Gol, Tam and Azul-Trip dominate Brazil’s domestic aviation market. Gol partners with Delta, Tam is Star Alliance (for now, at least), and Azul-trip is on its own.
Regular readers will know my unsucessful battles to redeem Delta SkyMiles on Gol, and for my Salvador (SSA) - São Paulo Congonhas (CGH) – Rio Santos Dumont (SDU) trip I had to book a revenue ticket.
Salvador Airport check-in was mayhem, I slipped to the elite line with my Delta Diamond Medallion card though no one was checking anyway, and then I had to push my way to the counter. The plane was old, extremely cramped seating, and it was a challenge to get a cup of water as the flight attendants whizzed by anyone not willing to make a purchase, and that after nearly 1.5 hours of them chatting and laughing in the back.
The transfer at São Paulo required re-check-in, fortunately we had no checked luggage so could use the transfer desk, those with luggage had to go to baggage claim, collect luggage, and head to check-in. I don’t understand Portuguese but I can now tell when Brazilians are furious.
The shuttle from São Paulo to Rio was totally different: new, comfortable plane, a snack box, pleasant flight attendants. My assumption is they fiercely compete with Tam for business travelers on that route.
Two flights is too small a sample to judge, and it was startling to have such drastically different experiences.
As for Delta SkyMiles credit, at Salvador quite a few minutes of effort produced nothing on the boarding pass, at São Paulo the new boarding passes showed our SkyMiles numbers, but neither showed up in our accounts. After six weeks we faxed them in to Delta and the miles posted overnight.