Viva Colombia is the first true low-cost carrier in Colombia.
Viva Colombia is the first true low-cost carrier in Colombia.

[BLOG] TICO BULL — Every day AVIANCA and COPA are sticking it to us to fly around Central and South America. Ok, we all know that, but by how much? But can you believe that you can fly to and from San Jose – Miami for less than US$500, but it costs more than US$1,000 to Colombia, about the same flying distance.

A return flight between San José and Managua (Nicaragua) is about US$250, on sale. Regular price is over US$350.

Planning my next trip to Colombia, I wanted to confirm what a number of my Colombian friends in Costa Rica have been telling me, they are travelling to Panama to get to Colombia.

Browsing airline prices between San José  (Costa Rica) and Bogota (Colombia) I found something really weird going on.

Viva Colombia,  the first true low-cost carrier in Colombia, based in Medellin. (This is not the weird part), are offering return flights between the Panama Pacifico International Airport (BLB) and the El Dorado International Airport (BOG), in Bogota, Colombia, for only US$314.94.

The location of the Pacifico Internaitonal Airport, near Balboa, a district of Panama City, located at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, saves more than US$50 in transportation, compared to the Tocumen International airport (PTY) that is quite a distance from Panama City.

Now, for the weird part. Follow me closely to understand the logic of one of the major airlines in the region, the Colombian carrier Avianca. Hint, there isn’t any.

A return flight on Avianca Airlines between San José, Costa Rica (SJO) and Bogota is US$1,045.33.  This flight is non-stop. However, if you flyt from San José to Panama (PTY) – US$298.59, and then from Panama (PTY) to Bogota – US$285.02, the cost is US$583.60. A difference ofUS$461.63. The catch is you have to buy the tickets separately, the mulit city fare negates all the savings.

You have to be careful with Avianca, you can sometimes find a slightly lower fare from San José to Bogota or Medellin, but you will be making a stop in San Salvador. Sip, head north, change plane, then head south. The reverse on the way back.

At Copa Airlines, the San Jose – Bogota return flight is US$945.93, with a stop and plane change in Panama (PTY). If you buy the tickets separately, San Jos-Panama and Panama-Bogota, the cost is US$996.43, US$50.50 more. At least Copa is being consistent with their pricing, gouging all the way.

All the fares are for one adult, flying economy with travel dates of Sunday, November 23, 2014 and  Sunday, November 30, 2014.

For my next flight Colombia, Panama here I come and Viva Colombia!

PS. I attached screen prints of all the above prices, I am sure that you believe me, but remember never to believe everything you read on the internet.

Article first appeared on TICO BULL, reposted with permission