La Paz to Cape Town: Avianca Business Class and Sumaq VIP Lounge at Jorge Chavez International Airport

This a four part series covering our Business class trip from La Paz, Bolivia to Cape Town, South Africa.

  1. La Paz- The Lounge VIP
  2. Avianca Business Class to Lima and Sumaq VIP Lounge
  3. Avianca Business Class to Sao Paolo and Star Alliance Lounge
  4. South African Business Class to Johannesburg and SA Premium Lounge

Our 8:00a Avianca flight from La Paz to Lima was aboard an Aerobus 319. Business class seats were in a 2 X 2 formation across the front cabin. Jess and I were in A1 and A2, front row, left hand side of the plane 

La Paz to Capetown: Avianca First Class Seats

This meant a bit more space but also that we needed to keep our bags in the overhead during take-off and landing which - on a distance this short - was most of the flight.

La Paz to Lima Avianca Business Class Seats 2

Shortly before takeoff a stewardess brought us fresh orange juice, headphones and blankets.

La Paz to Capetown: Avianca First Class OJ
La Paz to Capetown: Avianca First Class Headphones

For breakfast, we both opted for the warm tomato and cheese quiche with fresh fruit. The quiche was actually very good, if not quite as warm as advertised. The cabin staff was very attentive and welcoming and once breakfast was cleared, we settled in for the short flight to Lima.

La Paz to Capetown: Avianca First Class Jess
La Paz to Capetown: Avianca First Class Food

We landed a few minutes early in Lima and de-planed. Getting off first is maybe my favorite part of premium cabin.

In Lima it was a short walk to the Sumaq VIP lounge.

Jorge Chavez International Airport Sumaq Lounge Entrance

We were disappointed to be informed that access was available for 4 hours maximum. In retrospect, though this is policy, I’m fairly sure that had we just decided to enter we could easily have stayed the whole day. I have trouble imagining the staff actually keeping track of all the passengers in the lounge and the length of their stay, much less finding them in the lounge and escorting them out if they overstayed.

Jorge Chavez International Airport Sumaq Lounge Desk

All the same, we decided to visit Lima for a few hours. I knew there was baggage storage outside the domestic arrival terminal, but first we had to navigate back down to post-arrival international security. There were a series of calls to make and a logbook entry to sign. The process was protracted but the staff very nice and an interesting opportunity to see what an entire room of security staff do in between arrivals: nothing.

We also were informed that there was a per person tax of $30 US to leave the airport.

Luggage storage is hard to find since it requires walking past the stantioned waiting area outside domestic arrivals, so that it looks like you are trying to walk through the security door back into baggage claim. The office is on the far left directly next to the security door. Storing one bags for six hours costs $15 US. So we’d spent $75 US and not yet left the airport.

A taxi into the city took almost an hour and cost another $20 US. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Lima and we slowly began to realize that we were exhausted. We’d been awake since 4am and really didn’t have the motivation (or the budget) to spend six hours in Lima. The lunch we’d planned was now too expensive given the airport tax and baggage fee, but we went anyway.

Cost too much. Was delicious.

Cost too much. Was delicious.

Half-way through lunch we figured out that a) there weren’t any movies playing that we really wanted to see and b) even the movies we didn’t really want to see wouldn’t be playing until 4p, when we planned to already be back at the airport. So, just a few hours after paying $95 to get there we took a cab back to the airport. We picked up our luggage, spent 20 minutes looking for the office where we could pay the airport tax. We finally slunked back thru security significantly more broke and tired than when we left. 

If you exit the airport during a long layover in Lima, you'll have to pay $30.74 US at the LAP desk next to security.

If you exit the airport during a long layover in Lima, you'll have to pay $30.74 US at the LAP desk next to security.

Reviews I’d read of the Sumaq VIP Lounge described it as over-crowded, poorly serviced with painfully slow wi-fi. Of course, it’s all about your frame of reference.

Jorge Chavez International Airport Sumaq Lounge Lounge Chairs

The lounge was 5-6 times as big as the VIP lounge in La Paz and seemed to us full of magical things we’d hadn’t experienced since leaving the US three months earlier: enough plugs to charge more than one device at a time, functional wi-fi and an open bar.

The lounge had a nice selection of beverages from soft drinks and juices to automated espresso drink machines and a full bar. Food was generally good if mostly small snacky type food and desserts.

We finally figured out what Inca Cola tastes like: bubblegum. It's bubblegum soda. Weird.

We finally figured out what Inca Cola tastes like: bubblegum. It's bubblegum soda. Weird.

Fresh juice and espresso machines.

Fresh juice and espresso machines.

Snack mix, olives, sandwiches and crackers with spread.

Snack mix, olives, sandwiches and crackers with spread.

Desserts, banana and zuchini bread.

Desserts, banana and zuchini bread.

They also had a Zumex juice machine with a big basket of fresh oranges nearby. You grab oranges, throw them in the top and watch as it crushes them and drops the juice into a glass for you.

People repeatedly put oranges in to watch the machine work then threw away the juice. I may or may not have also done this.

People repeatedly put oranges in to watch the machine work then threw away the juice. I may or may not have also done this.

The lounge is divided half into café table and chairs and lounge chairs with dedicated electric plugs.

Though not very full when we arrived, the lounge filled up as the evening came on.

Though not very full when we arrived, the lounge filled up as the evening came on.

Jess enjoying some pre-flight champagne.

Jess enjoying some pre-flight champagne.

There is also an open air outdoor seating area that was totally unused the entire time we were there.

Jorge Chavez International Airport Sumaq Lounge Outdoor Space

The lounge has a dedicated office work space.

The only man flying business class who can't afford a laptop.

The only man flying business class who can't afford a laptop.

There is also a quiet darkened sleeping room with lie flat lazy boy chairs.

Sumaq Lounge Jorge Chavez Airport Sleeping area

Jess and I both had some snacks and took turns disappearing for an hour to get some rest in the sleeping room.

An hour or two before our flight we each had a drink - Jess champagne, me cabernet.

All sandwiches were crust-less. It was a seven year-old's delight.

All sandwiches were crust-less. It was a seven year-old's delight.

Despite complaints about wi-fi in reviews, we found it plenty fast to upload photos and watch Netflix. Obviously, people who write lounge reviews usually haven’t spent the previous three weeks in hostels where being able to write an email is an accomplishment.

Sumaq Lounge Jorge Chavez Airport Jess Netflix

At just after 9p we headed to our gate for Avianca Business class overnight flight to Sao Paolo.