A Beautiful Mess: El Dorado International Airport
The new international terminal at Bogota’s airport opened October 18th and it is gorgeous. Walls of windows and sky-high ceilings give the new terminal a feeling of light and airy spaciousness. The new space is great for International travelers and on a recent trip to another part of South America, I breezed through check-in and security in just minutes with no hassles.
But for in-country travelers – a word of caution: while Avianca offers some of the best deals around* – finding their terminal for domestic flights can be a real headache. While the majority of domestic carriers including LAN, COPA and Sabena are housed in the domestic portion of the airport – Avianca is housed in a completely different area. Even with my basic Spanish skills, it took some maneuvering. I had arrived at the airport in what should have been plenty of time; but between trekking from the international terminal (where my taxi driver insisted on dropping me off despite my protests) walking around ongoing construction and upgrades down to the domestic terminal (passing three separate, but not the correct, Avianca desks) requiring several stops for directions and finally a ride on a bus to get to the Avianca domestic terminal; I missed my first flight, for which they wanted to charge me a 100,000 peso fine.
While I was able to negotiate my way out of the fine, and ended up flying standby on the next flight – I would advise fellow travelers to other destinations in Colombia to leave early. Give yourself plenty of time to get around – and catch the airport shuttle if needed. (Of course, now that you know where the Avianca terminal has been relocated – just ask your transportation to take you there.) From the outside it looks like a maintenance hanger, with corrugated aluminum walls, (the only different is that now the building is teeming with activity).
But despite the hassles – in six months – El Dorado International Airport will be beautiful and finished. All of these hassles and confusion will be sorted out – and travel will be smooth and effortless; like it was for my recent trip to Chile.
In the meantime, if you get the opportunity to see other parts of Colombia like Medellin, Cali, Cartagena, Santa Marta or the Coffeelands – do it.. Just be prepared for a little chaos on the way out.. Try Viva Colombia for low-cost domestic flights..usually around 40 to 60 dollars a trip (Medellin to Bogotá, one-way)
*For my current domestic excursion consisting of a three leg journey – from Bogotá to Cali – then Cali to Medellin and then back to Bogotá again – the total price was only 156.00 dollars (taxes included).