JetBlue is well-known as being a compelling alternative to the legacies in the USA, but not too many people know of their Brazil-American founder David Neeleman’s other project.
Azul is just over ten years old and making waves in Latin America. Their brand new A330-900neo aircraft are also providing great competition on long haul international routes. My trip would be on the A330-200, to Lisbon, which features a slightly older but nonetheless perfectly serviceable business class cabin.
I also made a video for my YouTube channel:
Azul’s hub is at Viracopos, which is now Sao Paulo’s third airport. At over an hour’s drive from the city centre, Azul lay on free buses, regardless of your ticket class, from various points in the city to the airport.
I strongly suspect the recline on these bus seats is better than in economy on the aircraft!
Viracopos is a medium-sized airport which has yet to fulfil its potential; it was half-empty when I travelled and the roof of the new(ish) terminal was somehow not complete or under construction.
Check in was quick and painless. Be sure to keep your eyes open for the lounge; it’s easy to miss, and you should turn left directly after security before you enter the duty free area.
The lounge is perfectly adequate, but a little soulless and with meagre food options. Thankfully, my flight was over nine hours long, so eating on board wouldn’t cause me to miss out on sleep.
Today’s A330-200 featured a special blue TudoAzul livery promoting their frequent flyer club.
Onboard, the business class cabin featured 20 seats, in a 1-2-1 staggered configuration. The Sogerma Solstys is a decent seat, featured on airlines like Etihad and Alitalia, amongst others. Personally, I prefer the darker colour scheme to the aesthetic of their new -900neo business class.
Rows 2 and 4 feature “true” window seats with superb privacy. Odd-numbered rows have pseudo-window seats which abut the aisle. I was in 5C, having accommodated a move so an extended family could sit together. Sometimes it’s good to pay a favour forward, and sometimes it’s good to occasionally sit in a less-optimal seat for perspective!
A glass of wine and a small chocolate were offered prior to pushback.
Takeoff was punctual and into the dusky sky; Viracopos is not busy and there were no traffic delays.
The seat was comfortable (I prefer velour or cloth finishes to sweaty leather) and the lack of privacy was nowhere near as bad as I feared. I like to make a point of pointing out good service, too. This is unseen in pictures and video, and the JetBlue heritage shines through best in Azul’s service. The crew were super-friendly and accommodating to everyone (the large extended family were not easy customers!), and their enthusiasm was infectious and memorable.
Sadly, the food wasn’t memorable.
The fish main course was a little bland and could really have done with some sauce. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by a very good run of truly excellent meals in business classes this year; there was nothing particularly bad about Azul’s offering other than it failed to excite me.
The seat features controls to draw your seat closer to the table, which is fixed.
The movie and TV selection was extensive; the presence of Azul’s Fort Lauderdale route ensures the system has a fine selection of English language content. When faced with choice, make wise ones; I watched Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which was dreadful. This notwithstanding, I was very happy to see such a good selection and surprised too, as Azul’s core long haul business appears to be in connecting Brazil and Portugal.
The amenity kit was a little cheap but otherwise well-stocked with everything I needed – and more – on a long haul sector.
The Solstys seat has good storage in the console; lots of room for your clothes when you change into pyjamas for the night! Bring your own PJs; Azul doesn’t supply any.
The seat folds flat into a comfortable bed. I got a long and undisturbed sleep. The bedding is good although no mattress topper is provided. In fairness, the seat is very well-padded without one and still made for a good night’s sleep.
I was woken on request about an hour before landing for breakfast, which was an omelette. All airlines should serve omelettes; they’re a safe choice and difficult to mess up. Breakfast was okay.
Lisbon is a beautiful city to visit. Sadly I would be in a short transit to a TAP flight back to London City, which was booked on the same ticket – and very convenient it was.
The bottom line is that this ticket from Sao Paulo to Lisbon, and onto London City, cost 950 Euro one way. That’s very competitive indeed, and given the low price, I’m happy to forgive the passable food and lounge experiences. I don’t think I would pay too much more than that for Azul long haul again.
My abiding memory of the flight will be the excellent and enthusiastic service from the crew, who knew exactly why they’d turned up for work that day and seemed to be having a great time doing it.
It’ll be interesting to see how Azul stand up to TAP on this route – another airline offering aggressively low premium fares. Watch this space…