Buenos Aires has regular air links with North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand, plus less frequent routes from southern Africa across the Atlantic (some via Brazil). It is, however, a relatively expensive destination during peak periods such as the Christmas–New Year’s and Holy Week (Easter) holidays; an Advance Purchase Excursion (Apex) fare can reduce the bite considerably, but may restrictions. Economy-class (Y) tickets, valid for 12 months, are more expensive but allow maximum flexibility. Travelers staying more than a year, though, have to cough up the difference for any interim price increases.
Discount ticket agents known as consolidators in the United States and “bucket shops” in Britain may offer the best deals through so-called “bulk fares,” but they often have other drawbacks. Courier flights, on which passengers surrender some or all of their baggage allowance to a company sending equipment or documents to overseas affiliates or customers, may be even cheaper, but are less common to Latin America than to other parts of the world. They are available for short periods only, and often leave on short notice.
From North America
The main gateways to Buenos Aires are Miami, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. (Dulles), New York (JFK), Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles. Canadian passengers may also use Toronto.
Aerolíneas Argentinas is the traditional carrier, but other options include Aerosur de Bolivia, American Airlines, Avianca, Continental, Copa, Delta, Gol/Varig, LAN, LAN Argentina, LAN Peru, Mexicana, Transportes Aéreos Mercosur (TAM), TACA, United Airlines, and US Airways. Aerolíneas Argentinas, American, Continental, LAN Argentina, United and US Airways have the only nonstop or direct services; others require changing planes elsewhere in Central or South America.
Air Canada flies from Toronto to Buenos Aires via Santiago, three or four times per week. By taking this route, non-Canadians can avoid the hassle of getting a U.S. visa just for transit purposes.
From Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
Aeroméxico and Mexicana fly regularly from Mexico City. Cubana has two or three flights weekly from Havana, while Avianca has connections to the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico via Bogotá.
Copa flies daily from Panama, with connections throughout the region.
There are direct services to Buenos Aires with Aerolíneas Argentinas (from Paris and Madrid, Barcelona, and Rome); Air Europa (from Madrid); Air France (from Paris); Alitalia (from Milan and Rome); British Airways (from London Heathrow); Iberia (from Madrid); and Lufthansa (from Frankfurt via São Paulo). TAM has connections from Paris via São Paulo.
From Asia, Africa, and the Pacific
The most direct service from the Pacific is Aerolíneas Argentinas’s twice-weekly service from Sydney. From Australia, Qantas links up with LAN via Tahiti, Easter Island, and Santiago, or with LAN via Los Angeles; from Auckland, it also connects with LAN. From Japan, it’s easiest to make connections via Los Angeles.
South African Airways now has nonstops from Johannesburg to Buenos Aires’s Ezeiza Airport.
Within South America
Some major international airlines fly to and from Ezeiza airport to Montevideo, Uruguay, but most flights to the Uruguayan capital leave from close-in Aeroparque. There are also flights from Aeroparque to Punta del Este, Uruguay’s popular summer resort and weekend getaway. Aerolíneas Argentinas and Pluna are the main carriers.
To Brazil, the main destinations are São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but there are also flights to Florianópolis, Porto Alegre, and Bahía (Salvador), with connections to other cities. The main carriers are Aerolíneas Argentinas, TAM, and Gol/Varig.
Paraguay-bound flights go mostly to the capital city of Asunción, with Aerolíneas Argentinas, TAM, and Gol/Varig; some TAM flights go to Ciudad del Este, however, and on to Brazil.
AeroSur flies three times weekly to the Bolivian cities of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, and La Paz. Aerolíneas also flies to Santa Cruz, while TAM has connections to Santa Cruz and Cochabamba via Asunción.
Discounted fares are less common in Latin America than in North America; the main exception is the highly competitive Buenos Aires–Santiago (Chile) route, where LAN has some excellent advance purchase fares.
Flights to Perú, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela are all via capital cities, though some carriers stop elsewhere en route. Aerolíneas Argentinas goes to Lima and Caracas, LAN Perú to Lima, Grupo Taca to Lima en route to Mexico City, and Avianca to Bogotá.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition