Juan Santamaría International Airport (airport code SJO) is located 20 kilometers from downtown San Jose, Costa Rica. With over 4 million annual passengers, Juan Santamaría is the 2nd busiest airport in Central America. The airport has a Main Terminal serving international passengers while the Sansa Terminal, named for Sansa Airlines, handles domestic flights. Over 15 airlines serve the airport including non-stop routes from the US and Canada, a 3- to 7-hour flight. A bus route runs between the airport and San Jose and taxis, rental cars and shuttles are also available. The airport has a VIP Lounge for business/first class passengers, but available to anyone for a fee.
The above is boilerplate from the airport’s web site below:
SJO is tiny by international airport standards. You can see the entire departure ticket area as soon as you walk in the door.
The area to pay departure tax is just to the right as you walk in from the taxi/car drop off area. They accept US$, CRC colones, or credit cards. The credit cards are run as a cash advance so it’s best to pay cash to avoid the bank fee. The fee was US$26 in February 2012. They happily made change for a US$100 bill.
SJO is about 15 minutes by taxi (not rush hour) from Alajuela.
We were there 2 hours before flight time on AA and were through departure and bag check within 30 minutes.
There are the normal security checkpoints but no official passport-stamping departure people.
There’s another security bag check on the jet way. They’ll take your water/drinks or send you back to empty the bottle.
The whole place seemed friendly and efficient.