Air Travel

To Belize

All international flights to Belize fly into the international airport (BZE) in Ladyville about 9 miles (15 km) from downtown Belize City. The airport has a 9,700-foot-long runway capable of handling all but the largest jets. The major U.S. departure gateways are Atlanta, with nonstop flights on Delta to Belize City (most flights are regional jets with one-class service, with service significantly reduced in summer and fall); Charlotte, with weekly nonstops on US Airways to Belize City; Houston, with service two or three times daily, depending on the time of year, on United (which has merged with Continental); and Miami and Dallas-Fort Worth with daily nonstop service from each city on American. One of the Miami flights is a code-share with British Airways. (As of this writing, American plans to merge with US Airways, and it is unclear how service to Belize may be impacted.) United also has a weekly nonstop from Newark. Delta has a nonstop, new in late 2013, from Los Angeles (LAX) weekly on Saturday. TACA flies to Belize City from several U.S. cities, but flights involve a change of planes in San Salvador, El Salvador. In the past there have been seasonal charter flights from Toronto, Canada, to Belize by Sunwing and other charter operators, but as of this writing there are no nonstop flights from Canada.

To Belize City it's roughly 2½ hours from Miami and Atlanta; 2½–3 hours from Dallas, Houston, and Charlotte; 4½ hours from Newark, and about 6 hours from Los Angeles.

Tropic Air, one of two Belizean airlines, offers twice-daily service between Belize City's international airport and Flores, Guatemala, with continuing service (often on a code-share with TAG, a Guatemalan airline) to and from Guatemala City. It also has daily (some flights may be only six days a week) service between Belize City and Cancún, Mexico, and San Pedro Sula and Roatán, Honduras. Maya Island Air, another Belizean airline, currently has domestic service only.

Airfares to Belize are often twice or more the cost of a ticket to Cancún or Cozumel, Mexico, so, if you have the time, it may pay to fly into the Yucatán and take a bus. From Cancún or Playa del Carmen a first-class or deluxe ADO bus costs US$25 or less, and takes five to six hours, to Chetumal, Mexico, a border town where you can transfer to a Belize bus to Belize City (US$6–$7) or take a water taxi to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, or to Caye Caulker (US$35–$45).

Within Belize

Domestic planes are single- or twin-engine island-hoppers and puddle-jumpers, such as Cessna Caravans. They typically carry 4 to 14 passengers. The carriers are Tropic Air and Maya Island Air, both of which fly to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker as well as Corozal Town, Dangriga, Placencia, and Punta Gorda. Tropic Air also has service between Belize City and Belmopan and San Ignacio, between Placencia and San Ignacio. For those going to certain remote inland resorts, Tropic Air can fly to Blancaneaux Lodge, Hidden Valley Inn, Lamanai Outpost, and Chan Chich Lodge. Maya Island Air also has service on demand to Savannah near Placencia, as well as charter flights to remote lodges and resorts. In addition, Tropic Air has service to and from Flores, Guatemala, with continuing service to and from Guatemala City, to Cancún, Mexico, and San Pedro Sula and Roatán, Honduras.

Belize domestic flights on Maya Island and Tropic Air from and to the international airport are between BZ$250 and BZ$500 round-trip and about BZ$150 to BZ$400 round-trip between the municipal airstrip in Belize City and domestic destinations. A Belize Airports Authority Rider Fee of BZ$5 is added into the cost of tickets, and BZ$1.50 security fee if using the international airport.

Charter services such as Javier Flying Service and Cari Bee Air Service will take you almost anywhere for around BZ$400 per hour and up; Javier has flights to Chan Chich Lodge. Both Maya Island and Tropic also have charter services. Astrum Helicopters, based near Belize City, offers transfers, aerial property tours, and custom sightseeing and photography tours anywhere in Belize. Costs for up to six people in the Bell 206 helicopters are around BZ$2,000 an hour. Fixed rates apply for transfers to specific resorts, starting at BZ$2,500 for four persons.

You'll save 10% to 40% on flights within Belize by flying to and from the municipal airport near downtown Belize City, rather than to or from the international airport north of the city in Ladyville. If you're arriving at the international airport, a transfer by taxi to the municipal airport is BZ$50 (for up to four persons, not per person); transferring to the municipal airport makes more sense for families or groups traveling together. If you need to fly between the Belize City area and another part of the country, it's always at least a little cheaper to fly to or from municipal. As of this writing the Belize City municipal airstrip (TZA) is set for improvements in late 2013–14. Be aware that this airstrip is short, only a little over 1,700, suitable only for short-takeoff-and-landing aircraft, and sits right beside the sea. Landings and takeoffs sometimes can be a thrill.

Air Contacts

American Airlines (San Cas Plaza, Belize City, Belize. 800/433–7300 in U.S. and Canada; 223/2522 in Belize City. www.aa.com.)

Astrum Helicopters (Cisco Base, Mile 3 1/2 George Price Hwy., formerly Western Hwy., Western Suburbs, Belize City, Belize. 222/5100. www.astrumhelicopters.com.)

Cari Bee Air Service (Belize City Municipal Airstrip, Marine Parade Harbor Front, Belize City, Belize. 224/4253.)

Delta Airlines (Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport, Ladyville, Belize. 888/750-3284 in U.S. and Canada; 255/2010 in Belize. www.delta.com.)

Javier Flying Service (Central Farm Airstrip, San Ignacio, Cayo. 824/0460. www.javiersflyingservice.com.)

Maya Island Air (Belize City Municipal Airstrip, Marine Parade Harbor Front, Belize City, Belize. 223/1140 reservations. www.mayaislandair.com.)

TACA (41 Albert St., Commercial District, Belize City, Belize. 800/400–8222 in U.S.; 501/227–7363 in Belize. www.taca.com.)

Tropic Air (San Pedro Airstrip, San Pedro Town, Belize. 226/2012 Reservations in Belize; 800/422–3435 in U.S. and Canada. www.tropicair.com.)

US Airways (Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, Ladyville, Belize. 800/428–4322 in U.S. and Canada; 225/4091 in Belize. www.usairways.com.)

United Air Lines (4792 Coney Dr., Whitfield Tower 1st Floor, Belize City, Belize. 800/226-3822 reservations; 822/1062 in Belize. www.united.com.)

Airlines and Airports

Airline and Airport Links. Airline and Airport Links has links to many airlines and airports. www.airlineandairportlinks.com.

Airline Security Issues

Transportation Security Administration (866/289–9673 in U.S. . www.tsa.gov. Mon.–Fri. 8 am–11 pm Eastern Time . Weekends/Holidays: 9 am–8 pm Eastern Time.)

Airports

International flights arrive at the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) in Ladyville, 9 miles (15 km) north of Belize City, probably the world's only airport with a mahogany ceiling (it’s in the original terminal building). Small domestic airports (mostly just landing strips with a one-room check-in) in Belize are at Belize City municipal (TZA), Belmopan (BCV), Corozal (CZH), Dangriga (DGA), Savannah (SVH), Placencia (PLJ), Punta Gorda (PND), San Pedro (SPR), Caye Caulker (CUK), Maya Flats near San Ignacio (MYF), and Sarteneja (SJX).

The future of a controversial new, privately funded international airport under construction near the north end of the Placencia peninsula is unclear. As of this writing, construction work has essentially stopped, and the airport remains unfinished.

Philip Goldson International Airport has security precautions similar to those in the United States; the domestic airstrips have limited security systems, but there has never been an airline hijacking in Belize. For international flights, arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure; for domestic flights, about half an hour. For connections from international flights to domestic flights, allow 45 minutes. In Belize, domestic airlines with more passengers than seats sometimes simply add another flight.

A new visitor identification system including fingerprint scanners was introduced in July 2013 by Belize immigration at Philip Goldson, paid for in part by the U.S. The government says it soon will be expanded for use for all 11 land and sea arrival points to Belize. Initially the system caused delays of up to two hours for arrival processing, but such delays probably will be greatly reduced as wrinkles are ironed out. The new system includes computer workstations, webcams, passport readers, and fingerprint scanners and will be managed through a central server at Immigration headquarters in Belmopan.

Contacts

Belize Municipal Airstrip (TZE) (On seafront off Princess Margaret Dr., Belize City Municipal Airstrip, Marine Parade Harbor Front, Belize City, Belize.)

Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) (9 mi (15 km) north of Belize City center, off Northern Hwy., Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, Ladyville, Belize. 225/2045. www.pgiabelize.com.)

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