Flying to Galapagos: which airport should you choose?

December 28, 2016 by Christopher Klassen0

Traveling to the Galapagos Islands takes some planning since the 18 islands created from volcano eruptions are located in remote areas off Ecuador’s coast. Even so, there are convenient options for flying to Galapagos directly. There are two main airports to consider when you are flying to Galapagos.

Travel requirements for Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

On August 15th, the Ecuadorian government’s Emergency Operations Committee published a new protocol concerning entry into the country. It aims to reactivate the tourism sector while ensuring the safety of both Ecuador’s citizens and foreign visitors.

New Protocol for International Arrivals by Air

The most salient points in the new protocol for entry to Ecuador are as follows:

  • All arrivals must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 10 days before entering the country. As long as they don’t present symptoms of COVID, they do not need to fulfil a mandatory preventive quarantine period.
  • Travelers without an international PCR test must undertake, at their own expense, a PCR test upon arrival (or at their accommodation) and then proceed to quarantine in temporary accommodation to await the results. With a negative test result, they may continue their journeys.
  • Travelers who present symptoms of COVID upon arrival in Ecuador are required to perform a PCR test at their own expense and proceed to quarantine even if they present a negative PCR test at the airport of entry.
  • All travelers fill out a Health Status Declaration form, hand it in upon arrival to Ministry of Health workers, who will also check symptoms.
  • Inbound travelers who test positive will be required to complete 10 days of mandatory preventive quarantine at their accommodation and be asymptomatic before leaving their accommodation.
  • The protocols apply to citizens from any country and from flights from any destination.
  • Travelers under 18 are considered a priority group and are not required to show negative PCR tests.

Onward Travel to the Galapagos Islands

The above protocol means that for onward travel to the Galapagos, the rules for entry are as follows:

  • Travel insurance certificate with medical coverage.
  • A certificate of a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of their Galapagos flight.
  • A safe passage (salvoconducto) document, issued at least 24 hours before by the tour operator or hotel.
  • The Galapagos Transit Control Card, filled out online at least 24 hours before the flight.
  • A digital boarding pass.

Travelers can use their international certificate of a negative PCR test for travel to the islands, provided it is issued 96 hours prior to entry.

Please note that while travelers under 18 are not required to have PCR test for entry to Ecuador, the rule is under 12 for entry to the Galapagos.

When flying to the Galapagos, all travelers pass through temperature checks, disinfection matts, have to clean their hands with sanitizers, and wear facemasks at all times. Luggage is sanitized before and after its inspection by the Galapagos biosecurity and quarantine control agency.

Commercial flights connecting the islands resumed on August 3rd and have carried our first guests to the reopened Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and aboard Yacht La Pinta.

Please let your Destination Expert know if you have any doubts or questions, or to request our complete biosecurity protocols and measures.

Finding Your Way to the Galapagos Islands

When flying to Galapagos, many people use LATAM Airlines because it offers nonstop flights from some major U.S. cities, although flights from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York are the most widely used. Once you are in Ecuador, you can expect a layover before you board another flight to the Galapagos Islands. If you are going on a Galapagos cruise, perhaps you should allow a second night in mainland Ecuador, only to be sure both you and your luggage will make it to the cruise by the time of weighing anchor.

The primary thing to remember is that there are two major airports in Ecuador. José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport (GYE) is located in Guayaquil, and Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) is in the capital city of Quito.

José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport

José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport has earned many accolades, including an award for being one of the best airports in South America. This is due to its convenience. This airport is open 24 hours a day and has nonstop flights to Europe and the United States. It also has flight connections to every South American country, so it is an important gateway to Latin America as well as the Galapagos Islands.

One of the reasons people going on Galapagos Island vacations use José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport is because of its proximity to the islands. The airport is convenient in other ways as well. The international bus station is located next to the air terminal building. Those with a day or more layover don’t need to travel far for a hotel room as there are numerous hotels located within 2 miles of the airport.

Those choosing to stay at the airport while waiting for a flight to the Galapagos Islands will be comfortable. There are lovely waiting areas as well as a VIP lounge to rest. The lounges have many amenities you can use for a small fee. This international airport also has ATMs available 24 hours a day and several restaurants, so you can eat while you wait.

Guayaquil airport
Jose Joaquin de Olmedo (GYE) is Guayaquil’s airport.

Flying to Galapagos from Mariscal Sucre International Airport

This international airport was awarded the Progressive Inclusive Seal in October by the Municipality of Quito’s Office for Social Inclusion. It received the award due to its efforts to add more accessibility for disabled people, which has resulted in improved efficiency and quality.

Mariscal Sucre International Airport also was named the 2016 “World Travel Award Winner” for the third year in a row in the category of South America’s Leading Airport. This is a highly treasured award in the global community and is comparable to the Oscars for the movie industry. The World Confederation of Businesses also awarded the airport with the “Beyond Success” trophy for achievements in its VIP lounges. These areas offer a quiet place to relax with snacks, drinks, and reading materials. They also contain business centers and Wi-Fi just in case you need to take care of things before you continue your journey. There also are showers in the international VIP lounge.

This international airport also offers fast-track processing, so you can move through to your flight or the arrivals area quickly. This includes continuous assistance, help with documents and bags, and assistance with immigration control.

There are numerous free services available at Mariscal Sucre International Airport, including Wi-Fi, self-check-in, charging stations, telephone information services, and a children’s area with games to keep them entertained. There is also a bag storage service, so you don’t have to drag your luggage all over the airport during your wait, and a money exchange where you can exchange money securely. You can even get a massage before you board your connecting flight.

There are lots of things to keep you busy at the airport while you wait for your connecting flight to continue your Galapagos vacation. The Mall Del Cielo has an array of shops for you to peruse as well as several restaurants. The restaurants include both South American eateries as well as American franchises, so you will find something you recognize.

Those wishing to go into town to see the colonial-era Quito, which is the first city designated as a World Heritage Site, have plenty of options. There are buses called “aeroservicios,” taxis, car rentals, and public transport buses to take you anywhere you want to go.

Quito's airport
Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) is Quito’s airport.

How to Choose Which Airport to Use

Both of these airports are 5-star rated and offer many amenities and essential services to make your long flight more pleasant. The airport you pick will depend on your overall travel plans and connecting flights to the Galapagos Islands. The times and availability of your flight out of the United States and the connecting flights to the islands will play a large role in which airport is the best option.

Another factor to consider when flying to Galapagos is the cost of flights going from the U.S. to each of these airports. Some airlines may offer cheaper rates to one airport over another, so you will need to check all possible deals. Furthermore, our guests who purchase their full packages –including flights– through Metropolitan Touring receive a special benefits package that will make their travel much easier and more efficient.

Our special travel assistance includes:

– Dispatcher assistance during check-in at both Quito and Guayaquil airports

– Express check-in lane with LAN airlines

– Luggage check-in by Metropolitan Touring employees with priority tags

– Processing and pre-payment of Galapagos immigration document(s)

– Galapagos National Park entrance fee pre-payment

– Bilingual English-Spanish service

Are you ready? We have prepared unique programs at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. We are wating for you.

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