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Trip Report Flying the new TACA via Central America to Peru

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TACA had a one-day sale from LAX to Lima Peru, via Central America. I assume this was to promote their new fleet of Airbus planes. I took advantage ($240 round trip!) and just returned.

My last experience with TACA to Costa Rica was miserable, ancient planes with the seat cushions sliding off. The new planes are comfortable, with leatherette seats, and without that jammed in a sardine can feeling.

When you buy the ticket online, you don't get a seat assignment. I called the airline a month out, and they "preassigned" me a nice seat just two rows back of Business class. Twenty four (24) hours out, you can check-in and reconfirm seats online, and print out your tickets for both legs. I was able to carry-on a small wheelie bag so had no checked luggage. I did not have to check in at LAX counter, the agent at the front of the line scribbled on my tickets and I was off to the TSA screening and gate. They were late boarding (15 minutes before scheduled departure) and left 15 minutes late.

LAX now has 45 minutes of free wi-fi inside their terminals. It worked well.

The flight was nearly full.

Only the A-321 has the seat back entertainment system, and it also had a USB plug for recharging electronics (a bit hidden). I had this aircraft only from LAX to San Salvador (two flights per day I think). The TACA website lists the aircraft type under "Flight Details" before you book. Otherwise it is the A-320 or A319, which were okay but no seatback system.

They fed us one meal on each leg, but the food was awful, even for airplane food. In fact the worst airplane food I've ever had, and even worse than my junior high school cafeteria. If you are a picky eater, bring snacks. They do have free drinks (limited selection, but it includes the excellent Flor de Caña Nicaraguan rum.)

The pilot made up most of the time, and that is a very easy connection to make in San Salvador. There were some drug sniffing dogs in the terminal, and other than that it was a boring 1-hour wait between arrival and boarding. There is free wi-fi in the San Salvador airport. We actually arrived in Lima early and I was out of customs in record time (and had to wait for my taxi pickup!)

On the return from Lima, I arrived at Lima's Jorge Chavez airport two hours before my flight, which was plenty of time (a big advantage over flying LAN). Again I was able to print my tickets out the night before. I had to check luggage, but the line moved quickly, and the luggage arrived in LAX when I did. The wi-fi in Lima's airport food court doesn't work well, although you can use that in Starbucks instead (with a password). There are lots of overpriced stores for browsing, many the same ones you will find at the Larcomar tourist mall in Miraflores. Some good choices for having a meal if you are pretty sure you won't be able to eat the food on TACA.

I went through Costa Rica because I thought the connection in San Salvador was too tight, but I probably wouldn't bother with that again. There is a good coffee shop in the San Jose airport, Malinche. I also had lots of free samples at the Britt store. There is free wi-fi, note to self--don't pack the recharger in the checked luggage. The flight left and arrived on time, and I was through customs (T-2) and waiting for my ride in half an hour!

While in Peru I also used TACA to fly Lima to Chiclayo. The flight was 3 hours delayed (equipment issues, apparently) and they insisted that I needed to come to the airport on schedule or I would forfeit any compensation. Well that compensation turned out to be a voucher (worth about $6) for a crappy hamburger or chickenburger at McDonalds! I complained about that and after talking to a supervisor I got a second voucher to eat past security in the domestic terminal at the newish Cafe Lindo, which is pretty good. Still, next time I will just take my chances with showing up an hour before the new departure time.

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