Belize is one of our favorite escapes. We love the people, the food, the beauty, and the fly fishing. It is totally relaxing! Plus, there are so many options for things to do and truly something for everyone. You can have a beach vacation, a jungle retreat, a grand adventure, just relax, or any combination of it all. But, flying to and around Belize can be very overwhelming, especially if you have never been. So, here are some top tips for managing Belize flights, so you get more time for fun in the sun…
Flying to Belize from the United States
Check airline schedules before booking accommodations. The first thing you need to know about flying to Belize is that not every airline flies there everyday. In addition, their schedules change seasonally. Our top tip is to not book your accommodations until you confirm that your airline of choice has flights available those days. There are a few major cities like NYC, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta that do fly direct to Belize, so that will make it easier. This past trip, we had five different people coming and going from different cities. We all took a combination of United, Delta, American and SouthWest based on the days we had to travel.
Get the earliest flight out. We also suggest getting the first flight possible to arrive as early as you can. All of the flights land within a few hours of each other and the sooner you get there, the sooner you will have a cocktail in your hand and the less of a line at customs and immigration. We generally leave our city at 6AM and arrive in Belize City by 11:30 or noon. All international flights arrive and depart from Belize City International Airport (BZE).
Sit up front on the plane. Pick your seat on the plane carefully. Honestly, we always sit in Business/First Class for the simple reason that depending on when your flight arrives, the line for immigration can be very long and you may be very rushed for your domestic connection. Almost all of the flights coming into and out of Belize International Airport land and take off about the same time. This means the back up at the airport comes in waves. If you are in the back of the plane, be prepared to wait.
Customs and Immigration tips. On your flight, carefully fill out your Immigration form, both top and bottom. Be sure to have the address of where you are staying and if taking a different airlines out of the country, be sure to have all that flight information as well. You may be asked for all this my the Immigration official. Take the bottom part of your immigration form and put it in a safe place for your departure from the country.
Once you clear Immigration, pick up your luggage. It could take a bit, but here’s what you do… Take the extra hard shell carry-on you brought and slip into the Duty Free shop. Pick up some wine and alcohol to enjoy when you are in Belize. We have found that the selection is better and the price is about half elsewhere. The only items we do not buy are beer and rum as we prefer to buy local.
Do not pack these items in your bag yet. Once you collect the rest of your luggage, you have to head over to Customs. With your Duty Free items, you will be able to go to the shorter line on the left. Once you clear Customs, there is no need to accept the assistance of the porters waiting there to take all your luggage and money you literally have twenty feet and one door to go through. Walk through the doors to the other side of the airport for domestic departures. If you are departing the Belize International Airport to meet a boat or other transportation, you will take the doors to your right to go outside.
Connecting flights. Once you go though the doors you are right at Tropic Air, our preferred domestic flight choice in Belize. There is also Maya Air and they are literally the desk over. Again, DO NOT panic if you are running late. One of the Tropic Air employees will get you to your flight and there will be another flight right after yours. If you are early, they will even put you on an earlier flight. They basically fill a flight and take off. In the Tropic Air line, you can pack your Duty Free and have them mark fragile on the bag. You will also need to leave all other carry-on that is too big to fit on your lap for your domestic flight.
Once you are checked in, keep moving to your left to domestic security. Keep your tickets and passport out as there is a 50/50 chance you will need them. Pass through security and head into the terminal. Once you are in, walk to the right to Tropic Air, re-check in there and if you would like, they will call your destination and let them know what flight you are on to make sure they are there to pick you up.
If you have time, grab a rum punch and a bite to eat. If not, have a seat and wait for them to call your flight. Line up and head out to board your flight. Stay right in the Tropic Air area as flights change in a second and you need to be there. It is important that you listen to those boarding you and sit where they tell you. It is all weight managed and the quicker you board, the quicker you get to your destination.
Once on board and headed out, you may make an extra stop or two or three before your destination. Generally, it is 10 – 15 minutes between locations and if you are lucky and headed to Punta Gorda, once in a blue moon you may just stop once to pick up mail or even get a direct flight.
First and foremost…Before you depart your accommodations, double check that you have your passport and the departure Custom’s slip you saved from the bottom of your arrival Immigrations paper. If you did not save it or have lost it, you will have to get another and complete at Belize International Airport. If you have a tight connection, pick up a light lunch to take on the plane with you.
Leaving Belize is easy, but there are a couple of tricks to get you to the gate and have time to grab a bite to eat before you go. Chances are your domestic flight to Belize International Airport was booked to give you two to three hours at the airpot before you take off on your international flight.
The domestic departure flight will look a bit different only in the appearance of the airport, but all else will be the same. If you are leaving from one of the smaller airports like Punta Gorda or Dangriga, there is no reason to get to the airport more than 45 minutes before your flight. You will check-in and get very fancy plastic boarding passes. Do not worry if they announce your color plastic ticket early.
Once they have a full flight, they board and take off. If you are flying out of a bigger airport like San Pedro, you need to arrive at least an hour and a half before your flight. If not, you may find yourself waiting outside around the building in a long line to check-in.
When you arrive at Belize International Airport, you will need to pick up your luggage. Be sure to have your luggage tickets in hand as you may be requested to show them. Once it arrives, you are steps away from checking in for your international flight. There is no real need to get a porter. Simply turn around and find your airline counter.
Check-in and the Immigrations/Customs counter will be right in front of security. Have your airline ticket, passport, and departure slip in hand. Once you clear Immigration and security, you are ready to grab a final rum punch and a bite to eat. When you clear security, simply turn right and there will be two take-out counters. We love to order the daily special which is usually a local favorite and then head over to grab a rum punch while we wait for the food to be delivered. The best rum punch is located by the United departures’ gate.
Getting in and out of Belize can seem daunting, but by following these simple tips, it will be easy as can be.
When are you booking your trip to Belize?
I am a home cook that does things my way. In my kitchen, I make breakfast, pack lunches, prepare snacks, and cook dinner. During the week, we eat real food that is homemade, organic, and local. On the weekends we do explore more of our local restaurants. I bake my own bread, juice fresh oranges every other day, and make my own kombucha and other weekly favorites.