Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport (BOG) is the largest in the country and the third busiest airport in Latin America. Recently renovated and expanded, the airport has been recognized with awards from Skytrax and the World Airport Awards. Accessibility in the terminal building is very good, and I had a positive experience flying both to and from Bogota.
Airport Terminal & Accessibility
The airport consists of two terminals, but nearly all airlines operate out of Terminal 1. The updated terminal is accessible, with elevators, moving walkways and barrier-free routes from check-in to the boarding gate. Accessible bathrooms are available throughout the terminal.
The security checkpoint at Bogota Airport operates similarly to a TSA screening lane. Carry-on bags is scanned and pat downs are conducted on passengers using a wheelchair. I was pulled aside for an additional screening, however, which involved a dog.
One of the responsibilities of airport security is to stop the export of illegal drugs, and the dog was brought in to verify that my wheelchair was not being used for smuggling. Interestingly enough, some have tried this before, so I would expect to encounter a drug-sniffing dog on any future departures from Colombia.
There are five lounges at Bogota Airport: Avianca Sala VIP, Copa Club, Sala VIP LATAM, El Dorado Lounge and the American Express Lounge. Each lounge has different admission criteria and some may offer a day pass for purchase. I personally stopped in at the LATAM lounge prior to my departure on American Airlines.
Airlines Serving Bogota Airport
I have compiled a list of airlines serving Bogota’s airport for you here. Please check with your airline for the most up-to-date information on gate assignments.
Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air Europa, Air France, Albatros Airlines, American Airlines, Avianca, Avianca Costa Rica, Avianca Ecuador, Avianca El Salvador, Avianca Express, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, EasyFly, Iberia, JetBlue, JetSmart, KLM, LATAM Brasil, LATAM Chile, LATAM Colombia, LATAM Peru, Lufthansa, SATENA, Sky Airline, Spirit Airlines, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, Viva Air Colombia, Viva Air Peru, Wingo
Disability Assistance at Bogota Airport
Disability assistance services should be requested prior to travel and through your airline. Consult this list of wheelchair assistance contacts at major airlines. If you are traveling with a personal wheelchair, it is possible to gate-check the device, whether it is manual or powered.
Traveling with a personal wheelchair
On my arrival to Bogota Airport with LATAM Airlines, the carrier refused to return my wheelchair to the gate, instead returning it at baggage claim. Because my flight originated in Santiago, Chile, I did not have a specific right to receive the wheelchair at a particular place. Note that on flights arriving in Bogota from the United States, airlines are required to return gate-checked wheelchairs as close as possible to the door of the aircraft, which, in the case of this airport, is at the door of the aircraft. For more information on this right, see my article on gate-checking a personal wheelchair.
I departed from Bogota on American Airlines, and had no difficulty taking my wheelchair to the gate and to the aircraft door. My wheelchair was subsequently taken down to the airplane by way of an elevator at another departure gate.
Wheelchair accessible transportation at Bogota Airport
Once you have made your way through passport control, baggage claim and customs, you’ll be deposited into the arrivals hall. From there, you can exit the building and access either the taxi stand (there are no wheelchair taxis that I am aware of), or one of the city bus stops.
Fares on the city bus are paid using the reloadable Transmilenio fare card, which can be purchased at the kiosk pictured above in the arrivals hall. You will need to purchase a card and deposit funds in order to use the city’s public transportation system.
There are multiple city bus stops outside the airport, each marked by a sign with the route number and hours of operation. I used Google Maps to find the routes that would take me to my hotel, and boarded the bus using its mechanical wheelchair lift. It is extremely rare for drivers to speak English, so it is important to signal that you will need to use the wheelchair lift.
For additional information, visit the El Dorado Airport website.
Have you used the airport in Bogota?
Share your experiences with airport accessibility in the comments!