It was the last day of a two week trip to Peru and I was sitting in my Cusco hotel room watching Friends re-runs as I waited for my transfer to the airport. I don’t know if it was boredom or a premonition, but something made me check the flight status for my LAN flight to Lima. Turns out my 130pm flight had been cancelled!!!! I called the tour operator providing my airport transfer and they called the airline to figure out an alternative.
I was given the option of going on an aerial sightseeing tour to Lima via Puno and Arequipa or wait for the 400pm direct flight. As that would have been the last flight of the day and I had an international connection, I wasn’t going to risk it. I rejected both options and rushed to the airport with the hopes of getting on the first available flight ….. and I made it!
So I arrived in Lima at noon and had more than 11 hours to waste in the airport. Not exactly fun, but manageable.
I first left my bag at the left luggage counter, located outside of the Domestic Arrivals door. The rate was 24 soles for 6-24 hours. Then I tried to find a free WiFi connection. There is an internet cafe on the second floor, but you have to pay for it. I saw people with laptops sitting around Starbucks (also on the second floor), so I figured they had something going on there. I bought a drink and received my password with purchase. Yay!
This massage area has been here for years. A 15 minute massage cost 25 soles.
There are several stores to buy last minute gifts for friends and family. I unloaded all my last Soles here at the airport. I probably spent more here in a few hours than I did a few days in the highlands. This store was closed as you can probably tell by the high-tech security fence.
The food court has a McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts and Papa Johns (you know, all the healthy cuisine) as well some local fast food concessions. Staff walk around with menus like waiters. There is a Subway further down by the entrance to the gates. The food court is where airport sleepers congregate at night. The airport felt safe during the day. However, when I spent the night here a few years ago, the police told me that the spot I had originally chosen was putting me at risk of a theft. They suggested I move to the food court. Not sure if the night safety has changed, but the food court is definitely the place for sleepers to go at night. Everybody just passes out with their heads on the tables.
There is a simple, unused chapel on the second level near the International Arrivals.
After walking around the terminal 5 or 6 times, I needed to find a seat. Other than the food court and the check-in counters along the window, it appeared that this airport had no landside seating. Then I discovered this little area in the International Arrivals area with armrest-free seats. Considering the lack of seating in this airport, I don’t think stretching out on several seats during the day would go over well with the locals awaiting their loved ones.
I ALMOST thought I would spend the rest of my day in the above area when I discovered that the adjacent cafe had a TV showing “Just for Laughs” reruns. I love that show and always laugh so hard when they play it on the LAN flights!!! My joy was short lived as I soon discovered it was only 1 episode on a loop. Oh well, it made me laugh a few times anyways. I also managed to pick-up a free WiFi signal here. I don’t know how as Starbucks was nowhere near this spot. Happy Accident!
After 7 or 8 hours of going brain dead from boredom and spending a fortune on meals and drinks at various concessions, I finally checked in. There was plenty of armrest-free seating airside and many empty gate areas. If you are looking for something more plush, the Sumaq Lounge is available in the International Departures areas. There are a few nice, expensive looking sit down restaurants and tiny food concessions where you can get a sandwich and drink.
One last note about things to do landside: the Ramada Costa del Sol is across the street from the airport and they offer non-guests a day pass to access the small spa/pool/massage/shower/sauna area . I went over to check out the place and they told me the rate would depend on the package you choose. Sorry, I didn’t get the rates.
The posted room rates at the hotel check-in counter started at over US$300 for the standard room (as of December 2011). Ouch! I saw online rates for US$ 200-243, so you will save money if you book online rather than just showing up at the hotel looking for a room. The rooms are pretty standard and I didn’t hear any aircraft noise, so if you are truly wrecked and have the money, why not? The Costa del Sol offers a discounted rate for day rooms from 10am – 6pm, but you would have to book that directly at the check-in desk.
Should you find yourself stuck at the Lima airport and you don’t want to sleep with your head on the table in the food court, I suggest that you go up to the Internet Cafe on the second floor to check out the rates online before you go over to the hotel. Compare rates and Check availability on Tripadvisor.
Overall, the Lima airport is not a bad place to spend a few hours – 11 hours is a little much though. Bring a fully charged iPod or laptop. The absence of landside seating is a big minus at the Lima Airport, but there are plenty of good places to sit down and eat. I have a feeling this is where the airport officials would prefer you and your last Soles anyways.
Check out our Lima Airport Guide and Traveller Reviews.