Tame Airline (it's pronounced "tah-may") flies from both Quito and Guayaquil to Cuenca on a daily basis. Flights are inexpensive, but their website is infuriatingly difficult to use (more on that below).
Tame flights are some of the first, and some of the latest, to come into and leave the Mariscal Lamar Airport in Cuenca. That's good news if you need to make a day trip and don't want to spend the night in Guayaquil or Quito.
There are as many as 7 flights per day to and from Quito, the most of any of the airlines.
There are as many as three flights per day to and from Guayaquil.
Round-trip flights are usually less than $100 per person, including the taxes and airport fees.
At the airport or through a Tame office or an agency, cash and credit cards can be used. Online, only credit cards can be used. But here's where it gets ugly. You can't use your credit card unless you have Verified by Visa, MasterCard SecureCode, or Diners Club PayClub.
As soon as you try to continue on from the home page to book your flight, you see this message (if you're on the English version of the site):
1. For security reasons, when making your first payment with VISA or MasterCard or Diner Club, you must enroll in Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode systems, or PayClub (Diner Club), otherwise your transaction will not be successful. If the bank that issues your credit card is not affiliated to these security systems, you will not be able to purchase through tame.com.ec.
If you plan to pay by credit card, be sure that your card's verification system is set up first, or you'll have the problem we had. By the time we set up SecureCode for Jeff's MasterCard, the Tame system dropped the reservation, but billed us anyway.
We're still dealing with Tame and Jeff's Canadian bank about this, over a month later.
We tried this again in April 2011. It didn't work again. When Lulie went to the airport to demand a refund, she was informed by a Tame employee that their web site doesn't work with any North American credit cards (and probably no European ones either).
So, save yourself some grief. Don't try to buy online from Tame. You'll only end up wasting time filing a chargeback request with your credit card issuer.
If you have an Ecuador permanent residency visa (that is, you have a cédula), use that when you're asked for identification.
Tame sometimes has lower prices for residents than it does for visitors to Ecuador.
And if you're buying online, be sure to mark that you're Ecuadorian, not "Foreign."
The Tame website is www.tame.com.ec. But we recommend that you not use it. Here's why...
As mentioned, the Tame web site is difficult to use. The message mentioned above will appear the first time you try to book a flight (and any subsequent use if you don't book a flight).
Unfortunately, the page that opens after leaving the home page takes you to your return flight, not to the outbound flight. So you can't choose an outbound flight. And the return flight page has no button or link to move forward.
And, of course, there's the credit card issue discussed above.
Book through an agency, or at the airport (especially if you're flying from Quito, where some flights leave one hour apart). Unfortunately, you'll usually end up paying more in person than you will online.
You can also buy at a Tame Airline office. Click on the Contact Us link in the top right of the Tame website for a list of offices in various Ecuadorian cities, as well as Cali, Colombia, and Miami, Florida.
Or call Tame at 593 (2) 3977100 (inside Ecuador, call 02-3977100). Or toll-free inside Ecuador at 1800-500800.
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I just want to thank you both soooo much for creating this web site. I am originally from Cuenca but moved to New York 11 years ago and have not being back since. My husband and I are planning on visiting Cuenca over the Summer and this web site has helped me a lot.
When I came to the US we still had the "sucre," the bus ride cost 1,000 sucres and a pack of trident gum would cost 3,000 sucres. I am very nervous to go back, but thanks to your web site I now know what to expect.
My husband is American and Captivating Cuenca has taught him a lot about what my great city has to offer, things that I had forgotten about myself! :)
Thank You both so much! I cannot wait to visit Cuenca!!