CBX has opened a very convenient walkway from Otay Mesa, CA directly to the Tijuana Airport. This makes it easy to hop (well, walk) right over to the Tijuana Airport where you can fly to many Mexican destinations. Why should you care about a walkway? Well, when you start and end your flight from within Mexico you don’t have to pay any customs fees. You see, when you book a flight from a US airport with points to an international destination, you still have to pay the customs/duties fees. These fees are generally $50-$100 depending on where you visit, about $75 when flying to Mexico.
If it is your first time hearing of customs fees when flying to Mexico, that is because that fee is already built into a normal ticket price when you pay with cash. So if you are paying $400 for a round trip to Cabo, only $325 is going to the airline, the other $75 is scooped by the two governments.
So what if you could avoid the customs fees and score a really cheap flight from Tijuana? If you live in San Diego or can fly into San Diego, you can get to the Otay Mesa area and walk across the newly built CBX Border Express walkway directly into the Tijuana Airport.
The walkway is not free, however. It will run you $12 each-way, $24 round-trip. So how does this make sense?
Follow me here…
If you have the Companion Pass, like we do, you can fly 2-1 on Southwest. With plenty of Southwest points it costs me almost NOTHING to fly my wife and I to San Diego. Being that we can get to San Diego for almost free, we can walk across to the Tijuana Airport for $48 total. Once at the Tijuana Airport, we can fly round-trip to Cabo for $146 each.
One more thing to keep in mind, the US Dollar is becoming very strong in Mexico. As of today, you are at roughly 18:1 (MXN to USD). Street tacos run about 12-14 pesos each. That means you can get FOUR tacos de camino for $3. And yes, I convert pesos in my head using tacos, don’t judge me.
So let’s look at your costs for two people to fly to Cabo, in our case with Companion Pass and Southwest points.
– Phoenix to San Diego, couple thousand Southwest points plus $20 in security fees
– Bus from San Diego Airport to Otay Mesa, about $20 total
– Cost to walk across CBX Express, $48 total
– Two flights at $146 each = $292
$380 for us both to fly to Cabo
So how much would it be if we just flew from Phoenix to Cabo and paid cash?
Well, the cheapest flight in March from Phoenix to Cabo is $422 per person, and that flight has TWO stops. $422 x 2 = $844
$380 with a bus ride and walk across the border or $844 with two layovers via American Airlines. That is $464 in SAVINGS. What could you do with an extra $464 on vacation?
I get it, this only makes sense if you live in So Cal or you can get to San Diego for next to free, but hey, savings are savings. Alliegiant’s new route from Stockton to San Diego may help get you there for cheap also.
What airline will I fly while in Mexico? Volaris is like the Southwest Airlines of Mexico. They fly to over 15 destinations NON STOP from Tijuana. Volaris is priced similar to what you would pay for a domestic flight on Southwest within the states.
Here is something else to think about. When flying completely within Mexico you only need a drivers license, not your passport. Who cares? Well, if you only have the passport card, which costs $55 vs $135 for a passport book, you can use the card to walk across and back from Tijuana. In order to fly internationally from the United States, you MUST have a passport book. With the passport card, which only works for land and sea travel in North America, you can walk into Mexico to catch your flights in Tijuana and walk back to the US when you return. If you have been saving up the $135 so you can buy a passport book, buying a $55 passport card instead will allow you to walk to/from the Tijuana Airport and still fly to Mexican destinations. That will save you $80 in Passport fees per person. I write this based on anecdotal evidence, you will want to call or reach out to Volaris to be sure since policies can change at any time.
Another cool part about flying out of Tijuana is this, you can reach many Mexican cities that would otherwise be hard to access from US airports.
La Paz is a small fishing town on the Sea of Cortez. There are NO direct flights from the US which means you will have to catch a layover in Guadalajara or Mexico City. That means it will probably be VERY pricey. For example, if I wanted to fly from Phoenix to La Paz, it would run me $676 and I would have two layovers. If I flew into San Diego and walked across to Tijuana, I can fly non-stop to La Paz for $211 round-trip. Again, it would have to make sense to you, but this may open up additional options to visit Mexican destinations that would otherwise be priced out of reach.