I recently took a trip to Colombia, including a day in Bogotá, a few days in Medellín, and a couple days in Cartagena. The flights were pretty ho-hum, as I used JetBlue points and some expiring travel cash to fly in and out of the country and British Airways Avios for a LATAM flight from Medellín (MDE) to Cartagena. However, I thought I would post about my SATENA flight from Bogotá to Medellín’s Olaya Herrera airport (EOH) since I didn’t see much information about it online when I searched during my booking.
We had some time constraints to get from Bogotá to Medellín. While I was learning about the city on Wikipedia, I realized that Medellín actually has two airports — MDE, which is about 40 minutes outside of the city, and EOH, an in-town airport.
This smaller in-town airport only allows smaller aircraft. From Bogotá, only SATENA, a government-run airline, is allowed the rights to fly this route. Major carriers like Avianca and LATAM don’t even fly to EOH. I searched online and found that tickets for the times we wanted on SATENA were only about 25,000 Colombian Pesos more than on LATAM or Avianca (that’s about 8 USD). We would save that with the Uber costs from MDE (which was about a $25 difference) as well as the time on the road.
I had trouble booking on the SATENA website with my US credit cards, so ended up booking through a website called FlightNetwork. It did add a couple dollars cost to each ticket, but I was also having trouble booking with my credit card on Avianca or LATAM’s sites in Colombian Pesos as well. There were also no saver award seats for the times I needed. At least it coded as travel so I earned 3x on my Chase Sapphire Reserve.
SATENA is located in Terminal 2 at BOG. Terminal 1 is the nicer terminal. We made the mistake of getting dropped off at Terminal 1 and had to walk back toward Terminal 2 (the locals call it Terminal Puente Aéreo, in case you need to tell an Uber or taxi driver where to go). There are no Priority Pass options here but the terminal is clean, well kept, and large for its needs. We arrived at 9:45am for an 11am flight (that boarded at 10:20am). There was no line to check in or security. We checked our rollers since only one piece of hand baggage up to 5kg is allowed, with as many pieces up to 15kg per person allowed for check-in included in the ticket. We were at the gate easily before 10:00am.
Boarding was fairly simple for a terminal without jetways. Our aircraft was an ATR 42-500 propellor plane. Legroom was fairly minimal in our seats in row 4. If I could do it again, I’d get a bulkhead seat. Row 1 on the starboard side was actually rear facing, but no one was sitting in this seat and I couldn’t figure out a way to assign it at online check-in. The service was routine and friendly with free water but no snacks. I didn’t take a picture of the crew, but they had coats that almost looked like old Pan Am flight attendant capes which I thought to look pretty classic. I had my phone on airplane mode but was told to turn it off, despite others having headphones connected to their phones, so I don’t have many photos of the flight itself.
Our flight was under an hour and we flew over Medellín from the south. Landing here meant getting a spectacular overhead view of a gorgeous city flanked by several mountains on either side. Once landed, we were off quickly and our checked bags were delivered within 5 minutes. I had a lock on my bag but they had zip-tied another compartment on my bag that the staff took off when I showed them my claim tag.
The airport almost felt like it was the gateway to an island paradise rather than a large city in the middle of Colombia. I quickly booked an Uber on my app which arrived within 5 minutes. The best part is we were at our hotel in El Poblado within 10 minutes of leaving the airport (vs. over an hour from the main airport).
If flying in or out of Medellín domestically, I would highly consider SATENA simply for the use of EOH airport over MDE. We flew out of MDE to Cartagena a few days later and I greatly valued how quickly we were able to get in/out of EOH instead of MDE. If you are flying other routes on which Avianca or LATAM operate, I would choose those carriers as they tend to have larger aircraft with more legroom.