Cheap Flights to Medellín

Viva Colombia
Viva Colombia (photo: David Lee)
Avianca flight
Avianca flight at José María Córdova International Airport (photo: David Lee)

It’s one of the main airports in Colombia and being the second biggest city in the country, Medellín’s José María Córdova International Airport is served by major airlines connecting places like North America and Europe.

Medellín actually has two airports; José María Córdova is the main one located about 40 minutes outside of the city in Rionegro, and the smaller airport, Enrique Olaya Herrera is near the South Bus Terminal and is a hub for carriers such as LAN Colombia, EasyFly and Satena.

Major airlines flying into José María Córdova are Avianca, American Airlines, US Airways as well as other low-cost airlines for cheap flights to Medellín.

Expect a taxi from here to the city to cost approx 60,000 pesos ($33).

Iberia flights in Madrid
Iberia flights in Madrid (photo: David Lee)

Flying from Europe

Iberia operate from Madrid and can take anything from 13 hours to up to 27 depending on where you stop. Prices typically cost $813 from September and stop at least once in either Panama or Bogotá.

Avianca also operate direct flights from Madrid to Medellín and cost approximately $940 depending on the time of the year.

If you’re flying from the UK, there’s no direct route into Medellín. Iberia flies there stopping twice en route in Madrid then either Bogotá or Panama and will set you back $1,318.

However British Airways do fly into Bogotá (via Miami) then you can purchase an internal flight with Viva Colombia from there. Prices cost $1,215 flying in September or October.

There appears to be no direct flight from Paris with Iberia stopping twice en route.

Spirit flight departing Rionegro for Florida (photo: David Lee)

Flying from North America

Avianca also operate routes from Canada to Medellín from Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and have flex fares from 1,166,400 pesos ($627) for the rest of the year up to December.

There’s various points from North America with an extensive list from Arcata to Tampa. Some aren’t direct so expect an overnight stay in somewhere like El Salvador if you’re flying from Los Angeles for example, costing 1,929,500 pesos ($1,038).

Spirit also operates flights from Toronto and Montreal taking approx 11 hours and stopping in their hub, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for $235. They operate flights all over USA including New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles.

Flights from New York (LGA) to Medellin cost from $205 departing at 6:30 a.m. and arriving in Medellin at 1:06 p.m.

It’s only slightly more from Washington, DC (BWI) at $245 departing at 2:01 p.m. and arriving in Medellin at 10:43 p.m (they also operate a morning flight).

For an even cheaper fare, Spirit offers a $9 fare club for an annual fee so you can save more money on your flights. The flights only depart a few times each month.

Flights are more frequent from North America and cost the same fare at $235. A monthly calendar shows how much you can expect to pay each day of any particular month. There can also be a stopover in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida from North America so check the itinerary for your route.

A competitor for Spirit is JetBlue who fly direct into Medellín from Ft. Lauderdale. JetBlue has more leg room, inflight entertainment and free snacks and drinks.

As well as an award-winning service they also have fewer fees and your first checked bag flies for free which is great if you’re not traveling light. They even have a premier service called Mint if you’re feeling like upgrading to a bit more luxury.

Flights from Ft. Lauderdale start from $143 and only take three and a half hours, departing at 6:45 p.m. and arriving in Medellín at 9:13 p.m.

JetBlue operate many other routes from USA including: Albany, Augusta, Austin, Bar Harbor, Boston, Fort Myers, Gainesville, Hartford Springfield, Cape Cod, Jackonsville, Key West, Lebanon, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, New York City, Newark, Ogdensburg, Orlando, Pensacola, Providence, Provincetown, Raleigh, Rockland, Rutland, Saranac Lake, Tallahassee, Tampa, West Palm Beach, and Westchester Country.

Flights all fly through their main hub, Ft. Lauderdale and take three and a half hours from there to Medellín, Colombia.

Flights from NYC depart at all different times costing $229 and take three hours before a layover in Ft. Lauderdale before a three and a half hour flight to Medellín. Flights from Boston cost from $223 taking three hours, fifteen minutes with a short layover of approximately six hours before the flight to Medellín.

With new routes opening up all the time including one into Cartagena from October 29th 2014, JetBlue are definitely worth considering if you’re flying from the United States (and they have a best price guarantee).

They’re not direct but American Airlines flies into Medellín from New York and stops once in Miami for $516. Fly from San Francisco and you could go via Dallas as well for $400.

TIP – A low fare may mean it doesn’t include checked luggage. This can bump up your fare so look at alternatives such as America Airlines which does include a checked-in bag as it could work out cheaper overall.

Copa Airlines
Copa Airlines in Panama City (photo: David Lee)

Flying from Central America

Traveling from Central America used to be expensive if you wanted to fly directly into Colombia, but with a new route from Viva Colombia into Medellín or Bogotá, it’s soon going to be a cheap route to take.

Flights will operate daily from August 1, 2014 and cost a standard $91 (not including checked bags). By comparison, Dave had to pay $425 for his one hour, direct flight from Panama City to Medellín on Copa Airlines in 2013.

Flights into Medellín will operate every other day departing Panama City BLB at 6:05 p.m. and arriving in José María Córdova at 7:20 p.m.

You can also fly from Mexico. Avianca operates flights from various cities in Mexico and cost from 1,039,600 pesos ($560) from Cancun and 1,669,900 ($900) from Acapulco during August and September.

TIPDespegar is a meta search engine where you can check the cheapest airlines for your dates and route.

Airlines into Colombia (including Bogotá)

Other airlines which fly into Colombia including the capital Bogotá are:

American Airlines, United, Lufthansa, Air France, Iberia, British Airways, Delta, US Airways, TAP Portugal, Air Canada, Aeromexico, TAM Linhas Aereas, LAN Airlines.

The biggest ones being Avianca, America Airlines and United.

Viva Colombia
Viva Colombia (photo: David Lee)

Flying around Colombia

Viva Colombia – heard of them? They’re a low-cost carrier, operating all over the country. With land distances relatively far, it can cost only a bit more to fly internally (and it’s a lot quicker).

A quick tip though – if you’re taking anything more than hand luggage, you can pay just as much for the flight for your luggage so travel light to get it cheap.

Obviously, depending on the time of year you fly, schedules and prices may vary. I recommend using Skyscanner to check the latest prices which allows you to see the whole month and pick the cheapest day to fly.

We’d like to here from you. What are your tips and recommendations for finding cheap flights to Medellín?

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  1. Insel Air 2x a week from Curacao. Direct and indirect connections to some of the Carribbean and to Miami and Charlotte, NC.

  2. I have several comments as a frequent traveler to Colombia since 2006:

    1. Spirit has the worst customer service in my experience and cramped, uncomfortable regular seats that don’t recline plus they charge extra for seats, checked bags and carry-ons. I used to use Spirit for flying from the US to Medellín until JetBlue started flying to Medellín.

    I would rank the four airlines flying from the US directly to Medellín in terms of customer service as #1 Avianca, #2 JetBlue, #3 American Airlines, #4 Spirit. I will never fly Spirit again due to multiple problems I encountered.

    2. For flying domestically around Colombia, I much prefer Avianca over Viva Colombia. Viva Colombia has pretty poor customer service in my experience and no reserved seats. Avianca used to have more expensive domestic flights in Colombia but with the competition of Viva Colombia, Avianca’s prices for domestic flights have dropped.

    If you use Avianca for domestic flights in Colombia, make sure to book in Colombia in pesos and you will get a much better price versus booking in the US in dollars. You can choose the country on Avianca’s website. I just looked for a round-trip from Medellín to Bogotá departing on August 1 and returning on August 8. The cost in pesos with the country chosen as Colombia was 274,040 pesos ($147.61). The cost in US dollars with the country chosen as the US was $238.93 for a round-trip on the same days. You can normally save 35-50+% with the country chosen as Colombia.

    3. US Airways and American are the same airline after the merger in December last year and code sharing is going on between them as they integrate. Before the merger, US Airways never had a flight directly to Medellín’s José María Córdova airport but they code shared with other airlines. US Airways had a code share with Avianca for connections to Medellín that I understand is still active. Avianca is by far the biggest airline in Colombia with the most flights and code shares with several other airlines.

    4. If you are flying from Dallas, in November last year, American Airlines started a direct flight from Dallas to Bogotá, which takes about 5.5 hours. It is easy to hop on one of Avianca’s hourly ~40 minute flights from Bogotá to Medellín. Plus Avianca’s flights from Bogotá to Medellín now operate out of the newer international terminal in Bogotá so you don’t have to change terminals like you used to in Bogotá.

    Also Spirit has a connecting flight from Dallas to Fort Lauderdale to Medellín.

    • Jeff – when did Avianca start operating out of the BOG International Terminal? They were not doing that the last weekend in May when I did the Avianca BOG-MDE round trip. And if you need to get from one terminal to the other after I think it is 10:00PM you are on your own because the shuttle bus stops running around then (last time I needed to do this it was 9:40PM when I got to the shuttle stop and by 10:10 I gave up and bribed a cab which will take a premium because they lose their spot in the cab line.

      I also agree that Spirit may be cheap but they truly suck when it comes to customer service and comfort. However, they may be your best low cost option if you are booking less than three weeks before your departure.

      From what I have read, the sweet spot time to book is 54 days in advance of your flight for the best price.

      As for the prices quoted in the original article, I am not sure that I agree with those prices unless they represent one-way before taxes, fees, and add-ons. I work for one of the airlines mentioned and they NEVER have a price as inexpensive as quoted. As well, most airlines require you to do a round trip to get the quoted “one-way” price otherwise you will end up paying a premium.

      • Hi Mike,

        Avianca started operating on June 8 out of the newer BOG International Terminal (Terminal 1) for domestic flights from Bogotá to Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cali, Cartagena, Medellín, Pasto, Pereira y San Andrés. So no need to switch terminals like in the past if connecting to/from and international flight.

        Flights from Bogotá to Armenia, Barrancabermeja, Cúcuta, Florencia, Ibagué, Leticia, Manizales, Montería, Neiva, Popayán, Riohacha, Santa Marta, Valledupar, Villavicencio and Yopal still operate out of Terminal 2 in Bogotá.

        So for the bigger cities in Colombia you no longer need to switch terminals in Bogotá for connections.

    • I thought a round trip ticket was required to board a flight?or a follow on tic? I called jet blue and they said this is true.But the guy didn’t sound too sure of himself. Please explain.thanks

      • It depends. If you don’t have a round-trip ticket, the airlines will frequently ask if you have a follow-on ticket leaving the country when you check in. But in my experience they don’t always ask. I have been asked in the past year by JetBlue, Spirit and Avianca because I now almost always buy one-way tickets or a round-trip departing Medellín and returning to Medellín, since I live full-time in Medellín.

        But I have never been asked by immigration in Colombia after traveling to the country since 2006 if I had an airline ticket to leave the country, even when I was traveling as a tourist.

        If you have a Colombian visa as I do now you won’t need to show a ticket that you are booked to leave the country if they ask at check-in, you just show your visa.

  3. For travel from London to Medellin, I find it better to connect in Madrid (BA/Iberia + Avianca) or Frankfurt (Lufthansa + Avianca) This way, you can travel during the day and arrive in the evening, so you go to bed at the same time as everyone else! Also, with Avianca’s overnight flight from Heathrow to Bogota, you arrive impossibly early and can’t check into to hotels/apartments unless you book the previous night, and the Heathrow flight involves crossing London during rush hour with your luggage (both ways). The BA/American Airlines is often the cheapest option, if you are prepared to deal with US immigration in Miami. Personally I always try to fly from London City airport which is only 10 minutes from my house by taxi/car, and the connection times are perfect in both Madrid and Frankfurt. You can often get bargains via the agents Alternative Airlines.