I recently had the opportunity to test Gol’s services at Ponte Aérea Rio – São Paulo. The most traditional air service in Brazil and one of the busiest sections in the world that connects Congonhas Airport in São Paulo to Santos Dumont Airport in Rio de Janeiro, both in the most central regions of these cities.
The Ponte Aérea was created in 1959 by Varig, Cruzeiro do Sul and Vasp to operate in a pool between the two cities with hourly flights. At the time, you bought a ticket and could fly with any of the three companies. Today, the agreement does not exist between the companies that operate the stretch, however, the term “air bridge” continues to be used due to the large flow of flights between the two cities.
If at that time there were about 17 departures in each direction, today Latam, Gol and Azul can operate up to 120 daily flights departing from both ends of the Ponte Aérea starting at 6 am. Which makes these one of the busiest routes in the world.
Flying with Gol on the Ponte Aérea
If you’ve taken a flight since the beginning of the pandemic, you know that a lot has changed since then. And one of the changes already starts at check-in, with companies encouraging online check-in to avoid queues and crowds at airport counters.
Due to the slower time to carry out procedures at airports, companies are recommending arriving 3 hours in advance. But on all the trips I’ve taken, whether traveling with a checked bag or not, all these procedures were super fast.
I checked in through the Gol app and arrived at the airport with my boarding pass saved in the company’s app. However, I decided to print the boarding pass using one of the self-service totems to test the service. In a matter of 1 minute I already had my paper card in hand.
Gol’s boarding started punctually, first the passengers were prioritized by law, followed by Gold and Diamond members of Gol’s Smiles program and finally the other passengers.
I was one of the first to get on the plane, everything was apparently clean. The landing has also changed, it happens by ranks.
Gol has reinforced that the cabins are being cleaned before each trip and the air is renewed every 3 minutes with HEPA filters, which remove 99.9% of bacteria and viruses in the air. Speaking of cleaning, alcohol gel can be taken on board according to some Anac rules, I’ve already explained on the blog how it works. However, liquid alcohol is prohibited.
The outbound flight was operated with a Boeing 737-800 with capacity for 186 passengers, 30 in Gol+ Conforto and 156 in traditional economy class. The return flight to São Paulo was operated by a Boeing 737-700 that curiously belonged to Varig. This model is configured to carry 138 passengers, 30 in the Gol+ Conforto class and 108 in the traditional economy class.
On the outbound flight, I flew in the Gol+ Conforto class, which offers more legroom, priority boarding and exclusive luggage. Which is great because more and more people travel with carry-on bags and there is always a lack of space inside the plane to accommodate bags.
On the outgoing flight, the seats were equipped with USB ports, electrical outlets and adjustable headrests. On the return flight, on the Boeing 737-700, the planes only had USB ports.
Both planes were equipped with Wi-Fi internet, which is paid, but through the signal we can access Gol’s entertainment system on mobile devices for free. The entertainment system is good, it has a nice variety of movies, series and live TV signal.
Currently, the on-board service is suspended by Anvisa’s determination, to prevent passengers from removing their masks on board to eat. When I flew to Salvador and Recife in November last year, snacks were distributed when we left the plane, now not even that.
However, passengers can request water from the crew and it is worth mentioning that it is allowed to take food on board for children, the elderly or people with special diets.
Both flights left on time. It is worth mentioning that all the flights I took with Gol in recent years, punctuality was one of the company’s positive points and they are proud of it. The outbound flight lasted about 45 minutes and the return flight took 55 minutes and they were smooth, with just a few areas of turbulence, especially on arrival in Rio de Janeiro.
On the outbound flight, the landing was made at threshold 02, which is that beautiful approach where the plane passes alongside Cristo Redentor and Morro do Pão de Açúcar before making a sharp turn to align with the Santos Dumont Airport runway. In my humble opinion, the approach for landing and taking off of the 02 is the most beautiful in the world.
On the return flight, the takeoff was also at 02 and we passed by the Morro do Pão de Açúcar before making a right turn, passing by the edge of the South Zone of Rio and heading to São Paulo.
There are these two flights on the Vou na Janela channel on Youtube, the images are really incredible. There is also a video about Congonhas Airport. I’ll leave all the links below:
Sao Paulo vs Rio de Janeiro flying a Boeing 737-800
Rio de Janeiro vs São Paulo flying in a Boeing 737-700
What is Congonhas airport like in São Paulo?
Goal on the Air Bridge: Conclusion
Flying with Gol on the Ponte Aérea was a good experience, with punctuality and no delays. The entertainment system helps to pass the time, even on such a quick trip. Furthermore, it doesn’t change much from one company to the other, as the on-board service is suspended. In general, Gol delivers a consistent and efficient product on its routes and on the busiest line in Brazil, it would be no different.
Sugarloaf cable car and the best view of Rio
Museum of Tomorrow
Rio Star, the Ferris wheel of Rio
How to use the VLT Carioca
How to make a connection at Santos Dumont Airport
Hotel near Santos Dumont Airport