Best Airports in South America 2017

Date: October 15, 2017

best airportIn our annual survey, we asked travellers to rate airports in the South America based on their overall airport experience. They ranked their experience based on:

  • Comfort (Gate seating & availability of rest zones)
  • Services, facilities & things to do
  • Food options
  • Immigration/Security
  • Customer service
  • Cleanliness
  • Navigation and ease of transit
  • Sleepability

The airports voted onto this year’s list of Best Airports in South America are those that offer travellers a smooth and friendly travel experience in clean and modern facilities. While amenities are generally limited to a few good restaurants and shops at reasonable prices, this list shows that good customer service (and free Wi-Fi) really does go a long way. Comfortable seating is another easy victory on the continent, with travellers providing extra praise for the terminals where they’re able to find benches and lounge chairs.

1. Guayaquil José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Ecuador (GYE)


Very clean overall and cleanest and best restrooms at an airport and must of visited over 50 airports worldwide - survey respondent

Ecuador’s Guayaquil Airport returns to the first-place position it held in 2015. This year’s survey respondents provided high praise for the airport’s friendly customer service, exceptional cleanliness, and smooth-operating immigration control. Simple features like free Wi-Fi, well-priced restaurants, charging points, and pay-per-use lounges continue to delight those who pass through. While many reviewers noted its small size, this seemed to help the airport operate efficiently, and added to the airport’s charm. While airport dining generally received praise, a few reviewers thought it was too expensive and a bit limited in food options. (Photo courtesy of Aeropuerto de Guayaquil)

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Showers ($) • 24-Hour Food Options ($) • Luggage Storage ($). For more information, visit our Guayaquil Airport Guide.

2. Montevideo Carrasco International Airport, Uruguay (MVD)


This simple international airport is very efficient, attractive and clean. - survey respondent

While voters continue to describe Montevideo’s Carrasco Airport as beautiful and peaceful, it seems chilly overnight temperatures, a lack of charging points, and limited restaurants were a bit of a problem for voters this year. That said, this small airport does offer a handful of armrest-free benches that are soft and comfortable for sleeping, and the staff have no problem leaving sleepers alone. As with last year, the third floor terrace continues to be one of the best places to catch some shuteye - we just recommend keeping an extra layer handy. (Photo courtesy of ramilson_kaleidoscopio_maia / Instagram)

See also: Most Sleep-Friendly Airports

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Luggage Storage ($). For more information, visit our Carrasco Airport Guide.

3. Bogota El Dorado International Airport, Colombia (BOG)


Airport is newly renovated so modern & lots of shops open quite late! - survey respondent

Bogota's El Dorado Airport consistently ranks high in our Best Airports in South America list thanks primarily to its cleanliness, friendly staff, and modern conveniences added in recent renovations. The terminals are said to be pleasantly spacious and reliably clean, and they happen to house a few good lounge chairs. The availability of amenities is reasonable, though a few travellers would like to see more options. Overall, voters say the speedy, reliable Wi-Fi and the easy connections between the terminals and the city centre really seal the deal. (Photo courtesy of hugojav / Instagram)

See also:Best Airports for a Layover

Airport Services/Facilities: Free WiFi • Luggage Storage ($). For more information, visit our Bogota Airport Guide.

4. Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport, Brazil (GIG)


Its a world of difference walking from the old terminal to the new pier. The new extension is stunning, and as good as any of the top airports out there. - survey respondent

Rio de Janeiro Galeão climbed four spots in our rankings this year, thanks in large part to ongoing improvements from Brazil's hosting the FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. One major renovation includes the recently opened new terminal pier, which survey respondents believe helped modernize the airport. Along with new shops, lounges, a transit hotel, restaurants, and and comfortable seating options, reviewers praised the airport cleanliness and the friendliness and efficiency of the staff. (Photo courtesy of Rio Galeão Aeroporto)

See also: Best Airports for a LayoverMost Sleep-Friendly Airports

Airport Services/Facilities: Free WiFi • 24-Hour Food Options ($). For more information, visit our Rio de Janeiro Galeão Airport Guide.

5. Medellin Jose Maria Cordova International Airport, Colombia (MDE)


Is a very comfortable little airport. there is plenty of space to lay down and sleep (before and after security) and the food options are quite good - survey respondent

It's unclear whether the planned modernization efforts at Medellin Airport are underway yet, but the airport must be doing something right, as it retains its ranking in our Best Airports in South America list. The airport's success is due, at least in part, to its comfort, with many survey respondents describing the airport as "comfortable". Security, immigration, and customer service earned positive feedback from travellers. While food options also received praise, a couple of reviewers noted a relative absence of shopping options. (Photo courtesy of _miguelr / Instagram)

Airport Services/Facilities: Free WiFi • 24-Hour Food Options ($). For more information, visit our Medellin Airport Guide.

Top 10 Best Airports in South & Central America

  1. Guayaquil José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Ecuador (GYE)
  2. Montevideo Carrasco International Airport, Uruguay (MVD)
  3. Bogota El Dorado International Airport, Colombia (BOG)
  4. Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport, Brazil (GIG)
  5. Medellin José María Córdova International Airport, Colombia (MDE)
  6. Quito Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Ecuador (UIO)
  7. Buenos Aires Aeroparque Airport, Argentina (AEP)
  8. Lima Jorge Chávez International Airport, Peru (LIM)
  9. Buenos Aires Ezeiza Airport, Argentina (EZE)
  10. Panama City Tocumen International Airport, Panama (PTY)

Top 5 Worst Airports in South America

Sorry, we did not receive enough survey responses in the category for a full list. You can help us with next year's survey, by rating the airports you visit throughout the year.
Click here to start the 2018 Best & Worst Airports survey.

2017 Best Airports

2017 Worst Airports

Survey Information