✅ Verified Review | I'll not fly again with Santa Barbara Airlines again. Flight from Panama City to Caracas was cancelled. Waited in line for 2 hours just to get to the counter for the hotel they were offering. The staff did not seem well prepared to handle the situation - "maybe you fly tormorow". They called us to be at airport at 3:30 pm for another 3.5 hour wait for check in and the flight will leave at 9:40 pm and again there was delay. The staff don't provide any clear information and are not really helpful. Avoid this airline if you don't wanna waste your day, time and money.
We arrived to the airport about three and a half hours early. The line to check-in extended across most of the terminal. The line moved about twenty feet in 2.5 hours. My wife (who was the only one flying to Caracas) went to the counter to find out what was going on but was told nothing. When we finally reached the counter and checked her bags, we were told that her flight was canceled and that they would try to get her on a flight at 10 PM that night. We were trying to avoid her arriving in Caracas so late and there was another flight at 4 PM, which we asked if we could add my wife's name to the wait list. After a lot of back and forth, we finally got her name on the list and she was able to get on the flight. While I understand that mechanical problems are out of their control, transparency with their customers is. We spent almost eight hours in the terminal waiting and fighting with SBA to get my wife on a flight that arrived in Caracas at a reasonable time of the day. What I don't understand is being left in the dark for so long. They could have easily told everybody in line that the plane was experiencing mechanical trouble and would not arrive on time. What I also don't understand is their customer service number seems to put you in an infinite loop that does not get you to a human to speak with. If we ever travel together to Venezuela we will use another airline. SBA saved us a few hundred dollars, but I am not sure if it was worth it.
I tried to avoid Santa Barbara at all costs for trip between Caracas and Miami round-trip. They had been notorious for very long and cruel delays. Had no more choice and to be fair was pleasantly surprised that my experience was quite good. Flew in an old but nicely refurbished B 767. 300 that I think has helped them regain some kind of decent scheduling. For both round-trip segments the flight was very much on time and they now offer economy plus as an option with lots of leg room. Meals were ok and the staff very cordial. I have to say it is much improved and would fly them again. However it may still be a gamble in terms of on time departures.
Miami-Caracas-Miami. My flight was one hour late it took off and 1 hour 15 minutes after taking off the captain came on the speaker and said we had to return to Miami due to technical difficulties. At that point flight attendants had already served most of the passengers dinner they came through again and picked up all the trays. We got back to Miami and were asked to leave the airplane. The flight from Miami to Caracas is about 3 hours. If we were more than an hour away from Miami and were having dinner I could speculate we were about half way through Caracas. Which means we were closer to Puerto Rico or many other Caribbean Islands than Miami. Yet the decision was made to return to Miami. The airplane was a very old 757.
Miami-Caracas-Miami. Our flight from Miami-Caracas was delayed 1hr but I like to book my connections at least 2 hrs apart. In Caracas I was clear from immigration within 30 min and went to pick-up my luggage - another hour delay for the luggage leaving me with less than 1/2 hr to run to find my connection. The way back was even worse. Our flight was delayed 7hrs they kept moving the departure time and did not bother to announce delays. Arrived in Miami at 3 am. This was my first and last time flying with them.
Miami to Caracas to Guayaquil to Quito. Quito to Caracas to Miami. Flight from Miami to Caracas was delayed a couple of hours but we expected this and planned accordingly. Flight attendants were polite and professional and the food and beverage service up to expectations. The layover in Caracas was confusing as I have never travelled through here before. We exited and were directed to a very long line where one ticket agent was checking off tickets for the connecting flight and then directed us to proceed through security. My fear that we were going to miss our flight was quelled when I realized the entire plane of passengers was in this line. The biggest reason for delay in Caracas was the lack of respect from passengers when it came to boarding the plane "Only rows 30 to 20 can board" meant nothing to people who constantly cut in line to attempt to board. I do wish there were more direct flights from Caracas to Quito without the stop in Guayaquil.
Our flight from Miami was delayed 4 hrs causing us to miss our connection to Guayaquil. We were told to come back the next day at 1pm. We came back at 11.30 am and were shifted from one place to another for 5 hours always being told they had us on a flight at 6 pm. At 4pm I had enough and went to the other airline to check-in. They said we had reservations but no tickets. 5 mins later they closed the gate. Santa Barbara delayed us with lies causing us to miss 2 days of our 5 day vacation spend money unnecessarily on hotels and connecting flights not to mention the stress and angry days spent in the Caracus airport.
We booked a round trip from Miami to Quito. Our trip to Quito had a layover in Venezuela supposed to be 2 hrs. We landed and saw it was delayed for another 5 hrs which put us at 7pm departure. We waited till 7 no plane and no word. We waited until 9 this went on until 2 in the morning. After we boarded the pilot told us we would be going to Guayaquil. After a lot of confusion they bus us to a hotel and tell us we will fly out in the morning. I had to pay for the hotel I booked and did not use. On the return trip we were scheduled to leave at 10 am we didn't end up leaving till 11am but we had another layover in Venezuela. We were supposed to be leaving at 3.30pm. That came and went with no explanation. It is now midnight still no plane and they tell us 2 am but the board says 3am. I have booked a hotel for the night in Miami which once again I am not using.
Panama City to Caracas - a journey of 2 hrs. There was very little legroom but we were served quite a decent meal and considering it was a short flight I was impressed. We departed on time but arrived 20-30 min late.
UIO-CCS. There were no problems to speak of nor was the experience extraordinarily positive. First off I should say that I had problems in booking via the Santa Barbara website and so had to visit their agency in Quito. I had my bags fairly thoroughly checked by migration people in Quito but that's understandable given the flow of drugs in the region. The flight itself was fine: Boeing 767 no obvious neglect crew were friendly enough food was decent. We did leave about 30 mins late. At the Caracas end our bags were slow in arriving. It seems that there are problems but you may get lucky and avoid them as I did.
Your "savings" by going cheap with Santa Barbara may cost you more in the long run! Miami-Caracas-Quito was smooth. The return trip was unreal. My friends and I went back and forth between anger and laughter because the it seemed like a bad comedy routine. Our 7 AM flight was cancelled and there were no SBA employees to tell us. We sought information for a long time until we finally saw an employee. My group noted that it seemed to take at least 4 employees staring at a computer screen for at least 30mins per customer! They took my passport number no less than 5 or 6 times! Standing in line time after time each time 1hr or more accomplishing nothing. Long story short we arrived in Miami 16 hrs later than we were supposed to. But consider some people in Quito had been waiting for their flight to Madrid for 3 days! This group of passengers got angry and began yelling at the ticket agents it was loud and ugly. The worst thing in all this was the fact that a ticket agent sold 3 tickets for the cancelled flight to 3 Chinese men who didn't know the flight had been cancelled. Total deception. The best way to summarize my impression of SBA is that they were like a company open for business on its first day with no rehearsal or training at all.
MIA-CCS Business Class. The affordable Business Class fare was too good to pass up. Check-in smooth. There is a separate business line but no sign so walk past the economy line and you'll see it. I was provided access to an executive lounge. Boarding standard a dedicated line for business passengers would have been nice as I arrived at that gate after the announcement to board business class. On board: plane was an older 757 but in serviceable condition. Business class seats were wide good recline. No inflight entertainment but I've been on plenty of domestic flights without entertainment. Meal service exceeded expectation with four courses: canape appetizer main course and desert. Food was good. Good red wines. Cabin service was efficient. Overall I was satisfied with the product.
One of the worst if not the worst I ever flew. When I arrived at Caracas I was informed that the plane has a 35 hours delay. I got a new boarding pass with a seat in one of the last rows. When the time of flight came closer and a plane came to the gate we had to build a line but not without loud protest from many travellers SBA was willing to start boarding. Finally we left with a 45 hours delay and arrived in the middle of the night in Quito. The luggage took one hour and finally my suitcase didn't arrive. They told me that it would ). I was ordered to the customer service desk which caused the flight to be delayed longer. This was the last leg of 4 flights and I was charged for my carry on.
My wife and I flew SBA Round trip from Miami to Quito with a stop in Caracas last week. I had read a number of bad reviews before the flight. I am familiar with South American aviation and always expect canceled or delayed flights with any South American airline. I don't care which one they all have this problem! Our flight out of Quito was 2-3 hours delayed and we were told by the ground crew that we would have to stay overnight in Caracas and would be provided accommodation. All very nice and professional . In Caracas we found a different SBA flight than the one scheduled leaving immediately for Miami and went to the departure gate. The staff was great and very kind! The gate agent even put us in Business Class. Our baggage was delayed but sent to Miami on the next flight and the ground crews were very helpful in advising us of this and seeing that we got our bags. On all legs of our trip the flight attendants were very efficient pleasant and nice to us. I will fly this airline again planes are a little old but the price is right and the personnel more than make up for this.
CCS-UIO I was warned – and I should have listened. Because of what I had been told and also what I had read on this site I had originally booked an indirect route but changed my reservation at the last moment in order to supposedly save 3 hours travelling time whilst keeping my fingers crossed. The 18h00 departure was already put at 22h00 on check-in at 16h00. Then it was put back hourly until we finally left at 01h45. The service was operated by a 22 yr old B757. I was one of the first to board in Business Class and in doing so I noted four cabin crew attendants sprawled out in four of the Business Class seats asleep. Fortunately my seat was clear but when others boarded to find their seats occupied they were told to find alternative seats by the one cabin crew attendant who still appeared to be awake. The cabin crew remained in the seats for the entire flight and were still asleep on arrival. On the ground the inside of the aircraft was extremely hot even at 01h45 due to the failure of the air-conditioning system. Conversely in the cruise the temperature was sub-zero to the extent that people were putting on jackets coats etc. The inside furnishings of the aircraft were what you would expect of an aircraft of this age operating with a down at heel airline. Inflight catering appeared to be good though for those who wanted to eat at that time of the morning. Arrival at Quito was at 03h30 when the airport terminal was effectively closed and we had to wait for another 45 mins before any Immigration officials appeared. Whilst waiting to board the aircraft in Caracas I managed to have a brief word with the flight crew. I was told that the problem with reliability is down to Exchange Control in Venezuela which means that any US$ expenditure has to be requested through a Government agency and this is not immediate. Maintenance of the aircraft is done in Miami and billed in US$ currency. So unserviceable aircraft re not able to be turned around quickly and inevitably I suspect that serviceable” aircraft are operated right down to the minimum margins. Perhaps therefore not entirely the airline’s fault but there are some serious issues associated with this airline – to be avoided at all costs.
Miami to Caracas was fine. However Caracas to Quito was a different story. A normal 2 hour layover turned into a 7.5 hour layover kept changing gates with no reason and when they did speak it was in spanish only. Return trip flight from Quito to Caracas was delayed 2 plus hours then Caracas to Miami was delayed another 2 hours. When in Miami for baggage claim no baggage. Well 2 days later my luggage just arrived. I would not fly this airline again.
Miami to Quito. Pleasant ticket agents good cabin staff clean aircraft and decent meals. The only issue was the baggage contractor in Caracas. We had to change planes in Caracas and baggage handlers thought it was fun to throw the bags on the ground make every attempt to crush baggage - and the same when the baggage was put on the next plane.
I flew with their national subsidiary Aserca Airlines from CCS-PZO-CCS. The morning flight was on time with an old DC-9-31 plane. The service was plain; they offered only beverages or water. The return flight was in the afternoon and they had 2 hours delay. The aggravating thing was that; when we were boarding on the plane at 8:30 p.m. the airport screens of the departures appearing the flight departed at 6:30 p.m. They are a joke.
Tenerife-CCS-MIA in business. TFN-CCS in an old ex AC Boeing 767 old business class seats but good service during the flight (Champagne good wines good food). Very nice staff even the captain came during the flight and asks every business passenger if everything is OK.Transfer in CCS a little complicated they are not used to it. CCS-MIA older B757 but good cabin 2x2 seat configuration. Good service also champagne and good wines.
Big mistake to fly with SBA on a trip from Madrid to Caracas we were one day late and told several stories as to why the flight was late leaving Madrid. There was no help to be had from the ground staff and neither from the main office in Caracas. During the flight there was no service for a great deal of the time because the flight attendants were asleep 2 rows behind me in business class - we were 3 passenger in that section and 3 sleeping crew. The food was really poor. Luggage for business class was the last to come off the airplane hence extra time getting through customs.