plane, it would've been the first or business class section. 

The two seats next to me were empty, so I made a vain attempt to lie down, which didn't last long because of the uncomfortable seat belt brackets poking up at my ribs.

It took about five mildly turbulent hours to reach Bogota (where, incidentally, there was free wi-fi at the airport). 

After an hour and a half on the ground, my shorter, one-hour flight to Cartagena took off.

Drinks other than water and coffee, as well as food, cost extra on both flights. The service was friendly, and I'm happy to recommend Aires as a result.

I will probably use them again for domestic flights while I'm here and a return trip to the USA, as it is not possible to book one-way tickets from Colombia to the USA on Spirit Air.

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Saturday 13th of August 2011

just wondering..... are the up front seats big? Are they worth buying? Thanks, I bought a ticket from ft lauderdale to bogota in december and i am not sure if i should pay 15 dollars of a seat


Monday 15th of August 2011

Yea, the big front seats on Spirit Air are def more spacious. On my flight last week from Bogota to NYC, there were 2 big seats taking up the same space as 3 regular economy seats.


Saturday 8th of January 2011

is aires still flying from JFK to BOG? it appears they are no flight segments after mid-january! does anyone have information?

K Jak53

Sunday 9th of January 2011

I called to get the refund and they wanted me to write them a letter requesting a refund, give them a copy of my passport, credit card statement, my bank routing numbers. WTF? Why can't they just credit my account? There the ones who cancelled the flight.

K Jak53

Sunday 9th of January 2011

I had a flight coming back on the 1/30/11, they just called and said they are no longer flying that route and I could get a refund.


Saturday 8th of January 2011

When I tried to book a flight from JFK to BOG for February 2011, they were all sold out. I ended up buying from Spirit Air out of DC instead.


Sunday 21st of November 2010


I bought a ticket 6 months ago, and canceled it in less than 24 hours. It has been 6 months, and I still haven't seen my money. It is unbelievable. I've talked to customer reps thousands of times, and they keep telling me I will see the money in a month. After month # 4, they said the person in charge wasn't working there anymore, and that's the reason why the process wasn't moving forward. They never told me anything about such change or whether I should contact someone else. Well, guess what? It's been six months and nothing! I WILL NEVER use this airline again, and I advice people reading this article not to. They don't care about their customers at all.


Sunday 21st of November 2010

Adriana, thanks for sharing your experience. I bought a refundable one-way ticket from Medellin to New York City before I flew down here this year, and when I called Aires to cancel it and request a refund, they mentioned several fees associated with such a request, and in the end, I would've lost $100 or more in the transaction if I went ahead with it. I decided to take a credit instead, but they still penalized me something like $50-75 as a result.

This was a big surprise to me considering I was buying a refundable ticket thinking it'd be easy to get a FULL refund. I was mad too, but the flights I've taken and service on board has been fine, so I don't mind continuing to use them.

I haven't used Spirit Air yet, but one thing that sucks about them is (at least for us Americans) that you can't book a 1-way flight out of Colombia to the USA online through their site. Or by calling them. Some policy they have in place. So for my purposes...and to be flexible, that leaves Aires, which a lot cheaper than Avianca or JetBlue.

Porno Filmovi

Friday 29th of October 2010

You raise many queries in my thoughts; you wrote an excellent article, but this articlee is also thought provoking, and I am going to need to ponder it a bit more; I will be back soon.

Benny Cottom

Friday 29th of October 2010

Hey nice article

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