Date: October 15, 2014
Latin America and the Caribbean is home to some of the planet’s most beautiful countries. While generally, the natural beauty stands in contrast to some less-than-ideal airports, the ten airports voted onto this year’s list definitely stand out within the region. Each offers elements of comfort, convenience, cleanliness and customer service to those passing through – whether that comes from comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi, luggage storage, or great lounges. Sure, these winners have some work to do before they can stand on the global ‘Top 10’ list but we appreciate them all the same!
Here are the Top 10 Best Airports in the Caribbean, Central & South America based on overall airport experience as determined by voters in our 2014 Airport Survey:
1. Lima Jorge Chávez International Airport, Peru (LIM)
It needs free Wi-Fi and maybe some comfortable seats to sleep. – a traveller
Positive comments about Lima Airport often begin with a thank you to the ever-helpful staff, who run an easy to navigate, efficient and generally clean airport. This airport is popular amongst airport sleepers, given that LIM has a number of early morning departures. Voters were generally pleased by the safety precautions in the terminal and the 24-hour food options. The downside to this airport is that travellers cannot pass through security until a few hours before their flight. Prior to security, you will likely be reduced to floor sleeping since chairs are sparse. However, once you do finally make it through, there are some armrest-free options at the gates. While you are not likely to be wowed by the airport’s architecture or interior design, you will find that the airport more than serves its purpose. There also happens to be an adjoining hotel, should you crave a bit more comfort. Transit travellers will not be overwhelmed by things to do during a lengthy layover, but the experience is manageable.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Wi-Fi ($) • Hotel connected to the Airport ($) • 24-Hour Food Options ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($). Visit our Lima Airport Guide for more information.
2. Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini International Airport (Ezeiza), Argentina (EZE)
I like it because you feel at home there, and the people is very friendly. – a traveller
Buenos Aires Ezeiza Airport came in at number two with voters citing reasons such as its relative efficiency, cleanliness and free Wi-Fi. In spite of the airport’s cold temperatures, there are a few comfortable spots throughout where you can spread out for a nap. The best news for EZE is that the airport has been undergoing a series of renovations and refurbishments, sure to make this place just a bit more pleasant and comfortable in the coming years. In Terminal B near the gates, keep an eye out for the newly installed chairs that are equipped with a handy footrest as well!
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • 24 Hour Food Options. Visit our Buenos Aires Ezeiza Airport Guide for more information.
3. Guayaquil José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Ecuador (GYE)
The chairs were brand new [without] arm rest at all. On top of that all of us took showers – towels were provided at the VIP Lounge with some complementary food – National_Geographic
The newly renovated airport in Guayaquil, Ecuador obtains its spot on this list due to its cleanliness and comfort following a recent series of renovations. It receives a few bonus marks as well given that it is located extremely close to the city center, which makes layover sightseeing completely achievable. In the terminal, voters appreciated the armrest-free chairs, a number of couches and the baggage storage options. Free Wi-Fi is located near the gates. That said, if you’re really looking for comfort (and a shower) you’d be wise to pay the inexpensive access fee for the VIP lounges!
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • 24 Hour Food Options ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($). Visit our Guayaquil Airport Guide for more information.
4. Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport, Chile (SCL)
There were not that many people in the airport and we were each able to find seats to lay down on completely. – epw9412
Voters appreciated that the airport in Santiago is modern, clean and efficient. The free Wi-Fi (new!), the short walking distances between gates, and the sleep friendly armrest-less chairs further pleases travellers who experience a layover here. Food options are somewhat limited before security, but they improve greatly once you pass to the other side. That all said, if you are stuck waiting before security, we offer one key piece of advice that will make your stay here more pleasant. Bring a blanket or a sweater. While the airport may have comfortable sleep spots near the gates, the terminal before security is surprisingly cold.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • Hotel across from the terminal ($) • 24 Hour Food Options ($). Visit our Santiago de Chile Airport Guide for more information.
5. Montevideo Carrasco International Airport, Uruguay (MVD)
The best area is on the third (Terrace) floor, where there are plenty of long benches without seat dividers. – MuchosViejes
Uruguay’s primary international airport was built in 2010, meaning that it is modern, spacious, and lit with plenty of natural light. Travellers often remark on how pleasant it is to walk through these terminals, given the great views, the limited traffic and the simple layout. Comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi, a clean setting, and plenty of plugs give this airport even more points! The only major negative here is that food prices are high, and options remain limited. However, given that there is such limited traffic through Carrasco, we can understand why.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • 24 Hour Food Options ($) • Luggage Storage ($). Visit our Montevideo Airport Guide for more information.
6. Panama City Tocumen International Airport, Panama (PTY)
Renovated in 2006, PTY is currently the largest and busiest airport in Central America. While it isn’t especially attractive, it does offer up Wi-Fi and a number of good private lounges. It is also small and easy to navigate, making the numerous international connections easier.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($). Visit our Panama City Airport Guide for more information.
7. Nassau Lynden Pindling International Airport, Bahamas (NAS)
This airport acts as the gateway to the smaller islands that make up the Bahamas. It makes it into the top 10 list because of its free Wi-Fi, delightfully small size, its overall efficiency and the associated short queues.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi. Visit our Nassau Airport Guide for more information.
8. Montego Bay Sangster International Airport, Jamaica (MBJ)
Relative to other Caribbean airports, Jamaica’s Montego Bay is said to be modern (for the area) and fantastically efficient. Free Wi-Fi, plenty of shopping and restaurant options and overall efficiency tend to be this airport’s best qualities.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Pay-per-use Lounges ($). Visit our Montego Bay Airport Guide for more information.
9. Santo Domingo Las Américas International Airport, Dominican Republic (SDQ)
SDQ makes it into the Top 10 list because of how easy it is to navigate, its great offering of restaurants and the free Wi-Fi throughout. Travellers also appreciate that this well-designed airport is kept relatively clean, and that it is located very close to a few local attractions.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: 24 Hour Food Options ($). Visit our Santo Domingo Airport Guide for more information.
10. San Salvador Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport, El Salvador (SAL)
This small Central American airport makes it onto the top 10 list because, in spite of its size, it is efficient, well-equipped, and offers up free Wi-Fi to passengers. Restaurant and shopping options are decent as well – with one shop in particular that benefits disadvantaged local women.
Airport Services/Facilities To Enjoy Your Layover: Airline Lounges with Showers. Visit our San Salvador Airport Guide for more information.
Having read about the best airports in the region, it now is likely fitting to continue on to the Worst Airports in the Caribbean, Central & South America!