San Jose Santamaria International Airport SJO
(officially named 'Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaria' or 'AIJS') is Costa Rica's primary airport, managed by AERIS Holding. Costa Rica is a small Central American country bordering to the east & west on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and to the south & north on Panama and Nicaragua. With steadily-increasing passengers, SJO now ranks second among Central America's airport (Panamanian Tocumen ranks first).
The Airport is located in El Coco, northwest province of Alajuela, and is 16 km or a 20-minute drive from the capital city of San Jose, in central Costa Rica - The Bernardo Soto highway runs west to the Pacific coast and the General Canas highway runs east to San Jose city.
From the Airport you can reach most parts of Costa Rica within a 6-hour drive (see listing below)..
With a long runway and 4.3 million in 2016, Juan Santamaria Airport is served by a good number of domestic and international airlines offering direct and connecting flights to all parts of the globe.
As most US and other international carriers land at Juan Santamaria International, the airport also offers domestic flights for travelers wishing to get to other parts of Costa Rica (see below*).
NOTE: It is advisable to arrive at the Airport 3 hours prior to scheduled international flight.
- Costa Rica charges a departure tax of US $28
on all international flights leaving the country (maybe included in your flight ticket - check with your airline!).
- Avoid using the airport's public telephone to make out-of-the-country calls. Rates are not posted, but are exhorbitant!
- Have your bags wrapped in plastic to avoid theft (baggage wrap station
s are near entrances A, B & C); when using a taxi, insist on having your bag inside (not in the trunk).
- 24-hour food & drink availability:
'LavAzza' cafe offers gourmet food & beverages (www.lbicr.com).
- Expansion work from 4 to 6 lanes of the Virilla Bridge connecting San Jose with Cariari, Belen, Alajuela & the Airport (and othe westward points) have now been completed.
Connecting flights and International Arrivals:
- Connecting passengers
should contact their airline personnel by using the airline phones in the terminal.
- International Arrivals:
(You can make a purchase at duty-free store prior to getting to immigration). Follow signs to the immigration area with your passport (and Visa, if applicable) in hand; retrieve your baggage where indicated; and go through customs & border control handing them your completed customs declaration.
Juan Santamaria International Airport complex has an new integrated passenger terminal
. Arriving and departing passengers are divided by glass walls.
Entrances A & B on the street level
lead to the Departures / check-in.
Between B C
is a Mini Market and a station for exit permits to minors.
Entrance C on street level
leads to passport control, security check & departure gates.
The lower level is the Arrivals level, served by gates 6, 7, & 12-14
, housing immigration checkpoints, an Information counter, transit passengers point, leading to baggage carousels 2 to 5, Customs, Information counter, Lost Baggage Claim; with bank branch, Global currency exchange and ATM, tourist information, rental car counters, Gray Line Costa Rica & Taxi service counters, convenience and other stores Gate 5, lower level offers a VIP lounge for passengers of airline members of the Star Alliance.
The upper level is the Departures level,
housing a check-in area with baggage wrap, ATM cash machines, a departure tax area at right and Information counter & escalators/elevator to the mezzanine level at left, with airline counters & their offices in the back.
- Boarding Area leading to gates 4 - 1 to the west, houses a food court, ATM machine, stop, first aid, mail drop, duty-free stores and VIP Lounges on 2 levels.
- Boarding Area
leading to gate 5* & 8 in the center - reached by the main entrance - offers duty-free, currency exchange & ATM, restaurant, stores & fast-food, and has a Transit passenger station near gate 5 entrance to the east.
- Boarding Area leading to gates 9 & 10
offers a bar, duty-free, shops & fast-food.
* VIP Lounge Santamaria
at Gate 5 is available for passengers of the Star Alliance airlines, TACA business class or Life Miles; Iberia (with coupon), & American Express cardholders). Tel: (506) 2442-9192 /8786; email- email@example.com It offers free snacks & beverages, high-speed WiFi, cable TV, internationnal newspapers and, a pay-in retaurant & sushi bar. The spa 'Mioderma' is near gates 5 - 11 and gates 15, 16 at western end.
Duty-Free shops are available at gates 4, 5, 9 & 15
Global Currency exchange is available in the Lobby, & at Gate 9
The Mezzanine level
houses Cafe Lavazza in the center, and VIP Cdomatic Avianca
include short- and long-term parking opposite the terminals.
Present and future Airport developments: In May 2017, Costa Rica Airport is to receive $100M over the next two years - intended to improve its infrastructure and improve security by year-end 2019.
- Of the current 11 boarding gates, construction of 2 more gates in the west wing of the main building starts in May 2017 - to be completed by May 2018;
- Staring October 2017, the lobby with currently 27 airline counters, will be expanded, while a fifth baggage carousel will be built.
- Starting in 2018, the taxiway on the south side, and the landing strip extention by 60 meters will begin.
- By 2020 consruction starts of the other two boarding gates - to be located at the current Coopesa site.
* Other areas in Costa Rica can be reached from the following Airports
(Domestic flights are priced at about $80 one way, but cost more in peak tourist season):
The smaller international Airport to the North - Daniel Oduber Airport near Liberia
- is closer to the beautiful beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula (Tamarindo is one hour away) and the National Parks of Santa Rosa and Guanacaste.
Other domestic Airports in Costa Rica include:
- Limon, Barra del Colorado and Tortuguero - all at Limon;
- Nosara, Punta Islita, Tamarindo, and Carillo Samara - all at Guanacaste;
- Carate, Coto 47, Drake Bay, Golfito, Palmar Sur, & Puerto Jimenez - all at South Puntarenas;
- La Fontuna at Alajuela;
- Pavas at San Jose;
- Quepos and Tambor - both at North Puntareans.