Flying to-from, Cancún
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.
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.
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.
On our 2005 trip, we were taking a bus from the Cancun airport to Puerto Morelos. The instructions I found on a web page said to exit the terminal, turn to the right and you would see the bus stop right in fron of you, at the end of the terminal. Well, that's for the MAIN terminal. Charters from Canada arrive at Terminal 2, which is to the left of the main terminal. We found it in enough time to catch our bus, but it was frustrating, as most people we asked who work at the airport couldn't (or wouldn't) help us make sense of the directions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Cancun International Airport is an easy airport to fly to and from. It's only a 3 hour flight from Atlanta and so you're there before your fanny gets sore. :)
The airport is located about 15 minutes from the hotel strip.
i had a nonstop flight to and from Cancun from St.Louis last year on Ryan International Airlines. My travel agent booked it. Ryan is a charter through funjet. Not all funjet charters are bad, I've had some great ones in the past. But Ryan International Airlines is a bad charter. The plane was very old and very small and in very bad shape. Most of the staff (not all) was very quiet and a little rude which didn't make the trip any easier. I did some research. The plane was a 727 built in the 60's, it was in the process of being torn up for parts when the airline purchased it for a few thousand. What a piece of crap it was inside and out. I did not feel safe. Beware! I believe they fly to and from Cancun from the midwest U.S. airports.
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.
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.
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.
The trip out of St Louis to Cancun is short but there is plenty of time to have a few Bloody Mary's. One word of caution don't drink too much on the plane because when you arrive in Cancun your tour operator bus will be waiting with a big cooler full of Corona's and needless to say its the tour operators job to make sure you start your vacation the minute you step off the plane and onto the bus. My friend and I took advantage of the Corona's and needless to say by the time we arrived at our hotel we were feeling pretty loopy.
Airlines flying from Mexico City to Cancun:
Allegro Air (charter) - 01 55 5574 2200 - around Pesos $3200 return
Liberacion (charter) - 01 55 5279 4000 - around Pesos $3100 return. Web site: http://www.liberacion.com.mx
Aerocaribe (Mexicana) - 01 55 5448 3000 x 4013 and 4019 - around Pesos $3200 return. Web site: http://www.aerocaribe.com.mx
Aviacsa (airline) - 01 55 5716 9004 - around Pesos $3200 return. Web site: http://www.aviacsa.com.mx
Anyone mentioned price fixing in Mexico? ;-)