Beware of Transit Through Mexico City

Discussion in 'Other North America/non U.S.' started by aaylor, Oct 18, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Warnings to the Wise for Happy Travel to South America or elsewhere.

    On a recent trip to Santiago, United Airlines routed us through Mexico City. What we were not prepared for with our 3 1/2 hour layover was that there is no Transit Area for International Travelers.

    We had purchased alcohol in San Francisco Duty Free to bring to our in-laws in Santiago. Because there is no transit area, we spent 2+ hours in the Disney-like Immigration Lines, before going through Customs to actually enter Mexico, only to switch terminals!

    We then had to check-in to our airline (LAN), which took some doing as several of the staff working for LAN there did not seem to have any idea what they were doing. The staff at Mexico City airport were uneducated, bordered on being rude, and continually provided us with misinformation about the terminal we needed to be in.

    This was not bad enough, but then we had to be re-xrayed and our duty-free was confiscated because it was more than 4 ounces. (Recall, we had no idea that we would have to go all of the way through customs and immigration just to change planes.) The issue with duty-free never would have happened had we been informed about the rules with Mexico City Airport. Had we been informed, we also would not have flown through Mexico City!

    I would highly suggest that International Travelers DO NOT transit through Mexico City until they get this situation rectified!!!!! If you have had this experience in Mexico City, please complain to your airline, so that they are informed. When I spoke with the United Airlines Representative, she stated that this was news to her, and further reassured me that I should not have the same problem on the return flight, despite the fact that it was also routed through Mexico City. Clearly, she remains uneducated!
     
  2. Gaucho
    Original Member

    Gaucho Gold Member

    Messages:
    6,640
    Likes Received:
    13,407
    Status Points:
    11,795
    Did you ask for United to compensate you for your loss...?
     
  3. iolaire
    Original Member

    iolaire Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,510
    Likes Received:
    5,767
    Status Points:
    4,170
    First of last time I was routed through Mexico City it was a zoo and very confusing - I feel your pain.

    However, this issue is the new norm I believe. Can you transit many airports these days without going through security again? My last few flights SFO -> HKG - HAN and IAD -> CDG -> IST all required me to resubmit myself to security as part of the transfer. I've had to assume that the duty free is now only useful if you have a single point-to-point international flight with no transfers...
     
    BWIflyer likes this.
  4. 7Continents
    Original Member

    7Continents Silver Member

    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    202
    Status Points:
    420
    Not to belabor the point but it's a lesson well repeated - there are enough airports where transfers require going through security a second time no matter what your destination that Duty Free is risky unless you buy it just prior to your final leg.
     
  5. kiwi
    Original Member

    kiwi Gold Member

    Messages:
    16,851
    Likes Received:
    27,973
    Status Points:
    20,020
    For a moment I thought the OP was describing LAX.
     
  6. They could care less! Yes, I gave them all of the information!
     
  7. In the future, I will be sure to ask!
     
  8. YULtide

    YULtide Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,747
    Likes Received:
    10,556
    Status Points:
    10,520
    It's important to be an informed traveller, of course. One option is to put your duty free into a checked bag at your first transit point. Obviously you'd both need the room to do so and the knowledge that it's necessary.

    I note that Canada accepts "tamper-evident" sealed bags with duty free in them coming from EU airports. You can take them through the security when transiting from international to domestic. For reasons that are inscrutable to me, they won't accept a similar bag from Asian airports (e.g. HKG). And they tamper with the bag, so you can only do it once.

    Just another one of those nuisances we all come to love. :confused:
     
  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    In that case, you probably will want to add any US international airport to your list of "DO NOT transit" airports since it's exactly the same situation here for flights arriving from abroad (with the exception of a few pre-clearing locations, say, in Canada). And I don't see the US rectifying that any time soon...
     
  10. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    7,782
    Status Points:
    6,770
    One of those sad lessons of life. It would be hard to construct
    an itinerary where that would NOT have happened to your booze.
     
    catgirl likes this.
  11. I also agree about the duty-free, kind of useless unless you are picking up a gift the last leg of the journey.

    It would be useful to have a list of airports that do have international terminals that do not require going through immigration. It adds unnecessary hours to the travel.
     
  12. Veroni

    Veroni New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status Points:
    15
    I too think airport security is overbearing, and overly reactive. I've seen all sorts of letters to the editor and person on the street interviews from people saying, yeah, bring it on and do anything, just keep us safe.

    Maybe these frightened people should just avoid air travel then.
     
    Gargoyle and mailbroad like this.
  13. particlemn

    particlemn Silver Member

    Messages:
    298
    Likes Received:
    583
    Status Points:
    595
    I have found that most people whom are being yelled at or spoken to impolitely tend to appear rude to the agresser, I understand this was a stessful time in your travel that you were unprepared for, what you described in the norm in the US and in the European contries i have visited.
    I have also found when you calmly ask for help you would not believe how people will go out of their way to help you, but if you are abrasive then they will respond in kind.
    I would be curious to hear from others if any airport has a trasit area if you are changing cariers,
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  14. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    6,846
    Likes Received:
    12,715
    Status Points:
    11,770
    Sorry to hear about your ordeal, sounds like quite a pain. Are you sure you actually entered Mexico though? The last few times I transisted through MEX I had to present myself to an immigration official who stamped me as a transit passenger and I never actually was processed and entered into Mexico.

    MEX is the worst airport I've ever experienced. The signage is poor, the staff are disorganized and unhelpful. I haven't really had a reason to connect there since Mexicana tanked and dropped out of oneworld, but given the opportunity I still wouldn't transit there.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  15. LizzyDragon84
    Original Member

    LizzyDragon84 Gold Member

    Messages:
    18,586
    Likes Received:
    28,524
    Status Points:
    19,975
    Sorry to hear of your lousy experience, aaylor.

    When it comes to int'l transit, I assume that I'll have to go through some kind of security screening. All my int'l transit in the last couple of years had security screenings.

    I also check to see if I need a transit visa. Some places like Russia and China require most nationalities to get a transit visa in advance, so not checking this can really burn the uninformed traveller.

    What I don't do is trust what an airline agent tells me about entry/transit requirements. It's not reasonable to expect an agent to know the requirements for every nationality and requirements change over time.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  16. AlexCarmona

    AlexCarmona New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status Points:
    15
    The airport in Mexico City is horrible, they doeble screen you, first before entering the boarding areas (this is normal) ant when you are about to enter your new plane even when you are just transboarding, it's annoying, also it's kind of confussing.
     
  17. scf

    scf Silver Member

    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    39
    Status Points:
    160
    Headed to MEX tomorrow....I'm less worried about the screening and more worried about the volcano ash!
     
  18. scf

    scf Silver Member

    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    39
    Status Points:
    160
    Just got back to ORD from MEX (literally...am in a cab headed to office). They were very clear on board that if you had a connecting flight any duty-free items purchased would need to go into your checked items as they would not be allowed through security. I'm not sure how well versed the duty-free shops are on this. So be careful and maybe only buy something on the last leg of a trip...
     
  19. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    ANY dutyfree or just liquids, knives, etc.?
     
  20. scf

    scf Silver Member

    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    39
    Status Points:
    160
    Good question...I assume liquids, knives etc. Whatever wouldn't typically be expected to make it through standard security.
     
  21. onlybeef42
    Original Member

    onlybeef42 Silver Member

    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    121
    Status Points:
    375

    DestinationDavid has it right MEX is a bad idea. Despite his warning in another milepoint thread this summer, I booked a flight with a MEX connection. Our flight deplaned in the domestic terminal, and nobody would tell us we were in the wrong terminal. We are not fluent in Spanish, but we definitely are proficient enough for travel. We wandered back and forth for a few hours until we finally found a terminal connector that was closed and would not start running until 15 minutes before our flight. Our excitement to know there was a second terminal quickly ended when we were accosted by group of four people who trailed us as we tried to walk away. So, we jumped in a taxi to take us to the other terminal, and didn't even consider arguing about the $20 USD taxi fare we paid for a two minute drive.
     
  22. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    6,846
    Likes Received:
    12,715
    Status Points:
    11,770
    Yikes, sorry that you also had a horrible experience.:eek:

    I stand by my statment - MEX is the worst airport I've ever experienced (though as I travel more and more I'm sure there's opportunity for it to drop down a few places :D ).
     
  23. Ricktox

    Ricktox New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status Points:
    10
    I'm sure a spolied person female or male posted this teenage ignotant rant about Mexico's airport. Clearly you have not traveled extensively around the world. I can tell you of a coupld of airports that will make Mexico's airport look like a paradise.
    Security is tight in every airport now around the world. I'm sorry this common scenario bust your bubble. It looks as thoug you are overly sensitive to changes or not easily adapted to foreign environments which is not good for international travelers. Actually it can prove dangerous if not deadly. You gotta do your homework ( research in advance), keep your eyes open, have a plan A, B & C and act quickly if that does not work ! 9 tha mean;s plan B to Z. ;)
    Do you think airport employees trying to identify threats, drugs or other ilicit activities care about your baby sitting complains? No. Do you think people owe you attention and must bow to you when passing by customs? No. This is not Disneyland it's the real world. Be safe out there and keep an eye open and your shoes on. Good luck. Next
     
  24. philtrav

    philtrav New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status Points:
    15
    Here is a guide to transit through Mexico City Airport, which your airline should have known and informed you about.

    There are two terminals. If you need to switch terminals, then there is no transit area for you. You must exit each terminal, so you must go through immigration and customs, and then get on the airtrain to get to the next terminal. (You must also enquire about their times of operation.) As usual, if you exit you will have to go through normal security channels. And for those asking about double security (the normal one and one at the gate), you should be advised that this is a requirement that the US has imposed on travel to its country from Mexico. This means that if you are travelling to anywhere other than the US you will not go through this second security check at the gate.

    However, if you are changing planes within the same terminal, then there is a transit lounge where you will be placed until your flight departs.

    As in other airports in the world, the terminals are not divided between domestic and international but rather by carriers and their international alliances. Check which airlines depart from where on the airports website: www . aicm . com . mx

    As far as comments about the worst airport, I agree that they must not be seasoned travellers to say so -- try a few in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, or even most of the US, especially if you are an international traveller and, as all wil know, they have no international transit lounges. But also, one should always be aware of the terms of one's flights. A quick glance through United's website to see if your flight was on time or to do your check-in would have been enough to realize that you were going through Mexico and should have prompted you to look at the airport. Despite this, United behaved badly in not advising you on how to make your connection.

    Finally, a comment through immigration. I gather the person who posted this must be American. This is an educated guess for anyone who is not American and has had to go through the enormous immigration lines at LAX or any of the NYC airports will know that it is always an incredibly long line that can take up to 3hrs. I hope this is helpful to all, but do your homework next time.
     
    anileze likes this.
  25. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,972
    Likes Received:
    12,805
    Status Points:
    10,675
    Old thread revived ;)
     

Share This Page