The most common point of entry for foreign visitors is Arturo Merino-Benítez International Airport (SCL), located in the municipality of Pudahuel, 15 km (9.3 miles) northwest of downtown Santiago. It is the largest airport in Chile and one of the six busiest in South America in terms of passenger numbers (over 11 million in 2010). It is an important connection point for air traffic between Oceania and Latin America.
Santiago International Airport is served by several international non-stop airlines, mainly from Europe, America and Oceania. LAN Airlines is the largest national carrier and serves major cities in the Americas, Sydney, Auckland, Papeete, Frankfurt and Madrid. Other airlines serving SCL are Aerolíneas Argentinas, Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Delta Airlines and Iberia.
When you arrive in Santiago, remember that Santiago airport does not have enough gates to allow most international aircraft to occupy the gate parking spaces during check-in. Your plane will probably be directed to a remote parking area on the tarmac, like many others, and you will be taken to immigration control, adding another 15-20 minutes of delay.
Other airports with international connections are Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Concepción, Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas, all of which serve neighbouring countries. Mataveri International Airport on Easter Island is only served by LAN Airlines from Santiago, Lima and Papeete.
If you are already in South America, a more economical and reliable option is to take a bus to Chile. Argentine buses leave daily from Mendoza, Bariloche and San Martín de los Andes, and even weekly from Buenos Aires. From Peru, there are several buses from Arequipa; some taxis also cross the border between Tacna and Arica. There are also several buses from Bolivia to the northern cities and to Santiago. There are also Brazilian buses from São Paulo on Mondays and Thursdays.
If you are crossing the Andes from Bolivia and Argentina, be aware that it is at high altitude, up to 4000m. Also, the roads in Peru and Bolivia are of somewhat poor quality, so be patient. During the winter season, which starts in June and ends in August, it is not uncommon for the Mendoza crossing to be closed for several days.