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Three Days in Rio de Janeiro – Introduction


Azul Brazilian Airlines 2404
Sao Paulo-Guarulhos (GRU) – Rio de Janeiro-Santos Dumont (SDU)
Embraer E195
19 February 2016

My flight from Washington landed as scheduled and there were virtually no other international flights arriving and therefore I cleared immigration in about five minutes. I used my Polish passport to enter Brazil since I would’ve needed a visa if I used my U.S. passport.

I had a four hour layover in Sao Paulo and decided to head directly to Terminal 1 from Terminal 3. I booked my Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro flight with Azul Brazilian Airlines, a semi-low cost airline, which operates from Terminal 1. Checking-in took all of two minutes and clearing security took about ten seconds… faster than Pre-Check in America.

Once airside, I was planning to relax in a lounge… and then I found out that there are no lounges that I could use in Terminal 1. Amazing. So I literally had to sit airside in a small building with constant loud announcements for about three hours after an international First Class flight.

Somehow I managed to survive the three hours and boarding was called for my flight to Rio de Janeiro at about 14:30. There were two flights leaving earlier to Rio de Janeiro but they apparently were full and therefore they didn’t want to rebook me on either one.

Azul Brazilian Airlines 2404: Sao Paulo-Guarulhos (GRU) - Rio de Janeiro-Santos Dumont (SDU)

Azul Brazilian Airlines 2404: Sao Paulo-Guarulhos (GRU) – Rio de Janeiro-Santos Dumont (SDU)

Azul Brazilian Airlines are actually partners with United and therefore I decided to credit my short flight to United and received, well, a very insignificant amount of miles. The flight to Rio de Janeiro was operated by an Embraer E195 with only Economy Class, the scheduled flight time was about an hour; however, we landed very early since the flight is about thirty-five minutes.

Azul Brazilian Airlines Embraer E195

Azul Brazilian Airlines Embraer E195

Azul actually has a nice Economy Class cabin on their E195.. with video monitors.. the same system that Continental United uses with live TV. Legroom wasn’t the best, but I assume their Embraers are used for short flights within Brazil, so it isn’t too bad. They also offer free snacks (very similar to what United offers in domestic First Class when no meals are served).

Azul Brazilian Airlines Economy Class E190

Azul Brazilian Airlines Economy Class E190

Azul Brazilian Airlines Economy Class E190 Legroom

Azul Brazilian Airlines Economy Class E190 Legroom

We pushed back plenty early and then made it to the runway about five minutes later, passing lots of TAM aircraft and then a bunch of international airlines’ aircraft, which I was very excited to see.

Sao Paulo Airport

Sao Paulo Airport

An interesting mix of airlines I was able to spot in Sao Paulo – American, British, Lufthansa, LAN, South African, SWISS, United, etc. Most of the aircraft “sit” on the ground the whole day since they arrive in the morning and then depart in the evening to the U.S., Europe, etc.

We departed Sao Paulo ahead of schedule.. where the weather wasn’t the best and therefore the first thirty minutes of the flight was bumpy and cloudy with no views.

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As we began approaching Rio de Janeiro, the view was significantly nicer and it was a beautiful and gorgeous day.

My flight was booked to Rio de Janeiro’s other, smaller airport, Santos Dumont Airport. However this was super convenient since my hotel was really close to the airport, so it was literally walking distance. I shared my hotel booking frustration previously and therefore like I stated in the end, I decided booking a non-chain hotel and saved hundreds of dollars and the hotel was actually really nice. I actually booked this flight in combination with the hotel and saved over $200 USD.. so it was a great deal.

Landing at Santos Dumont Airport is absolutely amazing, the views are just gorgeous and you can see many of Rio’s attractions from the airplane. I was looking out the window for the entire flight because the scenery was just amazing.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Since my hotel was literally next to the airport, I had an amazing view of Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer from my room. So I was very happy with my hotel and flight choice.

Santos Dumont Airport

Santos Dumont Airport

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Santos Dumont Airport

Santos Dumont Airport

I was happy to finally be in Rio de Janeiro after many hours in the air and I was super excited to begin exploring another new country. The journey was very long and being on the ground finally was exciting. The Azul flight was perfectly acceptable and I’m happy I was able to get a nice deal to Rio de Janeiro.


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