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The Wife and I had an AMAZING time on our honeymoon in Costa Rica.  Because The Wife had miles on American, we were able to fly first class the whole way for less than we spent on two dinners in Costa Rica (albiet, they were awesome dinners!).  We flew American from San Diego to San Jose through Dallas.

American has just announced new service from New York (JFK) to San Jose Juan Santamaria International in Costa Rica (SJO), starting on April 6, so I thought I’d do some comparisons for you, my eleven readers.

Context – Continental and LASCA (a subsidiary of TACA Costa Rica) already fly to San Jose from Newark and JFK, respectively.  American’s service will be the third hub to serve SJO, the other two being Dallas and Miami.  All three airlines will now offer one non-stop each way on select days.  Because of the difference in schedules, I will use the lowest available price in a given week from

American – Their JFK service will only be on Thursdays, leaving JFK at 3:35 PM and arriving in San Jose at 7:15 PM.  The return flight will leave San Jose at 8:35 AM.  But honestly, who wants to fly at that time from an incredible country like Costa Rica?  Especially when you have to get to the airport 3 hours ahead of time for international travel.  5:30 AM?  From a vacation destination?  Bad move, American.  Round trip fare wil set you back $353, although American charges $25 for your first checked bag each way.

LASCA – Their JFK service goes into San Jose on Saturdays and Sundays, but goes back to JFK on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  More options.  Cool.  Flight times, however, leave much to be desired.  Leave JFK at 6:10 AM (i.e.: arrive at the airport at 3 AM.  Great way to start a vacation.) and arrive in San Jose at 9:30 AM.  Return flight leaves at 6:00 PM and gets into JFK at 1 AM (i.e.: get back to the city around 2 AM if you’re lucky.  Great way to end a vacation.).  $377 for the round trip, but LASCA has no checked bag fees.

Continental – They actually offer daily service, although it’s from Newark.  Lots of options.  Lots of cool.  The flight from EWR to SJO leaves Newark at 5:25 PM and arrives at 8:35 PM.  Speaking from experience, that is a great time to arrive in San Jose.  Just enough time to go through customs, get to your hotel, and settle in.  Nice.  The flight back to EWR, however, leaves at 8:00 AM (same issue as American).  Gross.  Round trip will set you back $373 before a $25 charge for your first checked bag each way (save two dollars by pre-paying for the bag).

Conclusions – First, let’s look at price, assuming you will check a bag.  $423 for Continental, $377 for LASCA, and $403 for American.  Not a huge difference, but if price is a huge factor, go with LASCA.  Then again, let’s consider the schedules.  No airline has a great schedule.  Whichever airline you choose, you will have to deal with an early morning.  It is up to you as to whether you want to wake up early to get to your vacation, or wake up early on your way back.  Trust me: fly through somewhere else and avoid losing sleep for avoidable reasons.  You’ll want the sleep in an incredible place like Costa Rica.

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