Tuesday 28 March 2023

How To Fly From Scotland to Costa Rica

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Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste. Costa Rica The perfect destination for a family friendly experience
Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste. Costa Rica The perfect destination for a family friendly experience

(QTRAVEL) Travelling to Costa Rica from big cities in the U.S. or Canada or even Europe may be a snap, but what about from a small city or a country where there is no direct flight or connection? It may not be so easy. But it is doable.

Let’s take a look how the Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, tackles a reader’s question on how to fly from Scotland to Costa Rica.

Question: My daughter has landed her dream job in Costa Rica and is encouraging me to come out to stay with her in late September for two weeks (she is a teacher and this will be her first half-term holiday).  My husband has work commitments so I will be travelling alone from Aberdeen. I am not an experienced traveller and want to make the journey as easy as possible with limited transfers while also booking my luggage through. Any advice on the best routes/airlines would be much appreciated.

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Liz Neesam, Aberdeenshire

Answer: Thank you for getting in touch. What a great opportunity.

As I started researching your question, I thought finding the best way to San Jose, capital of Costa Rica, would be a piece of cake; just fly to Amsterdam or Paris on KLM or Air France and connect to San Jose. But then I found neither airline now flies to the Central American city.

British Airways re-started non-stop flights from Gatwick to San Jose this summer, but does not fly from Aberdeen to the Sussex airport. While easyJet does fly Aberdeen-Gatwick, it’s unsuitable for three reasons: the timings are unhelpful, meaning you would need to overnight at Gatwick; you would be travelling on two separate tickets, which would cause endless problems if the first flight were heavily delayed or cancelled; and you can’t check in your baggage in Aberdeen and retrieve it from the carousel at San Jose.

Does it sound as though I’m looking dubious, shaking my head and saying, “I wouldn’t start from here?” Probably. There is no one-stop option that I can see that would work for you (I’m ruling out the difficult Heathrow-Gatwick bus transfer). Once you start considering a two-stop trip, it’s looking complicated – and, with every change of aircraft, the chance of your baggage staying behind is increased. So I’m already picturing you on the A90 down to Edinburgh airport, where the number of options increases dramatically – and fares will tumble due to the extra competition. I’m leaving out the US, because of the onerous security regime and the need to apply in advance online for an ESTA, permitting a visit to America, even if you only want to be on the ground for two hours.

Air Canada Rouge via Toronto is one possibility, but easily the swiftest is to fly on BA to Gatwick and connect there for the long-haul flight to San Jose. Your bag will be tagged at Edinburgh and you won’t see it until you reach your final destination.

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If your daughter happens to be in the far south-west of Costa Rica, close to the Panamanian border, then actually the answer I first thought of still works. Both Air France and KLM fly daily from Paris and Amsterdam respectively to Panama City. From there it is an exciting bus journey of four hours or so to the Costa Rican border, with buses onward waiting just across the border. Your daughter would, I’m sure, come to meet you, so you could have an extra adventure together.

When British Airways announced the new route, I put together a guide to Costa Rica that you (or she) may find useful.


How would you tackle travelling from where you are to Costa Rica with ease and least amount of time and connections? Share you plans using the comments section below or to our Facebook page.

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