You might be wondering why this piece is necessary but having arrived internationally, catching a domestic flight to destinations like Cordoba, Bariloche, Calafate, or Mendoza has always required transferring to the domestic airport (Jorge Newberry) in the centre of town or even an overnight in Buenos Aires, a pleasure for some, sometimes considered a pain for others. But things have changed and now, for those headed to Cordoba, making the trek across town is no longer entirely necessary and can be cheaper as a meet and greet service is not necessarily required.
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These are my experiences and recommendations.
I arrived on the British Airways flight in Business Class thanks to my large collection of Air Miles. Due to the location of my seat, I was the first off the plane. I stepped off my plane at 0900 local time, 45 minutes late. My flight to Cordoba departed at 11.35. I was at Passport Control by 0907 walking fast and using the walkways. It was looking grim when I arrived but they opened up the resident section to foreigners and that spread the pressure and I was through by 0917. The bags were on the conveyors when I arrived so by 0920 I had my bags and was in the queue for Customs. That queue was moving painfully slowly and I thought this might have been my undoing but again, they opened up more scanners (everyone has to pass all their bags through a scanner) and the line moved very quickly and I was through into the sea of people by 0935.
My conclusion on this was that 2 hours and 40 minutes to make the next flight, even in Business Class, felt vulnerable and really I would be more comfortable advising on at least three hours between flights, preferably more. If one had been mid-economy, I think the passport queue might have taken 45 minutes, the bags would have been there and Customs ‘could’ have taken another 45 minutes so really one has to allow 90 minutes to get through. Of course, it may not take that long and my experience in 2015 was of a much less busy and easier cruise through the airport but that would be my advice.
From coming through Customs, one enters a sea of people and you walk through a human tunnel of sign holders eagerly awaiting their clients which on this occasion took me almost to the doors out of the airport. You are headed for Terminal C. So what you need to do is go straight (no veering off in any direction) as the tunnel of people takes you and go through the doors and turn left briefly where there is a sign to Terminal C which invites you to then veer right. Follow those signs along a covered walkway over large tiles which have grown bumpy with age and wear and tear. If you are there in summer, this ten-minute walk with your trolley and luggage is a hot one so take off any excess layers before commencing. As you get closer the signage improves but then there is no clear indication that you are actually at Terminal C!
On arrival, there was a queue to check-in (there did not seem to be a separate line for those that had checked-in online so there seemed to be no advantage to that there but I still recommend doing it because if things are tight, you are checked in and they cannot close the flight on you). It was not huge but the terminal was much smaller, quiet and not chaotic and I think that if one was running late, the situation is small enough that someone would help you and get you to the front of the queue etc. Security was easy with no queue at all (which has been the case throughout my time in Argentina) and soon I was sitting in the small terminal with gate numbers from 24 – 29 only. I was there with one hour to wait. The coffee shops served coffee, water and soft drinks, the food looked very unappealing!
My advice is as follows:
If you are the kind of person who gets anxious at airports, leave at least 3 hours, more is better or take the other option of crossing town with a meet and greet service.
A third option is to have someone meet you and see you safely across to Terminal C and help you check-in. This will cost about $180 but it is likely worth it and they will be there to help you and fight your corner if things do go wrong.
If you are relaxed about these things then I would still allow three hours or more unless you are in Business Class when you could cut it a little finer.
You cannot check your bags through with Aerolineas unless you are arriving on a Sky Team airline. The most likely ones would be Delta, KLM, Air France or Alitalia.
Most important of all…
If you do decide to take this route, which is a great option if it works for you, the key is to contact Frontiers if your flight is delayed to the point that it is clearly going to go wrong. The weakness is that there is no back-up flight to Cordoba from Pistarini International Airport therefore if your flight is late, Frontiers need to know so that they can book you a new flight from the other airport and a meet and greet/transfer service. Should you choose to take this route we will make sure you have the best numbers to call for help.
One last footnote. Aerolineas Argentinas is now a state owned airlines and a member of the Sky Team group of airlines. The effect of this has been that the Government has thrown money at it with new planes, much improved service and it really is a pleasure now. I experienced now schedule changes which used to be common, no delays and good clean modern aircraft on all my six internal flights. The effect of being a member of Sky Team is that they have to maintain these standards otherwise they will lose their status.