Brazil

Published on October 25th, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut

The 5 Best Airports in Latin America

Landing with a view: Santos Dumont airport in Rio de Janeiro.

BY MARK CHESNUT


For many jet setters, spending time in the airport is the least pleasant part of travel. From the Mexico City airport to the Rio de Janeiro airport, here are some terminals that make Latin America travel just a bit more pleasant. 


Panama City Tocumen (PTY): The hub for fast-growing Copa Airlines, Tocumen — which is in the midst of expansion yet again — is rightly called the “Hub of the Americas.” The terminal is simply laid out and easy to navigate, allowing for easy connections, and has a decent array of duty-free shopping.


Santiago de Chile (SCL): Clean, modern and bathed in natural light, Santiago’s main airport has five VIP lounges (including facilities for its home-town leader, LAN Airlines) and 21 restaurants and bars. 


Lima Jorge Chávez (LIM): Recent improvements here include a more spacious concourse, more shopping and dining and a convenient hotel near the check-in counters. 


Mexico City Benito Juárez (MEX) Terminal 2: Fly into Terminal 2, which is home to Aeromexico and its Skyteam partners, and you’ll enjoy a spacious facility that is uncrowded and efficient on the departures level, with an array of food and beverage options and lounges. Beware: Bizarre how they designed a brand-new terminal without windows to see the planes. And watch for potentially long waits at the immigration level — and if you’re using Terminal 1, expect long walks. 


Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont (SDU): Rio’s second airport isn’t very international, but if you have to connect in São Paulo anyway to get here, it’s a much closer option for anyone headed to downtown Rio, Copacabana or Ipanema. And you can’t beat the view on approach!


AIRPORTS TO WATCH:
Bogotá El Dorado (BOG): The massive terminal renovation, which will triple the airport’s  capacity, should be welcome news to anyone who’s tried to weave their way through this busy facility. 


San Juan Luís Muñoz Marín (SJU): The shiny new Concourse A has looked ready for boarding for months now, but even the Puerto Rico Tourism Company seems to have no idea when it will open. 


Quito (UIO): The brand-new airport, in a brand-new location, should relieve congestion at the hemmed-in existing facility, but be prepared to pay more to make the longer trip into the city.  


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About the Author

The founder and editor of LatinFlyer.com, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.


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