August 1, 2006

Cheap Flights to Colombia
Cartagena, Colombia

Substantially cheaper than other airlines, a flight from Panama City to Cartagena with the low cost carrier

I was a little concerned about the onward travel requirement for Colombia. I had casually lied to the travel agent about already having a flight out of the country, and wondered if my faux ticket technique would pass a more stringent/familiar eye (it's been my experience that land/sea border control is pretty gullible about such things).

If you're not pressed for time, a US$0.25 chicken bus ride can take you directly to the Tocumen International Airport from downtown Panama City—much better than the $15–20 fee that a taxi charges.

Checking in, the Aires ticketing agent asked for my proof of a flight out of the country. I handed her my documentation, which she took away for a few awkward minutes to make a photocopy. Next to me, a Latino-looking couple was arguing with another agent about needing to pay for an exit flight. The agent returned, pleased with the documentation, and finished checking me in.

I've taken several flights with my backpack (it's actually small enough to fit in the overhead storage of a normal jet) but I had to check it this time around—the plane was pretty small and I wanted to keep my metal mango peeler.

I was most pleased with the Aires flight. When is the last time you were given a meal and beverage service on a one hour flight? Sadly, you can't book travel electronically on the Aires Web site (http://www.aires.aero), but there are branch offices available if you want to skip the travel agent fees.

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