Flying In, Cancún
On your plane you will receive a "Mexican Tourist Card". Fill it in on the plane because they will expect you to have it complete before you get in the passport control line-up. The customs officials send people to the back of the line if it isn't complete. Note that besides the front of the card, there are two places on the back of the card that need to be signed as well.
Once you get through passport control and pick up your luggage, you'll be expected to push a button on what looks like a traffic light at the customs desk. I've seen some confusion about how people should approach this. You should try to go up to the light as a family or couple (when the agent waves you forward) so you don't have to do it all individually. Basically if you press "Green" they'll let you pass through, if you press "Red", they'll stop you, bring you to the side table, and look through some of your bags (usually not too thoroughly). It's just the luck of the draw.
Although small, the Cancun airport is an easy way to get in and out of this area. It's an international airport and there are many daily direct fights to and from the US. There are only 2 terminals so it's easy to navigate. If you're flying domestically there won't be long lines in the off season. If you're flying internationally expect to have a bit of a wait. When arriving here pick up your welcome bag filled with maps, guides and coupons. There are numerous information and shuttle kiosks to help travelers. The cheapest way to get into the Hotel Zone is to book a shuttle in the main terminal at one of the green desks.
Because I was late booking the trip, our travel points got us to Cancun quite efficiently on Air Canada via a non-stop flight from Toronto. However, it was not as direct getting back - Mexicali to Mexico City, United to Chicago and then Air Canada to Montreal (stop-over) before finally getting home a day and a half after we had departed Cancun. Nevertheless, our luggage successfully tracked us and all flights were on-time! For Cancun itself, I had pre-booked a rental car for two days. But, because we got our free excursions from the Palace Resorts, I ended up cancelling it and taking the guided bus tour. Overall, this will save you $ because the tour takes care of entrance fees, video camera fees and the interpretive tour guide as well a lunch thrown in. Another point is the danger of accidents if you are doing the driving. While we were at Chichen-Itza, our bus guide was a passenger in a car that struck a young boy who darted out (the guide was on his break while we had our 'free' time) and he was immediately thrown into jail by the police even though he was not driving. The guide managed to get released in time to rejoin us on our return trip while we were stopped for lunch near Valladolid. Our condo owner also told us of one of his visiting friends that was involved in an accident and has been prevented from leaving the country for 7 months (to-date) while waiting for the courts to deal with the case! By the way, the buses in Cancun are very efficient - they run up and down the whole Hotel strip every few minutes and only cost 6 pesos (US 60 cents) each for as far as you want to go!
Cancun airport is one of the more interesting airports I have flown into and out of. The runway first off is in deperate need of repairs, because as you come down you can feel every bump in the runway on the way down. Next when you get off the flight rather than a terminal to walk through, you get off the plane outside and hop onto a shuttle which takes you to the airport where you then go through customs. The airport on the inside is pretty nice. The airport has a good number of shops, restaurants, and a few lounges to hang out in. I thought the airport was on the same par as maybe Richmond which is slowly going through a remodeling process. Cancun airport needs a good little deal of fixing up, but it gets the job done. Going through customs there is hell though, because they have very little A.C. and cram hundreds of people into a very tiny line that just zipzags everywhich way. Customs is definetly an experience you won't forget, especially if your neighbor has reached the 25th hour of his deodorant. Don't ask, bad memory.
Magnicharters is a rather small airline, their flights are limited to the most touristic spots (mainly beach destinations) in Mexico, but although it's a charter airline I found the service to be quite satisfying, the punctuality is fair, the quality of the food on board - and of the planes in general - is very acceptable.
I got my round ticket from Mexico City to Cancun for less than USD $300 on a long holiday weekend where most people like to travel (so we could call it "high season": Independence day, Sept. 16). However, their prices are rather low season-like: i.e. same as what other local airlines would charge you between September - November and January - May (except for Easter weeks), as these aren't busy times for traveling for domestic (Mexican) tourists; however, since it's winter time in the northern hemisphere there ARE many tourists from colder places coming down to spend a few days on our beaches, so it may be expensive to fly into Cancun directly from abroad.
Anyhow, you can also find good fares to fly within Mexico with airlines such as Aviacsa (good service and prices) and Volaris (I've heard that the service is fine and prices are quite low; however, these flights take off from the Toluca airport, not Mexico City's). Aeromexico and Mexicana also have several flights to Cancun (both non-stop and with a stop over), but they're the most expensive.
Cancún International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional
de Cancún) is 5 miles south of the city center,
two hours by air from Mexico City and just one hour from
Miami, Flordia. The airport serves a busy traffic load of
regional and international flights. Many flights to and
from Cancún also stop at Cozumel. A departure tax of
US$12 is charged to international travelers departing
from Mexico by air.
There are mini vans and deluxe cars that can take you
from the airport into Cancún. While you may see taxis
dropping people off at the airport, they're forbidden
from picking passengers up. Don't even try to hail one
down. There are rental car agencies at the airport and
in town, are dependable for any excursion into the Yucatán.
Cancún's public bus system is a great way to get between
Ciudad Cancún and the beaches of Isla Cancún. Playa
Express runs shuttle buses to destinations within the
Yucatán, including Chichén Itzá and Tulum.
Puerto Juárez, the port for passenger ferries to
Isla Mujeres, is about 2 miles north of Cancún's city
center. Boats leave every 15 minutes during the day for
the inexpensive 45-minute journey to Isla Muje
So my trip to Mexico came to its end.
I left my hotel in Cancun at 15.00 and got home in Moscow at 2.30 the day after tomorrow after 26,5 hours trip.
1st flight: Cancun- Mexico-City by “Aeromexico” 1700km.
2nd flight: Mexico-City – Amsterdam by KLM 9200km.
3rd flight: Amsterdam – Moscow by “Aeroflot” 2500km.
In total 13400km.
14,5 hours in flights and 10,5 hours of waiting between flights.
We would have gone with a brand new plane of Thomas Cook...well that is what the brochure promised us, but we went with an old-made-new plane of Sebena (now Sobelair). Chairs were not wonderful but the staff was okey.
This was one our way back home. We had to walk a long way on the airport. Some people were checked over and over again, even had to take out their shoes !
Lighters were not allowed (so ..... hopefully there is somebody with matches when you smoke), parfume should be in your suitecase (what if you just bought it?) and sharp things ( like a nailcutter) were almost a fact to keep you in Mexico !
So make sure you know what is allowed in your beautycase before you have to leave it all in Mexico.
You will immediately be bombarded by people who promise you the best prices from the airport to your hotel. There are several van services and countless taxis. We took a van from the airport to the hotel and paid more than when we hired a taxi from the hotel back to the airport. Just be aware and stand your ground.
To get to Cancun & the Mayan Riviera you have to fly in through the Cancun Airport. Get yourself ready to wait in very long line ups to fly in & out. The airport is to small & understaffed for the amount of tourists come in & going out every day in the peak season.
Once you are in Cancun or Playa del Carmen you can either get around by taxi (which can be fairly expensive) or you can take the local buses which are clean & very dependible.
This time i had a bad experience
of flying with Aeromexico
be ready to run from terminal A to
terminal B in 15mns ,they didn't have
gate info for our next flight until then
so i decided to ride my BANANA BOAT :)
Buses only 50.00 pesos
it means 50.00 cents $$
i saw them all night
I let the AAA gal talk us into a stop-over in Dallas, on American Airlines. Mistake. Never again will we fly American Airlines. Never again will we fly into the Dallas airport, which is the hub for these unmaintained, dirty planes. Our trip from CVG to Dallas, then from Dallas to Cancun, had no problems. It is amazing to realize, we made it alive. The trip home was another story!
AA (that acronym is for a reason; after flying their unprofessional and smelly planes, you have to start drinking ASAP) apparently "ran out of planes". Then the morning after... after you've been stuck in a hotel with no bags ("sorry we dunno where yer bags are"), you get put on your DELAYED flight.... and then just as you buckle yourself into the plane (which smells horrid cuz apparently the loo wasn't emptied), the Sky Muff announces, "um, we have a problem with one of our tires; we have to deplane. Please wait for the announcement".
The morning of our homebound flight, as we were packed into the shuttle from the hotel to the Dallas airport... everyone on there was from different flights that had been cancelled by AA. Stranded travelers from all over the USA stayed at the many hotels around the Dallas airport. I know this happens all the time... but the way AA handled it was horrible.
First the flight is delayed; then after 3+ hours of delays (and watching planes pull into our gate & load people for other cities), they finally cancelled the flight, directed us to the hotel (without calling for transport! WE had to call), and gave us a measly $10 voucher for breakfast. We got a donut & orange juice. Thanks, American Airlines.
Long story short: do not fly American Airlines. Just recently we read a story about an AA flight that took off from Dallas, bound for Newark, that had smoke in the cabin "from a faulty AC unit". Had to land in Louisville. No big surprise to us, because we know they don't maintain their planes and their employees suck; but I can only imagine the horror those passengers felt after smoke filled the cabin.
We flew in directly from Madrid, coming from Portugal. We flew with AirPlus and everything was really nice. Very good service and comfortable plane. No problems at checkin/arrival.
Once you're in the Tulum/Cancun area and if you don't want to rent a car, there are some very comfortable 'buses' which pass in the 'highway' that connects Tulum to Cancun (nº 307 for what I recall).
They stop right in front of our hotel (Bahia Principe Tulum) so we used them quite often to get to Playa Del Carmen, mostly.
I was quite surprised to see that these 'buses' (more like taxis) were some very comfortable and modern vans with A/C and automatic gears :)
They are used a lot by local workers also. The price was quite cheap (like 15 or 20 pesos...just under 2 dollars)
Make sure you ask the price before you enter the van, because there are some ripoff attempts ;) If it's way over the price I mentioned, then bargain (!!!) with them ;o)
For our 2005 trip, we got return tickets from Vancouver to Cancun for $98.00 CAD each. I think because it was near the end of season, they were just trying to fill empty seats on the charter. Anyway, we thought it was a good deal.
A word of caution, though. Since we bought them on the day before Good Friday, and we wre arriving Easter Sunday (yikes, three days notice), accomodation was pretty scarce. However, after an extensive web search, Zo Ann found a duplex in Pureto Morelos that was available.