If you are a Uruguay Expat, or are visiting Uruguay to investigate if our lovely Oriental Republic is right for you, you have to fly here. Sadly, or more likely luckily, you won’t be doing that on Uruguay’s own airline, miserable little Pluna. They have suspended all flights and are shutting down.
The story on the closure from my friends at Sky Today news.
We don’t need Pluna. It was a regional-aircraft-only airline that charged for absolutely everything including water. Despite being “Uruguay’s Airline” it was owned primarily by a Canadian hedge fund with a bunch of German money, as a sweetheart deal buying Canada’s Bombardier Canadair jets. Instead of even considering buying own-bloc Mercosur Brasil Embraer regional jets which are far preferred by most flyers due to much better headroom, essentially a small mainline “real” jet rather than a BarbieJet JungleJet.
Uruguayans, Uruguay Expats, and visitors to our lovely little country – If you haven’t flown Pluna – Lucky you! If you have – well at least whomever you fly next time, you won’t have to pay for water. It’s not like we don’t have other choices.
LAN Airlines has very nice service from their Santiago Chile hub, connecting Montevideo Uruguay to the world. Flew them a number of times, including back from Uruguay to USA in January. Partner with American and all other oneworld airlines. LAN also serves Australia with a QANTAS codeshare and New Zealand with a Santiago nonstop.
TAM Airlines, now also owned by LAN via merged parent company LATAM Airlines, connects through Sao Paolo Brasil, with very nice onboard service and good service in Montevideo Carrasco Airpot and Montevideo City Ticket Office (horrible service in Miami but that’s another story.) Flew them to Uruguay and back to USA in May 2011, and again to Uruguay last November when AAwful Airlines stranded me in Miami. TAM in Montevideo City Office was wonderful when Pluna totally mangled my return journey last year. From Sao Paolo, TAM and Lufthansa provide connections to Europe.
AAwful American Airlines is still viable and the only nonstop to the USA (or to anywhere in North America), as well as a LAN partner in the oneworld alliance. I *almost* flew them to Uruguay until they turned around over Cuba and stranded me in Miami.
Taca Airlines has lovely service through Peru and then via Central American hubs in El Salvador or Costa Rica to many USA and one Canada gateway. Just flew them back from Uruguay 3 weeks ago and loved it. Partner of United and all the other Star Alliance airlines. Now merged with Avianca so connection options from Taca to Avianca in Colombia are available, on to the world including Avianca to US cities that may not be served directly by Taca. An excellent AviancaTaca joint Frequent Flyer program, LifeMiles, that can get you free travel all over the worldwide Star Alliance network. Now my primary FF program.
Using Taca, once you are in Peru on the Taca Peru nonstop from Montevideo to Lima, Star Alliance partners United and Air Canada have nonstops to North America if you choose to switch to a widebody for the intercontinental leg.
Copa Airlines has a nice late-night nonstop up to Panama, with one-connection ongoing service to a half dozen or more US cities which are hubs of its close partner United for ongoing connections, and one in Canada to its Star Alliance Partner Air Canada. Flew them to Uruguay about 5 weeks ago.
Gol, increasingly known as Delta of Brasil (Delta Airlines just bought a big chunk of them, is codesharing, with rumors of bringing them into SkyTeam) connects to Sao Paolo and elsewhere in Brasil. With Delta connections to the USA.
Checking out Uruguay from Europe? Iberia, co-owned with British Airways, has a nonstop from Montevideo to Madrid, one of the two major European hubs of IAG that owns both carriers, and a big hub for all of oneworld in Europe.
Oh, and miserable but big Aerolíneas Argentinas, owned by the Argentine government (and just as well run) connects from Montevideo to Buenos Aires and then to the world. Including to Europe and USA, and with a partnership with Delta and soon in SkyTeam.