What are you most excited about for your trip to Mexico?
Is it drinking margaritas on the beach?
Maybe you’re pumped to hike Copper Canyon.
Or eat tamales in Mexico City.
But before you dive into the details of your Mexican journey, you need to start from square one: How are you going to get there?
Navigating airports. Choosing airlines. Knowing what you need for your flights.
These are all crucial things to consider when booking your flights to Mexico.
Cancún and Mexico City: A Tale of Two Airports
There are several international airports in Mexico, but these two airports handle the majority of international arrivals.
Your ticket might have a different final destination, but no matter where you’re going in Mexico, you’re probably going to stop in one of these airports first.
For example, British Airways only conducts direct transatlantic flights to these two airports from the United Kingdom.
Cancún Airport (CUN)
Cancún International Airport (CUN) is both the main entry point to the Riviera Maya and a convenient stop for those heading to or coming from the equally popular Caribbean region.
Major cities in Eastern Canada and the American East Coast have regular flights to CUN throughout the winter.
Considering the number of visitors the airport handles every day, virtually any service you could ever need is close at hand. That includes access to different airlines and their customer service agents.
The airport is constantly being expanded and renovated but currently consists of two terminals, the Main Terminal and Terminal Two. Your flight will land in the Main Terminal, as the other is only for private flights and charters.
Mexico City International Airport (MEX)
This airport is officially known as Benito Juárez International Airport, so you may hear people refer to it by this name, too.
Most holiday flights to Mexico are bound for the coastlines.
However, virtually all the flights heading to Mexico’s Pacific beaches stop in Mexico City before moving on to their final destination. If you’re going to a resort in Mazatlán, Acapulco or Huatulco, your flight will likely either transfer or stop in Mexico City.
Like CUN, MEX consists of two main terminals.
Terminal One is divided into two separate floors. National airlines like Air France and big, international carriers like KLM can be found the upper floor and smaller, local airlines like Volaris and VivaAerobús below.
Services like tourist information, shopping, dining and currency exchange are located in Terminal One.
Ask Yourself These 5 Questions to Find the Best Flights to Mexico
Take the philosophy that reporters use when gathering information to start your search: ask the five big questions.
Ask yourself who, what, when, where and how much? (Reporters usually replace “how much?” with “why?” But there are about a million reasons to visit Mexico, so I don’t think asking why is necessary!)
Asking these questions is the best and easiest way to organize the many options you have for flights to Mexico.
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1. Who’s going?
Is this a family vacation that requires child- or baby-friendly environments?
A romantic getaway to a quiet resort for you and that special someone?
Or a business trip that requires solitude and a work-focused ambiance?
The number and age of the people traveling has an impact on the flights you choose.
WestJet is a typical no-frills airline that flies to Mexico. It’s fairly lax when it comes to taking extra or special baggage.
There are only a few restrictions on checked and carry-on bags.
WestJet only charges a standard extra bag fee as long as the item isn’t overweight or extra large. You can check up several extra bags 24 hours before your flight leaves or during the check-in process. This is super convenient if you’re traveling with your entire family in tow.
If you book more than 30 days in advance, you can pay a lower rate to bring your guitar or scuba gear to the beach.
If you’re bringing a large group, it’s better to book your flights and hotels well in advance, especially if you’re going to a popular destination. For those traveling alone or with one or two other people, it’s easier to find steep discounts for last minute bookings and off-season travel.
On the other hand, you can sometimes get volume discounts or seasonal packages for larger groups and younger relatives traveling together.
2. What documentation do you need?
If you’re from a country on the exempt list, you only need a passport and a forma migratoria múltiple (Mexican tourist card, or FMM), to enter the country. The FMM is simply the card you fill out when you arrive in Mexico or when you’re still on your incoming flight.
If you’re from a country that’s not on the exempt list, your entry status will depend on a variety of other factors.
Sometimes your residency status in other countries or reason for traveling can get you into Mexico even if you’re not from a country on the exempt list. For example, business travelers can get pre-clearance under certain circumstances.
3. Where’s your point of origin?
However, the competition in the European skies is fierce, so you don’t necessarily have to stick to those three carriers. Travelers coming from that direction can choose from a number of other airlines, with options multiplying considerably in the winter.
4. When are you going?
This might be the most important question of all. Not only because of the obvious reason that you need a date to book your flight, but also because flight schedules and prices change dramatically depending on the season.
For example, Delta advertises special deals that have to be booked by a certain date, and you must travel within the required time frame.
These deals are usually available during a time referred to as the “shoulder season,” which is the slower time during the fall and spring. Many other airlines have similar incentives.
With the exception of flights from points in the United States and some major cities around the globe, there are more choices available for flights during the winter. This is particularly true for northern countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, where flying south when the weather gets cold is more common.
5. How much do you want to spend?
This question is closely tied to the “When are you going?” question.
If keeping costs low is important, traveling in the off-season (Easter to mid-December) or shoulder season (right after Easter or right in the middle of December) is a surefire way to stay within budget.
If your budget isn’t a concern, then you may choose to live it up during Mexico’s best months: late December to Easter!
You can also take airlines into account.
Keep in mind, resorts and airlines often team up to give travelers the cheapest prices.
Check out Sunwing to catch these deals. You could end up staying at a fairly plush Mexican resort by booking a deal that includes your hotel room, a meal plan and flights from Canada.
But virtually every airline that flies to Mexico has a “deals” or “packages” section on their website.
The basics include flights and hotels, but you can expand your trip to include rental cars, tours or meals. If you’re traveling during a special holiday or festival, your package might include special access to certain events, such as a New Year’s Eve party.
When you buy tickets to Mexico (or anywhere!), remember to ask the five important questions: who, what, where, when and how much?
By answering those five questions, you’ll have all your bases covered.
Kristy Ambrose has been writing professionally since 2010. She dabbles in various genres, including everything from short blog posts to serialized novels. Her inspiration comes from gamers, beachcombers, foodies and fellow travelers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Victoria.
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