International Flights to/from Ecuador
There are two international airports in Ecuador: Quito, UIO and Guayaquil, GYE. Most travelers fly into Quito, which has a new international airport opening in February 2013. The new Mitad del Mundo Airport, is nearly a one hour drive east of Quito near the small town of Tababela. About 35 buses per day will be running from Ave. Los Granados in the North of Quito via Avenida Simón Bolívar to the terminal. The buses will leave every 20 to 30 minutes, and cost $8 to 12 per person. There is a new road and bridges being built, so possibly by 2014, the transportation time may shorten considerably.
Flights from the US are always routed through Miami, Houston, Atlanta or New York. There are no direct flights from Canada.
Flights to Ecuador leave from London, Madrid, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt and almost all include at least one layover.
There are regular flights from Bogota, Caracas, Lima, and Santiago de Chile to both Quito and Guayaquil. From Central America there is a daily flight from San Jose, Costa Rica and from Panama. There are few deals to be had when flying between Latin American countries. Trans-border fares between Latin American cities can easily cost as much as flying from North America, despite the shorter distances. Many travelers prefer to fly to the border and cross the border by bus in order to save money.
Ticket prices vary starting at USD 600 from New York or Miami during low season. The price of your ticket will usually depends on four factors:
Season: The peak tourist seasons are from June 15 to September 1 and December 15 to Jan 2. Expect to pay a lot more for your ticket if you intend to fly during these periods.
Both international and domestic flights to Quito will land at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport, located in the city and just a few minutes from most of Quito’s hotels. Most important to remember is that Quito is situated at almost 3,000 meters (9,900 feet) and that the airport offers no covered walkways between the terminal and the planes. Bring a jacket and/or raincoat, particularly if you are arriving at night.
Upon entering the airport, you will immediately get into the immigration line. Flights tend to all land at once making for huge lines in immigration. If you are going to be in Ecuador for 90 days, make sure to say so or the customs official may give you less.
If you don’t see your luggage on the carousel, be sure to check the floor, as bags are mysteriously thrown there on occasion. Next to the carousel there are trolley carts; these can be rented for USD 1.00. To assure its safe return, an attendant will accompany you and the cart outside the terminal. A small tip is expected. Non-passengers are not allowed into the terminal so if someone is meeting you they will have to wait outside. Ecuador is one of the few countries who x-ray your baggage while leaving the airport. This is Ecuador’s way of doing customs, as many locals bring in cheap un taxed goods, Ecuador checks all bags.
The airport features adequate services, but limited in comparison with what you would find in a US or European airport, especially since most flights arrive at night when most services are closed. Pay phones are located in the departure section of the terminal, which may or may not be open depending on the time of day. To use a pay phone you will need a phone card or tokens and there is usually someone selling them nearby. However, if you arrive at night, you may have problems changing money or using the phone. Ecuador uses the US dollar, so best to change some money in your home country if needed.
Try to arrange to be picked up before arriving in Quito. Another option is to take a taxi; drivers are happy to accept US dollars at any time (don’t pay more than USD 5 for a taxi to most anywhere in Quito).
Taking an international flight out of Quito, as with any other major city, means giving yourself plenty of time. It is generally recommended that you arrive at the airport 3 hours in advance. As of 2012 there is no longer a airport departure tax on international flights, or more precisely all taxes are included in the price of tickets.
On your way out, you will again pass through immigration and will receive an exit stamp. Depending on the day and your destination, it may be necessary to pass through several bag-checks, carry-on baggage could be hand-searched. Remember if flying to or through the US, all of the limits on liquids and other items apply just as if you were flying within the US.
Updated 2 Feb 2012 by Jason Halberstadt