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Among the many uncertainties that can occur at an airport, one of the most frustrating is experiencing a flight delay at Juan Santamaría International Airport. As the main gateway to Costa Rica, this bustling airport saw over 5.3 million visitors in 2023. Operating 24/7, Juan Santamaría International Airport often faces peak congestion, especially during the early morning and late afternoon hours. This can lead to flight delays for airlines like Avianca, Copa Airlines, and American Airlines. In this guide, we’ll explore how to navigate such delays while making the most of your time at the airport, including tips on accessing private lounges and understanding why Costa Rica is at the top for wellness travel.


Airlines Flying through Juan Santamaria Airport

  • Avianca
  • Spirit Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Volaris
  • Volaris Costa Rica
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Southwest Airlines
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Iberia
  • British Airways
  • Aeroméxico
  • LATAM Airlines
  • WestJet
  • Air France
  • Swiss International Air Lines


Reasons for Delayed Flights in Orlando Airport

Flight delays at Juan Santamaría International Airport, like most airports worldwide, are often influenced by several key factors. Here are some of the primary reasons:


Adverse Weather Conditions

The most frequent cause of flight delays at Costa Rican airports, including Juan Santamaría, is adverse weather conditions. Tropical rainstorms can lead to poor visibility and hazardous landing conditions, sometimes necessitating aborted landing attempts and extended periods of circling before a safe landing is possible. While local weather can be problematic, delays are often caused by weather issues at other airports, such as snowstorms in Denver or hurricanes in Houston, impacting flights to and from Costa Rica.

Overcapacity Issues

The significant increase in tourism and the expansion of flights from the U.S. and Europe have strained the capacity of Costa Rica’s airports. This is one of the things you’d need to know about conscious traveling. Despite ongoing construction and recent improvements, such as the 2019 runway extension at Juan Santamaría, the airport often struggles to keep up with demand. This congestion leads to frequent delays, particularly during peak travel times. While efforts to expand capacity continue, it’s advisable to travel mid-week when airports are less crowded and to maintain flexible travel plans.

Volcanic Activity Disruptions

Costa Rica’s unique volcanic activity can also contribute to flight delays. Since 2015, eruptions from the Turrialba volcano, located 50 km east of San José, have occasionally forced the closure of Juan Santamaría International Airport due to the threat of volcanic ash damaging jet engines. Although Liberia’s airport is typically unaffected by Turrialba, increased activity from the nearer Rincón de la Vieja volcano has raised concerns, although timely wind patterns have often mitigated potential disruptions.


What to do During a Flight Delay at SJI Airport?


Immediate Actions:

  • Stay Informed: Keep an eye on flight status updates via the airport monitors or airline apps.
  • Contact Your Airline: For any updates or possible rebooking options.
  • Notify Your Contacts: Inform anyone who might be waiting for you about the delay.



  • 24/7 GRAB & GO: Located in front of Gate 5, this spot offers take-out food and beverages, available around the clock.
  • Blue Zones: At Gates 11, 3, and 4, open from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., selling various products.
  • BRITTSHOP: At the main entrance after security, open 24 hours, offering coffee, chocolates, and Britt products.
  • CHILL & DRINKS: Next to Gate 1, open from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., offering gifts and take-out food and beverages.
  • CRISLU: Between Gates 18 and 19, open from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., specializing in jewelry.
  • CASA TICA: After the security filter, it is open from 4:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., selling handicrafts, sweets, and Costa Rican products.
  • EMPRENDE 506: Main entrance after security, open from 4:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., offering items by national entrepreneurs.
  • GREEN TRAILS: Next to Gate 4, open from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., selling various souvenirs and snacks.
  • IMAS: Gates 4, 5, and 8, open from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., offering perfumes, cosmetics, electronics, and luxury goods.
  • OKO: Main entrance after security, open from 4:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., selling sunglasses.
  • RUMBO PURA VIDA: Main entrance after security, open 24 hours, offering gourmet coffee, chocolates, and souvenirs.
  • SKY PHARMACY: Next to Gates 4 and 10, open from 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., selling medicines, chocolates, and snacks.
  • TERRA TICA: In front of Gates 5 and 19/20, open from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., offering chocolates, wood, textiles, and more.
  • TERRA VERDE: In front of Gate 10, open from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., selling promotional items and souvenirs.
  • TRAVEL MARKET: Main entrance after security, open 24 hours, offering travel accessories.
  • WHOOPS!: Main entrance after security, open from 4:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., selling toys and children’s items.
  • XPLORA: Between Gates 9 and 10, open from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., selling adventure sports items.
  • IMAS: Located in customs, between immigration and baggage claim carousel 2, open 24 hours, offering various souvenirs.
  • TERRA TICA TERMINAL DOMÉSTICA: Domestic Terminal, open from 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., offering snacks and souvenirs.



  • Avokato: Healthy food options, salads, bowls, and soups at the Food Court, open 24 hours.
  • Imperial Bar: Serving beers, cocktails, and food at Gates 10 and 20.
  • Britt Café & Bakery: Coffee drinks, pastries, salads, pizzas, and sandwiches at multiple locations.
  • California Pizza Kitchen: Pizzas, salads, pastas, and desserts at the Food Court and Gate 8.
  • Chill and Drinks: Gift items and take-out food next to Gate 1, open from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Deli Malinche: Snacks, cold drinks, pastries, and coffee in the Arrivals Area.
  • Gastro Pub: Cafeteria, ice cream parlor, bar, and restaurant at Gates 4 and 11.
  • Lavazza: Coffee shop with snacks and fast food in the lobby, open 24 hours.
  • Malinche Restaurant: Offering a variety of dishes and beverages at Gate 10.
  • Starbucks: Coffee and snacks at Gate 5, open 24 hours.
  • Toro Gourmet Burgers: Serving burgers, hot dogs, and drinks.


Additional Amenities:

  • Free WiFi: Connect to “SJO Free WiFi”.
  • Self Check-in: 45 self-check-in stations available in the lobby.
  • Energy Points: Various power points for recharging devices in the boarding lounges.
  • Pet Area: Located in boarding lounge 17, with facilities for pets.


Private Luxury Tours:

Consider booking Luxury Private Tour Transfer in Costa Rica with airssist to explore Costa Rica while you wait.  Top attractions nearby include;

  • Poas Volcano National Park: Experience the breathtaking views of one of the world’s largest volcanic craters.
  • La Paz Waterfall Gardens: Explore lush rainforests, wildlife exhibits, and stunning waterfalls.
  • Doka Coffee Estate: Take a tour of a coffee plantation and learn about the coffee production process.
  • Sarchi: Visit the charming town known for its colorful oxcarts and traditional crafts.
  • Grecia: Discover the famous metal church made entirely of prefabricated steel plates.
  • Zoo Ave: Enjoy a wildlife sanctuary featuring a variety of native Costa Rican animals.

By taking advantage of these services and amenities, you can make your wait more enjoyable and productive during a flight delay at Juan Santamaría International Airport.


Knowing Your Passenger Rights During Delays at SJI


Eligibility for Compensation

To be eligible for compensation, ensure you:

  • Have a confirmed reservation.
  • Are checked in at least 45 minutes before departure.
  • Are traveling on a public fare or a frequent flyer ticket.
  • Are on a flight departing from the EU or operated by a Community air carrier arriving in the EU.


Cancellation Rights

If your flight is canceled, you can choose between:

  • Rerouting: To your final destination under similar conditions.
  • Reimbursement: For the unused part of your journey, plus a return flight if needed.

Additionally, you are entitled to:

  • Free meals and refreshments.
  • Hotel accommodation with transport if an overnight stay is necessary.
  • Two free phone calls, faxes, or emails.


Delay Rights

If your flight is delayed by 2 hours or more, you will receive:

  • Free meals and refreshments.
  • Hotel accommodation with transport if an overnight stay is necessary.
  • Two free phone calls, faxes, or emails.

If the delay exceeds 5 hours, you can opt for a reimbursement and a return flight if necessary.


Denied Boarding

In case of overbooking and being denied boarding, you are entitled to:

  • Rerouting or reimbursement.
  • Free meals, refreshments, hotel accommodation with transport, and two free phone calls, faxes, or emails.
  • Compensation up to €600, depending on flight distance and delay duration.


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Tackle Flight Delays at SJI with airssist

When facing flight delays at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJI), airssist’s exceptional services are your ultimate solution. With our meet and greet assistance, VIP terminal access, and private lounge privileges, your wait becomes comfortable and stress-free. Additionally, our chauffeured limo transfers, both for full-day and in-city trips, offer extraordinary transportation options. Notably, airssist’s airport concierge goes beyond, providing assistance for minors and pets. From start to finish, airssist thoughtfully handles every detail of your stay in Costa Rica, paving the way to an enjoyable experience despite any delays.


Note: Please note that the information on this page is generic & subject to change due to fluctuations in airport services. Kindly confirm service availability with our team, as offerings may vary daily.

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