Find Cheap Flights to & Around Argentina: Tips + Tricks
Argentina is an amazing destination, but it is literally at the ‘end of the world,’ so getting a flight here can be the most expensive part of your trip (unless you are doing something outrageous, such as an arctic expedition).
Argentina is a loooong way away from Europe, Australia and North America, which means flights to get here tend to be expensive.
Luckily for tourists ( but not for locals, unfortunately) a weak peso means Argentina is once again a budget travel destination.
The cost of hotels, dining out, and transportation are reasonable compared to most northern countries, but both international flights to the country and domestic air travel have historically been one exception.
The port of arrival is Buenos Aires’ Ministro Pistarini International Airport. It’s commonly called ‘Ezeiza,’ and the airport code is ‘EZE’.
This airport services all the international commercial flights to Buenos Aires from overseas.
Ezeiza is located about 45 minutes by car to the south of the city and unfortunately is not serviced by train or a metro service.
Buenos Aires Airport Transport
→ Read about getting a shuttle or taxi from the airport here.
Argentina Travel & COVID update:
As of April 4 2022 Argentines borders are open to everyone, even the unvaccinated.
Argentina Entry Requirements: Travelers to Argentina no longer need to proof of vaccination against Covid 19 nor a negative COVID-19 PCR.
Visitors only need to fill out a Declaración Jurada (Sworn Statement) found here 48 hours before their trip. Note that those over 70 years old are not required to fill out the declaration online.
Travelers are still required to have travel insurance against Covid. Check out our Travel Insurance page to learn about inexpensive insurance options.
Argentina’s Current Covid situation: After a peak of the contagious Omicron variant earlier in the year, the number of new cases and related deaths have fallen sharply so the government decided to open borders completely — they can use tourism dollars and the dollar is strong.
Seventy-five percent of the country is fully vaccinated and 90% have had at least one dose and 81% two doses. Boosters are now being administered to more vulnerable populations.
Stadiums are operating at full capacity again for soccer games.
Anyone in Argentina who is still not vaccinated can head to any local vaccination center to get a jab or booster for free.
The Struggles of Budget Airlines in Argentina
Before Covid hit and the government changed hands in Argentina, domestic air travel was improving with the arrival of budget airlines and the development of a new domestic airport in Buenos Aires.
The former pro-business government was investing in aeronautical infrastructure and turned the an old military airbase, Palomar Airport (EPA), 18 km west of Buenos Aires into a new domestic hub for low-cost airlines.
Among the airlines who set up shop there in Argentina in 2018 were Fly Bondi, Norwegian Air, Avianca, and RyanAir.
Since the airline industry is chronically underdeveloped in Argentina, Palomar quickly became the country’s fourth largest airport, serving 1.5 million passengers per year.
Despite excitement about low-budget airlines coming to Argentina, FlyBondi, whose motto, ‘The Freedom to Fly’ alludes to making flying more accessible here, has had a tough time in the country. First there were protests by a small group of neighbors who live near the El Palomar airport, canceled flights due to strikes — and that was even before Covid hit.
After the government changed hands and Covid hit, the Palomar airport was shut down in December 2020, much to the chagrin of the airline companies who had set up there. The closing of El Palomar is unfortunate because the growth of low-cost airlines meant many Argentine citizens were able to fly the friendly skies for the first time.
Argentina is the only Latin American country that sets a state-mandated minimum fair for flights, meaning domestic air travel is traditionally expensive and non-competitive. Even though Argentina is a huge country, only 7% of the population take domestic flights — most people still rely on luxury long-distance buses for domestic travel.
When the budget airlines arrived, for the first time some domestic flights were more affordable than the traditional intra-country transport of long-distance buses.
Buenos Aires primary domestic airport, Jorge Newbery was also temporarily shut down during the pandemic but got a 500 million dollar upgrade in the meantime. The addition of a international terminal, a longer runway and better approach lighting expands its capacity to receive international flights from other Latin American countries.
For now, airlines such as Emirates, Air New Zealand, Norwegian and Qatar have stopped their flights to Argentina.
LATAM, the largest airline company in Latin America, filed for bankruptcy in May 2020 and in shut down LATAM Argentina in early 2021.
On the bright side, Brazil’s GOL Linhas Aéreas has resumed service to Buenos Aires and plans to resume service to Cordoba and Mendoza soon. The new low-cost airlines SKY is offering eleven weekly flights between Buenos Aires and Santiago.
Until more airlines get back in the game, there are only three airlines to choose from for domestic flights in Argentina: Aerolíneas Argentinas, SKY and Jetsmart.
Popular International Routes into Buenos Aires
Low-cost airlines started offering new international routes to Buenos Aires in 2019. They were eager to get into the market, as Argentina is a country that attracts a lot of tourism but has a chronically underdeveloped airline industry.
A lesser-known low-cost airline that flies to Buenos Aires is Level, Iberia’s low-cost carrier, which offers three uncomfortable — but cheap — flights a week direct from Barcelona.
In 2019 Norwegian Airlines started offering a budget option from from London’s Gatwick direct to Buenos Aires (14 hours) four times a week for under a $1,000 but unfortunately they stopped operations in November 2020.
Among the other new 80 international routes into Argentina that were granted in recent years are flights from Istanbul, Barcelona, Helsinki and even secondary European cities such as Kefalonia and Split. Norwegian was also trying to establish routes between Buenos Aires-Honolulu and Buenos Aires-Johannesburg, South Africa, as well as Buenos Aires-Singapore via Perth.
Hopefully these routes will resume sometimes in the future.
Traveling between Asia or Oceania and Argentina is an ordeal that usually requires a stopover in the USA, Europe or the Middle East. (Although Qantas does offer a few flights a week between Sydney and Santiago, Chile next door.)
Should you buy round trip ticket to Argentina?
Argentina has one of the highest tax rates in the world, so even those who are moving here should get a round trip or onward ticket to avoid the astronomical taxes purchasing the return ticket in Argentina.
If you think you might stay in Argentina longer than the maximum 180 days legally allotted on a tourist visa (with one renewal), make sure you reserve a round-trip ticket that can be changed — even if there is a fee to change the ticket, it will likely be less expensive than purchasing a new one-way ticket out of Argentina.
International round-trip tickets are almost always less expensive to purchase than two one-way tickets anyways. Immigration officials also require proof of onward travel for those arriving on a tourist visa. Those who plan to stay sometimes buy a refundable ticket out of the country and cancel it, or an just book an inexpensive ferry ride to Uruguay, which will allow them to get a new stamp intheir passport.
• How to get the cheapest airline ticket to Argentina?
Despite a couple of remaining lower-cost options, it still costs a pretty penny to get to Argentina!
One of the best ways to save on airfare is to book a flight from a major hub and purchase any domestic tickets separately. For instance, if you are coming from Seattle, book your ticket to Argentina from a hub such as Miami and then book the domestic flight separately.
This works for Canadians too. Air Canada has flights to Buenos Aires directly from Toronto (expected to resume in December 2021). But a traveler from Vancouver or Calgary may discover it makes more sense to fly to Houston or Miami for the international flight to Buenos Aires rather than flying to Toronto and departing from there. It does vary based on demand and sometimes Air Canada’s prices are competitive with US airlines, especially now that the Canadian dollar is weaker against the U.S. dollar.
Miami is the number one U.S. hub for flights to Buenos Aires and sometimes there are deals for round trip flights to Buenos Aires from Miami for less than $600 on Cheapo Air. There are also direct flights to Buenos Aires from New York, Washington DC, Atlanta and Houston.
The same idea applies for Europe — to get the cheapest flight, buy the cheapest ticket to Buenos Aires from one of the continental hubs such as Madrid or London, and then buy the intra-E.U. ticket separately on a low-cost airlines such as Ryan Air, or take the train. Since flights are limited now, travelers may have no choice, but airlines departing from other countries are starting to resume service. Italy’s Alitalia will resume service to Buenos Aires in April 2021.
Make sure to allow enough time to change flights during layovers.
There are online tools such as Skyscanner that allow you to see which days have cheaper fares — it’s true that dates matter, and often mid-week fares are lower.
November is known as a ‘dead zone’ in the airline industry — this is a month when flights generally cost less (except for on America’s Thanksgiving holiday). It also happens to be perhaps the nicest month during the height of spring in Argentina — so if you aren’t sure when to visit, November is a good bet cost-wise and weather-wise.
It’s not just the day of the week that you travel on that matters, but also the day you search for tickets. Most airlines tickets are sold online on Sundays, but Tuesday afternoon is the best time to shop for flights online — this is when discounted fares are released and start making the rounds in the search engines.
While some say that you should erase cookies every time you search for flights, the theory that flight prices go up every time a new search is conducted has been debunked.
The reason the cost goes up when you check the same search engine again is simple supply and demand — the tickets are being purchased, so demand is higher.
When searching for tickets to Argentina, you may notice that flights are much cheaper into Rio de Janeiro, Santiago or Montevideo. It cost more to fly into Ezeiza due to Argentina’s high taxes and strong unions.
If the savings are significant — or for someone with more time than money — it may be worthwhile to fly into one of those cities. If it’s worth the hassle, just purchase another flight to Buenos Aires separately, or even take the ferry from Montevideo.
Purchasing Tickets for Domestic Flights in Argentina
Aeroparque Internacional Jorge Newbery, commonly called Newbery (airport code: AEP) services most of the country’s domestic flights and is a short distance north of downtown Buenos Aires, convenient for those staying in Palermo.
The airline options for domestic flights at the moment are Aerolíneas Argentinas, SKY, Jetsmart and LATAM. As long as passengers purchase the tickets at least several weeks in advance, tickets are available to major destination in Argentina such as Mendoza, Cordoba and Puerto Iguazú.
Due to the limited number of flights they sell out fast, so the best advice is to book as far in advance as possible to get the best price.
Those who are flying into Buenos Aires from an international destination and then immediately going to another destination will most likely have to get a transfer from Ezeiza to the domestic airport, Newbery.
When booking internal flights keep in mind that domestic flights get canceled, or have delays more than anyone cares to admit, so tight itineraries should be avoided, especially on budget airlines.
Most domestic airlines allow up to a 15kg checked bag and a carry-on of 8kg.
How to get the best price purchasing flights within Argentina?
To get the best price for flights within Argentina it pays to book them well in advance, either through a local travel agent or online from abroad.
This particularly holds true around Argentina’s vacation periods of December through February, Easter week and the winter holiday month of July, when prices are higher.
Since there are still relatively few internal flights within Argentina, the prices rise as availability goes down and the date of departure nears. There is not a phenomena of ‘last-minute flight deals’ in Argentina, so plan ahead.
It is particularly expensive to fly to remote areas of southern Patagonia. While they don’t have many flights, if arranging your own travel it is worthwhile to check out the state-run Lade Airline, based in Comodoro Rividavia.
Norwegian was granted permission to operate flights to 72 Argentine destinations, creating 51 new routes within the country but now their grand plans have been put on hold indefinitely.
Whether low-cost airlines will be able to survive the shut down of Palomar airport and a hostile business environment remains to be seen.
Laws such as that requiring the airlines to hire only Argentine pilots, union demands and inflation were already a challenge to the successful establishment of an Argentine budget airline industry.
It should also be noted that the state-run Aerolíneas Argentinas has a two-tier pricing system for internal flights in Argentina.
Citizens and those who have a DNI (resident identity card) get much cheaper flights, and foreigners pay the big bucks. Some foreigners have found they can get around paying the non-resident price by purchasing flights online for the local price. See the post ‘Hacking Argentine Air Travel‘ on Gringo Buenos Aires to learn more how this works.
The main tricks are to purchase the ticket online, check-in online, and only take a carry on. It’s worth a shot for those who think rules were made to be broken, but be aware if you are busted trying to fly on the resident fare you will have to pay the difference on the spot before boarding.
How to Search for the Best Flight
A good tool to start your search is Google Flights, which is one of the fastest airfare search engines.
This gives you an idea of the availability, airlines that fly your route, and a starting price range. You can also use the map tool on the upper left-hand pull-down menu to see alternate routes to and from nearby cities.
Once you have an idea of the cost and availability of the flight you want, use an airfare search engine retailer such Skyscanner.
Skyscanner doesn’t sell tickets directly and they don’t work with every travel agent and airline. Once you spot a good deal on Skyscanner it is worthwhile to keep the tab open and check out a few other search engines to compare prices for the same itinerary before purchasing.
Here are a few alternate options:
• CheapoAir lives up to its name, with some of the best fares out there. Unlike some larger flight consolidators, they have actually have customer service if you need to call them. They also specialize in round-the-world deals for those who are doing extensive traveling.
• Jetrader is a good tool because, unlike many other search engines, their searches include budget airlines and their calendar indicates which days have lower cost flights.
• Expedia sometimes has good deals, so it’s worth checking out. If there are problems, their overseas customer service can be a pain to deal with though. Don’t miss your flight with Expedia unless you love talking (and waiting) on the phone — you’ve been forewarned.
Once you’ve checked out a few different sites, you usually have a good idea of what you will be paying and which websites offer the best deals. It’s best to go ahead and pull the trigger after searching for an hour or two — if you wait the price will usually increase, and this is especially true for domestic flights within Argentina, due to its limited airline industry.
Also, buying something online that costs hundreds of bucks is stressful. It’s easy to prolong the torture searching for a few days, but, once you’ve searched in a few places, it’s unlikely that a lot of anxiety-filled hours waiting on more search results will save you enough money to make up for the time invested.
It’s also worth considering, not just the price of your airline ticket, but the value of it.
Consider the extra costs of travel transfers from far-flung airports, airport food and extra airline fees.
Is it really worth saving $50 to endure a 18-hour layover in a dingy airport?
Are you bringing so much luggage that you will get stuck with high baggage fees on a budget airlines, thereby defeating the purpose of buying a cheap flight?
Will you earn miles and have more legroom if you take a flight that is slightly more expensive on a favored airline?
→ Wander Argentina can help arrange travel around Argentina with customizable itineraries to all the top destinations including Mendoza, Patagonia, Salta and Iguazu. Flights are arranged free of charge for those purchasing a travel package. Get in touch via our contact form to request sample itineraries.
→ Don’t forget to check out our curated list of Buenos Aires City and Day Tours
→ Do you Need Travel Insurance for a Trip to Argentina? (the answer is yes — it’s required)