Flights to Patagonia can be extremely expensive or reasonably priced. A little bit of planning and few minutes of research can save you a lot of money. Money you can rather spend on a tour with your family to see penguins or go glacier trekking.
Read our guide so you don’t overpay for your flights when you visit Patagonia.
Getting to Chile and Argentina from other continents
There is no direct international flight which would get you down to deep Patagonia. Coming from Europe, North America or Australia/New Zealand requires having a stopover in Santiago or Buenos Aires, and then continue further.
There is a great rivalry between these two countries. They compete for tourists and that is why arriving from any continent to Argentina or Chile costs usually the same (with small and logical exceptions).
Flights from North America to Patagonia
Flying from USA and Canada to Patagonia you will take a direct flight from many American cities – Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, New York or Toronto in Canada or Mexico City. Flights from Toronto only stops in Chile.
For western Canadians, it is faster to have a stopover in Dallas or Los Angeles especially if they want to fly to Argentina. Companies that fly from North America are Air Canada, American Airlines, United, LATAM and Aeromexico airline from Mexico.
Flying from Australia/New Zealand
Flights to Patagonia from Australia connect only in Santiago. That is due to the long distance to Argentina. Landing in Chile can be budget-friendly as you will find out later. Flights from Auckland, New Zealand land either in Santiago or Buenos Aires. From Australia to Patagonia you will fly with Qantas or LATAM. From New Zealand, the carrier is Air New Zealand often operated by LATAM.
Flights to Patagonia from Europe/Asia
Coming from Europe and Asia you’ll have a bigger chance to land in Argentina as it is much closer to Europe and Asian flights flying westward. Germans have had better ties with Argentina since World War II and flights from the biggest European airport Frankfurt stop in Buenos Aires.
Also, flights from Amsterdam and Barcelona stop on the east coast of South America. If you fly from London, Rome, Paris or Madrid, those flights stop in either Chile or Argentina.
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Booking your flight to Patagonia
If you are booking your connecting flight to Patagonia use a booking site/agent for the whole trip. Then compare with an option when you only buy a ticket Santiago/Buenos Aires and Patagonia flights separately. Quite often buying separate tickets might be cheaper.
Also if you have open plans for your trip through Patagonia and booked only tickets to Santiago or Buenos Aires, continue reading. Savvy travellers will use these tips to save on their Patagonian flights.
Flying to Patagonian airports from Santiago, Chile
Chile has the advantage that all flights from Santiago fly from the same airport, unlike Buenos Aires. Chileans have two airlines that fly national flights LATAM and Sky airline. Sky is a local low-cost airline. Both companies serve in the same airports. From Santiago, you can get daily direct flights to Patagonian airports in:
- Puerto Montt (north) where scenic road Carretera Austral begins
- Balmaceda (center)
- Punta Arenas (south) – penguin tours, Tierra del Fuego
- Puerto Natales (Torres del Paine National Park)
You can book your flight on LATAM or Sky airline website. The lowest fares on their websites don’t include checked baggage and taxes. The price for checked baggage is around 30 USD and taxes are 12 USD.
All prices mentioned below are for one-way tickets.
Patagonian airports in Chile
Flights from Santiago to Puerto Montt:
- take about 2 hours
- tickets are in a range 55 USD (inc. luggage and fees) booked 2 months in advance (and up to 400 USD when booked last minute)
- around 110 USD when booked 1 month in advance
Flights from Santiago to Balmaceda:
- are 2 hours and 15 minutes long, 9 times a day
- prices vary from 61 USD (inc. luggage and fees) to 300 USD last-minute
- the average price for the closest month is 100 USD
Flights from Santiago to the Southern Patagonian city of Punta Arenas:
- depart from Santiago 13 times a day
- cheapest price you will find is about 3 mounts in advance for 65 USD (incl. luggage and taxes)
- the average price for tickets within next month is 110-140 USD
Flights from Santiago to Puerto Natales:
- operate only in high season with LATAM
- frequency varies from 2x a week in December & March and 4x a week in January & February
- prices range from 110-520 USD
- the average price for tickets within next month is 150 USD
Tips on how to save on flights to Patagonia in Chile
- Buying your initial flight only to Santiago may be your cheapest option
- Tickets in Chile for the same distance are cheaper than in Argentina
- Sky Airline tickets are usually about 40% cheaper than LATAM
- Buy tickets 2 months in advance to get the lowest fare
- Flights between 7-14 days in advance are the most expensive
- Some Sky Airline tickets booked through Skyscanner can be cheaper than on their own site
- Full bed buses from Santiago to Puerto Montt are a cheap alternative for last-minute trips
- Plan your trip in a way that you will cross the border between Chile and Argentina by land
- 3-day ferry through Chilean fjords has great sightseeing value
Flying to Patagonia from Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires has two airports one of which serves local and national flights and the other one is international. Having connecting flight in Buenos Aires may require a transfer from Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) to Jorge Newbery Airport (AEP) which is about 45 minutes by shuttle.
Argentina has more airports in Patagonia than Chile but most of them are small and not usually visited by foreigners. Realistically, as a tourist, you will only be using one of three important airports: San Carlos de Bariloche, El Calafate or Ushuaia.
Airlines that fly to Patagonia in Argentina are Aerolineas Argentinas and LATAM. Aerolineas is cheaper than LATAM but prices are much higher compared to Chile. You will pay 50 % more to fly within Argentina.
If you make your booking only a couple of weeks in advance prices for tickets to Buenos Aires from Ushuaia are 230-350 USD, from El Calafate 200-350 USD and from Bariloche 110-150 USD.
Booking tickets 60 to 90 days in advance will save you money, for example from Ushuaia you will pay 160 USD for a direct flight to Buenos Aires. Buying a similar flight to Santiago from Punta Arenas will cost you only about 65 USD which is less than half of Argentinean prices.
Unless you book your tickets from home to Patagonia as one pack, to save money try to avoid flying within Argentina and rather go by bus. Long-distance buses are very comfortable (more than airplanes actually) and more budget-friendly.
Flights within Patagonia
The only budget-friendly option for flying between Patagonian airports is within Chile – from Puerto Montt to the capital of the Chilean Antarctic region Punta Arenas. All other flights have a stopover in Santiago. Every location has around 10 flights a day to Santiago and 2 direct flights from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas.
Southern Patagonia flights are operated by small Chilean carrier DAP airlines. This airline connects 2 airports in Argentina (El Calafate, Ushuaia) with the Chilean Antarctic capital Punta Arenas. Other places covered from Punta Arenas are Porvenir, Puerto Natales and the southernmost city in the world Puerto Williams.
DAP airlines fly between Punta Arenas and Ushuaia twice a week during the summer season and twice a week between Punta Arenas and El Calafate. Chilean locations are served 6 times a week. (see DAP schedule)
Prices for one-way flights to Ushuaia are 250-700 USD and from El Calafate 390-750 USD.
Reasonable flights in Southern Patagonia are from Punta Arenas to Porvenir and Puerto Williams. Many travellers visit the colony of king penguins on Tierra del Fuego island, south of Porvenir. The flight is only 15 minutes and cost about 40 USD, driving can take half a day.
Another one is from Punta Arenas to the southernmost city in the world Puerto Williams. 60 minutes flight costs almost 100 USD but saves you 33 hours on a ferry.
Despite the fact that Patagonia spreads on a quite big area, it will be much cheaper and wiser to travel Patagonia by bus or rent a car rather than fly. Use planes only to get back to capitals or to the other side of Patagonia. Find out more about buses and prices in Chile (recorrido) and Argentina (plataforma10).
To sum up, for the cheapest fare for your flight to Patagonia you will:
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Enjoy your Patagonian trip. It is worth every dollar.
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