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  • Konrad Tillman

How Long Should You Leave For A Connection In South America

Intro


Having just returned from South America, I thought it might be useful to share something I wish someone had shared with me before. This is: how long do I need for a connection when in South America. For this specific article, we will look at the four main airports: Sao Paulo (GRU), Rio De Janeiro (GIG), Santiago (SCL), and Bogota (BOG). While there is Lima (LIM) and Buenos Aires (EZE), I haven't personally done it in Lima and I haven't done EZE in years, so I cannot recommend it at a certain time.


Of course, times also depend on how much of an experienced traveler you are. It also depends on whether you are in business class or the economy, it can often make a large difference.


Bogota


Thankfully, on my flight flight with Volaris, I arrived before 10 am. However, I am aware of stories where immigration can take upwards of two hours after the rush of European flights arrive.


Good gosh

If you are arriving before 11 am, I would recommend a minimum of 1.5 hours on the same ticket and 2 hours on separate tickets. That still might cut it tight for separate tickets if you don't travel a lot or your next flight is with an LCC. After 11 am, I would recommend 3 hours for the same ticket (perhaps 2.5 in J) and 4 hours for separate tickets to be on the safe side!


Sao Paulo


Sao Paulo has the potential to be a mess when connecting. If you land in the morning when most of the international long-haul routes arrive, immigration can take up to 2 ish hours (a family member recently had to go through this). For a connecting itinerary, I would suggest anything more than 3 hours if landing before 10 am and anything more than 1.5-2 hours after that.


GRU airport

Once again these numbers can vary, but I have seen connections take a minute in Sao Paulo as it is an extremely busy airport in South America. In regards to separate tickets, I would recommend for your peace of mind at least 4 hours if landing before 10 am and 3 hours after that.


Santiago


Don't even get me started on Santiago. Please don't be a fool like me and book a 1-hour layover in Santiago😅. They try to make it as efficient as possible but oftentimes there will only be one security line open for hundreds of passengers. For this airport, I would recommend 2 hours on the same ticket, or 4 hours on separate tickets.


SCL airport

It can be a nightmare, even just heading airside can be a pain, not the transit. On my inbound from GRU, we waited 45 minutes to get through immigration...


Rio De Janeiro


Rio De Janeiro is a bit better than the others. All three other airports on this list have a lot more widebodies operating than Rio. For Rio, I would recommend at least 1.5 hours when connecting on the same ticket, and 3 hours if you are on separate tickets. Add an additional hour to both if it is early in the morning.


I do love this city though.


A lot of fun

Final Thoughts


If you are connecting in any of the four airports on this list soon, I hope I have been of some help. While this isn't a foolproof method and circumstances can arise, you are better off being safer rather than sorry. There is no point stressing because you want an extra hour to eat lunch at the resort, running through the airport only to find they just closed the doors. I hope this has helped.

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