Mexicana Long Haul To EZE: Part 1 (by SR117 Nov 21 2009 in Trip Reports)
After a few wonderful days in Buenos Aires it was time to return to Mexico. I won't go into any of that "Paris of South America" silliness as Buenos Aires is not Paris and Paris is not Buenos Aires, I think B.A. has more than enough charm and personality to be considered a city with its own special flavor. Here are a few shots of the wonderful city
Nov 11th 2009
Check in at Mexicana's counters was actually very quick as we had no baggage to check in. The guy at check in was very friendly and answered all of our questions, he even went to the back office to get a ticket jacket when we asked if he had any.
Ezeiza isn't spectacular but the check in area is pretty nice, there was a bit of a queue for immigration but the delay wasn't too bad. Once that was done we headed to the very crowded American Express Lounge for some nibbles and drinks before going to our departure gate where I snapped a couple of shots.
Boarding was again a bit delayed, however, as the flight wasn't too full we were done with boarding very fast.
We had the same seats as on the previous MEX
flight but seat pitch seemed to be tighter on this bird (XA-MXC), on the bright side of things, the reading light and FA
call button worked.
This time around the amenity kits and headphones were already in the seat pockets in front of us. The captain welcomed us and explained our route in detail and settled us in for the 9:15 flight to Mexico City.
Despite the decreased seat pitch, the seat aligned with the windows in such a way that made leaning up against the wall much easier, this was gonna be a comfy flight.
My only complaint was the pesky fellow in the back, he was one of those "foot creepers", you know the kind ! They put their feet up on the airplane wall next to the window but their foot invariably ends up creeping up on your back and whatnot
, once he figured he was poking my ribs he at least had the decency to use a pillow as a barrier so he thankfully got the idea.
Departure afforded us a beautiful view of Buenos Aires at night after looping and turning to the north. It was almost midnight and I was exhausted from a day of walking and sightseeing, but was nonetheless looking forward to what the meal had in store.
Having been burned by the chicken before, this time around I went for the pasta. My friend politely asked the FA
to elaborate a bit beyond "chicken" on the choices but she replied with a coy "I don't really know"
Fearfully, I uncovered my meal to discover a slightly burnt pasta dish. It certainly didn't look terribly fancy but it tasted quite allright, in fact, I dare say, it was tasty. Which goes to show you, if I think overcooked burnt pasta is tasty, then pray tell, how horrible was my chicken and rice on the MEX
flight to deserve such low marks.
Our pasta carbonara like concoction was accompanied by an olive salad of sorts and a cake, the sides were quite good as well although the olive salad was way too heavy on the pickled onions.
After the meal the FA
's came round with another beverage round, I asked for another shot of whiskey from the FA
and, bless her heart, she practically gave me the whole bottle
Thanks to the exhaustion, the nice meal and the shot of whiskey I was knocked out for more than 2 hours and awoke just in time for me to watch the latest installment of Harry Potter, by this time we were off the coast of Peru, dealing with occasional chop and dodging some high and scary looking moonlit clouds, even managed to spot a shooting star. Always amazing to watch the celestial spectacle that quietly unfolds by simply looking outside the window.
After Potter was done, I dozed off once again and woke up for breakfast service. They served the same sandwich and fruit dish as the MEX-EZE flight, but this time we had an additional salami sandwich
it was actually great !. The only lackluster part was the fruit salad, just look at that piece of orange, it looks like it jumped off the empire state building and landed on my fruitbowl, and that pineapple looks like it has seen better days, still, it tasted fine, and I'm still alive so I guess it's OK
Cabin was prepped for landing and we actually made it on the ground about 10 minutes early. MEX
was still mostly sleeping and we deplaned into a mostly deserted terminal.
Here it must be said that connecting at MEX
's terminal 1 is a confusing mess, it's not really a difficult thing, it's just made difficult by the lack of adequate direction and the counter-intuitiveness of the whole thing. I used to work at MEX
and even I found it hard to know exactly what to do and what direction to take.
Nonetheless, formalities were completed quickly and we had about 2 hours to go before our flight to LAX
. After another nice visit to the MX
lounge to freshen up we headed to the boarding area where I was pleasantly surprised to see the Oneworld logojet outside our assigned gate.
Nov 12th 2009
Boarding took place until about 10 minutes before departure, once again I see a trend here
. The gate agent actually got a bit snappy with an asian lady who was wondering why boarding had not started.
Once the process had begun, all passengers were subjected to an additional search of their carry ons, although the search itself seemed quite superficial.
The crew gave us a warm welcome on board the spotless A320, looked like quite a new build, the seat pitch also seemed great, we had seats 16A and C with the middle seat empty which made the flight all the more comfortable.
Pushback was around 15 minutes late and we joined the usual morning queue out of MEX
Departure was beautiful and scenic as we turned south and then east, giving us a view of the volcanoes and mountains surrounding Mexico City.
The captain warned us of turbulence during the flight and seemed to have the seatbelt sign on for quite a quill, as a result, service was delayed for quite a bit although the turbulence never truly materialized.
Service started until about 1.5 hours into the flight, and shockingly, we had a choice of 2 hot meals on this breakfast flight ! The choices were eggs or chilaquiles, for those of you who are unfamiliar, chilaquiles are a traditional mexican breakfast consisting of fried tortillas bathed in either green or red salsa, usually topped with cheese and cream, and accompanied by refried beans.
The chilaquiles were very good and really hit the spot. It was funny to see though that by the time the trays were being cleared, we were almost an hour away from LAX
I should point out that the crew on this flight was probably the best of the 3 flights I had on mainline Mexicana. There was no shortage of smiles and they looked genuinely happy to serve.
By now the long trip was taking its toll and it was so easy to doze off given the comfy seats and good recline, when I woke up we were flying over San Diego County and preparing for our descent into LAX
This time around we did not make up time and arrived at the gate with a 10 minute delay. Finally back to LAX
! Thankfully, immigration and customs at TBIT were almost deserted and did not take more than 10 minutes. Not bad at all.
The crews provided very consistent service throughout the flights, they were invariably polite and reasonably efficient, that said, they could do with a bit more enthusiasm, they're not bad by any means, however, with the exception of the last flight, you never got the impression that they gave more than they had to or that they deviated much from the script.
Food and Drink:
With the exception of the MEX
flight, catering was acceptable/good, however, it seems that MX
's product seems much more impressive on the short flights as MX
provides a full hot meal and an open bar whereas its competitors offer only buy on board food and drink. On the other hand, MX
's meals seem rather unimpressive on the long haul sectors: they could definitely do well by providing a slightly better quality meal, proper silverware (AM provides metal silverware and a real liquor glass in longhaul coach) and a generally higher standard offering for their flagship long haul routes.
Once again we see a better product being offered on short haul vs long haul. MX
's narrowbody airbus fleet is very comfortable for short/medium haul flights, seat pitch is excellent and the IFE provided on the newer airbuses is competitive. On the long hauls though, those 767s may be comfy, but they are very long in the tooth, and it shows. With the A330 they are offering a much better product with regards to IFE, however, with a 3-3-3 configuration, I'm not sure they sound like such a tempting alternative.
Mostly great service received by the ground staff, with the exception of some rotten apples observed in Mexico City. Service at both Los Cabos and Buenos Aires was great.
Connecting at MEX
's Terminal 1 is not a tempting proposition, although this is not really Mexicana's fault, the airport is simply showing its age and all the patchwork done through the years has made things worse in many cases. On the bright side, despite the confusing transfer, once you nail down the procedure, it's not really that cumbersome. It would help MX
a LOT to simply show a video on its airplanes or have a section of their Magazine dedicated to instructions for connecting passengers.
On time performance:
Of 4 flights taken with Mexicana/Mexicana Click, none started boarding on time, only one arrived early, and two arrived within 15 minutes of scheduled arrival. Something that Mexicana definitey needs to work on.
I'd certainly fly with Mexicana again, they offer a very good product on short/medium haul flights, the long haul product is OK
, but some polish could make things much more enjoyable, as it stands, the only advantage they offer over US carriers on long haul is the generous seat pitch and the free alcohol, I certainly hope they can improve on that !.
Thanks a lot for reading, questions or comments are welcome.
[Edited 2009-11-21 02:59:09]