If you're traveling to Mexico, consider flying out of Tijuana Airport!
If you live in or near a major U.S. city, you know that there are usually other airports, some are smaller ones, nearby that you can travel in and out of to save some money on flights. In New York, you have the option of flying out of JFK, La Guardia, and Newark in New Jersey. If you live in Northern California, there's the option to fly out of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.
Living in Southern California, we are blessed with so many options when it comes to travel. We can fly out of LAX, Burbank, Long Beach, Ontario, John Wayne and sometimes if the price is right, we are even willing to drive down to San Diego. So with that said, when we are planning on traveling to a city in Mexico, we will drive down south and cross the border to fly out of Tijuana Airport, where you can save as much as 50% on flights that you would otherwise book flying out of a U.S. city!
So if you are planning on traveling to Mexico, consider booking a flight out of Tijuana Airport. Some of the major airlines flying out of Tijuana include Volaris, Viva Aerobus, Interjet and Aeromexico. The first 3 airlines are considered budget airlines and may charge extra for advance seat selection, extra carry-on baggage allowance, etc. Here are some tips on flying out of Tijuana to another Mexico city.
Tip#1 BOOKING FLIGHTS
Consider using Momondo, Google Flights and Kayak to do your search. If you find a good deal, go to that specific Airline's website and see if the ticket is listed. Based on our experience, changing the amount from USD to Pesos (MXM), doesn't really change the amount of the ticket much. So if you are uncomfortable with booking in MXN, its perfectly OK to book in USD and your bank will convert the amount at the current exchange rate. Some of the websites will only be in Spanish, so don't hesitate to copy and paste any words/phrases you don't understand and use Google to translate it. If the airline booking site offers the option to purchase your Cross Border Xpress pass (see Tip #3), it's best to just pay for it in advance.
TIP #2 PARK ON THE U.S. SIDE OF THE BORDER
If you are planning on driving your car down to the border, you can find safe and secured parking lots on the U.S. side near Otay Mesa border which is the closest border crossing near the airport. Most lots are first come first served, but you may be able to book in advance to reserve your spot at certain lots (check out Delta Truck Parking, they offer free shuttle service to and from Cross Border Xpress). Parking prices for these lots will range from $10 per night to $15 per night, depending on where the lot is located. If you are using Cross Border Xpress (see Tip #3), you can opt to park in their designated lot, if available, for $18 per night at the time this was published.
TIP #3 CROSS BORDER XPRESS
One of the new and safe options to get from the border to the airport is using Cross Border Xpress. You can be dropped off at the U.S. side of Cross Border Xpress and check into your flight, purchase a pass to walk across the bridge that will take you directly to the airport, and go through immigration check. As of today, the pass costs $16 per person one way. It's easy, fast and convenient! Note: Please check Visa requirements if you are staying longer than 180 days.
TIP #4 PRIORITY PASS/VIP LOUNGE
If you have Priority Pass, be sure to take advantage of it! There is only ONE lounge at this airport and it's called VIP Lounge. As soon as you arrive at the airport, look for the banner that directs you to the lounge. Note: It's located near the airport Police station. Once you go up the escalator, you will see the entrance to the lounge. Once you are checked in, the best part is they have their own security check inside the lounge so you don't have to go through the mass security lines that the general public goes through! The lounge is extremely spacious and they offer an enclosed smoking area and workspace area with lots of comfortable couches and seats. There's sandwiches, snacks and alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages you can choose from. Usually lounges are self served but this one has a wait staff. You can either go up to the food counter and order your food/drinks or they will come to you and take your order.
TIP #5 taxi/uber
If you are opting to park and walk across the Otay Mesa border, you will still need to grab a taxi or Uber to take you to the airport. NOTE: It is NOT walking distance! Uber works just fine in Mexico, but there are still rules on where they are allow to pick up. The best way is to just walk up to a taxi driver and ask them how much they charge for the ride. If you are with a group of friends, you can likely get a good deal and just split the cost. We've paid approximately $8 for the taxi to take us to the airport. Uber will be cheaper, but it's difficult for them to navigate close to the border as they only allow taxis to be present.
Like with any other travel plans, always make sure you do your research and due diligence to ensure a safe, smooth and enjoyable trip!
What airport tricks and tips do you have? Please comment below!