by: Robelyn Martinez Yambao
Hola my friends,
I am here to share my experience in flying to Costa Rica via Europe through KLM. I chose this airline for the reason that I don't need to get any transit visa at all. The downfall is the long hours of trip because of layover in each transit and the cost which is expensive for me where I can get much cheaper flight from another airlines via USA or another part of the world. I just hate processing papers for visa so, this is the best for me.
Booking The Tickets
In my first trip going to Costa Rica in the year 2014, I booked my round trip tickets through phone call using the local phone in the Philippines. The agent was a Filpino so, it was easy for me to communicate and present my queries in tagalog because I had a lot of questions about transits. It was so expensive for me when I booked it a week or few days before my flight. I chose 28 days for my return date and it costs me almost $3000 USD. This is good for 1-year if you opt to change your flight especially the return ticket. It is allowed to re-book your tickets but it should be one day before your departure because there would be penalty you gonna pay if you missed your flight or you did not show up on the day of your flight then, you wanted to re-book it on your preferred date after you missed the flight.
This is also non-transferable nor refundable. They provide good meals and you will have 20kg baggage allowance. The travel tax is also included in the ticket so, you don't need to pay the tax collector at the PH airport.
In my second trip going to CR this year 2017, My 3-year old daughter was with me. I booked our tickets through their website. In their website, you can choose the cheapest flight they offer in a certain date. This time, I booked our tickets a month before our departure and that's the trick here in getting cheaper price and our return date was only 15 days. Since my daughter is already 3 years, she needs to get a seat. This trip costs me $2959.21 USD. The ticket conditions are the following:
* Cancellation is not possible.
* Re-booking before and after departure is permitted at a fee of $120 USD plus fare difference, the ticket may change due to tax calculation. There is a service charge if you change via telephone.
* No refund if you decide to cancel.
* You may bring one piece check-in baggage
* Cancellation and re-booking of return ticket is not possible.
Please visit their website for more info.
Check-In Counter at NAIA Terminal 3
The departure time is at night but the check-in time is at 4pm. During the check-in, the agent/officer/crew (whatever you call them) at the entrance will ask you to show your ticket and passport. She will also ask you some personal questions about your destination and purpose of travel. My first trip took longer than normal, they even question why I took big luggage with me if I plan to stay in CR for only 28 days. For Filipino travelers and first timer, you should know how to answer them confidently as if they don't have the right to question your rights to travel.
In my second trip, it was smooth and relaxed. The flow is like with OFW passengers with no questions after showing their papers. They will put sticker at the back of your passport cover and jot down your names in their notebook. In the counter, they told me to go get the clearance of my daughter at the Philippine travel tax collection section after they printed out something to show to the PH travel tax collector. Then, we returned to the counter to give that clearance and they gave us our boarding passes (3-boarding pass: PH, Amsterdam, Panama). Our luggage will be picked up at the CR airport and laptop is not allowed in the baggage, it should be hand-carry.
You need to pass through the immigration section for exit stamp. Take with you the filled-out departure card (you can get at the entrance), passport and other documents related to your trip. After getting the stamp, you may pass the machine to check all your things, here you will need to take off your watch, sling bag, coins in your pocket, jacket and shoes. Water or any liquid in your hand carry is not allowed. Then, you are free to go to your boarding gate at 111. If you still have a lot of time, you can do shopping or visit restaurants here when hungry before going to your assigned gate.
At the entrance of the gate, they will ask you to show your boarding pass and passport. In my case, they put me in priority lane because I have a kid and I'm pregnant. This priority is only for passengers with Blue Miles card or membership and mostly rich can afford this service because they travel a lot through this airline. Meaning, they can be the first to board in the plane among other passengers and we were lucky to experience that without availing membership. Then, you are ready to fly!
First Stop Over
The first transit will be in Amsterdam but the flight has one stop at Taipei for an hour or so. Here, they will clean up and refuel the plane before proceeding to Amsterdam. You will need to take your bags with you in disembarking the plane. After that, someone will give you pass card (yellow in color) and you need to hold that until you board the plane again. You will pass through the machine again to check your belongings. Then, you are ready to go to the gate, you will need to follow your fellow passengers but there are still stewardess on the way to guide you. When you reach the gate, same process will be applied, priority lane on left and on the other side are those with no Blue Miles. They have charging area in this gate so, this is your chance to use the airport amenities. After an hour or so, the passengers will go back to the same seat # assigned when leaving PH. Then, you are ready to fly to Amsterdam!
Welcome to Amsterdam
At Amsterdam airport, security is so strict. They have monitor or big screen to check your boarding gate. There's no boarding gate written in your boarding pass so, better check that in the monitor or ask the officer on the lobby. You will enter again in the machine to check your belongings. No water or liquid allowed so, throw it in the trash bin before entering. After this, you will turn to your right side to go to your gate. But, better ask the officer to give you the correct direction. They can check all the flights through their phone and very helpful. In this transit, you don't need to pass through immigration. Just go straight to the boarding gate. The airport is so clean and nice. From the toilet to the waiting area. The amenities are so good from free use of computer and wifi spot. I really enjoyed my stay here while waiting for my next flight. You can choose bench, chair, sossy sofa and bed while hanging out in there. Same procedure in boarding the plane again going to Panama. Just show your passport and boarding pass to the entrance. I got priority treatment again.
In this transit, it will be hard for you to know your gate because most of the officers you will meet here cannot speak English, only Spanish. You need to go directly to Copa Airlines to ask your boarding gate number. No more priority experience, they will call according to your seat rows. But, I still moved fast to be in front of the line and the stewardess can't do anything about it because I'm with my kid and pregnant. The over all flight experience was good. The stewardess will distribute a form to be submitted in the immigration at the arrival of CR called Registro Migratorio. So, prepare your pen.
I think this all for today! I hope I gave you a lot of information in flying to Costa Rica throuh KLM Airline. This was my personal experience, I hope you enjoyed it! If you have questions, just leave a comment below.
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A licensed teacher in the Philippines who shifted her career into another direction to follow her passion to be a blogger. Her blogs are related in traveling and simple living as an expat in a foreign land.