Strolling Throughout the Border for Low cost Flights to Mexico

Strolling Throughout the Border for Low cost Flights to Mexico
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On the lookout for an affordable flight to Mexico? Have you ever thought of flying to Mexico … from Mexico?

Hear me out. For residents of Southern California like me (and even others!), crossing the border to fly out of Tijuana (TIJ) ought to be in your radar. Whereas it’d appear to be a headache, it’s each protected and easy due to the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) pedestrian bridge connecting San Diego straight to the Tijuana airport terminal. You received’t even set foot within the metropolis streets.

Belief me: I’ve skipped my dwelling airport of San Diego (SAN) and headed throughout the border for Tijuana a number of instances, and I’ll do it repeatedly. Why? It may be a lot, less expensive. Simply final month, I saved tons of of {dollars} heading right down to Isla Mujeres by flying out of Tijuana as an alternative of San Diego – and flew on a greater schedule, as effectively.

Right here’s what it’s like crossing the border to fly out of Tijuana and why this seemingly off-the-wall journey hack isn’t practically as unusual as you would possibly suppose.


Why You Ought to Fly Out of Tijuana

Cash. What else?

The primary purpose you’d need to fly from Tijuana is that it might prevent a ton. It’s a no brainer for San Diegans on the lookout for a flight right down to Mexico, whereas it could hit and miss for many who dwelling within the Los Angeles space.

For the remainder of you dwelling elsewhere throughout the U.S., it’s in all probability solely price flying out of Tijuana in the event you’re planning to go to Southern California earlier than making your method right down to Mexico – of in the event you’ve acquired a method to string collectively a low cost flight to San Diego with a good cheaper flight south of the border. Extra on that later.

However the causes for flying out Tijuana add up rapidly:

  • Low cost flights: Merely put, you received’t discover cheaper flights to Mexico than departures from Tijuana. Due to loads of competitors and low-cost carriers, you’ll be able to often discover roundtrip flights for round $100 (or much less) nearly anyplace in Mexico. You’ll additionally typically discover that connecting flights to the Caribbean, Central America, or South America are cheaper than flying from California.
  • Fewer taxes: One other large a part of why flights are cheaper: Not like flying out of LA or San Diego, you received’t be paying excessive worldwide taxes in the event you’re flying domestically inside Mexico. Relying on how lengthy you keep, you could not even need to pay the vacationer tax.
  • Extra nonstop flights: You’ll have the ability to decide from 20-plus day by day flights to Mexico Metropolis (MEX), plus nonstop flights all throughout Mexico, together with well-known seaside resorts like Cancun (CUN), Los Cabos (SJD), and Puerto Vallarta (PVR). However it’s also possible to rapidly get to lesser-known locations similar to La Paz (LAP), Oaxaca (OAX), Puerto Escondido (PXM), Queretaro (QRO), and extra. In whole, airways fly nonstop to just about 40 locations from Tijuana.
  • VIP lounge: The lounge at Tijuana Airport knocks any lounge in San Diego out of the park. It’s spacious and fashionable with comfy seating, free meals, drinks, and entry to showers. Better of all, you’ll get to make use of a non-public safety screening that leads immediately into the lounge – and it’s all free with Precedence Cross entry.
  • It’s shut and straightforward: Similar to New Yorkers have Newark (EWR), San Diego has Tijuana – consider it as San Diego’s alternate airport. You possibly can stroll over an enclosed pedestrian bridge from the U.S. immediately into the terminal.


Flying from Tijuana nonstop destinations


Financial savings in Motion

Don’t imagine me that it may be considerably cheaper? Listed below are some fast examples.

In the event you’re on the lookout for an affordable flight to Cancun, you’re virtually assured to save lots of by flying out of Tijuana. Take a look at this Google Flights seek for flights from San Diego (SAN) to Cancun (CUN) in March – all three main U.S. airways are charging round $500 roundtrip for 1-stop flights.

San Diego to Cancun Google flights


Or, you’ll be able to fly from Tijuana to Cancun on the identical dates for $107 roundtrip with one cease on Aeromexico – or nonstop on Volaris for $130 roundtrip.

Tijuana to Cancun google flights


The financial savings can go far, far past Mexico. Wanting to make use of your Delta SkyMiles for a lie-flat enterprise class seat right down to South America? In the event you search from San Diego, you’ll usually discover ridiculous charges north of 700,000 SkyMiles roundtrip, like this instance to Santiago, Chile (SCL).

San Diego to Santiago, Chile using Delta SkyMiles


However you’ll be able to usually discover flights from Tijuana to Santiago for simply 155,000 SkyMiles roundtrip, flying lie-flat in Aeromexico enterprise class with one fast cease in Mexico Metropolis.

Tijuana to Santiago, Chile using SkyMiles


These are simply two fast examples of a development that performs out repeatedly and once more. The financial savings are plain.


Tips on how to Get to Tijuana Airport

Few U.S. airports are extra handy than San Diego (SAN), a brief drive away from downtown. However Tijuana may be an in depth second.

The airport sits immediately on the the U.S.-Mexico border, simply 20 miles from downtown San Diego. That makes it fast and straightforward to get to from town.

In the event you’re coming from additional away, it’s about 75 miles from San Clemente in Orange County or roughly 140 miles from Los Angeles. The drive from L.A. might not be price it for solo vacationers … however in the event you’re touring in a bunch, the financial savings multiply and will make flying from Tijuana well worth the drive.

Tijuana Airport google maps


Use the Cross Border Xpress (CBX)

There’s no must navigate the streets of Tijuana to get to or from the airport.

As an alternative, one of the simplest ways to get there may be to make use of the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) pedestrian bridge. Zooming in on the map, you’ll see this border crossing connects the U.S. aspect of the border immediately with the airport terminal. It couldn’t be any simpler.

Tijuana Airport satellite image of border


The CBX can solely be utilized by ticketed airline passengers inside 24 hours of departure or inside two hours of touchdown in Tijuana when you’re returning to the U.S. The 390-foot pedestrian bridge opened in 2015 and has been saving vacationers numerous hours and stress when flying out of Tijuana.

In the event you’re driving, remember to put the Cross Border Xpress (not the Tijuana Airport) into your GPS so that you don’t find yourself driving into Mexico. It’s a few 20-minute drive from downtown San Diego. Driving instances from the L.A. space will rely on visitors, however plan on it taking a minimum of three hours.


Parking on the Cross Border Xpress Bridge

Driving your self right down to Tijuana means you’ll want a spot to park. Don’t fear.

Road parking close to the CBX begins at $15 per day. There are additionally heaps on-site ranging from $18 a day or cheaper off-site heaps that can shuttle you to the CBX bridge. In the event you’re taking a brief journey, there may be free avenue parking alongside Siempre Viva Street. Simply understand that California legislation requires you to maneuver your automobile each 72 hours – and I might guess they hold an in depth eye right here.

CBX parking rates


Uber/Lyft & Transit Choices

Don’t need to depart a automobile? You’ve acquired choices, too.

An Uber or Lyft from the San Diego space ought to value round $30 to $50 every method – just a little greater than what it prices to get to the centrally situated San Diego Airport. You possibly can connect with San Diego’s trolley with a shuttle to both San Ysidro or Santa Fe Depot for $8, but it surely solely appears to run 5 instances per day. Yow will discover schedules and pricing on the Los Limousines web site at

There are additionally long-distance shuttle buses with stops in a number of cities all through California, together with Anaheim, Huntington Park, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and extra. The community reaches so far as Sacramento or El Paso, Texas, however that will be a little bit of a hike. A one-way ticket from Los Angeles appears to run round $30 on the time of publication.

CBX shuttle services


Tips on how to Use CBX to Fly from Tijuana

If you arrive on the CBX, it should really feel very very like you’ve arrived at an airport terminal within the U.S. In essence, that’s precisely what it’s.

Cross Border Xpress entrance


Purchase a Ticket

You’ll want an extra ticket with a purpose to use the Cross Border Xpress.

You should buy a ticket upfront on-line on the CBX web site. Costs vary from $18 to $26 one-way or $35 to $46 roundtrip relying on the season, with reductions for households touring collectively. Some airways will promote you a CBX ticket included together with your airfare in the event you select that choice when reserving your flight. You may also buy a CBX ticket from a kiosk on the spot.

CBX ticket machine


Examine-In for Your Flight & Fill Out an Immigration Kind

You’ll want a boarding go with a purpose to use the CBX.

Examine-in in your flight on-line or at a kiosk or check-in desk contained in the CBX terminal on the U.S. aspect of the border. You’ll nonetheless need to deliver your checked baggage throughout the border with you however there are free baggage carts you should utilize.

cbx free luggage carts


You’ll additionally must fill out an immigration kind earlier than you cross the border.

You are able to do this beforehand on-line but it surely’s fast and straightforward to do on the CBX facility. There are a number of computer systems arrange and brokers that can assist you fill out the shape.

CBX immigration form


Scan Your CBX Ticket & Boarding Cross, Then Stroll Throughout!

A fast scan of each your CBX ticket and your boarding go is all it takes to open the gates to the pedestrian bridge. There’s a duty-free store in the event you care to purchase something earlier than you cross the border.

scan cbx ticket and boarding pass


It’s a fast, five-minute stroll throughout the pedestrian bridge to the airport terminal constructing on the Mexican aspect of the border.

Sign to Tijuana Airport from CBX

Departures sign escalators and elevators at cbx bridge


It is going to really feel identical to you’re strolling to a different aspect of a terminal at any outdated airport world wide – solely this time you’ll be crossing a global border within the course of.

crossing the border on the CBX bridge

border crossing CBX


Undergo Mexican Customs & Immigration & Examine Your Baggage

When you attain the terminal, you’ll undergo Mexican customs and immigration.

In case you are staying seven days or extra, you’ll must pay roughly $30 to cowl the vacationer tax. In the event you’re staying six days or much less, you don’t must pay it.

passing through mexican immigration when flying from Tijuana


In case you have baggage to test, discover your airline’s check-in counter contained in the Tijuana airport terminal to drop off your baggage. In the event you don’t have any checked baggage, simply proceed on to safety screening.

tijuana airport check in counter


Head Via Safety & To Your Gate

When you’ve checked your baggage, discover the safety screening and proceed to your gate. It’s that easy.

Thrifty Tip: Comply with the indicators to the VIP Lounge. It has its personal non-public safety screening immediately into the lounge on the safe aspect of the airport. You possibly can proceed on to your gate after visiting the lounge. You possibly can pay about $35 for a day go or get in without cost with Precedence Cross.

Tijuana Airport VIP lounge entrance

VIP lounge Tijuana security screening


What It’s Like Flying From Tijuana Airport

Actually, it’s identical to some other airport world wide.

Positive, the indicators might be in Spanish (and English) and bulletins might be made in Spanish earlier than English. However you’ll discover the identical kinds of eating places and a clear and open terminal when flying from Tijuana. Chocolate lovers could need to cease right here.

Tijuana airport casa de chocolate


Whereas masks have been required to fly inside Mexico on my most up-to-date flight, as of Oct. 12, 2022, masks are now not required which brings Mexico in keeping with U.S. guidelines concerning masks utilization when flying – the place the mandate was lifted again in April.

TSA PreCheck isn’t out there when flying from Tijuana, however you may get expedited safety screening by visiting the VIP Lounge. It’s effectively price the fee for a day go and it’s free for Precedence Cross members. The lounge was just lately renovated and expanded into an exquisite area to take pleasure in complimentary drinks and a meal earlier than your flight. You possibly can even take a bathe.

VIP Lounge Tijuana Airport


Which Airways Fly from Tijuana?

You received’t discover flights on Delta, American, or some other U.S. airline when flying from Tijuana. As an alternative, you’ll be flying Mexican airways similar to Delta’s associate Aeromexico or low-cost carriers Volaris and VivaAerobus. There are just a few different smaller carriers however these are the principle airways flying from Tijuana. And Volaris being the dominant service by an extended shot.

Flights are often extremely low cost, however understand that the preliminary worth you see doesn’t embody a lot. As with all low-cost service, you’ll must be diligent when reserving to ensure you add all the things you’ll want from baggage to seat assignments through the reserving course of.

The excellent news is that these add-ons are comparatively low cost when in comparison with what related airways within the U.S., like Spirit and Frontier, cost. I might advocate paying the small upcharge to get a seat with additional legroom and at all times e-book a “basic” or customary financial system fare moderately than a primary fare.


Utilizing Tijuana Airport for Positioning Flights

Flying from Tijuana is nice in the event you stay in Southern California, however does this make any sense for vacationers scattered throughout the remainder of the nation?

Relying on the place you’re attempting to get to in Mexico (and when), you would doubtlessly get monetary savings by first flying to San Diego, spending just a few days having fun with the sunshine, after which persevering with on from Tijuana to your vacation spot in Mexico. Not solely might you get monetary savings in your flight to Mexico, however you’ll get the prospect to go to America’s Most interesting Metropolis on the way in which.

Say, as an illustration, you need to go to Tequila, a small city within the Mexican state of Jalisco recognized for producing one of the widespread spirits on this planet. The closest metropolis you’ll be able to fly into is Guadalajara (GDL). In the event you’re flying from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), you’ll usually discover costs over $700 roundtrip.

Minneapolis to Guadalajara Google Flights


However Thrifty Traveler Premium members know we typically discover nonstop flights from Minneapolis to San Diego (SAN) for nearer to $200 roundtrip – even much less from different cities.

thrifty traveler premium deal to San Diego 

Mix that with a $68 roundtrip flight from Tijuana to Guadalajara and also you’d wind up saving round $400 – per particular person!

Tijuana to Guadalajara Mexico


It might not be for everybody, however there are instances the place it might make sense to attach in San Diego, switch to the CBX, and fly from Tijuana to your vacation spot in Mexico.

However that’s not all …

In the event you’re trying to e-book an award ticket flying enterprise class on a long-haul worldwide flight, you will have a greater likelihood discovering the award area out of Mexico Metropolis (MEX). Residents of Southern California can e-book an affordable positioning flight from Tijuana to Mexico Metropolis after which fly lie-flat from Mexico to Europe or South America.

Emirates flies a fifth-freedom route with lie-flat enterprise class nonstop between Mexico Metropolis and Barcelona (BCN). It’s comparatively simple to search out the saver award area on this route, which prices simply 100,000 Skywards miles roundtrip. If flying Emirates enterprise class is in your bucket record and also you need to take a look at Barcelona as effectively, flying from Tijuana to Mexico Metropolis to catch this flight might be an awesome technique.

Mexico City to Barcelona biz class award on Emirates


Lufthansa First Class is one other high-value award that’s simpler to search out availability departing from Mexico Metropolis. You’ll must be spontaneous as a result of Lufthansa typically solely releases First Class award area just a few days forward of time.

Book Lufthansa First Class with Aeroplan


Fortunately, last-minute tickets from Tijuana to Mexico Metropolis are comparatively low cost as effectively.


Crossing the Border Again to the U.S. When Flying into Tijuana Airport

When it’s time to return dwelling, you’ll be glad that you just booked a ticket to make use of the Cross Border Xpress.

In my expertise, it took not more than 5 to 10 minutes from baggage declare to curbside within the U.S. – and I by no means set foot exterior the terminal buildings.

In fact, instances could fluctuate relying on how busy it’s at U.S. Customs & Immigration, but it surely was fairly empty on my most up-to-date flight. The method to cross again into the U.S. is similar to once you crossed into Mexico. There are indicators for the Cross Border Xpress as quickly as you deplane. You possibly can’t miss the signage for the CBX at baggage declare.

Sign for CBX at Tijuana Airport baggage claim


When you scan your ticket and boarding go, hold following the indicators to the USA.

follow the signs to the USA


There’s a separate line for International Entry which begins fairly far again. If it have been busy, having International Entry might save fairly a little bit of time right here. On the day I traveled, there have been no strains in any respect.

CBX Global Entry line


You’ll need to put your whole baggage via a scanner after passing via immigration. When you’re clear, you’ll exit into a fairly spectacular arrivals corridor.

CBX arrivals hall


And identical to that, you’re again within the USA. Simple peasy. Take a shuttle, name an Uber or Lyft, or get picked up curbside exterior the CBX facility in San Diego.

CBX San Diego pickup


Backside Line

Flying from Tijuana is protected and straightforward. The Cross Border Xpress pedestrian bridge connecting San Diego immediately with the airport terminal makes it a breeze.

So in the event you’re on the lookout for an affordable flight to Mexico (or past), hold your choices open and seek for flights from Tijuana as effectively.

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