Airlines that fly direct to Costa Rica

Ready to make the trip to Costa Rica?
Want to fly on a non-stop flight?

Check the table below to see which airlines have flights to Costa Rica…
and where to catch that direct flight.

Airlines that fly to Costa Rica

Airline Non-stop available? Departure City
Aeromexico Yes Mexico City
Air Canada Yes Toronto
Air Panama Yes Panama City
Alaska Airlines Yes Los Angeles
American Airlines Yes Charlotte, NC
Dallas/Ft. Worth
Avianca Yes Mexico City
Panama City
British Airways Yes Gatwick
Continental Yes Newark
Copa Yes Panama City
Delta Yes Atlanta
Los Angeles
Edelweiss Air Yes Zurich
Frontier Yes Denver
Iberia Yes Madrid
Interjet Yes Mexico City
JetBlue Yes NYC
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Yes (starts Oct 2017) Amsterdam
Southwest Yes Fort Lauderdale
Spirit Air Yes Ft. Lauderdale
Thomson Yes London
United Yes Chicago
Washington (IAD)
US Airways Yes Charlotte, NC
Dallas/Ft. Worth
Volaris Yes Guadalajara

Where can you fly into in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has two main airports. The San Jose International (or Juan Sanataria Airport), SJO, is located in Alajuela, just north of San Jose. This has been the main airport flying into Costa Rica.and will be for many more years until the new Orotina Airport gets start (completed by 2025?)

The other airport is Liberia International (Daniel Oduber Airport), LIR, which is located in the northern western part of Costa Rica-where it's really really hot and windy. If you fly into Libera you will likely end up taking a secondary domestic flight to get to your destination in Costa Rica.

Perhaps the best way to find a cheap flight to Costa Rica is to use the new
Google Flight Search or anything google....



(Juan Santamaria Int'l Airport)

GPS coordinates: Latitude: 9.6132 Longitude: -84.6274
The drive to Jaco (pronounced Ha-CO') from the International Airport (SJO) on the new paved Highway 27, normally takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes. It's important to exchange some currency into colones for the toll highway (about CRC 2,200 colones-$4.40).
Ask the rental car agent to send you off in the right direction, which should be west on Route 1 (also called Panamericana), past the airport. Drive defensively and be aware when two lanes become one, CEDA EL PASO means Give Way.
Note: The first 13 km (7 miles) uses the same old route to Jaco. GPS devices might not be updated and will likely still have the old route so do not rely on them to follow our complete recommended route.
Once on Route 1 - follow signs to San Ramon, continue straight ahead for about 10 km-6 mi. After the second bridge crossing, get in the right lane and take the next exit right for Route 3 for Jaco / Quepos / Manuel Antonio. AND you'll also a sign here for Punta Leona and Atenas.
Turn left at the stop sign, crossing back over Route 1.

Follow Route 3 for about 3 km 1.8 mi. Look for a large Christian church on the left and then a soccer field and then make a left on the road immediately after it.
You are on the road to Turrucares. There are no signs and it's a secondary road, so don't think you've made a mistake. It's currently the best connection to the Route 27 toll highway from the airport.
Drive for another 3 km 1.8 mi. through this somewhat winding road. Once you arrive at the Highway 27 (also called San Jose-Caldera) intersection turn left BEFORE the highway. Again, there are no signs here yet. Be careful as it's a narrow two-way gravel access road. After some 300 meters you will arrive at a roundabout. Make a right on to the highway-see signs to Orotina / Atenas.
Drive on Highway 27 through 2 toll booths about 25 minutes.
(You will pass the Orotina turnoff, keep going about another 8 minutes to get to the
2nd toll booth.) 
Get to the right lane and take the very next right exit to Route 34- with signs for Jaco / Quepos. This exit forms a loop and then you bypass a roundabout to continue straight to Jaco (another 36 km about 20 miles).
Follow Route 34 (also called Costanera) for about 20 minutes and you will cross over the Tarcoles River Bridge - there are usually a few cars parked before/after the bridge since it is a popular viewing point for the crocodiles lurking in and around the river.
Shortly after this you will see the ocean on your right hand side.
About 10 minutes from here you will pass the  Punta Leona entrance.
Continue straight and soon you will be going uphill. About 1km. 1/2 mile up you will see
that this road split and slow traffic should move right.
Before you reach the top you will pass the entrance to Villas Caletas.
After that you go downhill and soon, about 5 minutes, you will come to a big intersection with a blinking yellow light on top- turn right here to go to Los Suenos as you are now in Herradura (home to our favorite supermarket Auto Mercado).
Continue on the highway straight to go to Jaco, which comes up about 5 minutes down the road, where I LOVE Sushi is. This is the first turn into Jaco, and there are 4 more entrances into Jaco after that.
After you pass Hotel Club del Mar continue another 6 minutes to Playa Hermosa.
To get to the Hermosa Bungalows or Hermosa Palms, turn right immediately after you pass 
the Backyard Bar. 
To go to Esterillos, continue another 10 minutes, and Bejuco will be another 10 minutes after that.
Stop in and visit our very cool office,  we have coffee, cold water, a/c, candy, and Chef Jeff's Cajun seasoning for ya!


(but lots of micro climates)

1. Costa Rica's Central Valley is famous for having some of the best weather in the world, due to its' mountainous location yet only 9 degrees from the equator. The temperatures during the day can be around 70 F.; or 3-8 degrees cooler than the beaches, but at night the difference can be as high as 20 degrees.  So its not uncommon to have daytime temperatures of 75 F. that dip to 55 F. at night.
There are lots of micro-climates: so you could experience 95 F. degree afternoons in Santa Ana, and 10 minutes away, at night, be freezing in the mountains of Escazu. Arenal can have similar temperature fluctuations.

Rainy season in San Jose is pretty similar to the beaches, from May till November with the worst month being October.

2.  The beaches can be divided between north, central and south, Atlantic and Pacific.  Here in Jaco, our temperatures are the best of any beach area south of Mexico, because of how the bay is shaped and the cooling breezes we receive. During the day, Central Pacific temperatures can average between 76-90 F.; while either north in Guanacaste, or south in the Osa peninsula, temperatures can average 85-95 F.
In the Jaco area, the nights comfortably cool down, while the other regions
things can still seem warm.  The Caribbean side seems muggier more often than anywhere else, and they do have almost the opposite schedule of the rainy season as the Pacific. Check the weather on google before you come!!!
Remember what happens in San Jose sometimes stays in San Jose, so if you want the weather for the Pacific, check Puntarenas as an indicator.

Easy way to remember the difference between Celcius & Fahrenheit:
82 F. is 28 C.


Pack light: Bring comfortable, hand-washable clothing. T-shirts and shorts are acceptable in San José though frowned upon in Government offices.
AT night it can get chilly, so bring long pants, and a light weight jacket.

In San Jose, if planning to go out in the evening, slacks are highly recommended as some restaurants won't admit you in shorts or sandals.
Yes jeans are popular, especially with a sport coat.

Loose-fitting long-sleeve shirts and pants are recommended if you take any day trips out to smaller towns, where immodest attire is frowned upon.
IN general, Costa Ricans' take pride in their clothing, especially in the San Jose suburbs, either Escazu or Curridibat.

Bring a large hat to block the sun from your face and neck.
Pack a light sweater, sweatshirt or lightweight jacket for San José's cool nights for trips up volcanoes.  Sturdy sneakers or hiking boots are essential if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing and hiking.
Waterproof hiking sandals or other footwear that lets your feet breathe are good for strolling about town, and also for beach walking, fording streams, and navigating the myriad mudholes you'll find on rain and cloud forest trails.

If going to the beach, obviously you'll want light, cool, clothing, swimwear, shades, etc. and the standard fare is shirts, shorts, sandals;
but there is a 10,000 colones fine for wearing shorts and dark socks with either tennis shoes or sandals during the day!

In Jacó Beach, you can purchase just about anything you may have forgotten, from sexy bikinis to digital cameras...we've got it all!

Bring the CR Beach language tips found on our page, "Learn these Words" (please remember if you are from Canada, Great Britain, or
the Boston area-its Co-sta Rica not Casta Rica!)  or stop by our office and pickup one of our famous bookmarks with the tips on one side. Costa Rica is not a "3rd world" country, where getting supplies is difficult.
If you forget your camera battery pack or the computer recharge-cord, you can most likely get them at a Radio Shack for twice the U.S. price, or at Walmart-for only 50% more than the U.S.  Yes there are tons of places to buy mosquito repellent or suntan lotion, but probably double the U.S. price.
All in all, our temperatures are similar to summers in San Diego, California, with a little Miami mixed in.....
Jeff's super tip: bring good sandals with you, (prefavorably with a back strap), because the sidewalks here, (where they exist) can tear up the most expensive pair of flipflops in a second, (and possibly with your face kissing our famous black ants.)
Remember in Costa Rica,  if you trip and fall, it's your fault-there are no personal injury lawsuits here......



Costa Rica Flight Information: Updated March 14, 2013


Delta airlines announces new daily L.A.-San José flight
Posted: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 - By L. Arias
The new nonstop flight is already available for booking at the company’s website.
Delta Air Lines will offer a new daily nonstop flight between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Costa Rica’s capital starting July 1, the company said in a press release.
 The route will be operated by a Boeing 757-200 with capacity for 180 passengers, including 24 first class seats and 21 seats in economy comfort class.
The flight from San José will depart at 6:55 a.m. and is expected to arrive in Los Angeles at 2:20 p.m., while the flight from LAX will depart at 11 p.m. and will arrive in San José at 5:45 a.m.
The new service is already available for booking through the airline’s website.
Delta offers service to 32 countries and 49 destinations in the region, with more than 1,000 weekly flights between Latin America and the United States. By summer, the company will operate 118 peak-day departures to 40 nonstop destinations.
Canadian airline announces new flights to Costa Rica
December 20th, 2012 ( Air Canada announced the launch of its new, inexpensive leisure travel airline brand, “Rouge,” which will begin service in July 2013 and will provide service to both the San Jose and Liberia airports in Costa Rica, departing from Toronto, Canada.
“With the introduction of Air Canada Rouge, the company enters the growing leisure travel market,” Ben Smith, executive vice president of the airline, said in a statement.
As part of a special introductory rate, flights to Costa Rica will begin at just $389, according to the statement.Air Canada currently operates one non-stop flight per week to Costa Rica.
The New Law 
Costa Rica’s new immigration law, Ley de Migración y Extranjería Nº 8764, went into effect March, 2010. It has changed several times since then. While parts of the law are not yet enforced and interpretations vary, it is important to know that it is the traveler who is held accountable for having the proper documents to enter and exit the country.  See the information below for what you need to enter, exit and re-enter Costa Rica as of January, 2012:

  • Passport: A passport must be in good condition, and, depending upon your country of origin, it must be valid for three to six months. Many U.S. airlines require 6 months!
    • The Letter of the Law: Pasaporte en buen estado (la vigencia mínima del pasaportes corresponderá a tres meses para las personas nacionales de los países ubicados en el primer y segundo grupo de las Directrices de Ingreso a Costa Rica y seis meses para aquellas del tercer y cuarto grupo).

  • Onward (Exit) Ticket: Before being allowed to board a flight or enter the country, tourists must have documented, verifiable proof that they will be exiting the country (continuing their journey or returning from where they arrived, “Tiquete de continuidad de viaje o retorno al país de procedencia”) before their visa expires.
    • Proof can be in the form of a round trip ticket, a pre-purchased airline or bus ticket to another country or documentation verifying passage by sea. The ICT states that “All visitors must have an entry and exit ticket, whether it is by air or by land (bus), as the case may be, as a requirement to entre (sic) the country.”

  • A one way ticket: Please note that the definition of a one way ticket includes not only a one way ticket into the country but also
    • a ticket into Costa Rica with departure booked from another country
    • a roundtrip ticket with a departure date scheduled after one’s visa expires, typically 90 days after entry.
  • Visas: Most travelers are automatically issued a visa (stamped on their passport) when they enter the country and not before. Visitors from the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan are allowed to stay in the country for up to 90 days. Those from other countries should check with their nearest consulate.
  • Economic Resources: Tourists must be able to show that they have $100 for every month they will be in the country.
  • Departure Tax: Travelers are required to pay an exit tax before leaving the country via the airport and at most borders. $28 USD is currently charged those exiting at the airport and those leaving at a border crossing pay less.
  • Exit: Tourists are required to exit the county before their visa expires.
  • Overstaying Visa: The law states that “persons who overstay the time allowed on their visa may have to pay $100 and cannot return for three times as many days as they exceeded the time allotted.”
  • Re-entry: Tourists can exit and re-enter Costa Rica if they have the documents required to enter the country, including a valid passport and an onward/outbound ticket. The law does not state that tourists need to stay out of the country for 72 hours before re-entry, as is often stated by travel sites.


Yes, there is a departure tax for all foreigners, $28 accepted in U.S. dollars, colones, Euros, credit cards ....

 Costa Rica has always been a popular spot for North American travelers, and with airline and hotel specials overflowing the web, it has reached another level of accessibility.
Costa Rica's proximity to major hubs in the United States and the multitude of flight options makes it easy for travelers to vacation there. It is a two and half hour flight from Miami, a five-hour flight from New York, a four-hour flight from Dallas and a six-hour flight from Los Angeles.



AUTOMATED FLIGHT INFO: 2437-2626 - English-9 Arrival-1 Departures-2 

GENERAL AIRPORT INFO - Client Services: 2443-1737 / 2443-1244-fax (5am-10pm)  (they speak GOOD English & are REALLY helpful with ANY questions you have!!)

AIRPORT TAXI: www.TaxiAeroPuerto.

 Domestic airlines that travel within the country
Contact SANSA at (506)2221-9414 or Nature Air at (506) 2220-3054.

AIRPORT PARKING (at terminal): $11/day / 890 colones/hour (2440-6700 /2437-2400)

Air Canada - 2441-8025-English-
9 8am-1pm Mon.-Sat. / 0800-052-1988  /
Air Comet - 2291-0684 / www.AirComet.
Air France - 2220-4119 / www.AirFrance.
Air Madrid - 2296-4559 / www.AirMadrid.
Air Panama / Air Costa Rica - 2296-8592 / www.FlyAirPanama.
Air Transat - 2441-9444 / www.AirTransat.
America West - 2430-6690 / 0800-0110888 / www.AmericaWest.
com American - 2442-8800 / 257-1266 /

AVIANCA-(includes Lacsa-Taca)
Continental - 2442-1904 / 0800 044 0005 / www.Continental.
Condor - 2430-4787 (air panama) / 2441-9444 /
Copa - 2441-4742 / 2223-2672 /
Cubana - 2430-4787 / 2221-6918 /
Delta - 2440-4805 / 0800-056-2002 /
Iberia - 2441-5635 / 2257-8266 /
KLM - 2220-4111 /
MartinAir - 2440-8848 / 2232-3246 / www.MartinAir.
Nature Air - Pavas Airport-2299-
6070 / Res-2299-6000 /
SANSA - 2221-9414 /
Spirit Airlines - 800-756-7117 /
United - 0-8000-521-243 /
USAir - 2430-6690 / 2520-0593 / www.USAirways.
West Carribean - 2291-0580 /





Jeff writes: I finally took my first trip out of Costa Rica in 4.5 years and got to experience the newly remodeled airport first hand.  I was impressed.  Nice, clean, efficient with Banco BAC offering the best priced money exchange  ever at the airport.

When I arrived back in Costa Rica I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the Customs process was, I handed them my in-flight written customs declaration and I was allowed to pass thru very quickly without inspection. I was burdened with one suitcase, one carry-on, and one giant 5 foot tube carrying my sister's artwork.
Of course, I cannot guarantee this was the norm, but after a "red eye" flight, it was fantastic not to have to open up all of my luggage.
The taxi cab drivers that will immediately greet you after you leave the customs area are now under strict regulation, and the fares are "metered" so there is no sense in worrying nor arguing about the price. It was higher pricing than I had expected to my destination, but it was clearly posted on the meter.  I went about 4 miles from the airport and it cost $17.

However, when departing from Costa Rica, immediately upon entering the airport you will be asked if you have already purchased your $26 departure tax. I had pre-payed mine at the TACA branch in Escazu, as well as getting my seat assignment. That definitely made life easier. 
I noticed that the pricing in the airline shops and food court are now insane.  The newly remodeled airport has fewer shopping opportunities, and pricing is significantly higher than the "good old days."  Even the former great pricing of the "duty free" liquor had increased dramatically.  Unlike LAX, at least there is an indoor ugly segregated area for those nicotine addicted individuals, plus now there is a newly designated luxury lounge that supposedly is for frequent flyers. The truth is that you can get into the lounge by agreeing to purchase at least $30 per person worth of food and alcohol.
Definitely I advise to buy your Costa Rican tourist souvenirs and packaged coffee BEFORE going to the airport. If you don't want to pay $6 for a cinnamon roll, bring your munchies to the airport.
Amazingly it seemed that the online baggage inspection was tougher in Costa Rica than in Los Angeles, at least on TACA airlines, but TACA was are far more permissive in size of bags than American carriers. TACA-Lacsa also served free tasteless food and free alcohol on board, (very cool!).
The final touches are being done to the renovations of the main Costa Rican international airport, Juan Santamaria in Alajuela (SJO), and it is a pleasure to experience this.
All in all, I was very impressed, and if its your first time flying to Costa Rica, it should be quite easy for you to exit the airport and head towards your final destination, hopefully Jaco, where you will be treated like royalty by our staff at CR Beach.......




There are no customs duties charged on personal luggage, which includes items for personal and professional use, as long as they do not appear in such quantities that suggest commercial intent. Costa Rican law requires ALL baggage to be examined thoroughly and that travelers submit to customs regulations listing all articles entering Costa Rica including fruit, vegetables, meat, meat products, biological products such as vaccinations, serums, etc. In the case of ones family, one declaration may be filled out by the head of household.

Tighter Security Controls At Costa Rica's Airports For US Bound Flights
Jan 7, 2010 Inside Costa Rica
At the request of the United States the Dirección General de Aviación Civil (DGAC) has tightened its security protocols at the Juan Santamaría (San José) and Daniel Oduber (Libera) international airports on flights to the US. The measure follows the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas day on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan.

Among the changes are that passengers will not be able to carry on their carry on any powdered substance. Items like cacao or powdered milk are a no no (sometimes), unless they are purchased within the terminal's retail stores.

Jorge Fernández, director of Aviación Civil, is emphatic that passengers travelling to the
US should buy items like coffee only from stores in the airport terminal - these are the stores beyond the security checks, near the boarding gates.
The only exception to the rule, according to Fernández are prescribed medical items and infant formula and milk. However, these items will be closely inspected by the Policía Aeroportuaria (airport police) before boarding.
The restrictions on liquids, like gels, creams, toothpaste, etc, continues if they are in packaging over 100ml.
Also xray machines and metal detectors will continue to inspect carry on luggage.
Fernández said that in addition to all of this, passengers on US bound flights will have to submit to a final boarding inspection, this being done by the airlines, independent of the security checks and controsl of the DGAC.
Although the tightened security measures are geared towards US bound flights, Copa airlines,  Continental airlines, said it would be adhering to the
US security measures though Copa has no direct flights to the US from Costa Rica
The director of the Policía de Vigilancia Aérea stationed at the Santamaría and Oduber airports, Glen Pacheco, said that passengers can expect more exhaustive checks to impede passengers from boarding with any dangerous substance or material.

What kind of inoculations do I have to take to Costa Rica?

No vaccines are required to enter Costa Rica.

One of the great things about Costa Rica are the many pharmacies, that do not require a prescription for most medicines.  And they will sell you a couple of pills instead of having to buy an entire box.  Some pharmacies will even give you shots. The idea is that the pharmacists are very well trained and this helps to take pressure off the overextended socialized Costa Rican medical system.

Yes you can buy those little blue pills without a prescription, ahem,

I've been told!

How do I bring my pet to Costa Rica?


Import  health requirements for dogs and cats 

Dogs and cats entering Costa Rica must have a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian, and endorsed by a Veterinary Service (VS) veterinarian. The examination for the certificate must be conducted within the two weeks prior to travel to Costa Rica.

Health Certificate Statements

  1. The dog/cat was examined and found to be healthy and free of any clinical signs of infectious disease.
  2. The animals were vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parvovirus.

Vaccination Requirements

  1. distemper
  2. hepatitis
  3. leptospirosis
  4. parvovirus.
  5. rabies – for animals 4 months or older



  1. The examination for the certificate must be conducted within the two weeks prior to travel to Costa Rica.

  2. Please use a State of Federal  US Interstate and International Certificate for Small Animals.

  3. Enclose rabies vaccination certificate.


  • The Health Certificate does NOT need to be signed by a Notary Public, nor does it have to be authenticated by the Consulate of Costa Rica.

  • Animals exported in commercial lot numbers must be accompanied by an import permit.

  • Goldfish are not required to have health certificates.






AIRFARE 101: How Do I Get the Best Airfare?

Cheapest Airfares Might Be on Airlines' Own Websites  By The Associated Press  09/12/12

By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ, NEW YORK -- Some airlines are making travelers work harder to land the best deal. Carriers are offering more deals to passengers who book flights directly on their websites. It's an effort to steer people away from online travel agencies such as Expedia (EXPE), Orbitz (OWW) and Travelocity, which charge the airlines commissions of roughly $10 to $25 a ticket.So while travelers can save money, they must do without the convenience of one-stop shopping.
Frontier Airlines (RJET) is the latest carrier to jump into the fight, announcing Wednesday that it will penalize passengers who don't book directly with the airline. Those fliers won't be able to get seat assignments until check-in. And they'll pay more in fees while earning half as many frequent flier miles. "Particularly for families, it provides an incentive to book directly," said Daniel Shurz, Frontier's senior vice president, commercial. "There is no logical reason for our customers to want to book anywhere else."  
Contracts with the online travel agencies prohibit airlines from offering lower fares on their sites. Instead, airlines such as JetBlue (JBLU), Spirit Airlines (SAVE) and Virgin America often provide discount codes in emails to their frequent fliers or through Facebook and Twitter.The savings for booking directly can be significant.

Toronto-based Porter Airlines frequently offers codes that save travelers up to 50%. A recent search of flights from Chicago to Toronto for November produced an airfare of $249.61 using a code at The same flights would have cost $404.38 through Travelocity.

The airlines face a delicate balance. Online travel agencies account for the lion's share of ticket sales. But the airlines want to trim the fees that eat into their profit margins.

Besides the discounts, the airlines say their sites offer passengers a better experience, providing up-to-date seat maps, details about in-flight entertainment and more seamless booking.

Henry Harteveldt, co-founder of Atmosphere Research Group, said the airlines and travel sites have "a very, very dysfunctional business relationship." The travel sites treat all flights equally. Price is the only differentiator.

"The online travel agencies either won't or can't talk about how an airline might have WiFi on a plane or extra legroom seats available," he said.

The online agencies say they provide travelers with several advantages, including comparison shopping and the ability to mix and match airlines for a single trip.

"That's something you can't do on an airline's site," said Dara Khosrowshahi, president and CEO of Expedia.

Simon Bramely, vice president of transportation and lodging for Travelocity, part of Sabre Holdings, noted that "the flight is one element of the trip."He said online travel agencies can save travelers hassle and money by creating packages that include hotel rooms and car rentals.

The battle is not new. Southwest Airlines (LUV) was a pioneer in cutting out the middleman. The airline does not list its fares on third-party sites. That means travelers have to search both and then elsewhere to compare fares. Southwest hopes fliers will never make it to another site.Most of the big carriers have remained quiet. American Airlines, part of AMR Corp., (AAMRQ) was the exception. In December 2010, American cut off Orbitz from displaying its fares and selling its tickets to protest the commissions and the failure to displays extras like seat upgrades. The site had been selling about 3% of the airline's overall tickets. Expedia joined the fight by making American's fares harder to find. All sides eventually settled their disputes.

Frontier, part of Republic Airways Holdings, is making its changes specifically to cut the commissions. A four-segment itinerary -- say a round-trip flight from Sioux Falls, S.D., to Phoenix connecting in Denver each way -- booked directly through Frontier costs the airline $1.60 to process. That same itinerary booked through an online travel agent costs Frontier $20 to $26, depending on which website the ticket is booked on, according to Shurz.

Those commissions add up: Shurz said Frontier spends about $55 million to $60 million annually on distribution fees. In the first half of 2012, 42% of Frontier's $713 million in revenue came through tickets sold directly with the airline. Shurz hopes to increase that figure to 65 percent in a few years, cutting expenses in the process.Frontier's customers have a big incentive to book directly.

Only those going through the airline's website will get to pick their seats in advance. Travelers booking through third-party websites will only get half the frequent flier miles. Fees for changing itineraries, going standby, traveling as an unaccompanied minor or bringing a pet onboard will be $50 higher for those booking elsewhere.
Frontier is a low-cost carrier based in Denver. It flies to 80 destinations in the United States, many smaller cities, as well as leisure destinations such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Through August, it carried 9.1 million passengers. In that same period, United Continental Holdings (UAL) carried 96.1 million passengers. In a related move to increase loyalty, Frontier is lowering the amount of frequent flier miles needed for a free flight by 5,000. The airline also changed its website URL to the only thing not changing are baggage fees: They will remain $20 for each of the first two checked bags regardless of where you buy a ticket.AP Airlines Writer Samantha Bomkamp contributed to this report.


When to Fly—Season
Presumably, not all of you decide the time of year to travel based on travel costs, but many do. And unlike day-to-day price changes, airfare seasonality is fairly predictable.
Within North America—domestic U.S.Canada, and the nearby Caribbean/Mexico/Costa  Rican areas—your main objective is to avoid times when fares peak.
And those times are about what you'd expect:

  • Airfares from northern areas to sun-sand-surf destinations generally peak from January through March, with lowest available levels at somewhere around 50% higher than at other times. You find good deals just about any other times.
  • Lowest available fares on these and most other routes show a somewhat less pronounced summer-season peak in June-July-August. 
  • Lowest fares to "family" destinations are generally when schools are in session.  
  • Available fares just about everywhere peak sharply—often around double—surrounding the Christmas-New Year-Hanukkah holiday season. You find similar peaking on many routes around Thanksgiving.
    Lowest available fares are generally good for travel on the days of major holidays and for intermediate days of three-day weekends and week-long holiday periods. Of course, there's a reason: Not many of you want to fly the Friday after Thanksgiving or on Christmas Day.

At other times, fares seem to fluctuate more randomly, although fares in the fourth quarter—Labor Day through mid-December, except for the Thanksgiving peak—are usually the year's lowest.
 To the Southern hemisphere, Southern South America the summer and year-end holiday peak periods coincide, so fares are generally lower during the May-August period—somewhat lower to South America,  

 Researching seasonal fare variations has never been easier. Checkout or Hotwire's TripStarter feature displays a day-by-day graph of lowest generally available airfares on hundreds of popular domestic and international routes (actual prices travelers paid through Hotwire) for the entire calendar year 2009 plus 2010 up to the current date. If you can't find the route you're considering, look at nearby major airports.
Hotwire's data are unique and uniquely valuable. Lots of government and trade sources track average airfares, but as noted above, those data are of limited use, if any. Hotwire is the only source I know for historical lowest-generally-available fare data: Some of my industry analyst friends would kill for a 10- or 20-year tabulation of these series.

Hotwire also tabulates average hotel prices for major destination cities in a similar way, and the site allows you to determine the best (or at least lowest-cost) times to visit. For example, from New York to Orlando, TripStarter says the lowest airfares are in January, September, and October; the lowest hotel rates in Orlando are in August, September, and November, so a visit in September gives you the best of both worlds.
Keep in mind that destination costs do not always parallel airfare costs.
Don't schedule a vacation for minimum airfare if that means paying top dollar when you arrive.

When to Fly—Day of Week; Hour of Day
The consensus among travel writers and self-appointed mavens seems to be that the best days for domestic travel are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Similarly, the conventional wisdom about times to fly says that you find the lowest fares on early morning, overnight red-eye, late evening, and mid-day flights.

But day-of-week and time-of-day decisions needn't be a guessing game. Many big online sites display lowest available fares for as much as plus or minus a full month around the dates you initially specify, and you can sometimes knock hundreds of dollars off by switching travel a day or two. Similarly, most sites display all the fares for all feasible itineraries during a day, so you can easily spot those that combine low fares cost with reasonable schedules.

Long Term
Just about everybody in the industry agrees that airfares almost everywhere are in a period of sustained increase. The big "legacy" airlines, say the mavens, are finally achieving discipline on "excess capacity," which means they will stop overproducing seat-miles and thus face less pressure to sell off that excess at below-cost prices.

I tend to agree with that conclusion, although competition from low-cost lines and the inevitable new startups will keep a lid on what might otherwise be a major overall price increase. And, discipline or no, you'll continue to see short-term sales at unpredictable times. (Editor's Note: SmarterTravel is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc. Expedia, Inc. also owns Hotwire.)  


2014 Calender of Events and National Holidays


  • Saints Peter and Paul Day: Religious celebrations to honor the Catholic saints Paul and Peter held throughout the country. June 29.


  • Virgin of the Sea Fiestas: Religious activities, food, music and parades mark the celebration of the patron saint in Puntarenas. The Saturday closest to July 16.
  • Annexation of Guanacaste Day: Costa Ricans celebrate the day that the Guanacaste province chose their nation over neighboring Nicaragua in 1824. The biggest celebrations – bullfighting, parades and plenty of drinking – are centered in Liberia, Guanacaste’s capital city, though you'll find celebrations throughout the county. July 25.
  • Mango Fiestas: Alajuela is called the City of Mangoes and every July the town celebrates its heritage with crafts, parades, music and plenty of mango refreshments. Late July.


  • Virgin of Los Angeles Day: Costa Rica’s largest religious holiday – pilgrims march on foot or on their knees toward Cartago’s Los Angeles Basilica to pay honor to La Negrita and ask for a wish to be granted for them, Costa Rica’s black Virgin. August 2.
  • San Ramon Day Parades: Dancing and music help celebrate the arrival of 30 patron saints from nearby towns to honor San Ramon’s own patron saint in San Ramon, Alajuela. August 30.


  • Independence Day: Parties and festivals are held throughout the country celebrating Costa Rica's independence from Spain. Traveling south from Guatemala, the flame of independence arrives in Cartago on this day. September 15.
  • International Beach Clean-Up Day: A modern celebration, this day joins locals and visitors together to keep Costa Rica's beaches clean and pristine. The third week of September.


  • San Isidro Anniversary: A celebration to commemorate the agricultural town of San Isidro, San Jose. October 9.
  • Puerto Viejo Carnaval: Seven days of Caribbean parties complete with dancers, parades and live music held in Puerto Viejo. The first two weeks of October in Puerto Viejo.
  • Limon Carnaval: A popular festival with Mardi Gras-style decadence celebrated with parades, loud Caribbean rhythms, rum and dancing. Limon. Weekend of October 12.
  • Dia de la Raza: A celebration of Columbus’ discovery of the New World and the many cultural influences that helped form modern-day Latin America; held throughout the country. October 12.
  • Virgin of Pilar Day: A day of costumes and dancing to honor the patron saint of Tres Rios, Cartago. October 12.
  • Corn Fiesta: Traditional parties honoring the corn crop held in Upala, Alajuela that include a Corn Queen crowning and a corn-product costume parade. October 12.


  • Dia de los Inocentes: Costa Rica’s version of Mexico’s famous Day of the Dead has people paying their respects to lost loved ones. November 2.
  • Coffee Picking Contest: Music and dancing accompany this contest held throughout the Central Valley. Mid-November.
  • Oxcart Parade: Similar to March’s Oxcart Driver Day, this celebration honors Costa Rica’s oxcart and agricultural traditions; held in San Jose. Late November.


  • Festival de las Luces: Fireworks displays and live concerts start this month-long Christmas celebration of lights, lights and even more lights; held in San Jose. First week of December.
  • Christmas CelebrationsDecorations have been up for months, but Costa Ricans really begin to celebrate in early December. This is the best time to begin making tamales – each family has its own recipe. The long preparation process produces one-of-a-kind treats that are distributed as gifts to friends and neighbors. Early December.
  • Los Negritos Fiestas: A festive combination of traditional indigenous celebrations and Catholic rituals, this day honors the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception held in Boruca. Week of December 8.
  • Fireworks Day: Fireworks help to honor the Lady of the Immaculate Conception in San Antonio de Belen, Heredia. December 8.
  • La Yeguita Fiesta: A parade to celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe accompanied by dancing, food and fireworks. Nicoya (Guanacaste). December 12.
  • Beginning of caroling season: Christmas carolers begin to sing door-to-door; often to raise money for local charities held throughout the country. December 15.
  • Christmas Eve: Traditionally, families attend a large mass on Christmas Eve and open their gifts at midnight. December 24.
  • El Tope Nacional: An annual national horse parade that strolls through the center of San Jose where the well-trained animals perform amazing footwork. December 26.
  • San Jose Carnival: A huge carnival with large floats, live music and a very happy atmosphere in San Jose. December 27.
  • Zapote Fiestas: The Zapote fairgrounds in San Jose transform from tranquil farmers' market to a free-for-all party, offering amusement park rides, fair and street food, inflatable megabars, bullfighting and plenty of libations. December 25 - January 6.
  • Los Diablitos Festival: Fireside reenactment of Spanish-indigenous battles, using mood music and traditional masks; held in Boruca. December 30-January 2.


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