Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport is the fifth largest airport in Colombia in terms of passengers. And it’s the Barranquilla airport for all international and domestic flights to the city, with airport code BAQ.
We previously provided airport guides for several of the airports in Colombia. And several Medellin Guru readers asked us to also provide a guide to the Barranquilla airport – Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport, as they are planning to go to Carnival in Barranquilla in early 2019.
Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport is actually located in the municipality of Soledad, near Barranquilla. And it’s the busiest cargo airport in the northern part of Colombia.
Note the above photo is a view of the Ernesto Cortissoz International airport from the air, photo by jorgegomez117.
History of Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ)
In the early history of aviation in Colombia, construction of airports was initially done by the airlines. The first airport for Barranquilla was the Soledad Airport built near Barranquilla in Soledad by the SCADTA airline before World War II.
SCADTA reportedly was the world’s second airline, operating from 1919 until World War II. In 1941, SCADTA merged with Colombian regional carrier Servicio Aéreo Colombiano or SACO. Together SCADTA and SACO formed Avianca.
Avianca claims SCADTA’s history as its own, thus making it the world’s second-oldest airline.
Soledad Airport became the main center of operations and maintenance of SCADTA for their domestic operations in Colombia. And international services were operated by Pan American Airways. Soledad Airport soon established itself as the premier international airport in Colombia and it was the first airport hub in the country.
With the opening of Bogotá’s El Dorado Airport in 1959, Soledad Airport near Barranquilla was relegated to a secondary importance in Colombia.
However, about 10 years later to handle modern jet airliners and an increase in passenger traffic to Barranquilla, there was a need to build a new international airport for the city of Barranquilla.
So, a new airport project was initiated. And the current Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport was built north of the old Soledad Airport. And Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport opened in April 1981 with a new terminal, control tower, apron, taxiways and runway.
Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport is named after Ernesto Cortissoz, who was one of the most important Colombian aviation pioneers. Ernesto Cortissoz, who was born in Barranquilla, along with four Colombians and three Germans founded the SCADTA airline in December 1919.
More About Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ)
The passenger terminal at Ernesto Corissoz International Airport is relatively easy to navigate. And Wi-Fi is available in the terminal but may not always work in my experience.
The airport has several fast food places and cafés. In addition, it has a small shopping area with a few shops. Also, there is a duty-free shop in the International section of the terminal past security. And Avianca has a VIP lounge on the second level near gate 5.
Inside the airport terminal are two currency exchanges and at least four ATM machines.
Also, there are four car rental companies at the airport: Avis, Hertz, Localiza Renta A Car and National.
Flight Options from Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ)
Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport in Barranquilla currently has flights from eight different airlines with direct flights to and from 13 different destinations.
- Aerolinea de Antioquia (ADA) – Cucuta and Monteria
- American Airlines – Miami
- Avianca – Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Miami
- Copa Airlines – Panama City
- Easyfly– Bucaramanga, Monteria, Valledupar
- LATAM – Bogotá, Medellín
- SATENA – Bucaramanga, La Mina, El Cerrejón
- Wingo – San Andrés
Entering Colombia as a Tourist
We previously provided information about Colombia tourist visas and how to extend a tourist visa. And everyone seems to call this a “tourist visa” but it isn’t really a formal visa. It is just a stamp in your passport by immigration in Colombia.
There are over 90 countries, whose citizens can enter Colombia without a visa and receive a “tourist visa” stamp. The countries include Australia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom, United States plus over 80 more countries.
If you are a tourist from Canada, you used to have to pay a reciprocity fee of 201,000 pesos – but were exempt from the fee if older than 79 or younger than 14. However this reciprocity fee was eliminated on May 1, 2019.
When you enter Colombia as a tourist, an immigration official will stamp your passport and normally write that it is good for 90 days. However, this is at the discretion of the official and occasionally may be shorter. And this tourist stamp can be extended pretty easily to a total 180 days.
Exchanging Money at Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ)
The Guantes de Oro and Globo Cambio currency exchanges at the Barranquilla airport can be one of the easiest ways for exchanging money. But the fees can be high as well as the actual exchange rate they offer won’t be great. So, this isn’t the best option for exchanging money.
Also, at the Barranquilla airport there are at least four ATM machines from Bancolombia, Banco de Bogotá, BBVA and Davivienda.
The exchange rate ATM machines provide will usually be very close to the actual exchange rate that can be seen on XE. And the rate will be better than the rate found at the currency exchanges at the airport.
There are also other ways for exchanging money, receiving and transferring money in Barranquilla and other cities in Colombia like Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena, which we previously covered.
These include exchange centers in the city (Casas de Cambio), the Zeepod mobile app, money transfer services and money transfers at banks.
Food Options at the Barranquilla Airport
If you are planning to eat at the Barranquilla airport there are about 16 food and café options in the airport.
These include Café OMA, Dulcerna, Dunkin’ Donuts, Hot Doggy, Juan Valdez Café, Mr. Bono, Pan Pa’ Ya!, Presto, Saab’s Sanduche and Subway.
Barranquilla Airport Tips
Based on my experience flying over five times to/from Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport in Barranquilla, I have four airport tips for foreigners.
- Plan to arrive early for your departing flight. I like to play it safe, so I would plan to be at the Barranquilla airport three hours before international flights and one hour before domestic flights. Likely you don’t need this much time at the airport to check-in and go through security plus immigration for international flights. But you never know when you might run into problems.
- There will almost always be taxis at the airport. I have never encountered a problem in finding a taxi at the airport even late at night. And I never have experienced a problem with a taxi.
- Don’t use the money exchanges at the airport. The ATM machines at the airport will offer a better exchange rate. Especially relevant, make sure to inform your bank you will be in Colombia to ensure your ATM card will work.
- Foreign tourists can get a refund of Colombia’s value-added tax (VAT) known as the IVA tax that is 19% at the DIAN office at the airport. In the Barranquilla airport, just ask where the DIAN office is. We provide details about how to get the IVA tax refund here.
How to Get to Barranquilla From the Airport – Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ)
Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport is located in in the municipality of Soledad, which is only 7 miles (12 km) from the center of Barranquilla.
In Barranquilla, the easiest way to get to/from the airport is by using taxis, which are normally easy to find at the airport. But the taxis in Barranquilla don’t have meters.
To make sure you are not surprised at the fare at the destination when in Barranquilla, always make sure to ask the fare to the destination before getting in a taxi. Also, there is rarely a line waiting for taxis at the airport.
The minimum taxi fare in Barranquilla is 6,000 pesos. And the taxi fare from the airport to Barranquilla is typically at least 18,000 pesos, but of course it depends on the destination in the city. Also, there is a 1,100-peso addition to the fare for taxis in Barranquilla on the weekends, holidays and at night.
In addition, as an alternative to taxis, Uber is available in Barranquilla. Also, there is bus service available from the terminal with routes in the city.
Finally, there are some private driver airport transfer services available, including:
Airport Website: http://aeropuertobaq.com/
Address: Calle 30, Km 7, Soledad, Colombia
Telephone: +57 (6) 316 0900
Hours: open 24 hours.
Airports in Colombia
We have provided guides to the 10 largest airports in Colombia. The following list of these 10 largest airports in Colombia is in order by passenger traffic:
- El Dorado Airport (BOG) – Bogotá’s International Airport and the largest airport in Colombia.
- José María Córdova (MDE) – Medellín’s International Airport in Rionegro.
- Rafael Núñez Airport (CTG) – Cartagena’s International Airport.
- Alfonso Bonilla Aragón Airport (CLO) – Cali’s International Airport in Palmira.
- Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ) – Barranquilla’s International Airport.
- Gustavo Rojas Pinilla International Airport (ADZ) – San Andrés’ International Airport.
- Simón Bolívar International Airport (SMR) – Santa Marta’s International Airport.
- Matecaña International Airport (PEI) – Pereira’s International Airport.
- Palonegro Internationa Airport (BGA) – Bucaramanga’s International Airport.
- Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH) – Medellín’s domestic airport in the city.
We also looked at how to find cheap international flights to Medellín and Colombia.
Also, we looked at how to find cheap domestic flights in Colombia. And I have flown multiple times from Medellín to Barranquilla for less than $100 roundtrip.
The Bottom Line: Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport in Barranquilla (BAQ)
Barranquilla isn’t really a very popular foreign tourist destination in Colombia except during its Carnival in Barranquilla each year.
Most foreign tourists who travel to Barranquilla for carnival travel by air. So, several Medellin Guru readers asked for a guide to the Barranquilla airport, which we now have with this article.
We also have a guide to Carnaval de Barranquilla 2019, the second largest carnival in the world, which has been updated with details about the 2019 Carnival in Barranquilla. The Barranquilla Carnival in 2019 will be held on March 2 to March 5, 2019.
In addition, Stephanie provided 13 tips for Carnival in Barranquilla after her carnival experience in 2018. Much of Barranquilla shuts down during the four days of carnival. Go to enjoy the huge party in Barranquilla but read our insider tips before you go.
Also, we previously compared Medellín vs Barranquilla to see which is the better place to live.
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Editors note: updated on May 4, 2019 to add that the reciprocity fee for Canadians entering Colombia has been eliminated on May 1, 2019.