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JetBlue A320 at Fort Lauderdale airport, photo by Maarten Visser – How to Find Cheap Flights to Medellín and Colombia – Medellin Guru
We look at how to find cheap flights to Medellín and Colombia. There are many options and we have tips to save money on flights when traveling to Colombia.

How to Find Cheap Flights to Medellín and Colombia and Save Money

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 have detailed guides to 10 different airports in Colombia:

  1. El Dorado Airport (BOG) – Bogotá’s International Airport and the largest airport in Colombia.
  2. José María Córdova (MDE) – Medellín’s International Airport in Rionegro.
  3. Rafael Núñez Airport (CTG) – Cartagena’s International Airport.
  4. Alfonso Bonilla Aragón Airport (CLO) – Cali’s International Airport in Palmira.
  5. Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ) – Barranquilla’s International Airport.
  6. Gustavo Rojas Pinilla International Airport (ADZ) – San Andrés’ International Airport.
  7. Simón Bolívar International Airport (SMR) – Santa Marta’s International Airport.
  8. Matecaña International Airport (PEI) – Pereira’s International Airport.
  9. Palonegro Internationa Airport (BGA) – Bucaramanga’s International Airport.
  10. Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH) – Medellín’s domestic airport in the city.

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.

Inside Medellín's José María Córdova international airport

Inside Medellín’s José María Córdova international airport

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:

  1. American Airlines – Miami
  2. Avianca – Miami, New York-JFK
  3. JetBlue – Fort Lauderdale
  4. Spirit – Fort Lauderdale, Orlando (starts on November 9, 2018)
  5. VivaAir – Miami

The new Spirit service from Orlando to Medellín that starts in November will offer flights twice per week.

Spirit Airbus A319 N532NK at the Medellín airport, photo by Pablo Andrés Ortega Chávez

Spirit Airbus A319 N532NK at the Medellín airport, photo by Pablo Andrés Ortega Chávez

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:

  1. Avianca – Madrid
  2. Iberia – Madrid

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.

Copa Airlines Boing 737-700 at the Medellín airport, photo by Andrés Ramirez

Copa Airlines Boing 737-700 at the Medellín airport, photo by Andrés Ramirez

Flights to Medellín from Central America and South America

There are eight 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, Interjet, VivaAir and Wingo.

  1. Aeromexico – Mexico City
  2. Air Panama – Panama City
  3. Avianca – Lima, San Salvador
  4. Avior Airlines – Caracas, Valencia
  5. Copa Airlines – Panama City
  6. Interjet – Mexico City (starts on June 5, 2019)
  7. VivaAir –Panama City
  8. 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.

Shuttle buses from planes to the terminal at El Dorado Bogotá Airport, photo by EEIM

Shuttle buses from planes to the terminal at El Dorado Bogotá Airport, photo by EEIM

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:

  1. Aerolineas Argentinas – Buenos Aires
  2. Aeroméxico – Mexico City
  3. Air Canada Rouge – Toronto
  4. Air Europa – Madrid
  5. Air France – Paris
  6. American Airlines – Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami
  7. 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.
  8. Avior Airlines – Caracas and Valencia
  9. Copa Airlines – Panama City
  10. Cubana de Aviación – Havana
  11. Delta Air Lines – Atlanta
  12. Iberia – Madrid
  13. Interjet – Cancun and Mexico City
  14. JetBlue – Fort Lauderdale and Orlando
  15. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – Amsterdam (with stop in Cartagena)
  16. LATAM Airlines – Aruba, Cancun, Miami, Santiago and São Paulo
  17. Lufthansa – Frankfurt
  18. Spirit Airlines – Fort Lauderdale, Orlando
  19. TAME – Guayaquil and Quito
  20. Turkish Airlines – Istanbul (with stop in Panama City)
  21. United Airlines – Houston and Newark
  22. VivaAir – Lima, Miami and Panama City
  23. Wingo – Aruba, Cancun, Caracas, Curaçao, Havana, Mexico City, Panama City, Punta Cana and Quito
Copa Airlines plane at the Alfonso Bonilla Aragón Cali Airport, photo by El Tobias

Copa Airlines plane at the Alfonso Bonilla Aragón Cali Airport, photo by El Tobias

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:

  1. American Airlines – Miami
  2. Avianca – Guayaquil, Lima, Madrid, Miami (stops in Medellín), New York-JFK, San Salvador
  3. Copa Airlines– Panama City
  4. Spirit Airlines – Fort Lauderdale (daily service starts December 20, 2018)
  5. TAME– Esmeraldas, Quito
  6. Wingo –Panama City
Avianca plane at Cartagena airport for a domestic flight

Avianca plane at Cartagena airport for a domestic flight

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:

  1. Air Canada Rouge– Toronto (seasonal)
  2. Air Panama– Panama City
  3. Air Transat – Montréal (seasonal), Toronto (seasonal)
  4. American Airlines– Miami
  5. Avianca– New York-JFK
  6. Copa Airlines– Panama City
  7. Delta Air Lines– Atlanta
  8. JetBlue– Fort Lauderdale, New York-JFK
  9. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines– Amsterdam
  10. LATAM– Lima
  11. Spirit Airlines– Fort Lauderdale, Orlando (starting November 10, 2018 with twice a week flights)
  12. 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.

Avianca Airbus A318 at Medellín’s José María Córdova airport, photo by Andrés Ramírez

Avianca Airbus A318 at Medellín’s José María Córdova airport, photo by Andrés Ramírez

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 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. 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.

Medellín's José María Córdova (MDE) airport located in Rionegro

Medellín’s José María Córdova (MDE) airport located in Rionegro

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.

Also, we recommend using websites like Kayak.com and Skyscanner to check the latest prices.

In addition, we have a guide to traveling on Avianca, which is the national airline of Colombia and the largest airline in Colombia.

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 September 12, 2018 to add Spirt’s newly announced Cali daily flights to/from Fort Lauderdale, which will start on December 20, 2018.

Editors note: updated on May 4, 2019 to add that the reciprocity fee for Canadians entering Colombia has been eliminated on May 1, 2019. Also, added Wingo’s new service to Curaçao from Bogotá.

Editors note: updated on May 29, 2019 to add new Medellín flights from Interjet to/from Mexico City that start on June 5, 2019.

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19 thoughts on “How to Find Cheap Flights to Medellín and Colombia and Save Money”

    1. Hello jeff
      Getting ready to book a flight to Medellin and was going to fly from ft Myers SWR to Medellin , I am 3 hours from the east coast … it seems to be much in money then flying out of Miami , but will research it more on price , what airline would you recomend ..also best place to exchange USD to COP …. how much should you take a few thousand Usd to exchange , can you use credit cards from the states there … for hotel rooms ? Thank you .. cal

      • The normally are cheaper options to Medellín from Ft. Lauderdale like JetBlue and Spirit. We have a guide to exchanging money and you will get a better exchange rate with ATM machines than exchanging cash – https://medellinguru.com/exchanging-money/. Yes, you can use credit cards from the U.S. in Colombia but need to notify your bank that you will be in Colombia to ensure it works.

    2. Brett Thompson December 23, 2018

      Hi Jeff,
      I’m looking at a codeshare flight from DFW to MDE. On American from DFW-BOG then BOG-to MDE on LATAM. It’s very cheap with that configuration. Do you know what happens to luggage in Bogota after customs and with the change to another airline? There is an overnight layover there. I’m wondering if I could take my suitcase to a hotel with me or if it would have to stay with LATAM.

    3. Alain Bastien September 28, 2018

      Hi Jeff,

      I am from Mauritius and wish to visit Medellin, met a contact on internet more than three years !! now. She is in Aranguez. What would you advice ?
      Thanks ??

    4. John Pazera September 13, 2018

      Great detail report. Very useful! Thank you.

    5. Couple things I’ve noticed that are helpful. First, flights within Colombia are cheaper if bought from the Colombian site in Spanish as opposed to their US part of their site. I found it to be at times half the cost. Third party sites offer it at the local rate, but I hate buying from third parties. Second, the way pricing works is not like the US where they up the price every week automatically for the same seat as you get closer to the travel date. It has more to do with inventory of the seats. In low season, you can probably buy the flights fairly last minute. In high season the cheaper seats run out quicker and the only ones left are the more expensive ones, so you are better off buying earlier.

    6. Thanks for the post. Very useful as usual. Just to update on the Sydney to Medellin route. I got a ticket for October with United Airlines and Avianca for US$1255.

      Sydney > LA > San Salvador > Medellin (29h 25m)
      Medellin > Bogota > LA > Sydney (27h 17m)

    7. Your list of non-stop flights from U.S.-Canada to Bogotá might not be intended as a complete list but just for the record, United has direct flights from Houston Intercontinental to Bogotá.

      • Hi Ed, thanks for catching that. I added that route. It’s intended to be a complete list.

    8. Thanks for the post that should be helpful to many expats visiting Medellin and Colombia. I love your website that is kept up to date when every other Colombia blog is full of old and worthless information.

      • I agree with you that other blogs about Colombia are full of old information that is out of date. Medellin Living is the worst with almost everything on the site worthless.

    9. Brock Canner September 10, 2018

      Thanks Jeff. Nicely done, well researched post. I heard for a friend, AirB&B is also good as well. wondering if you know??

      • Hi Brock, thanks. Yes, Airbnb is a good place to find furnished apartments with the biggest selection and a wide range of prices. But make sure to look for places with positive reviews.

    10. Nice article. I hate Spirit with their seats with no legroom and fees for everything and poor service. I flew them once and will never fly Spirit again.

    11. Jeff
      Good article on a topic relevant to most expats. You neglected to mention that some of these fares include the most brutal layovers and flight schedules imaginable.

      It would be interesting to compare the safety record of these airlines as well.

      Brian

      • Hi Brian, thanks. Yes, some cheap fares have brutal layovers and flight schedules. For example, that 3 connection flight from Tokyo is over 45 hours each way, as it says in the article. I prefer non-stop flights or no more than 1 connection.

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