To the Polls: Who to Fly to Lima?


I just found out that my fiancée and I will be heading down to Peru in the Spring. Of course, I’m excited about the chance to see Machu Picchu, but I’m also excited about getting to try a new airline.

Looking at my options, I see all kinds of exciting possibilities. Though I’ll wait to see what airfares do over the next couple of months, I’m eager to find out which option you all would recommend.

So, forget about mileage opportunities, because that’s not important. In terms of onboard experience, which airline would you choose?

Update 10/26 @ 1124a: An excellent point was raised in the comments that I didn’t mention what class I’d be flying. I’ll be in coach.

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28 comments on “To the Polls: Who to Fly to Lima?

  1. My colleague flew non-stop on LAN from JFK to Lima about a year and a half ago and had a great trip. Red eyes are never fun but I would choose this flight over changing somewhere in Latin America in the middle of the night

  2. This should be an easy decision. I would always choose the widebody, and nonstop is a plus.

    Sounds like a fun trip!

  3. Ah yes, that would make a huge difference. I’ll be flying in coach. I’ve updated the post to include that info.

  4. I would agree with Zach 100%. Widebody, even though a 767, and nonstop, sounds like the perfect combo.

    CF, really enjoy the blog!

  5. Well, its a toss up. I do Latin America all the time and LAN will probably give you the best service. However, living in Colombia as I do, I’d have to say try Avianca, they are constantly renewing and it will give you a chance to see the third busiest airport in South America (BOG, 3rd after only GRU and GIG!!) and number 1 cargo airport as well.

  6. Wow, this poses a dilemma. Do you connect through some exotic airport like Bogota, knowing that the ramp is probably filled with unusual aircraft, or do you go on a nonstop to avoid the potential hassle and delay in connections? Those considerations don’t even take in the onboard service. In all honesty, I would pick the routing with either a new aircraft type, and if there weren’t any new types, I’d go with the best service.

  7. is cost a consideration? if that’s the case, then I would not necessarily fly a non-stop flight….LAN CHILE has a nice monopoly on the LAX/LIM or JFK/LIM route (zero competitors, they are the only airline offering non-stop flights) and therefore they charge premium fares. Try a connection and save money!


  9. Thanks for all this great feedback. Cost is somewhat of a consideration, but I have flexibility. Right now, fares were running about $835 on the cheapest connection and $899 on the nonstop, so in that case it wouldn’t matter.

    AV and BOG are definitely the most interesting option of all of these, but there are long layovers each way so I’m not sure I want to do it.

  10. Any flight that gets you there safely NONSTOP is my preference. Also the 767 has the most comfortable coach seats in the sky, thanks to 2x3x2 seating. If you luck out with an exit row, its even better. I would never ever consider a 3x4x3 airplane for a long flight.

  11. I voted for the non-stop LAN, but Avianca might not be too bad, either. As many others have said, widebody ftw. The 319/320 and Embraer options sound like absolute torture.

  12. You are kidding right? Who in their right mind would want to go to South America? I am writing this from my hotel room overlooking Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. Even I don’t want to be here.

    I voted for you to take the non-stop, but my second choice would be a boring American carrier. You can always ship your AA miles to me. :-)

  13. Not knowing service on the airlines I voted for COPA because the E190 is a sweet plane. I’m odd and I’ll chose to fly on a smaller plane, trying to remember the days of airliners with less than 15 seats. Plus connecting in another country sounds like an experience. But if the layover is long I’d go for the nonstop… (I voted before reading comments.)

  14. Fly COPA and try to figure out how they are the most profitable carrier in the Americas (by margin).

  15. I would not fly an American carrier and I would avoid small jets. You get both plenty of times when flying in the US.

    That basically leaves LAN and Avianca as the only 2 choices.

    Unless I had a very long (>4 hour) layover in Bogota I would take Avianca. LAN is a very good airline and the nonstop is enticing but flying via Bogota would allow you to take a break in the flights and also do some spotting in an exotic location you may never visit again.

  16. I’d say Avianca. The chance to spot in El Dorado International Airport is probably worth it.

    Coincidentally, I am planning a trip myself to the Sacred Valley, from May 10-20, 2008. Since I will be coming from Buffalo, my choices are limited, but if my friend who resides in New York City chooses to join me, then I might hop over to New York City and take Avianca instead of going on a US carrier straight from Buffalo. AV’s schedules from JFK to LIM via BOG provides a 9-hour lay-over (there is a shorter one, but is way too short for comfort, which is 30 minutes), so I might as well get out of the airport and do some sight-seeing in La Candelaria and visit the Museo del Oro in Bogota. Besides, I would have to stay overnight in Lima anyways since all flights to Cusco leave only in the mornings, so there’s no point in rushing to Lima.

  17. How about TACA? I flew them last december, via El Salvador. The aircraft was pretty new, but it is no-frills carrier, and I got a good price. I actually bought a ticket to Sao Paulo, and got a free layover for 3 days in Lima, for around $800 with taxes.

  18. I flew Taca a few years ago…I would definitely recommend them…flights were on time, staff was friendly, smooth/no hassel/no wait connections, clean planes, etc.

  19. My wife and I flew TACA to Managua last month. We were both impressed with the comfort and the service after suffering through Continental. I’m going to Lima in July, and plan to use them again if their price is competitive.

  20. I fly to Peru two or three times a year, I flight from SLC each time. I have to make at least one stop because there is no NON STOP flights to Lima from SLC. So where are you flying from?
    -If you flight from ATL then your best option is a non stop flight with Delta.
    -If you flight from Texas then probably your best option is a non stop flight with Continental
    – If you flight from LAX then LAN is problably your best option with a non stop flight to Lima… but this flight could be a little too long… it’s about 9 hours long..(that’s TOO much for me)
    If you flight from MIA then you may want to flight with AA or there is a new airline that files from FLL to LIMA for cheap, it is called SPIRIT AIRLINES, (not the most comfortable one but definitely the best price) or LAN (which gives one of the best services to Latin America) has a non stop flight to Lima too
    If you flight from JFK I would definitely NOT take a non stop flight to lima…. i did it once… and i will never do it again… 11and a half hours in a plane is just TOO MUCH for me… i was going NUTS!
    Non stop flights from MIA, ATL AND TEXAS take about 6 hours and i strongly recommend them.
    LAN gives the best service to South America, Spirit Airlines is the cheapest one to lima from FLL. Delta has good deals from ATL, so it’s up to you!

  21. Thanks, Pedro. This post is actually about a year old, so I already took the trip. We ended up flying LAN from LAX to Lima and had a great experience the whole time. Thanks for all the recommendations!

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