San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Deep Discounts: Southwest Airlines starts daily service to Costa Rica on March 7

Southwest Airlines and the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) confirmed that the discount carrier will start daily service to Juan Santamaría International Airport outside San José from Baltimore, effective March 7, according to officials at a press conference Wednesday morning.

Southwest Executive Vice President Robert Jordan said that customers can expect fares as low as $130 one way from Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and that the company’s discount reputation would hold true abroad with fares on average 30 to 40 percent lower than their competitors.

Baltimore daily service will be on Boeing 737-700 jets with a capacity of 143 passengers, according to a statement from ICT. Jordan said that customers could connect to 60 destinations on 200 daily flights out of BWI.

President Luis Guillermo Solís, center, meets with Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President Robert Jordan, left, and Tourism Minister Wilhem von Breymann on Wednesday to discuss new flights to Costa Rica.

(Courtesy of Costa Rican Tourism Institute)

The discount carrier also plans to start offering direct service from Houston Hobby Airport sometime in October.

“We have millions of current customers in the United States, and we can see where they want to travel, and we can see – based on their requests – that Costa Rica was at the top of their list,” said Andrew Waterson, Southwest vice president of network planning and performance.

“Our international expansion in the first phase is geared toward tourist destinations, and San José represents a different kind of tourist destination – not just a beach, but also business and visiting relatives travel. So, Costa Rica looked like the best fit for our market,” Waterson added.

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Tourism Minister Wilhem von Breymann said that the new routes would help bolster Costa Rica’s relationship with the United States, the largest single source of visitors to Costa Rica. According to the ICT, 90 percent of U.S. tourists arrive in Costa Rica by air and spend an average of more than $2,200 per person, per visit.

Tourism industry representatives have been increasingly concerned about the rising costs for travelers in Costa Rica, but Waterson said the country continues to provide greater value than many other destinations.

“There are many countries, many islands that have a great beach, but you can’t leave the hotel. Costa Rica offers a diversity of visiting nice beaches and hotels, but also of seeing more of the country in a safe manner, and that’s priceless,” Waterson said.

President Luis Guillermo Solís said Southwest’s announcement and his intention of opening a direct flight to Costa Rica from China were part of a larger policy to make Costa Rica more connected to the wider world. The president added that the announcement was once again proof that Costa Rica is an attractive, reliable market for companies to invest.

Southwest already offers international service to Aruba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Service to Belize City is expected later in 2015.

Fans of the carrier’s distinctive cattle-call boarding policy can look forward to seeing the same queues here in Costa Rica, Waterson said.

“We can’t wait to show you that Southwest hospitality,” Jordan said.

Contact Zach Dyer at

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Roy Henderson

as of 1/16/15, have been unable to book a roundtrip flt from Nashville to San Jose via Southwest website. Booking a R/T flight from Baltimore/San Jose is possible on website…no connecting service to Baltimore…no sign of a $130 fare posted from March through August 2015…$200+ one way

Nashville to San Jose…door to door r/t…I don’t live in Baltimore///United still seems to have the best value

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Great….I can fly from Washington’s DCA, or BWI or Dulles to San Jose (SJO) and be at my front door of my house overlooking the Pacific Ocean in 1:30 minutes flying to San Jose (SJO).
You can call me 703-606-2339 and I will walk you thru it. Wade Elliott 703-606-2339.

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Reina Blocker

So excited. I’ve gone to Costa Rica for the pay two years in a row and this year I was thinking of going some where else because the tickets are so expensive. I may reconsider depending the cost of the flight to MD.

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Fantastic ….I rent my Punta Leona, Costa Rica home and fly out of Dulles, Virginia (IAD) to San Jose (SJO).I can save $250 out of Baltimore (BWI) with Southwest Airlines and not pay baggage fees. That is great ! Also, Snowbirds can go to Pacific Central Zone flying to San Jose (SJO)
This great news for States that get snow and want warm waters of Costa Rica Pacific Ocean.

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Roy Henderson

Thus far BWI connecting SW flights from U.S. cities are not available to schedule a roundtrip to/from San Jose.

$130 fare is not available on the SW website as of 1/16

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Noreen Doyle

Wonderful news!

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Roy Henderson

The question now remains as to when will Southwest (famous discount airline) open up the reservation desk? I have been trying to make a reservation for the last three months…”invalid route”!

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