Flying to Lima is easy and relatively inexpensive (except around Christmas time, when Peruvians living abroad want to go), especially if you look around for bargains.
Restricted fare tickets to Peru are available on U.S. carriers (usually around $800-1000 for a ticket good for up to a 60 day stay, although bargain fares closer to the $600 range can still sometimes be found in the off season). American, United, Delta, and Continental all fly to Lima. Service is also available on Lan Chile (which owns Lan Peru and operates flights from the U.S. under both names) and other South American carriers. Cheap student fares are often available on LACSA, although this can be a grueling trip through Central America.
These standard fares from U.S. cities to Lima can be found on all the airline and travel websites, both those that sell directly and those that check all the others to find the cheapest fares (my current personal favorite for cheap flights is Kayak.com, but Macintosh users please note that it doesn’t always work well with Safari).
Other inexpensive fares can be found through advertised agencies in newspapers, especially in free papers that can be picked up at Peruvian restaurants in major cities in the U.S. If you are searching for super cheap fares, there can be some courier seats available for short (14 day) stays in Peru. I have seen these advertised in Spanish language community newspapers in major U.S. cities but I've never tried them.
Depending on where you plan on purchasing your tickets for any internal travel, it can be worth your while to do a fair amount of research directly with Lan Chile/Lan Peru. This is because you can sometimes get better deals on the whole package than on individual segments. It is often necessary to call the airline, though, or to go through a travel agent to get the best deal with Lan. This is especially true if you want to spend some time in Lima rather than going straight to another destination.
If you have a good travel agent, by all means shop around with his or her help, but try to use an agent with some South American experience and contacts, since it can be complicated to deal with Peruvian reservations. Make sure that the agent provides you with written confirmation of every reservation that you can carry with you on your trip, and ask for a 24-hour phone number and a specific person to contact in Peru in case you have problems. Also, find out all about the restrictions and penalties on any plane ticket BEFORE you buy it. If you do use a travel agent, ask him or her to get you all the information about travel to Peru available. My old agent used to send me the latest from the CDC, state dept, etc. whenever I bought an international ticket.
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