Buenos días everyone,
If you’re thinking about spending a significant amount of time in Mexico or even making multiple trips over the course of a year, you should be aware of a change in practice by Mexican immigration authorities.
For many years, it’s been very easy for U.S. citizens (and certain other nationalities) to spend a virtually unlimited amount of time in Mexico. Visa-free entry with a tourist permit (the cost of which is automatically included in your plane ticket) is granted for up to 180 days (six months) and for years the standard practice has been to grant virtually everyone a 180 day entry permit regardless of their trip plans and travel history. (Land border crossings have different rules if you’re staying in the border area.) As a result, it was common for foreigners living in Mexico to just travel to the US or Guatemala (or another nearby country) at least once every six months and live in Mexico indefinitely without a resident visa. Continue reading
I had a work trip to Hong Kong in June, and I asked the people booking my ticket to put me on the new ANA nonstop from Mexico City to Tokyo-Narita. This flight launched earlier this year with ANA’s 787 Dreamliner, and is one of the only options to get to Asia from Mexico City without transiting the US (which requires early departures and long layovers). Luckily, the ticket got booked into a fare class that’s eligible for mileage upgrades, so I was able to use 28,000 ANA miles (transferred from Membership Rewards) to upgrade from Economy to Business.
I flew the reverse in economy in May coming back from Tokyo, so I was excited to see what business class would be like on this flight. The flight departs Mexico City at 2:20AM and arrives in Tokyo around 6:30AM the next day.
At the MEX Airport
I wasn’t able to print a boarding pass online for this flight. I arrived at MEX just before the cutoff time for checked bags, so there was no line at the ticket counter (but even if there had been, there was a separate checkin line for Business Class and Star Alliance Gold customers). Checkin was fast and efficient, and I was on my way to security in just a couple of minutes.
Since both of the Star Alliance lounges at MEX (Avianca and United) were closed at this hour, my boarding pass indicated that I could access the Grand Lounge Elite, a 24-hour Priority Pass lounge. The lounge was so far away from the gate though that by the time I went through security and had my immigration paperwork processed, it wasn’t worth trekking down to the lounge before the flight started boarding. I bought a big bottle of water (since there’s nowhere to fill a reusable bottle with drinkable water) and waited for boarding to start. Continue reading
Buenos dias everyone! It finally happened – Alaska Airlines returned to Mexico City (MEX), with near-simultaneous inaugural flights from San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX). I wrote about these new routes and this was my first-ever inaugural flight on any airline, so I’m pretty happy that it was on my favorite airline on a route that means a lot to me (since I moved from the Bay Area to Mexico City just under a year ago).
I made the risky choice of taking an UberPOOL to SFO, and arrived just minutes before the 1-hour cutoff for checking bags internationally. We hustled over to one of the check-in kiosks, and after an unnerving number of loading screens, were able to print our bag tags and boarding passes in the nick of time. We then stood in line for another 10-15 minutes to hand our bags to an agent – the longest I can remember spending in an elite line, and this was with only 3 people ahead of us. There were several flights leaving around the same time with four agents working, and a lot of people were confused about where they were supposed to be.
Buenos dias everyone. I shared a few months ago that Alaska Airlines announced new flights to Mexico City from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Although they are still awaiting for approval from Mexican authorities to operate the flights, they have announced tentative start dates and are now accepting reservations. Flights from SFO and LAX begin on August 8th, with SAN following on November 6 (probably because they have to wait to have a new Embraer 175 available).
Buenos días everyone. Before I arrived at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City on Saturday evening, I was a bit irritated when the flight crew announced that they did not have customs forms on board. After I cleared immigration and proceeded to baggage claim in the customs hall, I was confused because I couldn’t find any blank forms anywhere. That confusion turned into surprise when I approached an American Airlines baggage agent and was told “We don’t use those anymore.” Sure enough, when I went up to the customs agent, she just asked me if I had anything to declare and told me to push the red button – thankfully the light turned green. Continue reading