There are direct daily flights between Buenos Aires and several North American cities, with New York and Miami being the primary departure points. Many airlines also serve Buenos Aires via Santiago de Chile or São Paulo in Brazil, which adds only a little to your trip time.
Aerolíneas Argentinas, the flagship airline, operates direct flights between Buenos Aires and JFK once a day and Miami twice a day. Since being renationalized in 2008, its reputation for chronic delays has improved considerably.
Chilean airline LAN is Aerolíneas's biggest local competition. It flies direct from Buenos Aires to Miami, and via Santiago de Chile, São Paulo, or Lima to JFK, Dallas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. LAN also allows you to bypass Buenos Aires on routes into Mendoza and Córdoba from JFK and Miami, via Santiago de Chile.
U.S carriers serve Buenos Aires, too. There are direct flights from Atlanta on Delta and from Houston on United; American Airlines fly nonstop from JFK, Miami, and Dallas. Flying times to Buenos Aires are: 11–12 hours from New York, 10½ hours from Atlanta, Dallas or Houston, and 9 hours from Miami.
Aerolíneas Argentinas and its subsidiary Austral link Buenos Aires to more Argentine cities than any other airline, with flights running to Puerto Iguazú, Salta, Mendoza, Córdoba, Bariloche, Ushuaia, and El Calafate at least once a day. LAN also flies to these cities. Andes Líneas Aéreas operates between Buenos Aires, Salta, and Puerto Madryn, and sometimes provides direct service between Puerto Iguazú and Salta and Córdoba.
Aerolíneas Argentinas has two coupon-based air passes, which must be purchased before you arrive: the South American Pass and the Visit Argentina Pass. Although you don’t need to fly in and out of the continent with Aerolíneas to take advantage of these, prices are cheaper if you do. Each allows you to travel to between three and 12 destinations, using one coupon per flight; coupons from the two passes may also be combined.
The South American Pass includes all countries the carrier serves within the region: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. All routes operate from Buenos Aires except for Rio de Janeiro to Puerto Iguazú and Santiago de Chile to Mendoza. Coupons cost between $90 and $250. The Visit Argentina Pass is valid for domestic flights. Coupons cost $180 each except for ones covering Patagonia, which cost $220 (prices are reduced to $150 and $200, respectively, if you fly to Argentina on Aerolíneas). The downside with these passes is that each connection you make through Buenos Aires counts as a flight and, therefore, requires a coupon. For example, if you want to see Buenos Aires, El Calafate, and Iguazú using the Visit Argentina Pass, you would need to buy four coupons.
If you plan to take at least three flights within Argentina or South America in general, you might save money with the Visit South America pass offered by the OneWorld Alliance, of which LAN is a member. Flights are categorized by mileage; segments (both domestic and international) start at $160.
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration. www.tsa.gov.
South American Pass. 800/333–0276; www.aerolineas.com.ar/en-us/cheap_flights/south_american_pass.
Visit Argentina Pass. 800/333–0276; www.aerolineas.com.ar/en-us/cheap_flights/visit_argentina.
Visit South America Pass. 866/435–9526; www.lan.com/en_us/sitio_personas/southamericanairpass/index.html.
Buenos Aires' Aeropuerto Internacional de Ezeiza Ministro Pistarini (EZE)—known simply as Ezeiza—is 35 km (22 miles) southwest of the city center. It is the base for international flights operated by Aerolíneas Argentinas and its partner Austral; both airlines run a limited number of domestic flights to Puerto Iguazú, El Calafate, Bariloche, Trelew, Córdoba, Ushuaia, and Rosario from here as well. All of these depart from Ezeiza’s newest terminal, C; inbound international flights on Aerolíneas, however, arrive at Terminal A. Other major international carriers also use Terminal A, a pleasant glass-sided building. SkyTeam-member airlines (including Delta) are the notable exception: they operate entirely out of Terminal C. At this writing, Terminal B is under renovation.
A covered walkway connects all three terminals. Both A and C have a few small snack bars, a small range of shops (including a pharmacy), a public phone center with Internet services, and a visitor information booth. The ATM, 24-hour luggage storage, and car-rental agencies are in Terminal A. lBy far the best currency exchange rates are at the small Banco de la Nación in the Terminal A arrivals area; it's open around the clock.
Most domestic flights operate out of Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP). It's next to the Río de la Plata in northeast Palermo, about 8 km (5 miles) north of the city center.
Security at Argentine airports isn't as stringent as it is in the States—computers stay in cases, shoes stay on your feet, and there are no random searches. Air travel is expensive for Argentineans, so airports are more likely to be crowded with foreigners than locals.
Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. 11/5480–6111; www.aa2000.com.ar.
Aeropuerto Internacional de Ezeiza Ministro Pistarini. 11/5480–2500; www.aa2000.com.ar.
From Ezeiza, the quickest way of getting into town is by taxi. The cheapest and safest option is to use a fixed-rate service such as Taxi Ezeiza. These can be booked on arrival at the airport or in advance, either online or by phone; the trip costs 200 to 250 pesos and takes 45 to 60 minutes. Avoid the black-and-yellow city taxis available at booths or on the curb outside the terminals. Their metered price tends to be much higher, and overcharging (either by rigging the meter or by taking circuitous routes) is commonplace.
Manuel Tienda León operates private shuttle buses that are nearly as fast as taxis and considerably cheaper if you’re traveling alone. Buses to and from its terminal in the Retiro district leave roughly every half hour; tickets, which can be purchased at booths in the arrivals halls or in the walkway between terminals A and B, cost 100 pesos.
The only public transport that connects Buenos Aires and Ezeiza is Bus No. 8, recorrido (branch) A. It leaves from a shelter in the parking area opposite the Aeropuertos Argentinos 2000 building (turn left out of Terminal B). You need change for the 9-peso ticket and patience for the two to three hours it takes to reach San Telmo and Plaza de Mayo (it runs along Avenida Paseo Colón).
The highway connecting Ezeiza with the city is the Autopista Ricchieri, which is best reached by taking Autopista 25 de Mayo out of the city. lNote that most flights to the United States depart from Buenos Aires in the evening, so plan to offset afternoon traffic snarls by allowing at least an hour of travel time to Ezeiza.
Aeroparque Jorge Newbery is actually inside Buenos Aires, on the Costanera Norte in northeast Palermo. There are several routes to Aeroparque from downtown—the easiest is to take Avenida Libertador north to Avenida Sarmiento, and then take a right and follow it until Costanera Rafael Obligado. Traffic is usually heavy between 5 and 8 pm.
A taxi to Microcentro or San Telmo costs 60 to 80 pesos and takes 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the time of day. Manuel Tienda León operates shuttle buses to and from its terminal and downtown hotels; a ticket costs 40 pesos.
Several city buses run along Avenida Rafael Obligado, outside the airport: No. 160 goes to Plaza Italia, as does No. 37, which continues to Microcentro. Numbers 33 and 45 go to Retiro, Microcentro, and San Telmo; all cost 5 pesos (2.50 pesos if you pay with a SUBE rechargeable swipe card).
Transfers Between Airports
Taxi Ezeiza operates between Ezeiza and Aeroparque; the cab ride costs 230 to 250 pesos—including tolls and luggage—and takes an hour in normal traffic. Manuel Tienda León shuttles make the same trip for 110 pesos per person; there are usually one or two departures per hour in each direction.
Taxis and Shuttles
Manuel Tienda León. 11/4314–3636; 810/888–5366; www.tiendaleon.com.ar.
Taxi Ezeiza. 11-15/6128–8301; www.taxiezeiza2000.com.ar.