Airport reviews

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April 15th, 2014 at 4:35:22 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 306
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There was a thread on airport ratings, or "best" airports, where I siad rating or ranking airports was near to useless. I maintain my assesment, as what really would be helpful is a review of a given airport. This would let you know the specific pros and cons wnd how they apply to your travel style.

So, Mexico City's International Airport, Terminal 1.

To begin with, the terminal is old, and I mean OLD, though it has been remodeled lots of times. The layout is a horizontal line with gates along its length. It's roughly divided into Domestic and International areas, each innaccessible directly from the other. In other words, expect to walk long, long distances. Each end has a satellite-type design, clustering a half dozen gates in a small area. At one end there is an "air-car" gate, which is used to ferry apssengers to their planes in buses when the traffic overcomes the gates. This is rare, but not unheard of, since Terminal 2 opened.

Before going through security and on to the boarding gates, check-in counters are also arrayed along some of the length, though they don't take up all the room. Still, this also means long walks. These days the domestic airlines using it upare Voalris, Interjet, Viva Aerobus, and Magni Charters (a charter company, as you can easily guess).

There are a number of foreign airlines, too many to list them all, in the upper floor and both Interjet and Volaris also have check-in counters there. You can access that area from the domestic one, but it's quite a walk.

Options for dining and shopping are plentiful on both sides of the security divide, with all types of restaurants from fast food, to coffe shop types, to fancy ones, and a few bars as well, though many restaurants also serve alcohol. Duty free shops are restricted to the international area and only past security. You need to rpesent a passport and a valid boarding pass at the duty free stores, and your purchases are delivered at the gate just prior to boarding.

Among the stores prior to security there are a number of convenince stores, like 7-11 and local brands like Oxxo and Extra. They mark up their prices even more. Naturally there are a number of newstand type stores with magazines and papers in Spanish and English, plus small snacks, assorted souvenirs and a few travel amenities (eraplugs, pillows, etc). There are also half-service branches of many mexican banks. By half service I mean they take deposits, cash checks, let you withdraw money, but only within certain limits. They don't have facilities for opening accunts, for instance, and allow services payments (like utilities or cable) only for customers with accounts in said banks. They also have ATMs. there are a number of currency exchanges, too.

Smoking is forbidden inside (boo, hiss!). There are "designated" smoking areas outside, with ashtrays, but in general smoking is allowed anywhere outside, even in the taxi waiting line(s).

Taxis are pre-paid at a booth inside the terminal (the price does not include tips). Pickup within the terminal is restricted to a handful of taxi companies. You can go outsie the terminal's limits, but that's an invitation to get involved with organized crime as a victim; not something you want to do.

The very big flaw in this airport is that prior to security three is not one single free place where one can sit down. Not one chair, not one stool, nothing. You can sit down at a restaurant, Starbucks or the fast fod area, so long as you buy something. Otherwise you're out of luck. This "feature" has survived through all the remodels since at least the early 80s.

There's ample parking, with garages adjacent to either end of the terminal building. Parking fees top at 288 pesos per day, or around $21.50 US. This is very cheap, and about the price of a street cab to the airport, and less than a pre-paid cab, from/to most places in town.

Next up, as time permits, Terminal 2.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
April 15th, 2014 at 6:07:08 PM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 662
Posts: 7593
Bus schedule
Not to steal any of your story, but Mexico City airport has the most elaborate bus schedule I've ever seen at an airport, 10 destinations, and 175 buses per day. Strangely enough there are no buses to anywhere in Mexico City, as that would interfere with the taxis. There is a subway stop, which is not comfortable way to travel with luggage.

To reiterate what Nareed said, only prepay for a taxi at the booth, don't try and negotiate your own taxi. You might be trying to save $10 , and end up losing a lot.
April 16th, 2014 at 7:07:57 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 306
Posts: 10274
Quote: Pacomartin
Not to steal any of your story, but Mexico City airport has the most elaborate bus schedule I've ever seen at an airport, 10 destinations, and 175 buses per day.


It's actually a miniature bus station grafted on to the airport. It's not uncommon to take a bus to Puebla or Cuernavaca from there, as parking is safer than at any of the regular bus stationms (more expensive, too). but the rationale is to get quickly travellers to nearby towns without any or much air service, tourists in particular. Although now there are flights from Mex to the airport stuck between Guanajuato and Leon. It just amkes sense for business travelers who go on a day trip.

Quote:
Strangely enough there are no buses to anywhere in Mexico City, as that would interfere with the taxis.


Bus stations provide no service to anywhere in the city. for that you need to find public transportation outside the bus station.

Now, if you were to contrast that to what exists in America, you'd weep for the poor Mexicans who cannot afford a car of their own. The subway is reasonably fast and safe, but everything else plain sucks.

BTW I've no idea what kind of public transportation is available to/from the airport. There must be some, as thousands of people work there.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
April 16th, 2014 at 7:29:34 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 662
Posts: 7593
Quote: Nareed
Although now there are flights from Mex to the airport stuck between Guanajuato and Leon. It just amkes sense for business travelers who go on a day trip.

BJX airport has good connections to the USA.


Quote: Nareed
Now, if you were to contrast that to what exists in America, you'd weep for the poor Mexicans who cannot afford a car of their own.

The subway is reasonably fast and safe, but everything else plain sucks.

BTW I've no idea what kind of public transportation is available to/from the airport. There must be some, as thousands of people work there.

New Yorkers for the most part don't have cars either. It's generally less expensive to ride the subway and take an occasional taxi and rent a car if you are leaving the city.

The Mexico City subway is only 45 years old, while the NYC subway is 110 years old. They both have similar ridership. NYC has 421-468 stations, while Mexico City has 195. The reason there is a discrepancy in station count in NYC is many different stations have been connected by underground passages, and people count them in different ways.

I think that the subway is the only major public transit route to Mexico City airport. American guidebooks are full of horror stories about the Mexico City subway. To be fair they are also full of horror stories about the Volkswagon taxis.
April 16th, 2014 at 7:44:29 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 306
Posts: 10274
Quote: Pacomartin
BJX airport has good connections to the USA.


By car from Mex City you make 3.5 hours to Guanajuato and a bit under 4 to Leon. If you return the same day, it's quite a drive, so flying barely makes sense (and it's a lot more expensive).

Quote:
I think that the subway is the only major public transit route to Mexico City airport.


I'm sure it's not. The kamikaze public transport vans are not allowed inside the airport proper, but they can easily take and drop passengers right outside. As I said, thousands of people work there and many have no other means of transportation.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
April 16th, 2014 at 8:02:25 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 662
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Quote: Nareed
The kamikaze public transport vans ...


They had the Subrban vans in Oaxaca City to go the 150 miles to the beach via the mountain roads. Most gringos found them terrifying.
April 16th, 2014 at 8:06:37 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 306
Posts: 10274
Quote: Pacomartin
They had the Subrban vans in Oaxaca City to go the 150 miles to the beach via the mountain roads. Most gringos found them terrifying.


We have "microbuses" here. They range from a few beat-up old VW vans, to larger purpose-built vans about half the size of a regular passenger bus. Everyone here finds them terrifying. But other than the subway and the 5 Metrobus routes, that's all there is.

In comaprison the bus system in Vegas is sybaritic luxury. And of course as expensive to match. A $20 three-day all access pass would be out of reach for most Mexico city citizens who rely on public transportation. I forget how much the 30-day pass is worth.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
April 16th, 2014 at 8:43:08 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 662
Posts: 7593
Quote: Nareed
I forget how much the 30-day pass is worth.
$65, but half off for many people (like seniors age 60+).

Vegas is the only city in the country whose bus transit is paid for by out of town visitors.
April 19th, 2014 at 6:39:51 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 306
Posts: 10274
Mexico City's International Airport, Terminal 2.

Terminal 2 opened in 2007, partly as a result of the failure by the Federal government to build a new airport (long story). the ew terminal added lots of gates, which were badly needed.

Almost everything said of Terminal 1 applies to Terminal 2. So I'll get to the exceptions:

1) Design. The layout is a lot more compact, with a smaller concourse and shorter overall walks. The gates are arrayed in two "fingers," with the gates clustered rather than spread out. Here's a diagram of both terminals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nuevas_Terminales_AICM.jpg

Notice that even with the added gates, remote positions for boarding do remain.

An interesting feature are the jetways. Rather than stepping from gate to jetway directly, one first descends a ramp and then walks into one. The jetways have transparent sides, which is nice.

2) There are a few chairs in the concourse. I can't tell you how much of a difference this makes when you find you have a lot of time to wait for your flight, or simply when you're waiting to pick up someone.

At first Aeromexico took over most of T2, while Mexicana dominated T1. When the latter collapsed, T1 remained rather empty while Volaris and Interjet rushed to fill the void. Aeromexico still is the dominant presence in T2, but no one airline dominates T1 any more. Interjet and Volaris make up most of it, with the rest filled in by Viva Aerobus, Magni Charters and foreign airlines.

Moving between terminals is not easy. They're not connected physically inside the airport perimeter, except by a very small monorail. Now, in order to use the little train, you need a valid, unused ticket or boarding pass for the terminal you want to get to. If you lack one, your options are a bus service (exceedingly cheap) or a cab. there is no complimentary interterminal transport, as you would see in other Mexican airports.

It is worth mentioning in both terminals the concourse and gates are physically next to each other. Other airports vary.

Next up, Monterrey Airport.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
April 19th, 2014 at 7:03:56 AM permalink
Wizard
Administrator
Member since: Oct 23, 2012
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I've complained about this before, but I had a bad experience at the Mexico City airport when I had to make a connection there on my way to Buenos Aires. It was at about 6 AM and as in the US you have to clear customs, even if just making a connection. By chance, a whole bunch of flights must have landed at the same time, and that huge room in customs got filled to capacity. There were no ropes to control the line and it snaked around all over the place. Then line cutting became rampant as more and more flights landed and emptied into the room. Tempers started flaring as the crowd grew. I think one of the flights had a soccer team and they started chanting songs, which many of those waiting knew and joined in on. This seemed to help as it added levity to what seemed like a dangerous situation brewing. Finally, about 40 security guards/police filed into the building and brought control the unruly crowd, although by doing so they formed a new line, which completely eliminated any progresses I made, and was now at the end of the new line.

In all fairness, when I returned on the way back the scene at customs was fine and there was a short line.
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