Thursday, June 21, 2012

From New York to Argentina: Our Plane Traveling Experience

On Saturday, June 16th, 2012, my spouse and I boarded an American Airline flight to Miami. It was the first of three planes we’d board in order to get to our final destination, Cordoba, Argentina. We left NYC from LaGuardia at 8:00 p.m., and as I looked out the window, a part of me felt sad as I said goodbye to the New York skyline, quite likely forever.

We arrived in Miami by 11:00 p.m. but had to wait overnight at MIA for our Argentine flight.

TIP #1: The best place to buy your tickets is through Don’t believe the horrible things you read about this company. They were great and extremely affordable. Most of the negative comments about this company are probably posted by their competitors.

After you purchase your tickets online, they will provide you with an e-mail with an electronic confirmation number from This will not help you at Argentine Airlines.

Contact by e-mail shortly after receiving your e-mail confirmation and request a reservation number for Argentine Airlines. They will provide it for you quickly. 

Three days before your flight I recommend you call Argentine Airlines and give them your reservation number.

You will not be able to do an online check-in but when you call you will be able to reserve your seat number.

If you are traveling with someone, you will definitely want to make sure you are sitting next to them. If you don't do this you run the risk that the airline will assign you separate seats.

Do You Need A Visa To Enter Argentina?
YOU DO NOT NEED A VISA IF YOU ARE A U.S. CITIZEN. YOU WILL BE GRANTED THREE MONTHS. Once you are here you can request an additional 3 month extension a week before your original visa expires, but you will not be granted a 3rd visa. You only get 2 visas (known in Argentina as PROROGAS) per entry. If your visa expires you will not be deported. However, when you decide to leave the country you will be charged a fee.
TIP #2: When boarding American Airlines you will be charged 25 dollars for your first luggage and 35 dollars for your second luggage as of 2012. Of course, the rate might increase in the coming years. Your first and second luggage cannot weigh more than 50 pounds each. If you go over that you will be charged an additional 150 dollars overweight charge. In addition, you can bring a carry-on bag and a purse, or murse (man purse), and a jacket at no charge.

On Sunday Morning, June 17th, 2012, we checked our luggage in at Aerolineas Argentina.  Keep in mind that if your plane arrives late at night. You will not be able to check your luggage in until 5:15 a.m.

TIP #3: If you are a Naturalized American Citizen, who was born in Argentina, like I was, you don't need to show proof of a return ticket. If you are an American Citizen and you are married to an Argentine citizen. who is accompanying you, you will be allowed to enter the country. However, they may ask you to have a return ticket, but they WILL NOT deny you entry into the country. Just let them know that you are visiting your spouse/husband/wife's family and you intend to be there for about 30 days or so, and they will note it on the computer. Make sure to have the address of where you'll be staying in Argentina. They may ask.

9 hours later, I landed in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. I presented myself to an immigration representative, who was a little confused because I had a U.S. passport that said I was an American citizen, but it also said that my country of birth was Argentina. The lady asked me for my DNI, which is Argentina’s equivalent of a social security number, but I didn’t have one, or if I did, I didn’t know what it was. 

If you are NOT an Argentine citizen, you will have to pay a penalty fee of 150 U.S. Dollars to enter the country. Since my spouse was born in the U.S., he had to pay the fee. After that ordeal was over we grabbed our luggage and sat in the waiting area. 
TIP #4: The airport in Buenos Aires has wireless internet connection at no charge. Your cell phones will automatically start linking to the network there. WARNING: Cell phone use will bring an international data charge every time you use your phone. Also, I don't recommend that you travel outside of the airport. This can be dangerous if you don't know anyone in Argentina. Stay put until it’s time to board your flight.

We weren’t allowed to check our luggage in until an hour before our flight to Cordoba. It can be nerve wracking because you only have an hour to check your luggage in before your flight leaves, but don't get discouraged. You will be fine and on time for the flight, just like we were. There aren't that many people traveling between provinces, mainly foreigners. So, who knows? You might make a friend with another expat.

The next morning, which was a Monday on June 18th, we checked our luggage in. The people at the Buenos Aires airport were a little more thorough, so I was a little nervous. Be careful about bringing too many electronic items. Argentina has a $300 limit on the value of electronics per passenger. If you’re bringing USD into the country, the max is $10,000. If you bring more than that, you’re going to have your luggage turned upside down. You could end up having to pay additional fees, so don’t risk it, like one lady, who brought four X-Boxes in her luggage with the obvious intent to sell. I brought my Blu-Ray player and my DVDs because there was no way I was going to leave my TV and movie collection behind. But if you bring a lot of DVDs, be warned that when your bags are x-rayed, they will ask you what they are. Stay calm. Stay friendly and most importantly... be HONEST. They let me through without any incident.

TIP #5: If you bring medications with you, there is no way that you will be able to get through customs without being questioned. So here is what you should do. Go to your doctor before your trip and ask them to write a letter explaining the reason you need your medication. This will satisfy the Argentine authorities at the checkpoint.

After we were cleared, my spouse and I walked over to the waiting area. Then we took a shuttle bus to a smaller plane.  

TIP #6: Once you travel from Buenos Aires to Cordoba, or any other province in Argentina, this will be considered a domestic flight. So the plane you will board will not say Aerolineas Argentina. It will say AUSTRAL which is a branch of Argentine Airlines. So, if your connecting flight ticket says FLIGHT AR 2900 and the monitors in the waiting area say that your flight is AU 2900, DON'T PANIC! It's the same thing!

The flight from Buenos Aires to Argentina was only supposed to take an hour, but it took a little longer because of the plane's flight check.
TIP #7: Don't take a photo of the plane. I realize that you want to preserve the memory, but security will see it as a threat, and you will be warned once. Try it again and you may find yourself in custody.

After the plane landed in Cordoba, we grabbed our bags and started walking through a long corridor. At first I panicked. I managed to get away with smuggling my Blu-Ray player and thousands of DVDs at B.A., but would I be as lucky in Cordoba? It turns out, I didn’t have to worry about it. There was no immigration or security checkpoint at the Cordoba airport. This meant that we were done. We made it. So, now it was time to relax and meet my parents, whom I hadn’t seen in over seven years.
We were welcomed with open arms by my parents, who were extremely thrilled to see us. But we were more than glad that this part of the journey was finally over.
Now came the biggest challenge: Assimilating into a society we knew nothing about.

To Be Continued...

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