Cheap flights to Costa Rica

Cheap flights to Costa Rica – Get the lowest possible airfare with these tips.

General tips for finding super cheap airfare

If you want to find cheap flights to Costa Rica, there’s a handful of tips you can employ.

Decide what’s important to you and what makes the most sense for your trip. Do you have to leave on a Saturday and come back the following Saturday? Or can you be more flexible?

High season or low season? Any other nearby airports?

After arming yourself with this info, we’re going to fire up the airfare search engines and see if we can find some cheap flights to Costa Rica.

Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Fly during the low, or “off” season. In Costa Rica, this means you’ll want to be flying during the rainy season, which is May to November. Don’t be scared about a Costa Rica vacation during this time of year, this is when we went and it was awesome, rain and all. (It didn’t rain that much, and the country wasn’t overrun with other tourists.)
  2. Book early. The sooner you can book your flights the better. If you wait until the last month, last week, or last minute — you might pay more. I booked our honeymoon flights 6 months in advance and was more than happy with the price. (When compared to Hawaii airfare, which was our 2nd choice for a honeymoon destination.)
  3. Be flexible with your dates. Sometimes if you can play around with your arrival and departure dates, moving a day or two each way, it can be advantageous. I played around with our dates a little bit, from leaving the morning after the wedding to a couple days after. As it turns out I got the best price two days after the wedding, on an early Monday morning.
  4. Don’t fly on weekends or near holidays. I got a great deal on our Monday airfare because we were flying during the week. Most people want to fly on the weekend. Even more people travel around Christmas. More people flying = premium for airfare = no cheap flights to Costa Rica. So fly during the week and start your vacation by taking your sweet time packing up over the weekend.
  5. Search exhaustively. Give the airfare search engines a workout when looking for cheap flights to Costa Rica. Experiment with dates. Experiment with airlines and airports. Experiment with arrival and departure times! Work it baby!

The airfare search engines

Alright, it’s time to get down and dirty with the search engines.

This is where you’re going to experiment a little. There are a lot of variables when booking cheap airfare to Costa Rica. Things such as time of day you’re visiting the search engines, particular airlines, airfare specials, and so on all come in to play.

That’s why it’s best to start playing around well in advance of your vacation.

For the US, bookmark these sites:

Those are the main booking sites. In addition, bookmark Yahoo Travel, Bing Travel, and Kayak. These last three aggregate airfares from all the booking sites.

Outside of the US, hit up:

Start your engines

To find really cheap flights to Costa Rica, here’s what you should do:

  1. Start with one of the aggregator sites and play around with the dates so you can to see how they make a difference. Try flying in/out of San José or Liberia, if that makes sense for your trip. I never ran into a case where Liberia was the cheaper option, though. Try different times as well.
  2. Once you “bottom out” then go to another site and put in similar criteria. Make sure you run the gamut — aggregators and booking sites.
  3. When you get to your lowest price, take a crack at the airline’s website directly. The booking sites will charge you something extra per ticket and it may be possible to bypass that on the airline’s site.

Prices fluctuate all the time. This is due to demand and competitors’ prices. Keep checking.

When it comes to cheap flights to Costa Rica, when you find one that fits with your travel schedule, book it. Oftentimes you can cancel it later if you find something cheaper. Check the terms before you book, though.

In practice

If I was going to book my honeymoon again (I did it around this time of year, around 3-4 months out) let’s see how I would do.

Of the aggregator sites, I actually like Kayak the best.

Leaving on Sunday, August 7th and returning on Saturday, August 20th I come up with a non-redeye airfare of $982. Ooof. This is a round-trip ticket departing Rochester, New York and arriving in San José, Costa Rica.

Hm, cheaper to fly into Liberia? Barely, I found a flight at $957.

Opening up my arrival and departure dates by a day, I’m down to $751. Now I’m arriving in San José on Monday, August 8th and leaving Sunday, August 21st. If I get really crazy and open up +/- 3 days, I get a fare down to $718, from Tuesday, August 9th to Tuesday, August 23rd.

Trying nearby airports, I got a comparable fare ($742) by flying out of Buffalo (an hour away from Rochester). Not worth it.

OK, the cheapest flight I came up with is Continental at $718. Let’s see how we do at Orbitz. Yep, $718 on Continental is still the best.

Now let’s try the Continental site. Boom! Found a flight on those same dates for $660 ($564 before taxes).

Take home message

When searching for cheap flights to Costa Rica, hopefully you can see the strategy here. First, use the big sites to whittle things down. Secondly, play with dates, “flight quality” (i.e. no redeye flights), and nearby airports. Figure out your cheapest fare and what airline.

Lastly, hit the airline’s website directly. The flight I came up with didn’t even show up on Kayak or Orbitz.

I started out at $982 and settled on $660. For the two of us, we just saved almost $650. That’s real money!