A few tips for making your flight to Costa Rica the best that it can be
Flying to Costa Rica, though you’re headed for “the happiest place on earth”, can be just as rife with headaches as air-travel is to anywhere else in the world. When it comes to flying, no matter where you’re going, knowledge is key to comfort and convenience. Know before you go and leave as little to chance as possible. From selecting the best flight to averting the travel cold (make good use of that sanitizing alcohol hand gel!), we've put together a few tips and guidelines for your trip from beginning to end.
Pick the best travel search engine and book the perfect flight
Kayak, Hipmunk, Skyscanner and Expedia all have pros and cons, but they won't always give you the same flight fare, even when they respond to your query with the same route to Costa Rica, on the same day and aboard the same airline. Only by combing numerous search engines, and individual airline websites, will you find the best airfare.
When searching for great flights to Costa Rica, there are two international airports to select from in the country. The Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) is the biggest and most centrally located Costa Rica International airport.
Here are a few facts about Juan Santamaria International Airport, located in San Jose, Costa Rica:
- Right now, 24 airlines operate out of Juan Santamaria International Airport.
- Juan Santamaria Intl Airport offers nonstop flights to 46 cities.
- Every week, at least 329 domestic flights and 833 international flights depart from Juan Santamaria Intl Airport.
Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Liberia is newer, a bit smaller and located in the northern pacific region of Guanacaste.
Here are a few facts about Liberia’s Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport:
- Right now, 16 airlines operate out of the Daniel Ojuber Quiros International Airport
- Liberia Airport offers nonstop flights to 19 cities.
- Every week, at least 49 domestic flights and 224 international flights depart from Liberia Airport.
Direct flights from the states originate in such major cities as Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York, Chicago, and Atlanta among others.
If you’ve booked your hotel reservations at one of our nine Distinctive Hotels of Costa Rica, it’s location will likely determine the most optimal airport for you. For example, those booking their Costa Rica at El Capitan Suizo in Tamarindo may want to consider flying through Liberia; almost all other hotels in our portfolio would likely better benefit from a flight into Juan Santamaria in San Jose. Those, of course, include:
- Hotel Grano De Oro located in San Jose
- Peace Lodge located in Vera Blanca
- Villas Caletas located just outside of Jaco Beach
- Hotel Belmar in Monteverde
- Hotel Flor Blanca located in Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Peninsula
- Hotel Casa Turire located in Turialba en route to the Caribbean side of the country
- Hotel Cuna De Angel in Bahía Ballena
- Necuesa Lodge located on the Golfo Dulce in the Osa peninsula
Wi-Fi—don’t count on it the entire way
While most airlines offer Wi-Fi connectivity in flight, you’ll find that it will only work at lower altitudes and only over the United States. Once you get out of U.S. airspace, you’ll be without I’m afraid. Plan ahead and load your iPad, computer or smart phone with good movies, an audio book, e-book or music. Of course, the airline will likely provide entertainment, as well, and these days the selections are pretty wide on major carriers.
Before you leave home
Make sure to tick these “to-dos” (suggested by Delta Airlines) off your list before you head out the door for your trip to Costa Rica.
- Give a friend or family your travel itinerary and contact info in case of an emergency.
- Log on to USPS.com stop your mail delivery.
- Notify your bank/credit card company if you plan to use your card while traveling.
- Check to ensure your passport is not expired or nearing expiration. We recommend applying for or renewing your passport well ahead of planned international travel as it is a common requirement to have a valid of passport of at least six months beyond period of intended stay in many countries.
- Photocopy your passport and/or driver's license for safekeeping.
- Set plug-in timers in your home so it looks like you're home – even when you're not.
- Consider downloading the Mobile Passport app for international travel from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It’s only available at certain airports, but if yours is one of them, it can expedite your entry back into the U.S. upon your return home.
Travelling with just hand-luggage should be your goal. Trust me when I say, you won’t need four pairs of heels, a blow dryer, and an iron. Given the tropical nature and tourist nurture of Costa Rica, no one expects you to dress to the nines when you go out for dinner. A nice pair of dressy/casual sandals (for men or women) will do just fine and any nice, casual sundress or dressier jeans or shorts and shirt will be just fine for even the nicest restaurants; pack things that don’t wrinkle easily and, Ladies, be prepared to get into agreement with the humidly when it comes to your hair; that blown out, flat ironed “do” just won’t work here.
Take less and you’ll travel cheaper (no check-in luggage fees), travel faster (no waiting for your bags), and travel easier (one bag means less to lug around).
Flying back out of Costa Rica
With the exception of just a couple of airlines, Costa Rica exit taxes (a fee of $27 per person) are now typically included in your airline ticket price. Check your ticket fee schedule to be sure and if it isn’t, you’ll need to step into the kiosk and take care of it before departure. The attendant at the line for your airline will let you know if you’ve got to go pay.
If you’ve been traveling around Costa Rica during your vacation, its always a good idea to plan your last night in the city near the airport. This way, no unforeseen events will prevent you from catching your fight home. Neither of Costa Rica’s International airports are very big, so a two-hour lead time should be sufficient.
Costa Rica’s airports are a little more relaxed than those in the United States. For example, the last time I flew out of Costa Rica (about two weeks ago), I didn’t have to remove my flip flops when I went through security (I always travel in convenient to remove flip-flops and bring socks for my in flight experience), but I did have to do so in Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) upon my return. Still, be prepared to follow the rules set by TSA; Ziploc your carryon liquids and keep them under 3 ozs, get rid of your water before going through security, and don’t try to bring anything hazardous on board.
Flying to Costa Rica can be a breeze if you plan ahead and know before you go. It’s also surprisingly close; a short flight at just under 3 hours from Houston or Miami, and just over 5 hours from Los Angeles. With just a little footwork in advance, your flights in and out of Costa Rica can be just as wonderful as your vacation in paradise.