Thursday, December 1st 2022

Tips for Mexico City Airport

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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Tips for Mexico City Airport

Mexico City is the undisputed focalpoint of the nation, with 20% of the population of the entire country living in one metropolitan area. One can safely allude that, “All roads lead to Mexico City”.

As such, it’s inevitable that an expat living in Mexico must eventually go through Mexico City airport. Whether you’re arriving from another country, departing on a vacation, or just have a long layover—you’ll have to navigate this dreaded airport.

In this article, we explore some tips for getting through Mexico City airport. If we missed any helpful hints, then let us know in our Facebook discussion.

About Mexico City Airport

Tips for Mexico City Airport

Mexico City airport is officially known as Benito Juarez International Airport. Its IATA code is MEX, and its ICAO code is MMMX.

Not only is it Mexico’s busiest airport, it’s the most trafficked airport in all of Latin America and the 16th busiest airport in the world. If you’re flying from New York to Buenos Aires, for example, you’re almost guaranteed to have a stop in Benito Juarez International Airport.

35,000 people work physically at the airport, with another 15,000 jobs in the area related to the airport and airline industry. 30 different passenger airlines service this airport, as well as another 17 cargo airlines. It’s the main hub for Aeromexico, Aeromar, Volaris, and VivaAerobus.

A typical day will see over 136,000 passengers pass through this airport, from over 100 destinations on four continents. In short, it’s unavoidable that you will have to brave this airport eventually.

Why Mexico City Airport Is A Pain

Tips for Mexico City Airport

The simple fact of the matter is that Mexico City airport is old. It was first built in 1931, making it 91 years old. The design is complicated and outdated.

The previous Mexican presidential cabinet laid plans to build a new airport—one that would have been a top-tier location with attractions that would have competed with the airport in Singapore (you know, it has an aquarium, movie theaters, and other amenities).

When current Mexican president AMLO was elected, he scrapped the plans for a new airport—replacing it with another airport project that has been controversial at best. (For example, flights to this airport are going for $2 USD, and even still, I don’t recommend that you fly there.)

Thus, we’re stuck with Mexico City airport for a while longer. Thus, we’ve compiled some tips for how to have a passable experience when you’re flying into or out of this airport.

Terminal 2 Is Better

Tips for Mexico City Airport

Mexico City airport is divided into two terminals. Terminal 1 is the older terminal, and it shows its age. It also gets the most traffic. People crowd the terminal like sardines in a can—all seating is taken up to where travelers inevitably have to sit on the floor.

If you have the means, we highly recommend that you travel through Terminal 2. Opened in 2007, it’s far more modern and amenable to passengers. It services far fewer airlines than Terminal 1:

  • AeroMexico
  • Aeromar
  • Delta Airlines
  • Copa
  • LAN
  • Continental Airlines

The majority of flights are AeroMexico flights, and, because of the limited capacity of passengers that Terminal 2 can handle, even AeroMexico has allocated some flights to Terminal 1.

Though AeroMexico is one of the more costly Mexican airlines, it offers service comparable to its developed-nation counterparts. Thus, if you have the funds, we recommend flying through Terminal 2 whenever possible. You’ll have a much better experience than dealing with the chaos of Terminal 1.

Credit Card Lounges

Tips for Mexico City Airport

Your credit card might allow you to indulge in an airport lounge when you’re traveling in Mexico City. There are several different establishments, for Chase, Visa, Mastercard. . . etc. Be sure to investigate whether you’re eligible to use the various airport lounges available.

These lounges have free food and drinks, comfortable seating, and screens that allow you to stay informed as to what’s going on with your flight—the gate it’s departing from, whether it’s been delayed, and they can even help you if you have a problem with your flight.

The Airport Hilton

Tips for Mexico City Airport

One little-known secret about Benito Juarez International Airport is that the Airport Hilton hotel is literally right outside the gate security to board flights. Thus, once again, if you have the funds, booking a room at the Hilton Mexico City Airport hotel is a great way to cut the hassle of Terminal 1.

You can enjoy the comfort and privacy of your own hotel room until you have to get to your gate, then you just go downstairs, and you’re literally right outside the entrance to security to board your flight.

*Pro-Tip: There’s also a satellite Chili’s restaurant right at the entrance to the Mexico City Airport Hilton, in case you want some convenient restaurant food that isn’t hotel room service.

*If you’re traveling on a budget, then the Hostel Mexico DF Airport is a great solution. It’s clean and safe, and it’s located right across the street from Terminal 1. It has both dormitory and private room options.

Give Yourself Lots of Time

Tips for Mexico City Airport

Benito Juarez Mexico City is a chaotic airport to try and fly out of, so be sure to give yourself lots of time before your flight. If it’s a domestic flight, I recommend getting there at least two hours before your flight (2.5 hours is best), and if you’re flying internationally, then you should alot yourself 3 hours minimum—if not more.

Traveling Between Terminals in Mexico City Airport

Tips for Mexico City Airport

There is a tram that transports passengers between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. This train is free and runs every few minutes. However, you’ll have to show your boarding pass before you’re allowed to board the train.

Keep Track of Your FMM Visa

Tips for Mexico City Airport

Like all Mexican airports, when you land in Mexico, you’re given an FMM visa. This is your document that proves that you’re a legal tourist. You have to show it on your return flight to your home country before you’re allowed to board the plane. So don’t lose it!

If you have lost your FMM visa, but you haven’t overstayed your visa, then don’t stress. You just have to go to the immigration office in Benito Juarez International Airport, and they will check your passport stamp, verify your identity, then give you another FMM visa. The cost is roughly $15 USD. But give yourself an extra 30 minutes or more to get this done.

*If you’ve overstayed your visa, click here for more information.

*If you’re a temporary or permanent resident in Mexico, then you may need to go to the immigration desk to fill out an FMM application before you can board your flight. The airline check-in of whatever flight you are taking will let you know if you have to go to the Immigration Office, but be sure to give yourself enough time for this, just in case.

Grabbing A Taxi from the Airport

Tips for Mexico City Airport

Grabbing an Airport Taxi

Grabbing a taxi from the airport is doable, though it can be expensive. If you do decide to grab a taxi from the airport, be sure to grab a taxi from inside the security section of the airport. The prices will be exorbitant, but these taxis are safe and each passenger is recorded in a log with each taxi driver.

Don’t Grab an Unofficial Taxi

Do NOT grab a taxi outside the airport terminal from some random guy offering a ride. I’ve done it. You will be charged ridiculous prices, and you’re not guaranteed any safety in your journey. BE WARNED, these taxi drivers will officiously grab your baggage, take it with them to their taxi, and try and rope you into paying their crazy prices. $100 USD is a typical price for these taxi drivers. If you’re approached by one, then just say, “No gracias!” and keep walking away as if you have a destination in mind.

Grabbing an Uber or Didi

Ubers and Didis are a very economical way to grab a taxi from the airport. However, the most important thing is to communicate with your driver the terminal and gate that you’re arriving at. In Spanish, “gate” is “puerta”, so send your driver the “Puerta” that you’re standing at, so they can find you quickly.


Tips for Mexico City Airport

Benito Juarez International Airport is one of the most confusing and complicated airports in the world. But with a bit of preparation, you can navigate it seamlessly, in comfort, without issues. These tips will help you in your traveling endeavors, and hopefully you’ll have a pleasant experience next time you have to travel through Mexico City.

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