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  • Writer's pictureArturo

Tips & tricks for flying into SJO like a pro in 2023

After years of flying in and out of Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) and supporting our guests flying in and out, we've learned some essential tips and tricks.

Flying to a new international airport can be exciting, intimidating, or both. Regardless of which camp you're in, we're here to help! Simple things can make your flights to/from SJO go smoothly.


SJO is located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica. It's common to fly into rainy and even stormy weather. Weather conditions periodically cause delays, but it's generally a smooth landing (even in inclement weather).


You will land, deboard, and then walk a few minutes to customs. There are usually two lines, one for residents and one for guests. However, it is common for the agents to route families through the shorter resident lines if it's busy. There are certain times of day when a few flights land around the same time, and while it might look like lines will be long, don't worry. The lines go fast. Most guides and websites that say the wait is long are outdated. However, if you want to help ensure you move though quickly, you should 1) use the restroom before you land so you don't have to stop after you get off the plane and 2) sit near the front of the plane so you will be one of the first off.

When it's your turn, the officer will call you forward and ask where you're going. Usually, they speak some English, but not always. All you need to do is give them the name and address of the place where you're staying that night. They don't want your whole itinerary. For example, if you're staying with us, you can say, "Villas Aracari, in San Isidro, Alajuela."

Next, you'll head through the duty-free shop and then around to get your bags. Bags always seem to take a while. After you collect your bags, you'll be routed to get your bags scanned. 99% of the time, this is a straightforward process. You put your bags on the belt, and they get checked. The main thing they are looking for is the importation of commercial goods. You will be fine if you're not bringing excessive goods or something illegal in.

Getting your ride

As you emerge, you will quickly be welcomed by a host of taxi and tour salesmen. It's best to have a ride lined up ahead of time, as you're unlikely to get a fair price otherwise. If you stay with us, we're happy to assist with transport to and from SJO!

If you're arriving with a small wave of other flights, things can get a bit hectic at the arrivals area of SJO. We will sometimes do with guests to have them meet us at the departures area instead. If you've been to SJO in the past, this can work well, but it is not advised if you don't know where departures are :)

Helpful Links

You can find flight status info here

If you found this information helpful, please consider joining our mailing list, where we will send infrequent tips and tricks about travel in Costa Rica as well as special discounts and coupons :)

In our next post we'll talk about some crucial tips and tricks for flying out of SJO!

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