First things first, La Agencia Travelers is not sponsored by VivaColombia Airlines. This is not an advertisement!
Never heard of VivaColombia?
Then you need to get out more because this is all over the SA-travel grapevine! VivaColombia is one of the VERY few low-cost airlines in Latin America. They cover all the major cities in Colombia, including the Caribbean coast, and they fly to Panama City, Quito and Lima for as cheap as 100 USD. If you hit the right dates, you can often get a flight for the same price as a busticket to the same destination. This is GOLDEN because as anybody who has traveled in South America would know: Distances are LONG and the quality of bus companies varies to say the least!
Same price as the bus? Getouttahere!
No, it’s true. But! You need to keep an eye out for promotions on the VivaColombia website. Three weeks ago, when I needed to get from Bogotá to a new job in Medellín with only a few days notice, I was really lucky. First I checked the bus prices, which seem to range between 35-55.000 COP (15-23 USD) for Bogotá-Medellín. Then I checked the prices at VivaColombia and I got a ticket for 70.000 COP (30 USD). 50.000 for the ticket and 20.000 for my bag.
Wait, you have to pay extra for your luggage?
It all depends on how much weight you carry. You are allowed to bring one carry-on with 6kg/13lb, anything extra you have to pay for. Don’t get discouraged, it is still very affordable. You have the option to bring an extra 12kg/26lb bag with you in the cabin for a fee of 20.000 COP (8.5 USD). Or, for the same price, a 20kg/44lb bag that you check in. If you have special luggage like musical instruments this will cost extra too.
Do you value your time?
Think about this for a minute. How much is an hour worth to you? This is not an hour at a miserable deskjob we are talking about. This is an hour of your travel time, your adventure time, maybe the best time if your life. You have to take account of that when you calculate if it is worth taking the plane over the bus. I flew from Bogotá to Medellín in one hour and seven minutes. The bustrip takes 9-10 hours. Do the math!
A few tips on flying with VivaColombia
I have flown with VivaColombia twice. From Quito to Bogotá and from Bogotá to Medellín. Here is what I learned:
1. When you fly into Colombia from another country you have to pay a fee of 15 USD at the check-in counter in the country of departure.
2. If you want your ticket to be cheaper, print it yourself and check in online up until four hours before departure.
3. No seats are assigned, you just choose one when you enter the plane. If you want to sit at the emergency exit, you have to be fluent in spanish.
4. Pay attention when you choose the extra bag services on the website. I chose the 12kg bag option without realizing I then had to take the bag with me into the cabin. The check-in lady almost didn’t let me in because my bag was too big. Choose the 20kg option, it’s the same price!
So, my advice to you is: Skip the bus! The plane is faster, safer and now also almost cheaper.