We look at how to find cheap international flights to Medellín and Colombia. There are many flight options and we have tips to save money on international flights when traveling to Colombia.
Medellín actually has two airports: José María Córdova and Olaya Herrera. Most international travelers arriving or departing will be utilizing the José María Córdova international airport in Rionegro.
The trip down from the José María Córdova airport to Medellín provides numerous spectacular views of the Aburrá Valley with about four million people in the Medellín metro area. We previously provided a guide to get to Medellín from the airport.
Also, we provided detailed guides to five different airports in Colombia:
- El Dorado Airport (BOG) – Bogotá’s International Airport and the largest airport in Colombia.
- José María Córdova (MDE) – Medellín’s International Airport located in Rionegro.
- Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH) – Medellín’s domestic airport in the city.
- Alfonso Bonilla Aragón Airport (CLO) – Cali’s International Airport located in Palmira.
- Rafael Núñez Airport (CTG) – Cartagena’s International Airport.
Note the above photo of a JetBlue Airbus A320 plane with an Avianca plane flying in the background was taken at the Fort Lauderdale airport, photo by Maarten Visser. There are several daily flights from Fort Lauderdale to Colombia.
Flights to Medellín from the United States
There are currently five airlines offering non-stop flights to Medellín’s José María Córdova airport from the United States: American Airlines, Avianca, JetBlue, Spirit and VivaAir:
- American Airlines – Miami
- Avianca – Miami, New York-JFK
- JetBlue – Fort Lauderdale
- Spirit – Fort Lauderdale, Orlando (starts on November 9, 2018)
- VivaAir – Miami
The new Spirit service from Orlando to Medellín that starts in November will offer flights twice per week.
Also, it is worth looking at flights to Bogotá, as domestic flights on Avianca and VivaAir from Bogotá to Medellín are inexpensive.
From the U.S. and Canada to Bogotá there are non-stop flights from:
- Atlanta on Delta
- Boston on Avianca
- Dallas-Fort Worth on American Airlines
- Fort Lauderdale on Avianca, JetBlue and Spirit
- Houston on United Airlines
- Los Angeles on Avianca
- Miami on American Airlines, Avianca, JetBlue and VivaAir
- New York-JFK on Avianca
- Newark on United Airlines
- Orlando on JetBlue and Spirit
- Toronto on Air Canada Rouge
- Washington-Dulles on Avianca
Also, when flying to Medellín from the U.S. or Canada it is worth checking out connections in Panama City. There are four different airlines with flights from Panama City to Medellín. In addition, from the East Coast in the U.S. and Canada it is worth checking out connections to Mexico City, as Aeromexico has a flight from Mexico city to Medellín.
Normally Spirit, JetBlue and VivaAir tend to have the lowest prices for flights to Medellín from Florida.
When I first started traveling to Colombia from the U.S. back in 2006, I normally flew on American Airlines and Avianca. But when Spirit started flying to Colombia I switched to Spirit and then later to JetBlue. I now prefer JetBlue and Avianca with more leg room, inflight entertainment and better service.
Flight Prices Example to Medellín from the U.S. and Canada
I looked about two months from now and the cheapest I could find flights to Medellín from New York City was $373 roundtrip on Spirit with a connection in Fort Lauderdale or non-stop on Avianca for $561.
In two months from now the cheapest I could find to Medellín from Los Angeles was $455 on Spirit with a connection in Fort Lauderdale. And on Avianca with a connection in Bogotá the airfare was $519. Also, on Copa Airlines with a connection in Panama City the airfare was $523. So, for this flight I would fly Avianca with their free baggage and better service.
From Toronto to Medellín in two months the cheapest I could find was $416 on Avianca. This itinerary has two connections in San Salvador and Bogotá coming to Medellín and two connections in Cali and San Salvador returning.
And there is a Toronto to Medellín option with multiple airlines (Air Canada and LATAM Airlines) connecting in Bogotá for $544. Also, American Airlines has an option with a single connection in Miami for $679 roundtrip.
Saving Money Tip: Factor in Baggage Fees
Keep in mind you should factor in baggage fees with Spirit and some other airlines like VivaAir. So, from the U.S., JetBlue or even Avianca and other airlines can sometimes be cheaper when you include baggage fees.
Also, it can sometimes be cheaper flying one airline one direction and a different airline for the return. If you use a website like Kayak.com you can find deals for itineraries with multiple airlines.
Flights to Medellín from Europe
There are only two airlines currently flying non-stop flights to Medellín from Europe: Avianca and Iberia:
When flying from Europe to Medellín it is worth also checking flights to Bogotá as domestic flights on Avianca and VivaAir from Bogotá to Medellín are inexpensive.
From Europe to Bogotá there are non-stop flights from Barcelona on Avianca, from Madrid on Air Europa, Avianca and Iberia; from London on Avianca; from Paris on Air France and starting in November from Munich on Avianca.
In addition, when flying to Medellín from Europe it is worth checking out connections in Panama City with four different airlines having flights from Panama City to Medellín.
I looked two months from now and the cheapest I could find to Medellín from London was $651 on Iberia with a connection in Madrid. And Avianca’s option with a connection in Bogotá was $771.
Also, two months from now the cheapest I could find to Medellín from Paris was $699 on Iberia with a connection in Madrid.
Flights to Medellín from Central America and South America
There are seven airlines currently flying non-stop flights to Medellín from Central America and other countries in South America: Aeromexico, Air Panama, Avianca, Avior Airlines, Copa Airlines, VivaAir and Wingo.
- Aeromexico – Mexico City, Cancún (seasonal, starts on November 17, 2018)
- Air Panama – Panama City
- Avianca – Lima, San Salvador
- Avior Airlines – Caracas, Valencia
- Copa Airlines – Panama City
- VivaAir –Panama City
- Wingo – Panama City
When flying from Central America and other countries in South America on flights to Medellín it is worth checking flights to Bogotá as domestic flights on Avianca and VivaAir from Bogotá to Medellín are inexpensive.
Bogotá is also Avianca’s main hub where it has non-stop flights to many cities in Central America and other countries in South America. So, it’s easy to connect from Medellín in Bogotá to fly to/from other cities in Central America and South America.
Avianca has non-stop flights to Bogotá from Aruba, Buenos Aires, Cancun, Curaçao, Cusco, Florencia, Fortaleza, Guatemala City, Guayaquil, Havana, La Paz, Lima, Mexico City, Panama City, Punta Cana, Rio de Janeiro, San Jose (Costa Rica), San Juan (Puerto Rico), San Salvador, Quito, Recife, Salvador de Bahia, Santiago and São Paulo.
I have flown from Medellín many times to other countries in Central America and South America. And almost every time I have connected in Bogotá.
Flights to Medellín from Asia
Unfortunately, there currently are no non-stop or direct flights to Medellín or any other city in Colombia from Asia. So, to get to Medellín or other cities in Colombia from Asia you will have to connect somewhere and you may need multiple connections.
For example, I looked two months from now and the cheapest I could find to Medellín from Tokyo was $1,334 with three connections each way on multiple airlines and over 45 hours of travel each way. The best option from Tokyo with the fewest connection was on Aeromexico with a single connection in Mexico City for $1,589.
And from Sydney to Medellín, the cheapest I could find two months from now was $1,594 on LATAM Airlines. This itinerary has three connections in Aukland, Santiago and Bogotá coming to Medellín and 3 connections in Lima, Santiago and Melbourne returning plus over 35 hours of travel each way.
International Flights to Other Cities in Colombia
Colombia has at least nine other airports that have international flights.
El Dorado Airport in Bogotá is the largest airport in Colombia. So, it has the most international flight options. El Dorado currently has flights from 23 different airlines with non-stop flights to and from over 50 different international destinations:
- Aerolineas Argentinas – Buenos Aires
- Aeroméxico – Mexico City
- Air Canada Rouge – Toronto
- Air Europa – Madrid
- Air France – Paris
- American Airlines – Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami
- Avianca – Aruba, Barcelona, Boston, Buenos Aires, Cancun, Curaçao, Cusco, Florencia, Fortaleza, Fort Lauderdale, Guatemala City, Guayaquil, Havana, La Paz, Lima, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Mexico City, Miami, New York JFK, Orlando, Panama City, Punta Cana, Rio de Janeiro, San Jose (Costa Rica), San Juan (Puerto Rico), San Salvador, Quito, Recife, Salvador de Bahia, Santiago, São Paulo and Washington-Dulles. And Avianca is adding flights to Munich on November 16, 1018 and Chicago on November 17, 2018.
- Avior Airlines – Caracas and Valencia
- Copa Airlines – Panama City
- Cubana de Aviación – Havana
- Delta Air Lines – Atlanta
- Iberia – Madrid
- Interjet – Cancun and Mexico City
- JetBlue – Fort Lauderdale and Orlando
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – Amsterdam (with stop in Cartagena)
- LATAM Airlines – Aruba, Cancun, Miami, Santiago and São Paulo
- Lufthansa – Frankfurt
- Spirit Airlines – Fort Lauderdale, Orlando
- TAME – Guayaquil and Quito
- Turkish Airlines – Istanbul (with stop in Panama City)
- United Airlines – Houston and Newark
- VivaAir – Lima, Miami and Panama City
- Wingo – Aruba, Cancun, Caracas, Havana, Mexico City, Panama City, Punta Cana and Quito
Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport serving Cali (but located in nearby Palmira) is the third largest airport in Colombia in terms of passengers.
Cali’s Alfonso Bonilla Aragón Airport currently has international flights from five different airlines with non-stop flights to and from 10 different destinations and Spirit is adding service to Fort Lauderdale in December 2018:
- American Airlines – Miami
- Avianca – Guayaquil, Lima, Madrid, Miami (stops in Medellín), New York-JFK, San Salvador
- Copa Airlines– Panama City
- Spirit Airlines – Fort Lauderdale (daily service starts December 20, 2018)
- TAME– Esmeraldas, Quito
- Wingo –Panama City
Cartagena’s Rafael Núñez International Airport is the fourth largest airport in Colombia. Rafael Núñez airport currently has flights from 12 different airlines with non-stop flights to and from 12 different international destinations:
- Air Canada Rouge– Toronto (seasonal)
- Air Panama– Panama City
- Air Transat – Montréal (seasonal), Toronto (seasonal)
- American Airlines– Miami
- Avianca– New York-JFK
- Copa Airlines– Panama City
- Delta Air Lines– Atlanta
- JetBlue– Fort Lauderdale, New York-JFK
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines– Amsterdam
- LATAM– Lima
- Spirit Airlines– Fort Lauderdale, Orlando (starting November 10, 2018 with twice a week flights)
- Wingo– Panama City
The other much smaller international airports in Colombia include the airports in Armenia, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Pereira and San Andrés, which each have international flights to only one to four destinations.
Saving Money Tip: When is the Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets to Medellín and Colombia?
Obviously by buying tickets in advance you can save money compared to buying at the last minute. So, how far in advance should you buy?
Earlier this year the CheapAir.com website conducted a study of international airfares and looked at over 900 million airfares including over 1 million international trips over the past year.
For international travel to South America they found that best time to buy was about 110 days before your trip or almost three months before. They also found that the prime window to buy was five weeks to 11 months before your trip.
In addition, they found the cheapest month to travel to South America is February and the most expensive month is December. And the cheapest days to travel are Tuesday and Wednesday.
When I travel to Colombia from the U.S. or the reverse direction, I normally try to buy tickets at least two months in advance.
Flying Domestically in Colombia
We previously looked at how to find cheap flights in Colombia for domestic airfare.
Domestic airfare can be quite inexpensive in Colombia making it relatively cheap to travel between the major cities 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. And even further in advance you can frequently find even cheaper flights.
Entering Colombia as a Tourist
We previously provided information about Colombia tourist visas and how to extend a tourist visa. Everyone calls 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 from Canada, you must pay a reciprocity fee of 191,000 pesos – but exempt from the fee if older than 79 or younger than 14.
When you enter Colombia as a tourist, an immigration official will stamp your passport and normally write that it is good for 90 days. But 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.
The Bottom Line: Cheap Flights to Medellín and Colombia
The bottom line is that you should buy international flights to Medellín and Colombia in advance to save money. Ideally you should buy airfare about three months in advance for normally the lowest airfares.
But not everyone can buy that far in advance. So, try to buy at least five weeks in advance for lower airfares. And if you fly on Tuesday and Wednesday the airfare will normally be cheaper.
Prices for airfare from the U.S. to Medellín and other cities in Colombia for non-peak months can normally be found for under $350 roundtrip from Florida. And airfare can be found for under $450 roundtrip from other East Coast cities and under $550 roundtrip from West Coast cities.
From Canada, a good price for airfare is under $550 roundtrip. And from Europe a good price is typically under $700 roundtrip. Finally, from Asia, you will likely be paying over $1,200 roundtrip.
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Editors note: updated on September 12, 2018 to add Spirt’s newly announced Cali daily flights to/from Fort Lauderdale, which will start on December 20, 2018.