January 13, 2007


I've flown LAX to LIM many times, and here's what I can tell you.

The cheap AeroMéxico flight is very tiring. You leave LAX at about 7:30 am (so you have to be at the airport around 4:30 a.m.); fly 3.5 hours to Mexico City, where you HAVE to go through Mexican immigration (even though you are just in transit). Then, you have to wait about 5 or 6 hours until you board the plane to Lima, where you arrive around 11:30 p.m. A very long day, indeed.

LACSA and TACA, part of the same company, also have long stopovers; they leave LAX around midnight, and you don't get to Lima until the late in the evening of the following day.

Most US companies take you to one of their hubs (like Houston, or worse Miami) which also makes for a long trip. Those flights always arrive late at night.

LAN, the Chilean carrier, flies directs, is usually the most expensive, and can have one or two flights a day depending on the season; but, it usually arrives in Lima in the middle of the night as well.

My personal preference is with the Panamanian airline, Copa. Those flights leave LAX around midnight and fly six hours to Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. Upon arrival at PTY, you DON'T go through immigration; you just have a one hour turnaround to get the next flight to Lima, arriving in Peru around 2:30 p.m., just in time for lunch and a couple of pisco sours.

In Spanish there is a saying, Lo barato sale caro; meaning, sometimes the cheapest things end up costing the most.

I prefer to pay a little more to fly Copa (and it's not as expensive as LAN) and arrive in Peru without having to wait in transit for a long time. Plus, I prefer to arrive in Lima in the daytime. The Panamanian flight attendants are friendly and do their best to make you comfortable. They also ply you with free drinks. The return flight with Copa leaves Lima around 3 p.m., and arrives at LAX by midnight of the same day, with a change of planes at PTY.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything Gato says. But let me add that COPA is very aggressive overbooking its flights! Last August (high/shoulder travel season), I paid $100 penalty to fly back to LAX one day early. So far, so good. Problem is, when I got to PTY (Panama), the flight to LAX was oversold by 5 seats! On another gate, another flight was oversold by 10 seats. They offered compensation to stay in hotel, but I said I would also like to get a business seat the next day. They say they couldn't assure me of that. Anyways, I said that I'll keep waiting for a seat assignment. To my surprise, the agent I talked to, listed me as a volunteer, so I had to stay overnight! The next day I could fly to LAX, but my flight and the one on the next door were again grossly overbooked. I guess COPA is OK if you fly during low season, or if you can afford to lose a day.