All you need to know about getting to and from Lima Airport, and the services within.
Updated September 2017.
Although there are now twice-weekly flights from Panama City to Chiclayo, as well as daily flights between Cusco and La Paz, the chances are that you will be arriving at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport, at the start of any northern Peru holiday.
Most tours to Peru involve at least two visits to the airport, at some point; and as Lima expands in size and importance, so the airport is increasingly becoming a hub for South American air travel. Therefore, it is good to know what to expect, as chances are you will be spending a couple of hours here at least.
Luckily, the airport is relatively small and modern. Domestic and International flights arrive and depart from the same terminal, so there is no need for long walks or shuttles.
Your first impression of Peru is likely to be in a queue to get your passport stamped! For this, you obviously need a valid passport, as well as an Immigration Form, that should be given to you to fill in during your flight.
Presuming all is in order, your passport will be stamped along with the number of days you are allowed to stay in the country. This is usually 90 days, but you can ask for up to 180 days.
From here, you proceed to the carousels to pick up your luggage.
When arriving on an international flight, all luggage is scanned in large X-ray machines, as you depart the Baggage Retrieval area. This is generally just a formality for tourists, as they are generally checking that people aren’t bringing in contraband.
It is here that you need to hand over the Customs Form that you should have been given to fill out on the flight.
Please note that it is illegal to bring Chilean Pisco into Peru ... as I discovered the hard way, when I had to watch a customs official pour my two bottles down the toilet after an overnight flight! To bring medicines, you need a doctor’s prescription.
Even when connecting to a Peruvian domestic flight, you will normally be asked to go through immigration at Lima Airport, collect your luggage, and then check-in again. This is because regional airports do not have the facilities to issue visas to foreign visitors.
If the connection time between flights is tight, we recommend asking for a 'Priority' sticker on your luggage, when checking in for your international flight. Also, take a spare set of clothes in your carry-on luggage, and wear practical footwear, such as trainers, on the flight, just in case your main case does not make it to Lima in time, and you need to live without it for a couple of days.
All domestic flights operate using e-tickets. You can print out your boarding pass prior to flying, or at the automatic check-in machines in the airport ... or simply breeze to the check-in counter with your passport, and the person behind the desk will print your boarding passes accordingly.
There is no official meeting point, but the Coffee Shop to your left when you enter the Arrivals Hall has plenty of seating, and is a good place to arrange to meet, if your group has different arrival times, for example.
The airport is located in the district of Callao, which is not particularly salubrious, so most people prefer to overnight in Miraflores, Barranco or San Isidro. Getting there takes about one hour, but this can increase markedly during rush hours.
If you have booked an airport transfer, a driver will be waiting for you upon your exit will lead you to your private transportation. Keep an eye out for a sign with your group name on it, on entering the Arrivals Hall (where everyone is waiting to meet their loved ones etc).
If arranging your own transport from the airport to your hotel, there are a number of methods:
- If you want the convenience of a taxi, and/or you are going to an area other than Miraflores, there are a number of taxi firms with a booth just as you enter the Arrivals Hall. We have regularly used Taxi Green and Taxi Directo, with no problems ... although their customer service is not always high quality! You pay for the taxi at a fixed rate at the booth, and then a driver takes you to their car. A taxi to Miraflores will cost around $US 20 - 25.
- If you are travelling alone or in a pair, and staying in Miraflores, then it makes economic sense to take a scheduled shuttle bus. Airport Express Lima has large buses, with onboard Wi-Fi, that go at least hourly to a number of drop-off points in Miraflores. They have a booth in both the domestic and international at the arrivals areas, along with the taxi firms above. A one-way journey costs approximately $US 8.
- A similar shuttle service is offered by Quick Llama. They use minivans, which also have Wi-Fi, and can either drop you off at the central roundabout in Miraflores or - for a small additional cost - at a specific address. They are the cheapest option, with a one-way ticket costing about $US 5, but one drawback is that they don't have a booth in the airport, so arrangements need to be made online or by phone beforehand.
If you are arriving late and catching a flight the next morning, it may be a good idea to book a night at the comfortable Costa del Sol Wyndham Airport Hotel, which is located a mere 50 m (164 ft) from the Arrivals Hall and Check-in Desks.
If you just have a few hours to kill between flights, the hotel offers Meal & Spa Packages, which give you the chance to relax and freshen up in comfortable surroundings. Ask us for details.
There is a small medical centre near the domestic arrivals area. I had cause to use this on one occasion, when I urgently needed a Yellow Fever vaccination, in order to be allowed to travel to Costa Rica!
A 24-hour left luggage service can be found near the domestic departure exit. The airport staff will point you in the right direction.
There are a couple of bureaux de change desks in the International Baggage Retrieval Hall, and also one once you go through Customs. They are open 24 hours, but their exchange rates are not very competitive.
Alternatively, there are a number of ATMs in the airport, from which you can withdraw both USD and PEN, using credit/debit cards.
There is a large food hall, with all your international favourites (McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut etc), along with a few more local chain restaurants (Pardo's Chicken) located upstairs on the 1st floor, not far from the Departure Gate entrance.
More eateries can be found near the Departure Gates, once you have passed through Security, but these are more expensive than those found outside.
At time of writing, there is free WiFi at the airport, but only for half an hour. After that, there is a post office ... so you may have to send snail mail, instead of email!
If you'd like to read about the pioneering aviator Lima Airport is named after, look here.