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Flying out of Tijuana – need some advice

  • Flying out of Tijuana – need some advice

    Posted by amandae on August 21, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    I was invited to join my best friend and her mom for a last minute trip down to Guadalajara for a family event in a few days. They told me they are flying out of Tijuana as the tickets are a lot cheaper but unfortunately we won’t be able to use the CBX. Her mom wants to spend a full day in Tijuana before flying out to do some shopping and the CBX option is only good for within 24 hours of departure. They are coming down on the Amtrak and I will be in charge of driving.

    While I’m comfortable with driving through Tijuana to get to the Toll Road, I have never really driven around Tijuana and I am terrified of getting lost. Plus, I am worried about leaving my car parked at the airport. Do they have long term parking?

    Are there any better options?

     

    amandae replied 1 year, 3 months ago 15 Members · 54 Replies
  • 54 Replies
  • cabodream

    Member
    August 21, 2022 at 2:56 pm

    We have flown out of Tijuana several times to take advantage of cheap fares to Cabo. We have used the CBX but detest the San Diego level parking rates what we do now is leave the car at home and take the Amtrak into downtown San Diego. From there we just cross the street and take the Blue Line trolley down to the border.

    We cross the border on foot and once in Tijuana we just call a Uber to take us to the airport. We do the exact opposite when we return. It’s really easier than taking a car, dealing with Tijuana traffic and airport parking. Just make sure your luggage has wheels.

    If I was you, I would just take a Uber to meet your friends at the station, take the trolley down and a Uber to your hotel. After you finish checking in and leave your bags you can just take a Uber for anything you want to do in Tijuana. We had a couple of free days last fall and spent 2 days there in Tijuana before catching a flight down to Cabo.

    We had a great time and discovered some fantastic restaurants. If you have time after shopping, I highly recommend going to see a movie at the VIP theaters at Galerias del Hipodromo. It will forever spoil you on going to the movies.

    • amandae

      Member
      August 21, 2022 at 3:37 pm

      That is excellent advice! Thank you!!!

      • cabodream

        Member
        August 21, 2022 at 5:13 pm

        Let us know how it went after you get back.

        • amandae

          Member
          August 23, 2022 at 5:12 pm

          πŸ–•

  • offroadrage

    Member
    August 21, 2022 at 3:08 pm

    Your crazy to fly out of that airport just to save a few bucks. The only way I would do it would be if I could use the CBX crossing in and out, and even then I am not sure I would want to fly out of Tijuana. Do they even have jet planes or are they all still prop engines? (Just kidding. Sorta.)

    Fly out of San Diego and you won’t have to worry about crooked taxi drivers or dirty airport bathrooms.

    • BajaGringo

      Organizer
      August 21, 2022 at 3:26 pm

      Have you even been inside the airport? I have flown out of there dozens of times and prefer it to Lindberg Field at San Diego for multiple reasons. It’s clean and modern and offers electronic check-in / ticketing as well with several options to dine or grab a drink while you wait for your flight to board.

      • offroadrage

        Member
        August 21, 2022 at 5:30 pm

        Maybe they’ve cleaned things up. A member of our group flew into Tijuana from La Paz after he totaled his truck north of El Sargento and remember him commenting about the filthy bathroom at the airport. That was probably 20 years ago or so.

    • amandae

      Member
      August 21, 2022 at 3:41 pm

      We aren’t just saving a “few bucks” but several hundred dollars in airfare. On top of the cheaper tickets we also can take a direct, non-stop flight to Guadalajara instead of having to deal with a flight with 2 stops out of San Diego or a really expensive ticket that still has one stop in between.

      • cabodream

        Member
        August 21, 2022 at 3:58 pm

        That’s our experience as well with the airfares and why we only fly out of Tijuana when heading down to Cabo anymore.

      • offroadrage

        Member
        August 21, 2022 at 5:32 pm

        Your right, I didn’t think the savings was that significant.

        • amandae

          Member
          August 21, 2022 at 5:36 pm

          Plus the flights are non-stop! That’s a lot of added value on top of the savings.

  • BajaGringo

    Organizer
    August 21, 2022 at 3:27 pm

    As @cabodream mentioned, leaving the car at home and using Uber in Tijuana will not only save you money but make your time there much more enjoyable. I know my way around Tijuana like the back of my hand but today only use Uber to get around when up there visiting, it’s so much easier and cost effective.

    Which hotel are you staying at?

    • amandae

      Member
      August 21, 2022 at 3:42 pm

      Not sure if they already booked the hotel, let me check.

    • amandae

      Member
      August 21, 2022 at 5:37 pm

      They hadn’t booked the hotel but we are going to do so tonight. Any recommendations in respect to our itinerary/plans? Thanks for all the help.

    • BajaGringo

      Organizer
      August 21, 2022 at 6:01 pm

      A lot of people stay at the Fiesta Inn Tijuana Otay Aeropuerto which is located in Otay Mesa so that may leave you a bit farther from many of the shopping areas.
      https://www.fiestainn.com/en/hotels/fiesta-inn-tijuana-otay-aeropuerto/

      Others like to use the Hotel Principado, Tijuana – Zona Aeropuerto which is real close to the airport.
      https://hotelprincipadotijuana.com.mx/

      Another option is the Hotel Real Inn Tijuana which is nice and just a few miles further down the same road as the Hotel Principado but still relatively close – just a 10 minute Uber drive from the airport’s front sidewalk. The advantage of this hotel is that it’s located right in the middle of the most popular shopping areas.
      https://www.caminoreal.com/en/realinn/real-inn-tijuana

      Those are 3 great options.

      You can use our hotel lookup tool which hooks you up to all the online discount hotel brokers:
      https://talkbaja.com/travel-guide/hotels/

      Hotels

      • amandae

        Member
        August 21, 2022 at 7:48 pm

        Thank you so much Ron!

        • BajaGringo

          Organizer
          August 22, 2022 at 7:15 am

          My pleasure – enjoy your trip!

  • sawdogger

    Member
    August 21, 2022 at 4:02 pm

    The difference in airfare is considerable and non-stop to boot? Definitely going to look into this. Have a great trip to Guadalajara, it’s a beautiful city. Is this your first time going there?

    • amandae

      Member
      August 21, 2022 at 5:34 pm

      Yes and I am really excited! Thank you!

  • guacamole

    Member
    August 21, 2022 at 5:21 pm

    I heard the flights were cheaper out of Tijuana but never realized before now how much you can save. That’s amazing! Now I understand the CBX border bridge business model.

    • amandae

      Member
      August 21, 2022 at 5:38 pm

      Yes but unfortunately we can’t use it on this trip as we will need to cross into Tijuana more than 24 hours before our departure.

  • SolSeeker

    Member
    August 22, 2022 at 6:31 am

    I was told that when you use the CBX to cross over directly into the airport, they issue your FMM. Since you won’t be using CBX do you get your FMM when crossing the border via the pedestrian crossing? Will the airport accept that to allow you to board?

    • BajaGringo

      Organizer
      August 22, 2022 at 7:13 am

      Yes, but be sure to tell the INM agent there where you cross of your plans to fly out of the airport to Guadalajara.

      • SolSeeker

        Member
        August 22, 2022 at 7:29 am

        So I am curious, as a foreigner living here, do you have to go back to the border to get your FMM to be able to fly out of a Mexican airport?

        • BajaGringo

          Organizer
          August 22, 2022 at 9:01 am

          No, as I have permanent residence status, I simply show the agent at the airport my PR card. If you don’t have an FMM when you show up at the airport they will issue you one and charge you for it. At least they did for the guy ahead of me in line the last time I flew out of Tijuana.

      • amandae

        Member
        August 23, 2022 at 9:30 am

        Good to know!

  • guacamole

    Member
    August 22, 2022 at 9:16 am

    Thanks @amandae for posting this. Learned a few things from this and we will definitely try it next time we fly down to BCS or anywhere else in Mexico but will probably try to use the CBX access.

    • cabodream

      Member
      August 23, 2022 at 10:43 am

      For short trips the CBX is a good option but when you are staying a week or longer, be prepared for a shock when you see what they charge you for parking at the CBX. You’d think you were in downtown San Diego!

      • amandae

        Member
        August 23, 2022 at 5:13 pm

        San Diego is SO expensive to park

  • maxmo

    Member
    August 22, 2022 at 6:14 pm

    The Tijuana airport is nice, clean and modern. The CBX crossing makes it so easy for Americans to use the airport, save money and not have to drive in Tijuana. Trust me, I don’t like driving in Tijuana either and I was born in Baja California.

    • amandae

      Member
      August 23, 2022 at 5:15 pm

      I hate driving in any large city. When heading north I am terrified at the thought of having to get off of the 405 or the 5 freeways when driving through Los Angeles.

  • paranewbi

    Member
    August 23, 2022 at 5:11 am

    We and all of our family fly out of Tijuana frequently. Last year we got flights for our kids to Loreto for $7 each way on Volaris! This year, the same time range $126 rt. I am an early riser (3am) and usually check out flight cost to destinations in Mexico. If I find something like round trip to Merida for under $150 I’ll wake the wife and ask her if she wants to go… even at that hour she has never said no. Our cheapest to Guadalajara has been $68rt a few years ago. Volaris use to have 1 cent flight legs but you had to hit those as surprise offers. The security check at Tijuana is so much easier than the US… who’s gonna blow up a Mexican plane?

    While in Guadalajara, take a day trip (taxi or bus) to Tlaquepaque. A great place for art and meals in the square. Original stuff there is expensive, let a friend hold your Credit Card. Don’t plow down a few margaritas and then go shopping like we do.

    If you have the time also hit up Tonala just a little further out than the above. It’s one of the main centers for production and distribution of all the crafts of Mexico and has an insane street market that is blocks long. The buses go to both places. We actually prefer to stay in Tlaque’ as a home base and visit the city center from there. Tlaque’ is about 1/2 hour out from the airport.

    The Guadalajara airport is one of the nicest to fly into or connect in. Lots of good eateries and avoids those 4-8 hour layovers of Mex city. Caution; My wife was in the ‘ladies room’ and a female airport guard entered the stall next to her and removed her firearm belt and laid it down on the floor at the stall divider. My wife said she could have simply reached down an picked it up… but she was to grossed out with the fact it was lying on the bathroom floor, ew!

    Have a great time… of course I’m jealous.

    • amandae

      Member
      August 23, 2022 at 9:43 am

      Thank you @paranewbi for all of that, I really am looking forward to this trip and just wish I could have gotten more time off of work to spend additional days. Part of the itinerary for this trip includes 2 days at their vacation home in Lagos de Moreno, which they tell me is a couple of hours from Guadalajara, so I probably won’t have much time to explore much else this time.

      My husband is jealous too as he can’t go this time but I will be scoping things out for a trip we will probably be making sometime either late this year or early next year. He wants to check out the Lake Chapala area as he really wants to invest now into some retirement property and Lake Chapala is on the list with Baja and a few other spots.

      Discovering this cheap option to fly all over Mexico from Tijuana was like opening a big box full off lots of wonderful presents inside!

      I am curious, do you normally use the CBX access or how do you normally go to the airport and deal with parking?

      • paranewbi

        Member
        August 23, 2022 at 1:24 pm

        Sounds like a great introduction to Guadalajara trip.

        We have splurged and secured a spot in the parking lot at CBX when our trip is in that 1 week to 10 day range. It is a little pricey but it’s like flying first class. To walk out of the CBX facility and find your own vehicle sitting there is really nice, even though we live about 20 minutes away. The price of a Uber ride both ways brings the consideration of paid parking a little more within the range of consideration. But get reservations because it does get full and if you find the entrance coned out because of ‘full’… Just pull around to the front of the facility and go in to alert them your there and have a reservation, they will send someone out to move the cones. We always use CBX. Also get your FMM online and print it out yourself so when you cross at CBX and come into the immigration area you have it and it’s paid for. CBX can be/look really crowded sometimes but having your passport, boarding pass, and FMM you just pass everyone by and go right to the crossing agents standing where you enter the bridge over. There was a need the last two years to fill out an additional form online at a Mexican government website but may not apply anymore.

        I would suggest one item that some might poo-poo here and that is to get yourself (ve’s) an international drivers license. AAA issues them at their offices and all you need is an active US drivers license. Most travelers don’t get it although you are legally suppose to have it while driving in any of the listed countries (a lot) in the license book.

        Both times I have needed to present it involved a fishing for bribe situation. One was at a state border crossing facility (Campeche-Chiapis) where two guards waved us over out of traffic. The asked for the car papers (rental), then our passports, then the FMM, then our drivers license which we presented our US licenses… then with signs of being without cause, they had that “now we’ve got you’ look in their eyes and asked for our International driver license’s. My wife in the passenger side pulled hers out and along with mine (and a big smile) I handed them to the officers who now held a big bundle of documents and a dejected look. They then asked me to open the trunk which I did and while one of them looked around in there the other stood by with all of our papers. I finally asked them forcefully why they were hassling two tourists. Did they not have anything better to do? All of my communication was in English but the accusatory air of my protestations caused them to want to get rid of me πŸ™‚

        The second time was very similar and both times it was so gratifying to see their faces when they thought they had me for a pay-to-play gain. Just a little thought for you.

        As a side note, if Guadalajara is not set in stone for you and your husband, a flight into Merida usually very cheap. Rent a car from ‘American Rentals’ (shuttle to nearby airport car rental lot). Spend a few days exploring Merida (and nearby Progreso…see pink flamingos + along the coastal drive to the east) and then take a drive south of Merida on the 261 and see some of the most impressive temple/pyramids in Mexico (Uxmal is amazing) there’s a dozen or so around.

        • amandae

          Member
          August 23, 2022 at 5:27 pm

          Merida is on my husband’s short list of places to check out.

          Your suggestion about getting the FMMs online before leaving is a good one, leaving me with one less thing to do. Do you think we should stop at the border to get them stamped or wait to get them stamped at the airport?

          I am liking the Uber idea for Tijuana and have no plans to drive in Guadalajara so will probably skip the international driver’s license for now, but I will share that info with my husband. Knowing him, he’ll probably want one.

          We were talking last night about our upcoming trips and using Tijuana now. Since we have some good friends in Chula Vista, they could pick us up at the H Street trolley which is close by, go have breakfast/lunch together and then drop us off at the CBX, picking us up again when we get back.

          I was freaking out about this just a few days ago but really looking forward to seeing how this works out now – thanks to you and everybody here for your help!

          • paranewbi

            Member
            August 24, 2022 at 5:22 am

            Hmmm… The question about where to get the FMM stamped is a quagmire. I don’t think they would stamp it at the border as you have to check off the ‘flying’ on the FMM and when doing so online, they give you a listing of choice for the airport you are flying out of (the one on the list your looking for would be “General Abelardo L. Rodriguez” nothing would say Tijuana international, etc.) and because your flying from a Mexican airport as your point of entry/origin you are a domestic traveler originating in Mexico (also indicated on the FMM online.) In addition since you are only visiting Tijuana for a day pre flight I think they would be reluctant to even deal with you at the border. NONE of this I am sure of though (except for the airport part of the FMM).

            I haven’t walked into the lobby of the airport since being one of the first to transit the CBX facility when it opened. There was a kiosk at one time in the lobby for immigration where you filled out the FMM, paid, got it stamped, but I’m not sure how that is done coming in the entrance. CBX lands you right in the immigration lines/facility when you come down off the bridge over the border, easy peasy.

            Maybe someone knows here?

            • MikeyD

              Member
              August 24, 2022 at 8:27 am

              There is an immigration booth at the west end of the airport terminal where you can get your FMM. I hear some people go there to get their FMM when they forget to stop at the border. You aren’t required to show your airline ticket.

              • amandae

                Member
                August 24, 2022 at 10:58 am

                Great! Thank you for that – I will look for it.

            • amandae

              Member
              August 24, 2022 at 10:58 am

              After talking to somebody else who flew out of Tijuana last month, I guess the proper way when crossing by foot is to tell the agents at the border that we have tickets to fly out. Supposedly they will wave us through and tell us that we will be required to get our FMM at the airport, as without it we will not be allowed to board. I also learned that it is important to save the FMM stub as we will need it to board our return flights back to Tijuana.

  • gaviota

    Member
    August 23, 2022 at 1:07 pm

    My husband does consulting work and needs to fly into Mexico City next month to pitch a potential client. The round trip airfare out of San Diego was 3 times more expensive than Tijuana – which will pay for my airfare to go along with him + some. Also comes with the added benefit of not having to deal with all the TSA hassles and expensive parking at San Diego, as others have mentioned.

    Friends are going to drop us off at the CBX and pick us up when we get back.

    • amandae

      Member
      August 23, 2022 at 5:29 pm

      That’s what we are going to do on our next trip. My husband detests paying for the San Diego parking prices, especially for over several days.

  • bajatraveler

    Member
    August 23, 2022 at 1:19 pm

    As Amanda correctly mentioned, you can only use the CBX bridge access within 24 hours of your flight’s departure. On returning, you have to proceed straight to the CBX from the baggage area, there’s no making a quick trip into Tijuana for some tacos or shopping. Also, your CBX access privileges on your return expire 2 hours after flight lands. Not sure what they do if your luggage is lost?

    • paranewbi

      Member
      August 23, 2022 at 1:36 pm

      Have read of a large family group who arrived two hours prior to flight only to have it canceled. They couldn’t use CBX to cross back as the return ticket was only for the day of their return flight. They had to lug their luggage to two taxi cabs and go to the walk thru line at Otay for a two hour lineup. And then Uber it back to CBX on the US side to retrieve their car at the parking lot… WOW!

      • six-one-niner

        Member
        August 23, 2022 at 1:56 pm

        That is the main reason we stopped flying on Volaris – too many canceled flights.

      • amandae

        Member
        August 23, 2022 at 5:31 pm

        That’s outrageous! I can’t believe that CBX couldn’t be more flexible when something like that happens. Now you’ve got me worried, wondering what happens if our flight is canceled???

        • paranewbi

          Member
          August 24, 2022 at 5:32 am

          No cancellation is fun, even in the US. I don’t even want to talk about it… but I have never been canceled the hundreds of times I have flown from a dozen different airports in Mexico. I have flown pretty much every airlines and a few puddle jumpers and have been really fortunate in that way. Never say Never though! Dang-it just did.

          I did wait for 8 hours in Mexico City while they tried to locate the flight crew, we all cheered them like Hollywood stars when the finally walked in the terminal. The Mexicans really taught me about how to handle those situations and maintained an air of good times during the entire wait. Since then I have taken that attitude about everything in Mexico and just chalk such events as another story to tell over a margarita!

          I don’t go with percentages or chance as being a part of my agenda in Mexico so don’t let the worries cause you any concern. I wouldn’t blow my money on ‘flight insurance’ either, margaritas are much cheaper πŸ™‚

          • amandae

            Member
            August 24, 2022 at 11:01 am

            That’s reassuring to hear. And I agree, when I go on vacation I try to avoid letting things get to me. “Margaritas cheaper than flight insurance.” I got to remember that one! πŸ˜†

    • enchirito

      Member
      August 23, 2022 at 1:41 pm

      Another reason why I hate to check luggage – always pack for carryon only.

  • amandae

    Member
    August 24, 2022 at 11:02 am

    Well, I am almost done packing and want to thank everybody here for your advice and help, I really do appreciate it! I am so excited!!!

  • amandae

    Member
    August 25, 2022 at 8:25 pm

    Just to let everybody know, I’m here in Guadalajara!

    We took the trolley down yesterday, walked across the border and just showed our airline ticket confirmations to the guys at INM who told us to get our FMMs at the airport. Took a Uber to the hotel, did some shopping, had dinner and back to the hotel last night. We took a Uber to the airport this morning where we got our FMMs and checked in. Had a few drinks while waiting for our flight (it was 30 minutes late) but no worries. The non-stop flight was quick and our only concern was there were reports of rain possible in Guadalajara but when we landed it was all clear! Looking forward to having a great time here and want to thank everybody for all your help!!!

    • paranewbi

      Member
      August 27, 2022 at 5:01 am

      Thanks for the border/flight info! Was the area for your FMM at the airport busy? How is the mask requirements at Tijuana and Guadalajara, and the plane ride applied?

      One more… did you have to fill out any covid declaration at Tijuana pre-flight?

      • FishFinder

        Member
        August 27, 2022 at 10:32 am

        We flew out/into Tijuana two weeks ago and face masks were required in the airport as well as on our flight to Mexico City. I don’t remember a questionnaire but my wife may have taken care of that?

      • amandae

        Member
        August 31, 2022 at 8:13 am

        Was the area for your FMM at the airport busy?
        – only 2 people ahead of us, maybe 7 or 8 minutes.

        How is the mask requirements at Tijuana and Guadalajara, and the plane ride applied?

        – face masks were required

        One more… did you have to fill out any covid declaration at Tijuana pre-flight?

        – There were people circulating through the line doing questionnaires

        All in all I am really glad we decided to fly out of Tijuana, it was really easy. Thanks for your advice!

  • amandae

    Member
    August 31, 2022 at 8:14 am

    Thanks again everyone. Back home now and we had a great time! I highly recommend you try flying out of Tijuana, it was very nice and so much easier!

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