The airport has changed a lot in the last five years. Before you needed to board a bus to take you from the plane to the terminal and then run (really, you had to run) to Immigrations if you had any hopes of leaving within a couple of hours. Not anymore, the first phase of renovation was completed in 2005 and transformed the “Jorge Chavez International Airport” into a first-class airport recognized as the Best Airport in South America by Skytrax in 2005 and coming in second place in 2008.

Jorge Chavez International Airport (photo by Daniel Brennwald)

After disembarking through a loading bridge you walk for five minutes until arriving to the ImmigrationPassport section. It is a single lane until you get close to the counters, once there, you will be directed to one of approximately eight lanes to continue a more hopeful wait. Now, once in your lane, you want to look around for a faster one. I know. You feel funny about changing lanes and don’t want to feel the disdain from other fellow passengers. The problem here is that sometimes some lanes are actually much faster than others making the switch worth it.

After the Immigration section is time to pick up your bags. There are only a couple of carousels and the carts should be to the left of the farthest one from where you came in. The carts are free so pick as many as you need. Hopefully your bags will arrive with you but if that is not the case then there is a small counter in the right corner next to one of the carousels. That will be your first stop to check where your bags are.  Ask for the person in charge belonging to your airline carrier. They (airline carrier) should know where your bags are at any moment and if your bags were loaded or not at the airport of origin. If for some reason you have to change flights, at any airport, and happened at the last minute, make sure to ask for your bags before embarking, 9 out of 10 times, depending how much time was between your flights there is a good chance your bags will not make it. If your bags are lost you will need to fill the paperwork and choose to get your bags deliver or to pick them at the airport. If is less than 24 hours before the next flight brings your bags (and with some international flights, like Houston to Lima there is only one flight per day) you will not get any money to spend on clothes or other immediate necessities so don’t waste any more of your time asking for anything. Regardless of the outcome, bags or not bags, is time for you to pass inspection.

Take your bags to the inspection point. Give the customs paperwork to the assistant and press the button. Red means your bags will be open and your underwear will be exposed for the world to see. Green means to go ahead.  If you don’t have your bags with you, don’t worry and give your custom paperwork anyways, you will need to fill a new one if you have to pass inspection again.

Airport at night

You are almost out. But these few feet are the weirdest. You will enjoy a bit the feeling an actor or actress might feel when surrounded by fans. People, at first, will be far but the closer you get to the door the closer they get. If someone is waiting for you, like your family or taxi now is the perfect time to make eye contact, otherwise it will get more difficult. If you are taking a taxi, make sure to ask for a taxi from a established company. As a personal recommendation, don’t wait until leaving the airport to make pickup arrangements. Call your hotel ahead of time and schedule a professional taxi pickup. Should cost you around 20 dollars and you won’t be sorry. Believe me.

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