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Hello from Lima Airport where I’m not having the best end to my wonderful South American adventure due to the incompetence and rudeness of multiple airline staff. It has been a wonderful week, I spent most of it in Cusco and yesterday visited Machu Picchu, which was a real gem and a place I’ve wanted to visit for years. I also stayed at Tambo del Inka, an SPG Luxury Collection resort, which was beyond wonderful.

I landed at Lima Airport two hours ago from Cusco on Avianca, which I actually like as an airline in terms of their onboard service.. when it comes to their ground staff.. not so much. I checked in a bag at Cusco airport and needed to pick it up and recheck again in Lima, to Seattle (since it is my final destination). Apparently in Peru, checked bags cannot be interlined between domestic and international flights – same thing happened when flying from Santiago to Lima to Cusco – I had to recheck my bag in Lima.

Avianca A319

Avianca A319

Well, I have a long connection in Lima, but I didn’t think much of it and didn’t think checking my bag would be an issue many hours before departure because Lima is Avianca’s hub so there shouldn’t be an issue. Wrong. I arrived at the Business Class/Star Alliance Gold counter and waited for 20 minutes before someone was available to help.

“No. Bag can’t be checked. Come back 3 hours before departure.”

I explained I have a really long connection and I just arrived from Cusco on Avianca, and I can’t go airside with my checked baggage, so I can’t go to the lounge.

“Go away, not my problem.”

This time I thought pulling the “do you know who I am” card would help.. but it didn’t.

“Go away, I told you you can’t check it in, I don’t care if you fly Business Class and can’t go to the lounge.”

Wow. And this was a supervisor talking to me. Not only that, I’ve just now noticed that my bag was broken and has holes in it from this flight. I’m literally sitting right now in front of Avianca’s office and am going to report the damages. But I highly doubt they will care, they’re not a European or Asian airline anyway.

A friend is travelling with me and he’s flying LATAM. He received even worse treatment. Both of our flights are in over 6 hours and they wouldn’t print his boarding pass at first and told him (rudely) to come back later. He finally was able to get his boarding pass printed after arguing. Then he asked about seat assignments and was told the cabin is full – we pulled the seat map up online and it isn’t. Lies after lies after lies. Also, LATAM doesn’t even have a lounge at their hub in Lima… On his previous 5 hour LATAM flight in Business Class, he was served a small cold meal that you’d normally get on 30-minute intra-European flights. Not to mention the crew was terribly rude.

Avianca is hands down better than LATAM in terms of the onboard experience, but when it comes to ground services at Lima Airport, the employees treat you like sh!t… on both airlines. They don’t care what you want and instead stand around doing nothing. This makes the U.S. airline ground agents look like angels – and that says a lot.

So, anyway, we’ve got 6 hours to kill before I can check in my bag.. even though the damn counter is open. I’ve never had trouble checking in a bag many hours before departure if I know I am travelling from an airline’s hub city.

I was really happy about Avianca since I found my previous three flights really enjoyable and up to Star Alliance standards, but this interaction with literally every single ground agent at Lima Airport kills everything. Thank god I’m burning my LifeMiles on this flight otherwise I think I’d shoot myself if I had to deal with Avianca and LifeMiles again.

I’m done with Lima Airport and South American airlines – Peru is beautiful as a country, but I’ve received better treatment in Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, and many other South American countries. The way the ground staff is treating both of us is unacceptable.. if Business Class passengers receive this treatment then I’m wondering how Economy Class passengers feel about these airlines.

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