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Avianca Airbus A318, Cheap Flights, photo by Andrés Ramírez
Fortunately, domestic airfare can be quite inexpensive in Colombia making cheap flights possible between the major cities in Colombia.

How to Find Cheap Flights in Colombia and Save Money

Domestic airfare can be quite inexpensive in Colombia making it relatively cheap to travel between the major cities in Colombia. We recommend booking at least two weeks in advance to find the cheap flights.

Buses can be even cheaper in Colombia. But buses take a long time, so it’s a trade-off. For example, it takes up to 10 hours to go from Medellín to Bogotá. But by plane, the flight from Medellín to Bogotá is only about 40 minutes.

Also, buses are frequently ice cold as they tend to have the air-conditioning turned on full blast. It’s also common to hear loud Latin music on buses, which can be tiresome on a 10-hour bus ride.

Domestic airfare in Colombia used to be quite a bit more expensive when I first started living in Medellín over seven years ago. But domestic airfare prices dropped when discount airline VivaColombia started service in 2012 in Colombia, which is now known as VivaAir. So, it’s now possible to find cheap flights between cities in Colombia due to more competition.

Cheap domestic airfare was included in our list of 14 surprisingly cheap things for expats in Medellín.

Note the above photo of an Avianca Airbus A318 at Medellín’s José María Córdova airport is by Andrés Ramírez.

Cheap Flights on Avianca

Avianca is the largest airline in Colombia with the most flights in the country. Avianca serves more than 100 direct destinations in 26 countries. And it has nearly 6,000 weekly flights with a fleet of over 180 aircraft.

If you use Avianca for domestic flights in Colombia, if you want cheap flights make sure to book on Avianca’s site as if you are in Colombia and pay in pesos. If you do this, you will get a price that can be 50 percent cheaper (or even cheaper) compared to booking in the United States in U.S. dollars.

To do this simply choose the country on Avianca’s website at the top of their website as Colombia. And you can still use English. For example, using this method on Avianca I flew from Medellín to Bogotá earlier this year for only $70 round-trip. And late last year I flew from Medellín to Cartagena for less than $100 round-trip. To use this method you will need to notify your credit card company that you are in Colombia, even if you aren’t.

I checked the fare in two weeks for flying round-trip to Bogotá from Medellín on Avianca.  The cheapest price in pesos was 276,580 pesos ($94) roundtrip. This was for the Super Promo fair. The fare for the same roundtrip if booking in the U.S. using dollars was $154.67 or 65 percent more expensive.

In comparison by bus on Expresso Bolivariano the fare from Medellin to Bogotá roundtrip on the same dates was 136,000 pesos. So, about 50 percent cheaper by bus than flying on Avianca. However, the bus trip is much longer.

If you fly Avianca, I recommend joining their LifeMiles frequent flyer program.  I have been a member of LifeMiles for nearly 10 years and have received many free flights. Avianca is a member of Star Alliance. So, with LifeMiles you can get free flights on 28 airlines including Air Canada, United, Lufthansa, Swiss and several others.

Also, we have a detailed guide to traveling with Avianca and earning LifeMiles.

VivaColombia plane, photo by Andrés Dallimonti

VivaColombia plane, photo by Andrés Dallimonti

Cheap Flights on VivaAir

VivaAir is a low-cost airline based in Colombia, which started operating in 2012 and was originally named VivaColombia. On VivaAir, in my experience, it is possible to fly from Medellín to Bogotá for less than $65 round-trip and from Medellín to Cartagena for less than $100 round-trip.

But be careful on VivaAir. They have high charges for luggage. So, travel light if you want a cheap flight. Also, VivaAir doesn’t have assigned seats unless you pay extra for them.

In addition, VivaAir makes you pay 33,000 pesos at the counter for a domestic boarding pass at the airport or $22 USD for an international boarding pass. So, make sure to do a web check-in, which is free 72 hours to 2 hours before a domestic flight in Colombia or 72 hours to 3 hours before an international flight. So, you should always check-in before heading to the airport with VivaAir.

I looked for flights in two weeks for a round-trip to Bogotá from Medellín on VivaAir the cheapest fare was 186,172 pesos. But VivaAir has a checked bag fee of 85,800 pesos per bag and also a carryon fee of 88,000 pesos for anything beyond one personal item with a maximum weight of 6 kilograms (about 13 pounds).

So, if assuming traveling with one checked bag plus one larger carryon the total fare on VivaAir would be 359,972 pesos. This is higher than the fare shown above on Avianca, which doesn’t charge for a checked bag or for an extra carryon beyond a personal item.

Sometimes it is possible to fine cheap flights if purchased in advance on VivaAir that are cheaper than bus fares if you don’t have baggage fees. VivaAir also sometimes advertises big sales.

However, I have only flown VivaAir a couple times. This is due to when I include baggage charges, I have found that Avianca is normally less expensive than VivaAir for domestic flights.

EasyFly plane, photo by Khon Kaen

EasyFly plane, photo by Khon Kaen

Cheap Flights on Other Airlines

Other domestic flight options in Colombia include Easyfly and Satena that fly out of Medellín’s Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH).  These two airlines fly smaller planes than Avianca or VivaAir. It is possible to find inexpensive flights on these smaller airlines.

Out of these five airlines I have only flown on Easyfly on a flight from Medellín (EOH) to Bucaramanga. Roundtrip was about 400,000 pesos about a year ago.

ADA Airlines used to also fly out of Olaya Herrera Airport but suspended all operations on March 29, 2019 due financial difficulties.

LATAM is another airline with domestic flights in Colombia. From Medellín’s José María Córdova airport (MDE), LATAM flies domestically to Bogotá, Cartagena, San Andrés and Santa Marta.

Inside the terminal at José María Córdova airport

Inside the terminal at José María Córdova airport

Flying Domestic from Medellín’s Two Airports

Medellín has two airports. Medellín’s José María Córdova international airport (MDE) located in Rionegro is the second largest airport in Colombia. It has non-stop, direct domestic flights to nine cities in Colombia on Avianca, VivaAir and LATAM to Barranquilla, Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cali, Cartagena, Cúcuta, Monteria, San Andrés and Santa Marta.

Olaya Herrera Airport, photo by Kamilokardona

Olaya Herrera Airport, photo by Kamilokardona

From Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH) in Medellín Easyfly and Satena airlines offer non-stop, direct domestic flights to 12 different cities in Colombia: Apartadó, Armenia, Bahia Solano, Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Corozal, Ibaqué, Manizales, Monteria, Nuqui, Pereira and Quibdó.

To get to some cities in Colombia like Pasto from Medellín, you’ll have to connect in another city like Bogotá. Bogotá has the largest airport in Colombia. So it has more domestic direct flight options.

In addition, we previously provided information about how to get to Medellín from the airports in Medellín.

The Bottom Line: Cheap Flights in Colombia

If you book in advance it’s possible to find cheap flights in Colombia for domestic destinations. We recommend booking your domestic flights in Colombia at least two weeks in advance to find cheap flights. Even further in advance you can frequently find even cheaper flights.

Over the past four years I have flown domestically over 25 times in Colombia to over 10 different cities and I never paid more than $150 roundtrip. And most of these trips cost less than $100. But every one of these flights I booked two or more weeks in advance. For cheap flights it is very important to book in advance to lock in cheaper fares.

We also have looked at how to find cheap international flights to Medellín and Colombia.

In addition, “How to find cheap flights in Colombia?” is a common question asked by expats. So, we included this question in our list of Medellín frequently asked questions (FAQ).

Sign up for the Free Medellin Guru Newsletter – You can see all of the previous Medellin Guru weekly email newsletters and sign up here.

Editors note: updated on February 17, 2018 with updated list of domestic flight destinations available from Olaya Herrera Airport in Medellín.

Editors note: updated on March 29, 2019 with information that ADA Airlines suspended operations from Olaya Herrera Airport and cancelled all flights due to financial problems.

Editors note: updated on April 19, 2019 with information that VivaAir charges 33,000 pesos for a boarding pass at the airport. So, you should do a free web check-in with VivaAir before heading to the airport.

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21 thoughts on “How to Find Cheap Flights in Colombia and Save Money”

    1. debbie ann October 31, 2019

      Very helpful, thank you

    2. Saurabh July 24, 2019

      hi sir i am in medellin, i am going to extend my visitor visa for another visitor visa so for that i need to know where can i go for showing up the reservation ticket which is fictitious just for the purpose of visa? any recommendations?

      • Several expats I have talked to have bought a refundable ticket. If you have a tourist visa they will want to see proof of onward travel. This can be a copy of a ticket for departure from Colombia. See our guide to renewing a tourist visa – https://medellinguru.com/tourist-visa/

        • Saurabh July 24, 2019

          I did it when i applied from ny country before coming to Colombia. But the thing is that i am already in medellin, i have a visitor visa and i want to extend my visitor visa for one more year so anyways i cant show the two way refundable ticket. It has to be only one way which can reflect leaving Colombia after 1 year of study. So where can i find that travel agency which is doing reservations where not necessarily have to buy tickets.

          • You can get a one-way refundable ticket. I recommend talking to a visa agency for other options – see our guide to the visitor visa and click on the blue button where you can chat directly with the visa agency we partnered with – https://medellinguru.com/visitor-visa/

    3. Ian Houghton April 25, 2019

      Update on viva charging for boarding pass, I just dealt with this two days ago…

      On their checkin viva I believe fix it so you can’t check in too close to checkin. On their website it says you can checkin 2 hours prior to departure but it’s actually incorrect. About 3-4 hours before checkin they stop you from checking in online. This has happened to me many times. I end up going to the airport and get ripped off with 33,000 for a piece of paper. I told them at checkin that I couldn’t do it online and that I think they fix it that way. I told them I tried to checkin three hours before the flight and that the website wouldn’t work and that I shouldn’t have to pay for it. They asked for proof of what I said and unfortunately I didn’t have it. I had to pay the 33,000

      However!

      Two days ago it happened to me again. I couldn’t checkin three hours before the flight. I took a photo of the screen and printed it off highlighting where it says checkin two hours before departure and then the time showing it was actually three hours before departure that I tried to check in. I presented them the info and I DID NOT have to pay for my boarding pass.

      Long story short. If you can’t checkin when you’re meant to online, make sure you have evidence and you’ll not pay for your boarding pass.

    4. Dan Dascalescu April 19, 2019

      Viva Air’s charging for everything imaginable is just disgusting. Today I was charged for a printed boarding pass, COP 34,000. That’s 11 USD for a stupid printout.

      Oh, I also had to wait in their slow as molasses line for about half an hour. I only had a small carryon.

      Unless you pay extra, Viva Air doesn’t email you an electronic boarding pass; only a receipt of your payment. What the flying f. Please mention this in the article, Jeff.

    5. Dan Dascalescu March 27, 2019

      I’ve found that Ada-aero.com has cheaper flights that many other local airlines, but I was not able to pay. Every credit card I tried got a “BIN de la tarjeta no es soportado por políticas de control de riesgo”. Do only Colombian credit cards work? Any idea what’s up with this airline – also in regards to their odd “clasas tarfares” where the same seat can cost 160,000 COP or over 300,000 COP?

    6. Bob Larson October 19, 2018

      For my trip to Colombia this year, within Colombia I got to experience 3 airlines. I was warned by many nationals and other reviews about Avianca’s unreliability, especially domestically. Well my flight from Santa Marta to Medellin was delayed twice, we left the gate and pulled back in. “equipment failure” they said. They had us wait 6 hours and then because we were very aware of what were going on and were first in line 5 hours ago, they got us on a Viva Air flight. Thanks to my research I knew Viva was much like Spirit and charged for everything so we were prepared. You guessed it. We were going to get charged for our baggage . I was going to pay Viva more for our baggage than our original flight ! ! ! ! We were already prepared for this and battled with Avianca to cover most of that expense. Viva Air was not pleasant but for the short flight was bearable enough for us to make it to Medellin for our wedding.

      Next leg was Medellin to Ibague. I had also taken a risk and tried EasyFly. Some Colombians said that Avianca was so unreliable that for the price it was worth the chance. Also EasyFly had direct flights where with Avianca we had to connect. So they said, twice as much of a chance for Avianca to delay you or cancel you. We walked up to the counter and expected to get hammered with fees. What we got was a pleasant surprise. Instead of what I’ve seen in other areas where they weigh every bag seperately. Easyfly put ALL of our bags on the scale. This allowed us to get the full weight allowance. Ie. if I was over but my wife was under, the difference of her bag helped offset the cost of my bag. Also the attendant leaned our bags a bit on the side of the counter, which also gave us a break. I noticed others had their personal item weighed and tagged, they didn’t do that with ours. Maybe because we were checking in later and they already knew that they didn’t have a weight issue on the plane. The counter people were friendly and super helpful. Sure we were going to pay extra for our bags with easy fly but the price was very good and it was direct and in the end we felt that it wasn’t a cash grab as they found ways to lessen the blow for us. We liked that experience so much we plan on in the future flying US > Medellin (or some other spot we might want to see) and then on to Ibague where family is and back the same.

    7. Mario Suarez September 14, 2017

      Hi Jeff,nice article, very informative and helpful information about domestic flights in Colombia, all the information is complete and very accurate,I would like to add that VivaColombia adds 30.000 cops if you cant print your boarding pass from the web, for me this is unacceptable and at the end you will pay more that flying with Avianca,the best airline in Colombia and one of the best in LatinAmerica, you get what you paid for with Avianca. I always get professional service and that is most important to me. I like your new website Medellin Guru,congratulations for all your great job. MARIO.

    8. Jeff,
      as usually, a fact-based, informative article. Thanks! Especially when it comes to VIVACOLOMBIA, one needs to add up all fares (including the possible charge of checking in at the airport, if you can’t use web-check in) to see if it is still advantageous compared to AVIANCA.

      One issue with ADA, which may be relevant for international travelers: It appears that they do not accept international credit cards when you book online. That was at least my experience last week and the girl at the Medellin City airport reconfirmed it to me…

      • Dan Dascalescu March 27, 2019

        Same here – just saw this comment. Jeff, can you please update the article? I’ve wasted a good hour trying to book through ADA.

        • Hi Dan, thanks article is updated.

        • Hi Dan, FYI ADA suspended its operations today (March 29, 2019) and no longer has any flights. So, updated the article again.

    9. Brock Canner September 4, 2017

      Thanks Jeff, great article. hope to see you in January if not sooner.
      Cheers, Brock

    10. You haven’t mentioned Pasto.

      • I am not aware of direct flights from Medellín to Pasto. So, you’ll have to connect in Bogotá to get to Pasto.

        • Yeah, the connections are Bogota or Cali. My point was, this article is incomplete. Cheers.

          • Thanks for the feedback. I added to the article that connections are needed to fly to some locations in Colombia like Pasto from Medellín. And that Bogotá has the most domestic direct flight options.

            Also we plan to have a future article about international flights to Colombia. It would be too much to cover domestic and international options in one article.

    11. Nice article. I flew VivaColombia once and they are like Spirit with extra charges for everything and poor service. I much prefer Avianca and will never fly VivaColombia again.

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