Traveling to Medellín from the United States you have many options. Medellín’s José María Córdova International Airport is the second largest airport in Colombia after Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport. José María Córdova Airport is located about 45 minutes from the city of Medellín. A taxi from José María Córdova Airport to Medellín should run 60,000 pesos ($29).
Medellín José María Córdova has direct flights available from Miami on Avianca or American Airlines, from Fort Lauderdale on JetBlue Airways or Spirit Airlines and from New York-JFK on Avianca. So you can use Miami, Fort Lauderdale or New York-JFK as a connection city in the United States for traveling to Medellín from other cities in North America.
I have flown all the airlines with direct flights from the U.S. to Medellín and I would personally rank them in terms of customer service as #1 Avianca, #2 JetBlue, #3 American Airlines and #4 Spirit.
My experience traveling to Medellín for many years from the United States is that the best fares are found on JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines from Fort Lauderdale. It is sometimes possible to find round-trip flights for less than $500 from places like New York or Dallas with a connection in Fort Lauderdale.
I recently checked flights on February 11, retuning on February 18 to demonstrate the lower priced fares on JetBlue and Spirit:
- On JetBlue from Fort Lauderdale to Medellín, round-trip was $324.60.
- On Spirit from Fort Lauderale to Medellín, round-trip was $293.58 (not including charges for bags or seats).
- On American from Miami to Medellín, round-trip was $700.
- On Avianca from Miami to Medellín, round-trip was $508.60.
Other direct international flights to Medellín are available from Panama; Madrid, Spain; Quito, Ecuador; Lima, Peru; Caracas, Venezuela and Willemstad, Curaçao.
Other connection cities for traveling to Medellín from North America
Additional good connection cities for Medellín providing more flight options are Bogotá and Panama. Bogotá is only about a 40-minute flight from Medellín and El Dorado is the busiest airport in Colombia. El Dorado has direct flights available to many North American cities on several airlines, including:
- Air Canada – Toronto
- American Airlines – Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami
- Avianca – Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New York-JFK, Orlando, Washington-Dulles
- Delta Air Lines – Atlanta, New York-JFK
- JetBlue Airways – Fort Lauderdale, Orlando
- Spirit Airlines – Fort Lauderdale
- United Airlines – Houston-Intercontinental, Newark
Avianca, Copa Airlines, LAN and VivaColombia have many daily flights from Bogotá to Medellín. Bogotá also has a nice new international terminal.
Panama’s Tocumen International Airport is about an hour flight from Medellín and has direct flights to many locations in North America on several airlines, including:
- Air Canada – Toronto (begins service December 17, 2014)
- American Airlines – Dallas/Fort Worth (resumes service December 13, 2014) and Miami
- Copa Airlines – Chicago-O’Hare, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JFK, Orlando, Santa Clara (begins service December 9, 2014), Tampa, Toronto, Washington-Dulles
- Delta Air Line – Atlanta
- Spirit Airlines – Fort Lauderdale
- United Airlines – Denver (begins December 3, 2014), Houston-Intercontinental, Newark
Copa Airlines and VivaColombia have daily flights from Panama to Medellín.
Travelling to Medellín from Europe
The only direct flight to Medellín from Europe is on Avianca from Madrid, Spain, which costs about $1,000 round-trip depending on the time of the year.
There aren’t as many options for traveling to Medellín from Europe as there are from North America. You can connect in Miami, New York-JFK or Fort Lauderdale in the U.S. Or you can use Bogotá or Panama City as connection cities but not many airlines fly from Europe to those cities.
Panama’s Tocumen International Airport has direct flights from Paris (Air France), Frankfurt (Condor) and Madrid (Iberia). Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport has direct flights from Paris (Air France) and Madrid (Iberia) plus Avianca has direct flights from Barcelona, London-Heathrow and Madrid. Note that Avianca’s direct flight from Bogotá to London started on July 3 this year.
Domestic flights in Colombia
For domestic flights in Colombia there are two primary airline options flying out of Medellín’s José María Córdova: Avianca and VivaColombia. Avianca is Colombia’s full service airline and VivaColombia is a low-cost carrier. VivaColombia is like Southwest Airlines in the United States, they don’t have reserved seats. They also charge for checked luggage. For flying domestically around Colombia, I much prefer Avianca over VivaColombia. VivaColombia has pretty poor customer service in my experience.
Medellín also has another airport, Enrique Olaya Herrera, which is located near the South Bus Terminal. This airport is easier to get to than José María Córdova Airport but it only has domestic flights in Colombia from several airlines including Aerolínea de Antioquia (ADA), EasyFly, LAN Colombia and Santena.
How to save on flight costs?
To save on international flights to Medellín, Colombia, our recommendation is to book in advance. According to a recent study of flight booking patterns done by CheapAir.com, they concluded that the best time to buy flights for Latin America is 80 days in advance.
Check JetBlue and Spirit as they normally have the lowest cost flights from the U.S. to Medellín. For an even cheaper fare, Spirit offers its $9 fare club for an annual fee so you can save more money on flights. However, watch out for Spirit’s additional fees to check bags, carry-ons and reserving a seat. JetBlue has fewer fees and your first checked bag flies for free on JetBlue.
The high seasons in Colombia when Colombian’s like to travel are from late December to mid-January, during Semana Santa (Holy Week; March or April), and from mid-June to mid-July. The Flower Festival (Feria de las Flores) in early August in Medellín is another popular travel time. During these times it will be more difficult to find inexpensive airfares.
If you use Avianca for domestic flights in Colombia, make sure to book in Colombia in pesos and you will get a much better price versus booking in the U.S. in dollars. You can choose the country on Avianca’s website at the top of their website. You can normally save 35-50+% with the country chosen as Colombia for domestic flights on Avianca. Using this method, I have flown from Medellín to Cartagena on Avianca for less than $140 round-trip or from Medellín to Bogotá for less than $120 round-trip.