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Cheap Flights to Costa Rica – Get the Best Deals

costa rica flights

If you are looking to find the best flights to Costa Rica, you’ve come to the right place! We fly from Costa Rica to the US and Europe way more often than I would like to admit. Getting cheap flights to Costa Rica has become somewhat of a hobby for me.

Also, my whole family lives in the US and Thomas’s family is in Germany. They love to visit us (which we love) and coming to Costa Rica is a great excuse for them to escape the cold. I am always trying to find them the best transportation options to and from Costa Rica.

Anyway, I’m going to break down for you our tricks for finding affordable flights to Costa Rica from the US and from Europe.

Let’s start with some general flight booking tips….

Tips for getting the best flight deals to Costa Rica

sjo airport

Book your flight on a Tuesday or Wednesday

This is not always true, but generally, it is cheapest to book your flights on a Tuesday or Wednesday. This is because airlines roll out their new flight prices at the beginning of the week.

Visit Costa Rica at off-peak times

If you plan on visiting Costa Rica during school vacation time in your own country, chances are flight prices will be a lot higher.

We find the cheapest time to fly to Costa Rica tends to be from September until early December because this is the rainy season in Costa Rica. The number of people traveling here during that time of year goes way down.

Note: We have a breakdown of what it is like to visit Costa Rica during different seasons.

Sign up for price notifications

A lot of flight booking websites have the option of signing up for price notifications. This means that you will get an email when flight prices to Costa Rica lower. Woot!

Look at flights to San Jose Costa Rica Airport AND Liberia Airport

In the past, it was always cheaper to fly in and out of the San Jose airport, but that has definitely changed in recent years. Now, you can sometimes find great cheap flights to Liberia Costa Rica airport.

A lot of people think that flying into San Jose is a lot more convenient, but that is not always true. Yes, San Jose is centrally located and is better if you are planning to visit the Caribbean coast or lower Pacific, but Liberia is a great option if you plan to visit La Fortuna, Monteverde, and all of the northern Pacific beaches.

For more info on choosing the best Costa Rica international airport for you, check out our complete guide to Costa Rica airports.

Sign up for rewards programs

If you are a frequent flyer it can definitely be worth it to sign up for an airline’s reward program to save money on future flights.

Many credit cards also offer points that can be used for travel. Check with your credit card company to see if anything like this offered with your card.

We have also heard really good things about the Chase Saphire Reserve credit card if you are a frequent traveler.

If any of you use Chase Saphire to get rewards or are part of an airline’s reward program, please enlighten us on things you love! We fly so often that it would be nice to make good use out of all the money we spend on flights.

Cheapest flights to Costa Rica from the US

window seat

To book the cheapest plane tickets to Costa Rica from the US the best thing you can do is use Skyscanner and keep your dates flexible and signup for notifications on several different flight search engines to get notified when flight prices go down. Also, compare prices across several sites.

We like SkyscannerMomondo, and AirfareWatchdog for comparison purposes.

FIND YOUR FLIGHT ↓


Skyscanner widget

Our favorite airlines from the US to Costa Rica

We haven’t flown that many airlines from the US to Costa Rica, but we’ll go through our experiences on the ones we have flown.

Spirit: Typically it is cheapest to fly to Costa Rica from Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. I fly to Florida every few months to visit my grandmother and I can usually fly for under $150 round trip on Spirit Airlines.

Spirit is a discount airline and they are typically not the most comfortable, but for those short 4 hour flights, I deal with it. Also, Spirit charges you extra for everything. As in, if you don’t print your boarding pass ahead of time you will have to pay extra to get it at the airport.

Anyway, I let it slide because the flights are so cheap but definitely read their policies before you book anything so you won’t be surprised. They charge extra for bags, but I generally just travel with a backpack (I’m the lightest packer ever) that I can fit under the seat and you don’t have to pay extra for that.

Delta: I feel like a lot of people don’t like Delta, but I’m all about some Delta! I like Delta because on flights to and from Costa Rica they have TV’s at every seat and a decent entertainment system. They usually don’t give out much food, but just bring your own snacks and you’ll be good to go!

United: I fly United when I don’t have another option. I have nothing bad to say about them, but I’m also not impressed. They are fine, but don’t expect an entertainment system at your seat.

I have actually been frustrated by United recently because they now have a feature called Basic Economy. I didnt realize when I recently booked a flight to the US, but with Basic Economy, you are only allowed a carry on backpack that will fit under the seat in front of you. There isn’t even an option of paying extra for a carry-on bag.

Instead, if I had wanted to take an extra bag I would have had to pay $60 to check in a bag. Definitely watch out for this when booking your airline ticket with United.

Copa: The problem with flying Copa is that their hub is in Panama City. That means you have to fly south and have a stopover in Panama before you fly north to Costa Rica. I will say though if you’ve never seen the Panama Canal before, it is definitely cool to fly over it as you land in Panama City.

Copa has free wine and some hard liquors on board. They are also a bit hit or miss with their entertainment systems. Sometimes they will have seatback entertainment but not always.

Also, I’m not sure if this is normal but I recently flew with Copa from Tampa down to Panama City and the plane was practically empty. I had three rows to myself.

American Airlines: I don’t mind flying with American Airlines. Their flights to and from Costa Rica do not include seatback entertainment, but you can always download the AA app to watch movies.

For Basic Economy they do allow one small carry-on for under your seat and one carry-on for the overhead compartment.

Things to keep in mind

– When flying back home from Costa Rica you need to go through Customs, pick up your luggage, and drop it off again at whatever airport you enter the US in. Keep this in mind when looking at how much time you have as a stopover.

– Sometimes Groupon has good flight deals. Also, Travel Pirates posts daily flight errors. Sometimes there are Costa Rica flight errors, so definitely keep an eye on that for good deals.

Cheapest flights to Costa Rica from Europe

san jose plane view

A lot of flights come into Costa Rica every day from Europe.

We have flown from Europe to Costa Rica a few different ways and all have been rather comfortable. With a really long of a flight (you’re looking at at least 10 hours on a plane) you are going to want at least a little comfort.

To get the cheapest deals possible I generally use Skyscanner. Skyscanner has this feature in which you can type “Everywhere” as your destination and it will give you the cheapest places to fly to based on your location. If you are coming from Europe and would like to visit Costa Rica, we suggest using this feature but in reverse.

What I mean is type “San Jose, Costa Rica” as your departure city and “Everywhere” as your destination. You can then scroll through and see which cities are cheapest to fly to in Europe. These cities should (not always true, but usually) also be the cheapest cities to fly out of.

You can input the cheapest cities as your departure location with San Jose as your destination and see which city turns out to be the cheapest. Because it is so easy and cheap to travel within Europe you can then take a Flixbus or a cheap flight with Ryanair or EasyJet to the city your flight is departing from.

Note: EasyJet and Ryanair charge extra for baggage so definitely take that into consideration if you are considering doing this.

Two years ago when we went to visit Thomas’s family in Germany we did this and found it was cheapest to fly from San Jose to Frankfurt. His family lives much further north in Hamburg, but because it is so easy and cheap to travel within Europe we booked this flight and then took a $15 bus ride up to Hamburg.

It took us longer to get to Hamburg because we had to go through a six-hour bus ride after a long flight, but we saved a lot of money and we didn’t mind the extra travel time. In fact, for the two of us, round trip, over Christmas, we paid less than $1,000. Winning!

If your dates are flexible you can also leave your dates open or search whole months within Skyscanner.

You can also sign up for alerts on Skyscanner to get notified when flights to Costa Rica go down in price. A friend of our was able to fly roundtrip over Christmas to Frankfurt with two adults and two kids for under $1,000 roundtrip by signing up for a notification when the prices dropped.

I typically use Skyscanner because I like their search features and I find they are usually the cheapest, but definitely, compare prices with a few other sites. You never know! We generally also check out the Iberia site directly, Momondo, AirfareWatchdog, and GoogleFlights for comparison purposes.

FIND YOUR FLIGHT ↓


Skyscanner widget

Our favorite airlines from Europe to Costa Rica

We have only flown a few times to and from Europe, but we have flown a different airline every single time. Let’s go through each airline.

Iberia – We loved Iberia. Their hub is in Madrid, so all flights will have a stopover there before the long flight to Costa Rica.

Iberia has a great entertainment system, good luggage allowance (they let Thomas bring his guitar as a carry-on for no extra charge even though it was technically oversized), wonderful food (I swear they walk around with fresh buns about every two hours), and just an all around good feeling.

They are a more budget-friendly airline so I was a bit skeptical about them, but overall I highly recommend them.

Swiss Air – We had actually booked our flights with Edelweiss (which is the child of Swiss Air) but I guess on the long flights from Zurich to San Jose you actually fly Swiss. I have nothing bad to say about Swiss/ Edelweiss. Their entertainment system is good, the food was OK, all was fine.

Condor – I am not a fan of Condor at all. Thomas’s parents usually fly Condor (hi guys!) when they come to Costa Rica, but they always opt for the Premium class (it’s a class between Economy and Business class).

The reason I don’t like Condor is because of the fact that the entertainment system is not free. Every seat has a TV, but only two movies are free if you are in the economy class. If you don’t want to lose your mind during the flight you have to buy an extended entertainment package. I was not impressed.

However, if you opt for the Premium class Condor seems to be a great option.

KLM: We recently flew KLM from San Jose to Europe, and the flight was excellent. The plane was brand new, comfortable, had a great entertainment system, and decent food.

KLM also flies to Liberia airport if you are interested in going there instead of San Jose.

AirFrance: I don’t know if we just have horrible luck, but we recently flew on AirFrance from Paris to San Jose and it was the worst flight from Europe I have ever experienced.

The entertainment system was from 2002 and the plane seemed to not have been remodeled since the mid 90’s. I know this because it shut down about once every two hours and they would have to restart it.

United – The final way we have flown to Europe was from San Jose up to Newark then over to Heathrow and down to Hamburg. We did this flight with United. I’m not a huge fan of United, but this was OK. I can’t remember anything bad but I also can’t remember being blown away by it.

Things to keep in mind

– If you book a flight with a stopover in the US you will need a ESTA for entry.

– Also, if you book through the US make sure you allow yourself a ton of time between flights. Going through Customs in the US as a foreigner can take foreverrrrr. Last time, I, as a US citizen, got through in 20 minutes. It took Thomas (a German citizen) over an hour.

If you have any questions about getting the cheapest flights to Costa Rica, just leave them in the comment section below. We are happy to help you out! Also, let us know if you have any other awesome tips for scoring the cheapest flights to Costa Rica. We’d love to hear your ideas!

Now that your flight is booked it’s time to sort out transportation and find accommodations!

You might also like:

Flying into San Jose Costa Rica Airport – A First Timers Guide

A Stress-Free Guide to Flying out of San Jose Costa Rica Airport

 

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About Us

We’re Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er).

We met in Virginia, moved to Germany, and now live in sunny Costa Rica. It was a spontaneous decision to move here, but it was the best decision!

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