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How to leave the Santiago’s airport with no stress

Anyone who has traveled and arrived in a new city, hopes to come out from the airport as quick and easy as possible. To achieve that, its essential to know clearly what means of transportation are available and how much they cost. So if you are either a foreigner or Chilean and you have never been to the capital, here you will find some information to help making your experience at Arturo Merino Benítez airport as pleasant as possible.

Aeropuerto de Santiago

Aeropuerto de Santiago (Photo by Airkeep Team)

Pass through immigration without any hustle

The first thing you should know if you come on an international flight, is that Santiago’s airport protocols, are one of the most strict but reliable I’ve seen. If you have nothing to hide, pass the immigration control calmly and with a smile.

Once you take your luggage you must have your statement from the Agriculture and livestock control service (SAG) with you, as your bags will go through the X-ray machine and they will ask for this paper. If you have any doubt about something you brought, it’s better to ask and / or declare it, since the fines for entering the country anything that’s not allowed (even an apple forgotten in your backpack) are very high. Check everything and don’t expose yourself to experience a hard time.

After this check you will go through the arrivals gate. If you have traveled before, you know what happens: a bunch of people offering taxi rides, transfers, hotels, etc. Relax, this bunch in Chile are not as pushy as in other places, a “no, thank you” will be enough.

Transportation options

In Santiago there is only one commercial airport (Arturo Merino Benítez / SCL), serving both national and international flights and located in the Pudahuel district, in the outskirts of the city. Unfortunately, the subway or regular buses still don’t get here, but there are many other options, for big and small budgets.

1) Bus

It’s the cheapest way to travel to and from the airport. There are two companies that offer the service: Turbus and Centropuerto, both very safe. They have regular-sized buses, like the ones used for inter-city trips, with small space for the suitcases. You must bring them up yourself, so if you are carrying too much baggage it might be a little uncomfortable.

The two companies connect the airport with the Metro (subway), which is very convenient. However, remember the underground system only works until 11 pm. The last stop of Turbus is the Bus Terminal of Santiago, where you can find bus routes going to all the important cities. The last stop for Centropuerto is Los Heroes Metro station, very close to the civic district of Santiago. Depending on your destination, you can decide which company to choose.

The buses are taken right outside of the airport, between exits 4 and 5 on level 1. Tickets can be purchased on the bus or in the booths located close by. Face-to-face payment can only be done using Chilean pesos, but Turbus tickets can also be purchased online with any credit or debit card. Either company takes approximately 45 minutes to arrive to central Santiago.

Centropuerto

Departs from Monday to Sunday every 10 minutes, between 6 a.m. and 11:30 p.m.
Departs every hour between 11:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.
One way: CLP 1,800 (less than USD 3).
Round trip:  CLP 3,200 (USD 5
)

Centropuerto

Parada de Centropuerto (Photo by Airkeep Team)

Turbus
Departs from Monday to Sunday every 10 minutes, between 5 a.m. and 12 a.m.
Departs every hour, between 12:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.
One way: CLP 1,800 (less than USD 3)
Round trip: CLP 3,200 (USD 5)

Parada de TurBus

Parada de Turbus (Photo by Airkeep Team)

For more information, trips back to the airport, stops and schedules, you can check websites of both companiesCentropuerto – Turbus.

2) Shared transfer

This way of transportation is both inexpensive and safe. Instead of a public bus you share a van or minibus with just 7 other passengers. Two companies that provide this service, both with booths inside the airport (before the arrivals gate): Delfos and Transvip. Prices per person start at CLP 7,000 (USD 11) and go up depending on the specific address you are heading to. For instance, the price to go to downtown Santiago, is precisely CLP 7,000.

Servicio de Transfer (Photo by Airkeep Team)

The pros of this service are, mainly, that it takes you exactly at your destination. The cons are that, depending on your destination, you’ll have to wait till other passengers are dropped off, which could take a while.

You can check the price of the trip to the address you are heading, directly on the Delfos and Transvip websites. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, either from or to the airport. Payment can be made in cash, credit or debit card.

The booths of this companies can be found before the arrivals gate of both national and international terminals.

Servicio de transfer

Servicio de transfer (Photo by Airkeep Team)

3) Taxi

As soon as you leave the customs area, many taxi drivers will rush to you. These drivers can legally take passengers, but they are not airport officials and offer cheaper rates that may or may not be real. If you don’t want to be the victim of any scam, say exactly where you’re going and ask for the approximate rate before going in the car. As a reference, a trip from the airport to downtown Santiago shouldn’t cost more than CLP 15,000 (USD 23).

Taxi de Santiago

Taxi de Santiago (Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash)

The official taxis are hired at a counter located within the arrival area, before the gate. They will inform you in advance the reference price for the trip in a basic taxi (black / yellow), with a meter, or the fix fare (which you can pay in the same place) if you want to take a tourist taxi (blue cars). Each passenger is given a ticket with their destination address, reference rate and location of the taxi in the parking lot. Then a company’s representative will guide you to the area where the vehicle is.

Although official taxis are more expensive than the unofficial ones, you can be sure that you will not face any surprise with the final price and, if you have a problem, you can complain at the office in the airport.

4) Uber and Cabify

Both companies operate in Chile without legal regulation, which means they don’t have permission to operate within the airport grounds. Anyway, if you want to use one of the two apps, drivers manage to pick you up or drop you off at the airport, but outside the controlled area, which are usually near to the departures and arrivals gates.

Uber drivers, for example, meet you at the Express Parking, located just opposite of the west elevator that leads to gate 5. Other meeting point is the Holiday Inn Hotel, which is just a few steps from the terminal exit.

It’s recommended not to ask to be left or picked up close to arrivals or departures, because there have been some violent incidents between “app drivers” and control personnel, even the police.

5) Car rental

If you want to leave immediately after getting off the plane, renting a car at the airport is a good option. The companies that provide this service are Alamo, Hertz, Europcar, Budget, Econorent and Rosselot; You can check their prices on their websites and even book your vehicle in advance. They all have booths in the International Central Hall, in Level 1, for both national and international arrivals.

Rent a car

Rent a car (Photo by Airkeep Team)

However, before taking this option, you should know that to rent a car you have to meet some basic requirements, such as: to have a local or international driver’s license, to be over 21 years old and to have a credit card with a balance of at least USD 1000 for the guarantee (this may vary depending on the company).

If you’re not Chilean, I also recommend studying a bit the traffic rules and signals, so you can drive safely through the streets of Santiago, which can sometimes be chaotic.

As you can see, there are several options to leave the airport. If you have a long lay over or a few hours to spare before taking your plane, a trip around Santiago is definitely a good option. And don’t worry about your luggage, Airkeep always has a place to store your bags, very close to the most touristic points of the city.

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