This did not start out as a delightful experience.

On Thursday, I received an email changing my Sunday flights from Medellín back to Bogotá from 3.20 pm to 1.45 pm. I chose the late afternoon flight so I could do something on my last day in Medellín besides just going out for breakfast. The new flight was just early enough in the day to eliminate that possibility.

I called Avianca and learned that flights were being rescheduled because a runway in Bogotá was going to be closed that day. Knowing there was a good reason for the change made it more palatable. I declined the offer of a 6.30 pm flight because I wanted to be in Bogotá for dinner and because I worried that if something happened, I’d be stuck in Medellín for the night and miss Spanish school on Monday.avianca logo

On Sunday, I met a friend for breakfast and then headed to the airport via a shared taxi. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait very long for our departure. Also luckily (perhaps) our driver probobly was a NASCAR driver in his spare time. I was nervous for most of the ride since we were going really fast and, like most cars here, the seatbelts weren’t accessible (the law doesn’t require that back-seat passengers wear them, so most people have let the buckles fall into the seats).

These lucky parts culminated in arriving at the airport just past 11.30 am. When I went to check-in, I asked if I could travel on an earlier flight. Based on my prior experiences flying within the US, I expected the answer to be, “Yes, if you pay this huge fee.”

Instead, here’s where the entire experience turned, and stayed, delightful:

The agent smiled and said, “Yes, it leaves at 12.30 pm.” She looked surprised when I asked how much I would have to pay because there was no charge.

I checked my bag without paying a fee.

The plane was not full, so I had a whole row to myself.

I landed in Bogotá before my original departure time. While I didn’t get to do anything touristy in Medellín,  I got a full day in Bogotá.

US airlines take note: this is how you provide good customer service.