Flying out of Tijuana

My adventure flying out of the Tijuana airport to Cabo
I regularly run guided kayak fishing trips in the East Cape of Baja. In the past I have flown with AeroMexico direct out of San Diego and have enjoyed great service with them. Unfortunatly this year they stopped flying out of San Diego and I need to find another service.
Alaska airlines kind of has San Diego by the balls, as now they are the only services direct to Cabo from San Diego and they are gouging us on pricing. Two solutions to this are to drive to LA where you can get cheaper flights but have to deal with the LA drive or use the Volaris airlines service out of TJ. The rates on Volaris are very good and I am very comfortable traveling in Mexico. With the shuttle bus service offered by Volaris out of down town San Diego to the TJ airport it seemed like a sweet and cost saving solution to the problem. My Friend Sean White came on this trip with me as a second guide and made the drive from Ukiah to San Diego to join me on this little adventure.
The shuttle runs from the down town San Diego bus station direct to the TJ airport. This should be a very easy process but the yahoos in the back of the bus who decided to pretend to be asleep rather than answer the border patrols questions got the bus pulled into secondary. Not a huge issues but it did cost us a lot of time.
When we arrived at the airport we found ourselves at the end of a huge line at the Volaris counter with only two people working it, and working it very slowly. We made it through the line and getting all our gear checked with about a half an hour before boarding of our plane. We then headed to the security line which again was very long and slow moving, which caused us a bit of stress because it was now getting close to the time of our planes departure. I put my back pack through the scanner and the security guys tell me I cannot carry on my fishing reels. I asked why, as I have carried my reels on planes all over the world, and he pantomimes for me the process of choking someone with my line. Of course right before me two guys went through with guitars, really, don’t they have metal strings? With my plane ready to take off he tells me either check the bag or leave it there. Yeah right I only have about 2K in reels in that back pack, not to mention a lot of other gear. Very stressed now and pressed for time I run back to the counter to check my back pack. No one there!!!!! FFFFFFFF!!!!!! I finally track down a Volaris employee and explain the situation he tells me it is too late to check the bag and I just may have to miss my flight. A supervisor finally gives the nod that they will take my bag and get it on the plane. I thank him profusely and run for my plane. Back through security and I make it in time for boarding, stress relieved a bit but still concerned I would never see my back pack again.
The actual flight was great and the airplanes are like new and you do get good onboard service including a free cocktail to ease the nerves.
Once in Cabo I was relieved to see all our or bags including my backpack had arrived safely. The first thing I did as look into my backpack to insure my reels were still in there, thank goodness they were. Unfortunately my camera was gone. Not a great start to the trip.
6 days of fishing in Baja did a lot to relieve the stress of the previous flight and the loss of my camera. Heck it was getting older and there are some cool new ones out there that I now had an excuse to buy.
Fast forward to our return journey.
Sean and I arrived at the Cabo airport about an hour and a half before our flight, going by my many past trips through the Cabo airport this was about an hour earlier than we normally needed to be. Not the case with Volaris, once again we found a very long line with only two people working the counter. The line moved agonizingly slow but we still felt good about the amount of time we had to make the flight. Once at the front we went through the normal bag search and handed over our bags. This time we had a bit more weight because we decided to bring some Dorado home, about 20 pounds of fillets and I decided to be safe and pack my reels this time in my checked bags. The guy at the counter weighs all of the bags at once and tells us we are overweight and that we would have to pay for the extra weight. Normally not a big deal. I told them to give me the bags back and I would move some stuff back into my back pack and fix the weight issue or at least lower the amount we would have to pay. They told us no that there was not enough time for us to do that before our plane left and we would just have to pay. AND PAY BIG. The funny thing here is that it took them a half hour to figure out how much we had to pay and how to process it, in that time we could of easily fixed the problem, but they would not give us the bags back. Between us Sean and I paid $280 in extra baggage fees, for that amount we could have bought the baggage a seat on the plane. What a scam. All the while we are hearing over the loud speaker that final boarding is happening for our flight and the doors of the plane will be closing, more stress.
We did make the flight but very stressed out again. Once back in TJ all of our very expensive luggage and fished arrived and would have to go through another search, big hassle. Now the hunt for the shuttle begins. Nothing is clearly marked and we have to check with every bus out there to find the right one parked about two blocks away. Once on they tell us the border crossing at TJ is too long and they will take us through Otay Mesa. This was actually a good call as we got through that line pretty fast but now have to now find the bus again. Because of this change of crossings we now have to go back to San Yisidro to get on the bus to San Diego Schlepping our bags from bus to bus.
With all the hassles and gouging by the airline I can tell you I will never fly Volaris again and will certainly warn my clients and friends against flying them also. I think to save money and the headache it will likely be easier to head to LA and get on a plane there. I miss the days of flying AeroMexico out of San Diego it was so painless, cheap and easy.

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6 comments

  1. Wow, sounds like a hassle, would have been worth trying to get someone to drive you to LA and pick you up. Sounds like you caught some Dorado, overall how was the fishing? Did the wind stay down?

    1. The fishing on this trip was as slow as I have ever had it, there was no live bait and not a lot of action in general. We did manage some Dorado, Amber Jack, Jack Crevalle and even a couple of Wahoo which were caught while trolling from the Panga. Even with the slow fishing it was a real fun trip with great clients. The only issues were in the travel and as I said I don’t plan on flying Volaris again.

  2. I just spent the weekend in Cabo San Lucas after flying on Volaris out of Tijuana. Arranging private shuttle service from downtown San Diego to the Tijuana airport via the Otay border crossing was way easier than I expected. Total drive time was at most 25 minutes with a drop off right at the curbside check in. The guys in my group all brought carry on luggage, so with boarding passes in hand walk right through security. No hassle about bag weight or size like I’ve experienced in other airports. I was expecting the airport to be run down and unkept, but I experienced the exact opposite. It was clean, safe and much nicer than some other US airport I’ve been to.

    Volaris is a reputable carrier with newer Air bus planes. While I’ve noticed some carriers overhead bins shrinking, the bins on this A319 aircraft were large. Attendants were professional, and with a free selection of beer, liquor and soft drinks once we got up in the air. The flight lasted 2 hours.. While they did run out of beer, some of asked for and received refills. It reminds me of what flying use to be like.

    Even the Cabo airport was clean and pleasant. It was my first time there and I never felt unsafe. Even our return flight went smoothly. We arrived well ahead of our scheduled departure and didn’t encounter any issues. I was asked by an official at a security checkpoint in the airport if I had a Tourist Permit, I said no. I was never informed of any requirement for a Tourist Permit, and the officer just shook his head at me and let me pass through. Kind of sounds like BS to me. I didn’t see anybody else get questioned or have any issues.

    Crossing back over the border was a bit more of an experience. We arranged for shuttle pick up at the airport, but the driver informed us that he had to drop us off at the check point, then meet us on the other side. We had to grab our bags and wait in a 30 minute line to have our passports scanned. The CBP officer only asked if I had anything in my luggage to declare and he asked where I was going. I just said back home. It was that easy. We all walked through without our bags searched or even scanned. The shuttle driver was waiting on the US side for us and we were on our way. Shuttle service cost us $20 per person each way.

    Having not traveled in Mexico in the past 10 years, I was pleased with the ease and quality of the experience. While we were traveling in a group and did our best to stay conscious of our surroundings, we had a great time and never got hassled. I do recommend using reputable professional companies instead of “contacts” or friends of friends when arranging houses or timeshares. It is easy to be taken advantage of if you are not careful. Make sure you get a receipt and or sign a formal contract as proof of the transaction.

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