Flying Bolivian Airlines – $40 Business Class Across the Atlantic!

Flight details

  • Airline: Boliviana de Aviación (BoA)
  • Class: Business
  • Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
  • Route: Madrid (MAD) to Santa Cruz de la Sierra (VVI)
  • Flight time: 11 Hours 35 Minutes

Welcome to another flight review. Join me as we fly to South America for the very first time on the national carrier of Bolivia which just recently received their new Airbus A330s replacing their old Boeing 767s.

I’ll be flying from Madrid all the way across the Atlantic to Santa Cruz Bolivia’s largest City so let’s see how good, or bad, the airline is. 

An Insane Bolivian Airline Upgrade Deal at Check-In

We started the journey on a beautiful afternoon from Madrid taking my first ever flight to South America. I took Bolivian Airlines’ only flight to Europe which operates twice a week.

The ticket cost me €900 in economy class but you will be very surprised how much I paid for an upgrade to business class.

At the check-in counter, out of curiosity, I asked how much is an upgrade to business class on this 11-hour flight. The check-in attendant said €40 and I was baffled thinking she probably means 400 or more. So I asked again to make sure she meant €40 and she said yes, 40!

Who am I to not upgrade for €40 on an 11-hour flight to Bolivia so here we are travelling Bolivian Airlines in business class!

Iberia Lounge at Madrid

After check-in I made my way to the Iberia Lounge which was now included in my ticket price. Trust me, in all these years of being a travel content creator, I’ve never scored such a deal, so it’s always worth a try asking the check-in agent for an upgrade offer since they sometimes seem to have killer deals just like this one for €40.

I had no idea what the cabin looks like since Bolivian Airlines operate Virgin Australia A330s so I tried to Google while enjoying the lounge, but there was nothing out there about their planes, so I guess I will be the first to report it!

You’re probably wondering “Josh, why have you never been to South America?” Well, I’ve always been fascinated with all the different places like Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, North America but I never really had the desire to travel to South America, I don’t know why. 

I never really had friends from there, the culture wasn’t that appealing to me and the first thing that pops up to my mind when I think of South America is the Amazon rainforest and huge spiders and I’m terribly, terribly scared of spiders. 

Probably sounds super superficial but that’s kind of the reason why I never really ended up there. I have flown LATAM twice on European flights and once from Auckland to Sydney a while ago but yeah, I was actually pretty excited to go to South America this time.

Perhaps when I land in Bolivia and indulge in the culture I’ll be thinking “oh my God what have I been missing out on for the last 37 years?!”

BoA Airline Cabin and Seat Review

Here we are onboard a former Virgin Australia Airbus A330-200 with 20 flat beds in business class taking me to Santa Cruz.

My first impression was that it looks pretty decent. There were lots of big fluffy pillows at the seat, an amenity kit and some bedding which looked really good so I was looking forward to trying it and having a good sleep. 

At the seat you have a universal power outlet and some basic in-ear headphones which weren’t very good quality.

First impression of the crew was that they are really lovely, and I also liked the seat privacy with the divider. 

Unfortunately before departure, some passengers had to be offloaded due to a medical emergency and that delayed our departure for another 2 hours. But being at the front with a cosy flat bed, I didn’t mind the delay very much which also meant we would arrive during daylight in Bolivia which would grant me some great views.

We were then pushed back and rocketed out of Madrid.

The Meal Experience on Bolivian Airlines

An hour into the flight, I was served a hot meal of chicken, potatoes, salad, cheese and some chocolate cake for dessert. The cutlery provided was plastic, which may not please many people.

In terms of the taste, it was quite disappointing. The food was simple, but not very tasty. There were also too many different dishes and the combination of those dishes didn’t work well together, and the greasiness was off-putting. 

I thought maybe the cheese and dessert would salvage the meal but unfortunately, those also weren’t up to standard. Overall, it wasn’t a satisfying dining experience. 5.9 out of 10. 

Onto a more positive experience, the bedding felt sensational and was really comfortable, so I was confident I’d be sleeping really well after my meal. 

We had 9 hours to go at this point so I got some sleep on the lovely bedding provided.

I got a solid 6 hours of sleep thanks to the comfortable seat and bedding.

Luckily, I brought my own toothbrush on this flight because very strangely, the amenity kits that the airline provides for an overnight flight have no toothbrush, and there was none in the lavatory as well. Another little detail that the airline can work on.

After that we were served breakfast. It consisted of yoghurt, fruits, buns, coffee, scrambled eggs, beans, and lots of greens. The hardcore subscribers of my channel know that I’m not the biggest fan of greens, but this is probably how they have their breakfast in Bolivia.

The yoghurt was really good, I loved it. The breakfast otherwise was just not for me, too much greens in there as well as the taste, it’s just not my cup of tea. I’m sure others loved it, but I didn’t.

Descent and Ground Experience at Santa Cruz de la Sierra

We started our descent into Bolivia and because of the 2 and a half hour delay, we landed during daylight which was nice since I got to experience the beautiful scenery. The downside of it was all the international flights are coming in at the same time from Miami, Mexico City and another Madrid flight, so it was expected to be very busy at immigration.

Something I also found interesting as we descended was that we were pretty low I’d say 600 or 700 metres max, and there were still no flaps or no landing gear deployed. Maybe because of the altitude? I’m not too sure.

The ground experience was quite hectic and busy, especially at the baggage claim, but my first impression of Bolivia was that everyone is very nice. 

Everyone speaks English, everyone was very forgiving that I didn’t speak Spanish. The check-in staff at the hotel were very friendly too, they gave me an early check-in thanks to my Bonvoy status.

My Experience on Boliviana de Aviación – Bottom Line

So what do I make of Bolivian Airlines? First of all, if I would have paid those €900 only in economy class, I would have probably concluded, “Hmm, this is not so good.” 

But then I ended up paying €940 and got Business Class, so for that price for an 11-hour flight, that’s actually pretty decent. The food was alright, the crew was very lovely, the seat was very, very lovely, very good. 

I overall had a very good experience. I think with Bolivian Airlines, it’s all about the little details like no headphones, the inflight entertainment wasn’t working, the plastic cutlery, it’s just the little things.

There are many people who would make a big fuss about this. I don’t care that much, but, just so you are aware these are the little things you may not get if you are expecting them in Business Class. 

The arrival experience was a little bit hectic, but other than that, would I recommend Bolivian Airlines? Definitely. 

And make sure if you book a full fare, which I did, ask for an upgrade and you might get a €40 upgrade as well.

If you want to support my work, check out my Patreon page. You get some extra perks like joining my WhatsApp group, getting my Cahill keyring, or early access to my videos. It’s a really cool community that we have.

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This is it, wherever you’re off to, have a safe trip.

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About the Author

Josh Cahill is an award-winning Aviation YouTuber who is reportedly one of the most-watched flight reviewers on the internet. He organised Afghanistan’s first all-female flight together with Kam Air in February 2021 on a flight from Herat to Kabul for which he received the Aviation Achievement Award. His favourite hobby? Flying exotic airlines nobody has ever heard of.

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