If you have never traveled out of the country or need a refresher on how it works, this article should be helpful to you.
Tip#1 – Wear light clothing
Punta Cana airport is fairly small and it is an outdoor airport. Meaning, you get off the plane on the tarmac and you are transferred to the terminal by a bus (or if you land close enough, you will walk to the terminal). When you get inside, there are only certain areas are air conditioned. You do get a bit of the sea breeze and there are fans running but it can still be very warm in there.
Tip #2 – Carry a Pen!
When you leave the US, you will be given a customs form. I didn’t have a pen on me so I didn’t fill it out right away until I got to the airport. I thought there would be pens at the customs area but, I was mistaken. I had to borrow from another passenger. Upon arrival, you will go through a screening process that is very easy.
Tip #3 – Make sure you know where your baggage claim ticket is located
Baggage claim is congested and confusing. The airport valets are at the conveyor belt, pulling luggage off because the next flight is right behind yours. Keep your eye out for your bag. If you would like, the airport valet can assist you with your bag and I recommend tipping a couple of dollars per bag if you decide to use their services. There was an airport worker that blocked the baggage area and looked over our baggage claim tickets and made sure that the tag on the bag matched the one on our claim ticket.
Tip #4 – Go immediately outside to find your transfer driver
You will be stopped several times along your way by other vendors trying to sell you transfers, time shares and tours. When we stepped outside we went left instead of straight ahead. When we went left, we saw a lot of tour operators desks and they directed us to go outside. This is where we met Jose from Dominican Airport Transfers (DAT). He did a fabulous job of getting us to the vehicle and getting to our hotel safely.
Tip #5- Going home best practices
Your trip is over (tears! who is going to bring me my pina colada every day?!) When you check in with your gate, you will be given another customs form. Again, make sure you have a pen on you because there are none to be found at the Punta Cana airport. We filled ours out in line at and our gate agent collected the form. You will want to make sure you have this form from the gate agent because they collect it when you clear customs. At your first point of entry in to the US (ours was Ft. Lauderdale airport), you will have to claim your luggage. You’ll stop at a kiosk and scan your passport, take a photo and answer a few questions. The machine will spit out a piece of paper that you will hand to the customs agent. Once you have cleared, you will recheck your bag (if you are traveling onward). This process was very smoothly ran at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. We were pretty lucky because we had a few flights arrive after ours and we got through the process very easily.
I hope these tips help you on your next fabulous vacation to Punta Cana!