Latinplane From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 2668 posts, RR: 14 Posted (13 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 1266 times:
In order to save a few bucks, I decided to fly to Mexico through Tijuana's International airport. I would have much rather flown out of my home airport LAX, but the fares during the peak summer travel season were comparable to those to Europe from Los Angeles at certain times of the year. Next time, I'll plan my trip far in advance like I usually do, for the 3 hour drive to T.J. from L.A. was quite an exhaustive one.
Tijuana's airport along with the most Mexican airports have recently been privatised by the government. Tijuana's airport is part of the Airports of the Pacific group (Aeropuertos del pacifico) which was recently bought by several european investors such as the aena, the Spanish airport management company. Most of these aiports are currently being renovated and brought to International standards. This is the case Tijuana's airport which is going through extensive renovation
inside of the terminal. The airport was quite busy with many people traveling and many of those being Americans from California that were flying to the beaches and trying to save some bucks like me.
As I stepped through the front door of the MD-80, I was greated by the purser who had a small tray with packs of miniature candies. (AeroMexico has always offered candies as a welcome aboard treat ever since my first flight with them in 1980 when I was 3 years old)
Nice treat, especially for the children. As I walked through the cabin a very nice flight attendant greated me and said: Good day young man, man I help you find you're seat? (Buenos dias joven, te ayudo a encontrar tú asiento?) This is one of the reasons that AeroMexico can claim on being the most puctual airline in the world, because it teaches it's flight attendants to give a warm welcome and to seat all passengers as soon as possible so that the plane can take off on time.
As she left me at my seat and continued to help the other passengers I noticed that the aircraft was clean and every other seat had a small pillow and blanket. Each seat also had an inflight magazine, a barf bag and the emergency seat card.
The airport was packed with other mexican airlines, namely: Mexicana, Aviacsa, AeroCalifornia. As we were taxing to the runway I also noticed an ex-Okada Air 747-100 that was once part of the Air Lingus 747 fleet. This aircraft was no longer airworthy as many pieces of the plane were missing but still retained the Okada Air Nigeria livery and name.
We promptly took off and we were soon overflying the deserts of Baja California. Withing 20 minutes of our take off the flight attendants started serving food along with the drinks. There was 4 flight attendants for the 75-80% full MD-80. Once the meal trays were passed out the flight attendants came back each holding either Orange juice, Coke, or Coffee. Breakfast consisted of a small ham sandwich and a cup of fruit.
After flying through Baja and over the sea of Cortez, we got deeper into the more green and fertile mountains of Mexico. It was raining season in that part of the country, but even with a few clouds in the sky, turbolence was kept to a minimum. After our 2:50 hour flight we started our decent into Guadalajara's international airport. We overflew the city and made a smooth landing. The plane taxied and parked adjacent to a Continental NG-737 that was boarding to Houston and a Mexicana 727 full of Mexican gamblers headed to Las Vegas. There was also a Saab340 and a Metro belonging to Aerolitoral (AeroMexico's feeder) about to take off. As I walked out of the aircraft and into the terminal I noticed that it was very clean and comfortable with many nice shops and restaurants. The international arrivals terminal was being renovated and was almost finished with a very modern 2000 futuristic look.
July 2000, AeroCalifornia DC-9-30 GDL-MEX
I arrived early at the airport for my 9:30 flight to Mexico City. The airport was very busy will all sorts of aircraft at the ramp destined to other domestic destinations as well as for the United States. The cargo terminal was also busy with an Atlas Air 747-200, Fed Ex A300, UPS 757, & a DHL 727-200. Martinair Holland also comes into Guadalajara with a 747 once a week. Soon our AeroCalifornia DC-9 landed and we were put on a bus that took us to our DC-9. The aircraft was about 30 years old and it's age was showing. There was 2 female flight attendants for the plane both being between 21-25 yrs old and very nice. We took off on time for out short hop of 50 minutes. Although this was only a 50 minute flight all passengers were offered a newspaper before we took off, and to my surprise once we were in the air all passengers were offered breakfast which consisted of a mexican sandwich (torta de jamon) and a choice of various fruit juices.(Unheard of in the U.S) The flight was about 55-60 percent full. Again minimal turbolence was encountered and our flight was a smooth one to Mexico City international airport. As we landed at Mexico City I noticed that there was a Varig 767 and an Aeroflot Ilushin Il-96 resting for it's trip back to Moscow. Unfortunatly my camera had just ran out of film roll and I couldn't get up to get it from the overhead compartment as we were still taxing to our stand.
August 2000, AeroMexico 757 MEX-TIJ
I boarded the aircraft in AeroMexico's new metalic colors. Again we were offered newspapers and candy at the jetway. There was 6 flight attendants for the 757, 2 for each of the 3 compartments including first class. The flight attendants were extremely nice on this plane. The 757 like all AeroMexico aircraft I've flown on were spotless clean and comfortable. The airport was really packed with aircraft. (According to analyst if a new airport isn't build in 5 years, Mexico City's current airport will reach stagnation) We took of on time and within 15 minutes the flight attendants started their breakfast run. We were served an egg omelette (tortilla española) with a bread bun and refried beans. The flight attendants again passed after the meal was served, each carrying either orange juice, coke, or coffee. While were were still eating, the movie was started. I've only seen this on some of the airlines, but I like it when the airline's name and logo appearst on the movie screen right before the movie starts. In this case AeroMexico's name and logo came out right before Warner Bros. The movie showing was: The Whole Nine Yards, a comedy with: Bruce Willis and Mathew Perry. Great movie! You always have a memorable flight when a good movie is showing on board. After the movie I got up to use the restroom not because I had to use it, but because I wanted to check out the load factor on this 757. It seemed like a pretty packed flight. about 85% full. Like I said the flight attendants were really nice (2 males and 4 females) There was even a flight attendant holding a mothers baby while she was inside using the restroom. I thought it was the cuttest thing because she was being so nice to the baby which was about one year old and not afraid of the flight attendant at all. She was telling the baby; you're mom is in there, (pointing to the door) she'll be right out. Our flight lasted about 3 hours and we were soon decending to Tijuana's airport.
The flight attendants came to pick up our head phones which were free at no charge. We landed smoothly and on time. As I walked through the plane and exited at the most forward door I thanked the flight attendants and they responded; not at all thank you, and take care! (Al contrario, gracias a usted y que le vaya bien!) which felt really good after a weeks vacation. 5 thumbs up AeroMexico and go Skyteam!!!
DesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7719 posts, RR: 17 Reply 1, posted (13 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 1166 times:
That was pretty interesting. How does Tijuana's airport compare to others in SoCal?
The service seems to be quite impressive too. Too bad that level of personal service does not exist more on American airlines. Where flight annoucements on those flights bilingual or just in Spanish since all flights originated in Mexico?
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
LanChileA340 From Australia, joined Aug 2000, 101 posts, RR: 1 Reply 2, posted (13 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1162 times:
well i'm delighted to see that fellow latinamerican carriers are doing well....I mean look at TACA, Lan Chile and Varig, all three are doing very well....we kick ass !! because it's the safety and hospitality that counts....the rest is all bull-shit or simply irrelevant.
Latinplane From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 2668 posts, RR: 14 Reply 4, posted (13 years 4 months 1 week 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 1151 times:
Yes, indeed. All flight anouncements an all of the 3 flights both with AeroMexico and AeroCalifornia were made in spanish and english. I believe that thats the norm for most domestic flights in Mexico as all of the flight attendants must legaly know how to speak english in order to obtain the job.
I was rather impressed with the service, as I have never ever received that much attention on a domestic flight by non of the american air carriers. This is what air travel was like 20 years ago before de-regulation in the U.S.
From the exterior Tijuana's airport looks very modern, but the inside is different compared with the airports in the U.S. The terminal is being re-done so the place is not that great right now, but not bad at all. Currently the airport is not bad compared with other airports in other parts of latin america. But when the project is finished the airport should look much better.
Johnboy From United States of America, joined Aug 1999, 2538 posts, RR: 7 Reply 5, posted (13 years 4 months 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 1148 times:
When I lived in San Diego, the local newspaper Sunday travel section always listed prices of flights to Mexico, departing both from SAN and TIJ. Depending on the time of year, a few bargains could be had, especially traveling to ACA, but for the most part, the prices weren't that different from SAN.
I'm interested in your flight on AeroCalifornia. Unlike its larger cousins AeroMexico and Mexicana, AeroCalifornia hasn't had that great of a reputation. They used to fly from both PHX and TUS into NorthWest Mexico, but ended those flights a few years ago. If i'm not mistaken, they only fly from LAX now (in the US, that is.) What did you think about their service as compared with the others? I believe they also need some new planes. I've only seen them fly DC-9s (and not the stretch ones either).
PS Great report, by the way. It's always interesting to hear about an American traveling on a foreign airliner, and the different expectations and perceptions.
Bicoastal From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 6, posted (13 years 4 months 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 1140 times:
Thanks for the report. I'm hoping that the newly privatized Tijuana airport will solve San Diego's airport capacity problem. Tijuana's airport is right next to the border. It's runways can handle fully loaded jumbos, unlike San Diego's. Preliminary plans/dreams call for a terminal to be built on the US side and then a bridge over the border to the airline gates. As long as Immigration and Customs issues could be solved, it's a great solution. NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) in San Diego will never allow a new commercial airport at the only logical location (Miramar Marine Corps Air Station) so Mexico is the only hope for more capacity. The problem is convincing domestic United States and non-Mexican foreign airlines to fly to both San Diego (SAN) and Tijuana (TIJ). Hopefully market demand in the San Diego/Tijuana region (5+ million people) will convince Asian and Europeans to look at non-stops from Tijuana.
AM From Mexico, joined Oct 1999, 581 posts, RR: 2 Reply 9, posted (13 years 4 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 1098 times:
Hola Apolo, ¿cómo estas?
Great trip report. No surprise you had excellent service in your flights with Mexican airlines. It is that and warmth and hospitality what makes Latin American carriers what they are, and what US carriers lack of.
About Tijuana, it's great to know about its renovation. It's also great to find out that this airport is being considered a possibility to support SAN's growth. If that happens, and like Bicoastal said, a terminal is built in the US side, TIJ would become a good example of how the US and Mexico CAN work together and HELP each other.
Guadalajara is under major renovation as well. While the work is being done it may be a little uncomfortable to be in some parts of the airport, but that is only temporary and results will bring a lot of benefits. This work not only includes the terminal, but apron areas and GDL's main runway as well, its overhaul being carried out at night when the least number of flights are affected.
And Apolo, what do you think about the terminal at MEX? Incredible isn't it? The problem is how crowded it is getting. Runway, taxiway and apron areas are also reaching their max capacity. At least we know that the next presidential period beginning in December promises a lot of good things and improvements to the country, and in the next 6 years the problem of Latin America's busiest airport will already have a solution thanks to a new airport, the next Mexico City International.
Mexico City, Mexico.
"... for there you have been and there you will long to return."
Trintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3211 posts, RR: 4 Reply 10, posted (13 years 4 months 1 week 6 days ago) and read 1090 times:
An excellent trip report. Above all the quality of service on those Mexican carriers was indeed top-notch. It really makes you wonder - do many of us overlook these wonderful little carriers when booking flights and go only with bland larger ones which happen to have well-known names? Perhaps not so much us aviation freaks but surely the average person does so.
Latinplane From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 2668 posts, RR: 14 Reply 11, posted (13 years 4 months 1 week 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 1076 times:
As far as I know, AeroCalifornia has a fleet of around 15-18 DC-9's. Ofcourse all of these are quite old. They are based out of La Paz, Baja California with crew bases both at La Paz and Guadalajara. They have quite an extensive route network in Mexico but they only serve Los Angeles and Tucson in the U.S.
Well, their service was o.k. The DC-9-30's interior were a bit worn out but comparable to the same worn out interiors that I've seen on TWA and American 25+ year old aircraft. I have no clue to when they'll want to start replacing this aircraft? I guess they should go for some MD-87's when they become available. I would wish but I don't think they can afford 717's, but heck other small airlines in the world are buying them so maybe one day.
Like I said, the service was o.k. I mean, they gave me breakfast for a 50 minute flight. Can't beat that. They also had a wide variety of assorted juices. Orange, apple, pineapple, tomato and coffee. Southwest could't out do that.
Latinplane From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 2668 posts, RR: 14 Reply 12, posted (13 years 4 months 1 week 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 1073 times:
I've also heard reports about making a joint airport for both cities. Something similar to the Basle/Mulhouse airport which serves Switzerland, France, and Germany combined. However, it would be quite a hard achivement but nothing impossible. Who knows?
Latinplane From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 2668 posts, RR: 14 Reply 14, posted (13 years 4 months 1 week 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 1076 times:
Hola Bernardo, muy bien!
I thought GDL's airport was really nice. The cargo parking space is right adjacent to the passengers terminal and affords good pictures. I was surprised to see so many cargo planes at GDL. There was also an A300 from an airline that I couldn't recognize and a MAS Air DC-8 parked at the Mexicana maintenance base. But what surprised me was that Atlas Air 747. I would have never thought of seeing that there.
I hope that the Mexico city airport authorities start moving quickly on a decicion to build the new airport. There is just no other solution. The runways are very close to the terminal and the airport is always busy. With the Mexican economy growing at this rate, you'll bet you'll have more people being able to fly in the coming years.
I hope that they really make an outstanding airport. It would really turn Mexico City into a great hub for AeroMexico's Skyteam and Mexicana's Star Alliance.
The current one is not bad, but it's not the greatest for International connections.