Traveling to or from La Aurora Airport?
Find out where to go and what to do at the Guatemala City Airport
When your taxi, friend, or chicken bus lets you off in front of La Aurora Airport in Guatemala City, you may wonder what all the chaos is about. Generally, there is a huge crowd of people waiting outside the entrance.
Upon entering, you'll probably be impressed by its clean modern design. Stop in the entrance (out of the way of the throngs of people) and let's take a look around...
On the first level, you'll find all the ticket counters. In general, the airlines that go to North America are on the left. American Airlines is all the way down and Continental Airlines is just before it. All gate agents speak pretty good English, in my experience. The regional airlines such as Copa and Taca are on the right. Get there pretty early (at least a couple of hours) before your flight to avoid waiting in the line.
On the second level, as soon as you walk in the La Aurora Airport entrance, you can see a food court on the second level. If you have a few hours before your flight, or if you want a last minute cup of coffee before entering boarding-pass-only area, you can do it here. There are a few coffee shops and a Pollo Campero, among others. If you're there before 6 a.m., don't count on anything being open - don't worry though, there will be more after security.
Between the two ticket counters, straight ahead when you walk in the entrance, is a set of sliding glass doors. Only ticketed passengers can go beyond this point, so kiss your friends goodbye and say adios. You'll need to show the guard your passport and boarding pass to get through. It's usually not a big hassle here.
Go down the escalator, do a u-turn as you get off and you'll see a small bank at the end. Here is where you pay the Q20 or US$3 to leave the country. After that, go back the way you came to go through some more glass doors, showing the guard your boarding pass, passport, and receipt for departure tax, and head to security.
This, you may consider a hassle. No critical thinking on the part of the guards here. The security at La Aurora Airport is what makes me not want to fly out of this airport. It's not so bad, I guess, in the grand scheme of things, but no matter if you set off the metal detector or not, they will make you take off shoes, belts, take out every possible metal thing of your bag that you can think of except for artificial hips or skull plates and send it through the scanner.
I've been through La Aurora Airport many times, so this is not a one-time thing. No mercy for those with kids, either - it's your tough luck if your kid runs off while you're trying to put your clothes back on. The good news is at this point it's all pretty easy.
Fortunately, there are plenty of chairs at the end of the security line, though the chairs are about 30 feet away from the end of the security line, so you'll probably have to make multiple trips to get your things. Once you do get them transferred, you can get reassembled - just be quick about it, as it can get kind of backed up here.
A word of warning as you exit security - don't buy a lot of bottled drinks at the convenience stores or coffee shops thinking you can take them on the plane. Your carryon is searched before you get on the plane, and anything but bottles of water will be confiscated, no exceptions except MAYBE for a baby. Needless to say...
...my super plan to buy a couple of bottles of diet coke (overpriced!) at the airport to take on the plane was foiled by these ace baggage searchers. I guess dehydration is in style. You will, of course, get a drink on the plane, but depending on the airline, good luck getting anything more than a thimbleful.
Eating and drinking
There are several restaurants and coffee shops in this area, including McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Café Gitano, and Café Barista. They are open after about 7 a.m., usually. All take credit cards (some only take Visa, if you're a MasterCard user like myself).
Arriving at La Aurora Airport
Arriving at La Aurora Airport is pretty simple. When you get off the plane, you just follow the signs that say "Migración" or "Immigration." You'll have to walk a bit, but you'll arrive at baggage claim, which is also simple.
After baggage, go through customs, and as long as you have your proper paperwork (which for most nationalities is simply a form to fill out on the plane, so bring a pen), you should have no trouble going through customs. Warning though - it must be a requirement to check your sense of humor at the door to be a Guatemalan immigration officer, at least at the airport.
Then, head out the exit to the sight of a million people staring at you as you exit!
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