Port-au-Prince Toussaint Louverture International Airport Arrival & Departure Tips
When people think of Port-au-Prince and Haiti they think of the devastating 2010 earthquake. Unfortunately the destruction from that earthquake still looms over the impoverished country, but it is still an interesting place to visit. As is the case with other developing countries, arriving and departing from Port-au-Prince’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport can be challenging. Here are some tips I picked up from a recent visit.
Tips for Arriving Port-au-Prince Toussaint Louverture International Airport (PAP)
Here are some tips for passengers arriving from another country.
Be prepared for a U-turn – PAP doesn’t have a taxiway parallel to the runway so upon landing you will most likely have to make a U-turn on the runway to head back to the terminal. On departure you will taxi down the runway and make a U-turn before taking off. This isn’t unique to Haiti but it is fun.
You may arrive at a jetway or bus gate – PAP only has 3 jetways, but can handle more planes via bus gates. Be prepared to arrive at either. Thankfully the airport isn’t very big and the bus journey from the plane to immigration is only about a minute. You will board and depart from the doors on the right side of the bus. Plan ahead to get off before everyone else.
Fill out your immigration paperwork on the plane – Everyone is required to fill out an immigration form and a customs form. Try to bring a pen with you to fill these out on the plane, since there aren’t any spare pens at the airport.
Pay your $10 Tax – All foreign nationals are required to pay a $10 USD/$10CAD/$10Euro fee to enter the country. Follow the signs for “Foreign Passport” when arriving. You will get a slip after paying the fee. Show this to the immigration officer. Right now paying the fee in Canadian Dollars would seem to be the most economical way to go about it if possible.
Ignore the Touts – Just like many other airports in developing nations, you will be bombarded with offers for taxis and tours when you emerge from customs. All of the people just outside of customs and immediately outside the door are official taxi drivers. If you have organized transport then your driver may be a bit further down.
Negotiate – Unlike some airports, there is no set fee for taxis from PAP. If you decide to hire a driver at the airport make sure to negotiate beforehand. I booked my hotel’s shuttle to avoid this. If you hire a driver at the airport confirm the total price for all passengers. For example, I have heard that some drivers will change the trip charge mid-ride to a per person charge. Negotiate and confirm the final price for all people. Also make sure they see you notating their name and ID number. This helps to avoid problems.
SIM Cards & Money – If you need to take out money or to buy a local SIM card, then you can do this in the area just outside of customs. Once you exit customs turn right and you will see the SIM counter and ATM next to each other.
Tips for Departing Port-au-Prince Toussaint Louverture International Airport (PAP)
When your trip is finished, here are some tips to have an easy journey out of Haiti.
Prepare to Show ID – You will need to show your ID several times at this airport including at the front door before you can enter the departures area. Don’t worry, this is common for airports in the developing world. Be prepared to show your ID/documentation at the airport entrance, to get into the check-in queue, to check-in, at security, at immigration, at the gate area and to board.
Multiple Security Checkpoints – After checking in you will have to go through security just before immigration. If you are on a flight to the U.S. then you will have to go through a secondary security screening at the gate. Once you are inside of the gate area you will be cutoff from the rest of the airport
No Airport Lounges – Speaking of food/drink, PAP doesn’t have any airport lounges. There are a few restaurant/bar areas just past security along with a few gift shops. The American Airlines gate area also has some restaurants past the secondary security screening area. Prices are in line with what you would find at an airport in the U.S.
Island Time – People are friendly in Haiti but nothing moves fast. Give yourself plenty of time to get through both security checks and immigration. There isn’t much to do at the airport, so balancing waiting time vs. making sure you get there on time is crucial.
Free WiFi – PAP has free WiFI provided by Digicell. Just connect to the open Digicell WiFi network at the airport. You don’t need a password. Don’t expect high speed, but it is good enough for basic browsing. This also works well on arrival if you don’t have an international data plan on your phone.
Hopefully these tips help to make arriving and departing from Haiti an easier experience. Have you recently been to Port-au-Prince Toussaint Louverture International Airport (PAP)? Are there any tips/suggestions I missed? Feel free to share them in the comments.