Business Aviation in Argentina Series: Hotels, Local Area, Visas, and CIQ
This is a post by guest author Mercedes Puppo of Munser FBO. Mercedes was asked to contribute to our business aviation blog because of her experience and expertise in ground handling in Argentina. Any thoughts expressed below are entirely Mercedes’ and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Argentina and continues from our last article: “Business Aviation in Argentina Series: Flight Planning, Weather, and NOTAMS.”
Argentina is generally a safe and secure region with adequate General Aviation (GA) infrastructure and services available. Prior to any operation to Argentina, however, it’s always best to confirm hotel and local transport options well in advance of travel, as well as be aware of visa, customs, immigration, and agriculture requirements.
The following is an overview of what you need to know when operating to Argentina:
1. Hotel availability in Argentina
When traveling to larger centers in Argentina, there are very good selections of 4- and 5-star crew accommodations available. While most of these hotels are located in the city centers, larger international airports often have 4-star accommodations available near the airports as well. While smaller centers in Argentina have more limited hotel options, you should almost always be able to find at least 4-star hotel accommodations and 5-star properties near major tourist attractions. Most 4- and 5-star hotel options are located in secure areas close to shopping and assorted dining options. Four-star crew accommodations usually start at about 200USD per night.
2. Hotels may fill up during event periods
During peak vacation periods at popular tourist destinations and during certain major business events/conferences, hotel options may be limited and more difficult to obtain. While it’s rare for hotel availability to completely sell out in Argentina, you may find no rooms available at preferred hotels and/or extended cancelation policies, from time to time. Peak summer season in Argentina is January-February, with increased traffic for GA through March. Winter holiday period usually takes place July-August.
3. Potential language barriers
While larger hotels in Argentina seldom have issues with language barriers, you may encounter hotel staff proficient in only Spanish at smaller and boutique hotel properties. In such cases your local ground handler will be able to assist with coordinating hotel check-in and other arrangements.
4. Ground handler hotel assistance
Your ground handler may have special relationships and/or contracts with specific hotels. They may, under some circumstances, be able to negotiate crew rates and other amenities, including early check-in/late check-out. Local ground handlers are also sometimes able to arrange credit with hotels and bill you later. It’s always important to let your ground handler know exactly what services and accommodations you will require.
5. General hotel tips
Hotel accommodations should be booked as early as possible to maximize your range of choices. Last-minute accommodation requests are usually possible; however, the available ones may not be your preferred hotels. Hotels in Argentina are usually not strict with check-in times and will provide rooms early when available. Check-out time is generally 1000-1200 local. Many 4- and 5-star hotels offer local shuttle services, but crews often prefer to arrange private transport via their ground handler.
6. Rental vehicle options
Most larger airports in Argentina have rental car facilities on-site. Your ground handler will be able to coordinate arrangements for these vehicles. Be aware that most rentals in Argentina are smaller vehicles (SUVs are seldom available), and standard gearbox transmissions are the norm. When booking rental vehicles, be sure to provide an international driver’s license, your passport, and credit card. Also be sure to specify automatic transmission if this is preferred.
7. Rental vehicle considerations
It’s generally safe driving in Argentina, but there are certain areas of major cities you’ll want to avoid due to potential demonstrations, street shutdowns, etc. All street signs are in Spanish, so you may experience navigation issues when driving outside the city limits. Rental vehicles are only recommended if you’re familiar with the local area, and/or if you’re staying outside the city center.
8. Local transport options
Within Buenos Aires there are good public transportation options, including underground train services. Public taxis are not recommended, unless you’re familiar with the local area. It’s best to use prepaid transport (car with driver) or taxi services vetted by either your hotel or ground handler.
9. Crew visa requirements
Crew, regardless of nationality, do not require visas for stays of up to 30 days. If crew members arrive with a GA aircraft and depart commercially (to return to pick up their aircraft later), a letter needs to be submitted to immigration. This letter will be stamped so that you will not need a visa to return to, and re-enter, Argentina.
10. Passenger visa requirements
Passengers, depending upon nationality, may require visas for Argentina. If visas are needed, these must be obtained prior to arrival, as they’re not available on arrival. Be aware that Australian, and Canadian citizens must arrange to pay a “reciprocity fee“ prior to arrival in Argentina. This does not take long, and your ground handler will assist with the process. Note that as of March 2016, reciprocity fees are no longer required for American citizens.
4/4/2016: Updated by the author.
11. Be aware of customs and agricultural restrictions
All items onboard the aircraft – other than items belonging to the aircraft itself – must be removed, scanned, and stored somewhere off-aircraft until the time of departure. Your ground handler will be able to assist in storing these items. Agricultural regulations state that all remaining onboard food must be removed and incinerated on arrival into Argentina. There may be some exceptions to this rule, such as for unopened or shelf-stable items, but it’s at the discretion of local customs and health authorities.
Hotel, transport, visas, and the CIQ process in Argentina should be a relatively smooth process with advanced planning. Work with a 3rd-party provider and/or local ground handler to help ensure a seamless trip.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at email@example.com.