PVR as the airport is known is right on the beach and minutes away from most of the hotels in Vallarta. It is a small yet modern airport that is easy to get in and out of. It is served by all of the main US carriers as well as WestJet and a few others
On my 2nd visit to Vallarta (2006) I flew with Lineas Aereas Azteca which was a small airline that covered several destinations, even in USA. The service & punctuality were pretty acceptable and the prices were some of the lowest available within Mexico. Unfortunately this airline is out of business now. Other options to fly into Vallarta are: Magnicharters (a small local airline which flies into our main beach destinations, with good prices & service), Interjet and Volaris (these 2 are budget airlines so you can get pretty good prices) and Aeromexico. The latter used to have very high prices but they now have a budget division called "Aeromexico connect" which has very decent prices and good flying schedules. This is what we used on this last trip and we were happy with the service, punctuality, etc. The plane from MEX city to Vallarta was pretty small but in good conditions and safe. The plane for the trip back home was bigger and more comfortable. You only get soda/juice and peanuts during the flight, which is about 1 hour long (even if the ticket says it's 1.5 hour long).
The road to Puerto Vallarta are rugid & shallow. Do not try to get there by car.. It isn't safe & the wear and tear on your car isn't worth it.
The cheapest flight we found was through continental, plus no layovers in mexico city, like with delta.
Sun Trips contracts with Ryan International Airline for travel from Oakland, CA to Puerto Vallarta. The package deals for air transportation and hotel are about the lowest.
On the airplane, the rows of seats are as closely spaced as possible, so the flight is not comfortable. But it only lasts three hours, and after that you are in sunny Puerto Vallarta.
I got to Puerto Vallarta on Air Transat, it was an all inclusive package from $1200 CDN by airfare, meals and accommodations were all included from Edmonton, Alberta.
It was a great deal I though, including transfers to and from the airport.
This tip may only be relevant if you are leaving from Canada. I know there are many other major carriers going into airport.
If you can wait until last minute I know there were some people that stayed an extra 7 days and paid only half what I did!!!!
Beware of Funjet charters such as ryan international airlines. These charters may be cheap but at what cost ??? I flew Ryan to Cancun last year and my friend flew Ryan to Puerto Vallarta a yr before. We both had bad experiences. I never had a seat , and neither did 6 other people on our flight to Cancun. We had to take the next plane out which was the following day. Funjet paid for our hotel but it was one wasted day of vacation. Also Ryan International has a very old/aging fleet of planes (727s) and an inexperienced staff of ticket agents/flight attendants who have limited training and information. I have only heard negative things about this airline!
airplane is best, you can get tourist cards either from the airline steward(esse)s or at the airport; customs is random inspection and fairly cursory; i've driven into mexico only once (border towns are NOT representative) and don't remember encountering a hassle but have heard of people who have; because of the distances and mountains, it is hard to travel much except by plane unless time is not really a problem. local buses are incredibly cheap; i've traveled from city to city but had to rent a car.
Take the plane to get to Puerto Vallarta. The airport is pretty modern and has access from many U.S. destinations as well as Canada. If you have to go through Mexico City, beware, it can be a hassle. During your stay in Puerto Vallarta transportation requirements will be dictated by where you are staying and where your intended destination may be. Most of the time, you will have more than one option.
We flew on Continental from Chicago to Houston then PV.
We highly recommend renting a car and driving yourself. But book the reservation in the
US and get the price in writeing before you go. We saved 50% this way. I would decline the extra insurance. Driving is not 'crazy' it is slow and simple to get around. Easier and safier than say Los Angles or Boston! One thing we noticed was the 'Big rigs' come out at night and on the 2 lane moutain road it is slow going. Making Left hand turns is different and they explain how it is done in PV. Once you know its a piece of cake!
National and International approx flight duration times from Puerto Vallarta TO:
- Guadalajara = 45 minutes. - Mexico City = 1 hour. - Mazatlan = 45 minutes. - Los Cabos = 1 hour. - Los Angeles = 2.15 hours - Chicago = 3.45 hours - San Diego = 1.45 hours
We flew from Vancouver to Puerto Vallarta with a brief stop in Mazatlan via Canadian Holidays airlines. We had one meal and were able to watch one movie on the 4 hour flight. Too bad Canadian Holidays no longer exists :(
Photo: My home island-city of Richmond, BC below - moments after taking off in Vancouver.