By Judy Newell
Mexico Travel News
A guide to the airlines of Mexico
Mexico’s airline scene has heated up in recent years, welcoming new brands and saying good-bye to others. Aeromexico may be the only international “legacy” carrier in Mexico since the demise of Mexicana Airlines a few years back, but various new, smaller airlines have entered the mix and are providing lots of options for domestic and international flights.
As is true elsewhere in the world, Mexico’s airlines vary widely in terms of the products, services, and overall experience they provide. With that in mind, following is the guide from Travel Age West to the country’s largest airlines and what to expect when flying with them.
Aeromar’s fleet of 19 aircraft, which includes 16 turboprop ATR planes and three Bombardier jets, is based in Mexico City.
International Service: US destinations include Austin and McAllen, Texas, as well as the nearby Mexican border cities of Matamoros, Reynosa, and Piedras Negras.
Frequent Flyer Program: Aeromexico’s Club Premier and United’s MileagePlus.
Lounges: 12 Aeromar VIP lounges.
Special Features: Aeromar allows passengers to check their first bag free (up to 50 pounds) and offers corporate accounts that include benefits such as refundable tickets, expedited changes, and preferential rates for charter flights and cargo.
As Mexico’s largest international airline, Aeromexico flies to multiple continents and has large hubs in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey.
International Service: 18 destinations in the US, plus cities in Central America, South America, Europe, and Asia.
Frequent Flyer Program: Club Premier, as well as participation in the SkyTeam alliance. An elite status option is available.
Lounges: 11 Premier lounges.
Special Features: One free checked bag, plus one carry-on bag. Depending on flight length, passengers receive free in-flight snacks, meals and alcoholic beverages. On all international and most domestic flights, Aeromexico offers Clase Premier, a first-class cabin that includes access to the airline’s VIP lounge, priority boarding and bag delivery, VIP check-in, and other amenities.
One of Mexico’s fastest growing low-cost carriers, Interjet operates hubs at two airports in Mexico City (Mexico City International Airport and Toluca).
International Service: Las Vegas, San Antonio, Miami, New York City, Guatemala City, Guatemala, and San Jose, Costa Rica.
Frequent Flyer Program: Club Interjet rewards travelers with cash credits that can be used to purchase future tickets.
Special Features: On both domestic and international flights, passengers receive free snacks and drinks and two free checked bags. The airline publicizes the fact that it offers lots of legroom: its Aerobus A320 aircraft, originally configured for 180 passengers, have 150 seats, and the number of seats on its Superjet 100s has been reduced from 103 to 93. Aircraft have two restrooms onboard, and one is reserved for female passengers only. Discounts of 20 percent are available for passengers 65 and older.
Launched in March of this year, TAR Aerolineas operates a fleet of eight Embraer ERJ 145 regional jets on domestic flights only from its hub in Queretaro.
International Service: None.
Frequent Flyer Program: None.
Special Features: 20 percent discount for senior citizens.
Flying since 2006, VivaAerobus is the result of a joint venture between Grupo IAMSA, a major bus operator in Mexico, and Irelandia, the investment vehicle of the founders of Ryan Air in Europe. VivaAerobus’s largest hubs are in Monterrey, Mexico City, and Guadalajara.
International Service: Houston.
Frequent Flyer Program: None.
Preferential Status Option: Passengers can pay extra for a VIP Pass, which includes priority boarding (VivaAerobus doesn’t offer assigned seats). VivaExpress, which allows access to an express check-in line, is also available at an additional cost.
Special Features: Together with Grupo IAMSA’s bus lines, the carrier offers a service called ViajaFacil, which allows passengers to combine plane and bus travel in a single trip, providing free bus tickets in conjunction with flights. The airline charges for checked baggage based on weight.
Since its debut in 2006, Volaris has become the fastest-growing Mexican carrier in terms of flights to the US. Its main hubs are in Mexico City and Guadalajara.
International Service: Portland, Ore; Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, Fresno, and Ontario, Calif.; Orlando, Fla., Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver, San Antonio, and Chicago (O’Hare and Midway).
Frequent Flyer Program: VClub, a paid membership club with an annual fee of US$49 per year, provides access to discounted fares and last-minute special offers.
Preferential Status Option: Passengers can pay for extras, including the Basic Package, which includes one carry-on bag, pre-selection of seats, priority boarding and one-time, penalty-free flight changes. The Premium Package offers the same benefits, as well as one checked bag (up to 55 pounds), unlimited flight changes (paying only the fare difference), and a “hop on/hop off” feature that allows passengers to switch to the flight immediately before or after their booked flight on the same date.
Special Features: Business travelers should consider joining VEmpresa, which costs US$249 a year and allows companies to get a 10 percent discount on all airfares and discounted rates on the Basic and Premium packages.
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Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys, which specializes in designing tours, cruises and independent travel for discerning travelers. Please contact Judy for reservations or further information on any of the Travel News topics; cell phone at 415-111-8765, email email@example.com, or view the latest travel specials on the website www.perfectjourneys.net.
Sources: TravelAge West