If you're flying into Chile, you'll most likely touch down at Santiago’s Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (unless you’re coming from Salta, Lima, or Tahiti). By far, Santiago's airport is the largest, busiest, and most developed airport in Chile. While it's the only airport most travelers will see in Chile, there are about 125 other airports throughout the country.
Most Chilean cities have a domestic airport, and they are all generally small, modern, clean, and only a few miles outside of town. The efficiency of check-in and security lines varies greatly though, depending on the airport. Traveling between Chile's cities via budget airlines can be cheaper than buying long-distance bus tickets, but the flip side of that is missing out on seeing much of the country's famous landscapes up close. Remote areas like Puerto Natales and Easter Island also have airports, but you should book well in advance should you want to travel there. They have relatively few flights per week, and Puerto Natales' airport isn't open from April to November.
Location: Pudahue, Santiago
Best If: You are flying internationally.
Avoid If: You can get a better-priced flight to your final destination in Chile.
Distance to Plaza de Armas: A taxi to Plaza de Armas (Main Square) will take approximately 14 minutes (or 45 minutes in heavy traffic) and cost about 15,000 pesos. Shuttle bus services, like Centropuerto and Turbus, are more cost-effective and fairly efficient options (3,500 pesos) for getting to downtown, as are private shuttles like Transvip and Delfos for about 8,000 pesos.
Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport, also known as Santiago de Chile Airport and Nuevo Pudahuel Airport, is Chile’s largest airport. Most international flights in the country will land or embark here, and it’s South America’s gateway to Oceania. Though located 9.3 miles (15 kilometers) northwest of the city center, no public transportation options connect it to downtown, meaning you'll need to take an Uber, taxi, shuttle, or rent a car. Known for being decently efficient, the airport itself is mid-sized and generally easy to navigate. Allow for plenty of time to walk between gates though and be aware domestic check-in closes 70 minutes before departure.
Location: Punta Arenas, Magallanes and Antartica Chilena
Best If: You want to take a charter flight to Antarctica.
Avoid If: If you are already in Patagonia, you can possibly save money by taking a long distance bus instead of a flight.
Distance to Cemetario Municipal: A taxi to Cemetario Municipal (the Municipal Cemetery) will take approximately 18 minutes and cost about 5,500 pesos. You can also take the Fin del Mundo minibuses for 5,000 pesos or the regular bus, which departs hourly and costs about 2,500 pesos.
Punta Arenas is the largest city in Chilean Patagonia. Its airport is one of the main hubs for flying in and out of the region. However, Presidente Carlos Ibañez del Campo Airport is actually quite small, with only four carriers operating flights. Located, 11 miles (18 kilometers) outside the city center, it is easy to reach from downtown, and straightforward to navigate once inside. Expect staff to speak little English and services to move slowly. Sometimes there are not enough taxis to transport passengers to downtown after a flight lands. To avoid this issue, consider arranging transport with your hotel prior to landing or using alternative transport, like an Uber, minibus, or bus.
Andrés Sabella Gálvez International Airport (ANF)
Location: Antofagasta, Antofagasta
Best If: You want to go to some of Chile’s best astronomical observatories.
Avoid If: No reason really.
Distance to Plaza Colon: A taxi to Plaza Colon will take about 20 to 30 minutes and cost about 20,500 pesos. Alternatively, minibuses go downtown and cost about 7,000 pesos.
Andrés Sabella Gálvez International Airport lies just 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) to the north of Antofagasta. Generally, there is no traffic between the airport and town, and the check and security processes have a reputation for being fast and efficient. Overall, traveling through here should be painless and easy, although there is no public Wi-Fi to use in the tiny terminal. Purchase food outside before flying, as few restaurants grace the tiny terminal.
El Tepual Airport (PMC)
Location: Puerto Montt, Llanquihue
Best If: You want to fly to the starting point of the Carretera Austral, visit Chiloé, or go to Puerto Vargas.
Avoid If: You want to save some money by taking the bus from or to Santiago or El Calafate.
Distance to Plaza de Armas: A taxi to Plaza de Armas (Main Square) will cost about 7,300 pesos and a bus will be around 2,500 pesos.
A small airport with only regional routes, El Tepual Airport is about 10 miles (16.5 kilometers) outside of Puerto Montt. Check-in and security are fast and efficient. Those who want to drive the Carretera Austral can easily rent cars from the airport locations of Avis, Budget, Alamo, Hertz, and Europcar. Should you want to rent a car, consider reserving in advance, as there might not be many English-speaking employees at the airport.
Mataveri Airport (IPC)
Location: Hanga Roa, Isla de Pascua (Easter Island)
Best If: You're going to Easter Island.
Avoid If: You want to join a private tour and sail there instead.
Distance to Holy Cross Church of Rapa Nui: A cab ride into town will only take about 10 minutes and cost 12,500 pesos. There is no public transportation on Easter Island, but another option is to walk.
Mataveri Airport is the most remote airport in the world, and LATAM is the only carrier operating its flights. In the 1980s, NASA enlarged the single runway to use as a U.S. space shuttle abort site, but how, the airport is solely for tourism. Flights only go to or from Santiago or Tahiti. After landing, you can purchase your ticket to the Rapa Nui National Park at the small Mau Henu’a's airport office. However, you can buy your ticket later at their office on Atamu Tekena Street, thus saving yourself time waiting in a long line.
Teniente Julio Gallardo Airport (PNT)
Location: Puerto, Natales, Magallanes
Best If: You want to go to Torres del Paine.
Avoid If: You want to travel outside of December to March, as the airport is only open these months.
Distance to Plaza de Armas: A taxi from the airport to Plaza de Armas (Main Square) will cost at least 1,400 pesos and take about 4 minutes. The airport also has a shuttle to the city center for 4,000 pesos. The other option is to walk for about 45 minutes to the center.
Only open from December to March, this airport offers the most convenient and time-efficient way to travel to Torres del Paine. During these months, only a few weekly flights operate via Jet Smart, LATAM, and Sky Airline. Routes are only to and from Santiago or Punta Arenas. The airport lies 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) northwest of Puerto Natales and only 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) from the border with Argentina. From Puerto Natales, it’s a short bus ride to the Argentine hiking hub of El Calafate and the famous Perito Moreno Glacier.
El Loa Airport (CJC)
Location: Calama, Antofagasta
Best If: You want to go to the Atacama Desert.
Avoid If: You want to see the lunar-like landscape of the desert up close, by traveling across it via rental car or long-distance bus.
Distance to San Pedro de Atacama: You can book a bus for 12,000 pesos or take a taxi for $50,000 pesos to San Pedro which is about 62 miles (100 kilometers) from the airport. To reach Calama’s city center, a bus costs 5,700 pesos and a taxi 7,000 pesos.
Calama is the gateway to the Atacama Desert, though the closest town to the desert, San Pedro de Atacama, is at least a 75-minute car ride from the airport. Though modern and clean, El Loa isn’t always efficient in their check-in and security procedures. The terminal is small and easy to navigate and contains several dining options though there are very few electrical outlets for charging.