**** Show International Transit in MEX

Old Dec 26, 2021, 12:17 pm
  #1  
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**** Show International Transit in MEX

Ho folks, on Christmas Day me and my wife had the misfortune of transiting through MEX on AM. I wanted to warn folks about how bad it is, and why you should avoid anything less than a 3 hour international transit in MEX.

Background

We needed to get back after a visit to Chile around Christmas and do it on miles/points in business class. When planning the vacation back on September/October there was availability on AA/UA/DL but awards were from 250K (DL) to 110k (UA) each way per person in business. I ended up transferring some MR to Club Premier (a third party loyalty program, much like Aeroplan before Air Canada bought it back in house) and was able to book two tickets in business class SCL-JFK for 120K point and ~US$750. We had a scheduled 2 hour 10 minute connection from 5 am and our departing flight was schedule at 7:10am.

What went Wrong

The Mexican government requires all passengers in international transit to clear Mexican immigration and customs just like the USA. Our flight actually arrived about 15 minutes early and we were in the immigration hall by 4:57am. By the time we cleared immigration it was one hour and fifty minutes later. Finding our bags, clearing customs, dropping our bags off at the connecting baggage station it was about 7:05 am. We missed our connecting flight but here's where AM fell down:

1) no AM staff were available in the immigration hall to answer question and or guide folks with short connections like us
2) they didn't hold our flight and we got to the gate the flight was still there and all the lady said that it was closed. No apology and customer service will accomodate you, just it's closed.
2) when we showed up at the customer service desk, a lady with a clipboard approached us asked why were there, when we said misconnect she said, "Oh, off the Santiago flight." They clearly knew about the misconnect but were not proactive. Then because we were on a Club Premier ticket the customer service desk had to call before reissuing our tickets which took over 20 minutes. They gave us economy seats with no apology, or no lounge pass (since our original flight was in business). I mean, maybe I'm spoiled by AA, UA and DL, but they automatically rebook you and send you text messages. Despite providing my mobile phone, it was radio silence from AM. Also a quicker rebook would have allowed us to shower at the Centurion lounge.
3) after rushing to our next flight which had a 9:30am departure time and a 8:40am boarding time, we didn't actually board until like 9:15am (we did retain SkyPriority for boarding) and didn't leave the gate until closer to 10:10am. Again, another AM failing the flight was listed on time and we were delayed due to a late arriving cabin crew, which AM likely knew about

I completely get AM can't control immigration and customs. But I remember, once when connecting from CX to AA at JFK on a close connection an AA employee to DCA was waiting for me with signs for everyone on the DCA flight. They had my boarding pass with a priority envelope that gave me access to priority security told me to hurry. AM is too much of a mess to be organized enough to do that. They also don't seem to be able to proactively rebook, and again I hope on revenue tickets they are better than they were on award tickets. Given their crappy service, I know I'm not getting e-mail with an apology and a proactive offer of miles, but I did give them a 1 out of 5 on the post flight survey. I even noted, I'd rate the transit in MEX a zero, but given that it's AM I doubt they'll even bother to reply.

TAKEAWAY

Don't fly AM with a international transit in MEX without at least 3 hours. Oh, and show up to your gate early, as AM is after researching it, gives those on connecting flights who they don't think will make it seats away to those on standby. If you are on a long haul like I was and want to shower and relax in the lounge, I recommend a 4 hour transit. Bottom line is AM sells tickets on MEX transits when they know there's a fair chance of misconnect and don't give a ****.
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Old Dec 26, 2021, 5:49 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by ArlingtonTraveler
you should avoid anything less than a 3 hour international transit in MEX.
i do agree

Originally Posted by ArlingtonTraveler
Finding our bags, clearing customs, dropping our bags off at the connecting baggage station
Wasnt your second flight MEX-JFK with AM from same terminal ?
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Old Dec 26, 2021, 6:23 pm
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Originally Posted by fifty_two
Wasnt your second flight MEX-JFK with AM from same terminal ?
Yes, but you still have to clear immigration, claim your bag, then customs, and then go to the Aeromexico connecting baggage recheck desk for bags checked through. Then you go back upstairs and clear security. The only country with such a messed up international transit system I know of is the US of A.
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Old Dec 26, 2021, 8:56 pm
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If the lines arent moving a tip is just to be super pushy and keep asking the agents to let you through to the priority line that they keep empty most of the time for close connections. Its ugly and I hate doing it but after misconnecting on 2+ hour flights I now know its the only way.

Whats truely insane as that they will open up transit lanes and people who landed hours after you will sometimes clear before you and agents will tell you that you arent allowed to go back to use that. Such a poorly run airport.
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Old Dec 26, 2021, 9:33 pm
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I transited through MEX twice this month and both times landed around 6am. Wait time was about 2-3 hours through immigration.
You have to include the time getting your luggage if you have any, customs, going through security again to your connection, which took me around 30 more minutes (without customs/luggage).

If you need to catch your flight, the workers on the 1st floor can help you skip the immigration line.
I've seen it done my first time there, and suggested to a couple the 2nd time and they were able to skip the lines.
Keep asking around if they don't let you. There are plenty of workers around.
Sometimes when the line for Mexican citizens are low, they let certain foreigners through that line, which saved me an hour of waiting.

I too have issues with AM, they lost my luggage for a week and shipped it to my house after I came back from vacation. Contacted them many times for compensation but nothing.
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Old Dec 27, 2021, 5:53 pm
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One of the biggest time sucks I have seen that causes the immigration disaster at MEX is the design of the immigration form. Well over 50% of people forget to fill out the bottom part of the form and then clog up the lines as they try and find pens and slowly fill those out while the immigration officers just wait for them. Both the form and the immigration lines are poorly designed - at most other airports if you forget to do that you are asked to step out of line to the side where there are forms and pens waiting for you to do it then rejoin the lines while immigration clears other passengers.
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Old Dec 28, 2021, 12:12 am
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Sorry you went through that and appreciate you sharing it on here.

My question...this only applies to international flights transiting from through MEX from another country to a third country, right? I have a flight originating in Mexico, to the US, via MEX that AM is offering with a 45 min connection lol. I figure that is probably impossible either way, but if going through customs then it's a joke that they're even offering it....
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Old Dec 28, 2021, 2:44 am
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Originally Posted by projectmaximus
Sorry you went through that and appreciate you sharing it on here.

My question...this only applies to international flights transiting from through MEX from another country to a third country, right? I have a flight originating in Mexico, to the US, via MEX that AM is offering with a 45 min connection lol. I figure that is probably impossible either way, but if going through customs then it's a joke that they're even offering it....
You will probably be fine. Exit formalities are minimal.
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Old Dec 28, 2021, 2:44 am
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Originally Posted by ArlingtonTraveler
Yes, but you still have to clear immigration, claim your bag, then customs, and then go to the Aeromexico connecting baggage recheck desk for bags checked through. Then you go back upstairs and clear security. The only country with such a messed up international transit system I know of is the US of A.
ok so then it explains why , so yes , such journey under 3h layover in MEX is simply gambling

Originally Posted by ArlingtonTraveler
The only country with such a messed up international transit system I know of is the US of A.
in my case i dont have to do the same , only immigration and then security transit checks , cause i travel only between europe and central/south america through MEX . So i guess its due to your destination's country

This airline is a joke as soon as something goes wrong , but you can find helpful people amongst their employees , they attract US paxs with their low prices to transit through MEX but its not worth gambling a few bucks for that , better flying one of the US3

Last edited by fifty_two; Dec 28, 2021 at 2:52 am
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Old Dec 28, 2021, 2:48 am
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Originally Posted by projectmaximus

My question...this only applies to international flights transiting from through MEX from another country to a third country, right?
No , it only apply in some cases , which i dont know cause iam not yet a MEX and AM specialist , but it deserve an investigation

Originally Posted by projectmaximus
I have a flight originating in Mexico, to the US, via MEX that AM is offering with a 45 min connection lol. I figure that is probably impossible either way, but if going through customs then it's a joke that they're even offering it....
Yes its a joke , and you probably wont make it if something goes wrong , i would recommend transit through MTY if you go back to the USA
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Old Dec 28, 2021, 6:39 pm
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Originally Posted by olouie
One of the biggest time sucks I have seen that causes the immigration disaster at MEX is the design of the immigration form.
Standing in line for two hours we saw that, but at least on Christmas Day they were allowing people to step aside. Since only three or four desks were manned, folks went to an unmanned desk and then went back to the immigration officer who told them to complete their forms properly. The issue here is that AM schedules connections that can't be made and first timers like me are dumb enough to believe oh yeah 2 hour 10 minute connection transit is possible because except for the USA most countries allow international transit without clearing customs and immigration. With a three or four hour connection time it can be, but the question is who wants to wait in line for two plus hours? I'm really surprised AM hasn't worked with the Mexican government to reengineer the immigration system. For example, we went to three countries in Latin America. Chile, Costa Rica and Colombia. None of them have a paper arrival form, you do that in advance on a website and when you arrive they scan your passport and immigration has your data. Usually you are e-mailed a QR code which you have to show your airline at check in as proof of completing the form. I mean, Mexico wants their immigration form filled out perfectly, but they are perfectly content to take the unvaccinated hordes of American tourist when even Colombia and Brazil have or will soon require vaccinations for all visitors. It makes no sense.

Last edited by ArlingtonTraveler; Jan 1, 2022 at 10:04 am Reason: mistake
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Old Dec 29, 2021, 11:00 am
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Originally Posted by ArlingtonTraveler
Standing in line for two hours we saw that, but at least on Christmas Day they were allowing people to step aside. Since only three or four desks were manned, folks went to an unmanned desk and then went back to the immigration officer who told them to complete their forms properly. The issue here is that AM schedules connections that can't be made and first timers like me are dumb enough to believe oh yeah 2 hour 10 minute connection transit is possible because except for the USA most countries allow international transit without clearing customs and immigration. With a three or four hour connection time it can be, but the question is who wants to wait in line for two plus hours? I'm really surprised AM hasn't worked with the Mexican government to reengineer the immigration system. For example, we went to three countries in Latin America. Chile, Costa Rica and Colombia. None of them have a paper arrival form, you do that in advance on a website and when you arrive they scan your passport and immigration has your data. Usually you are e-mailed a barcode which you have to show your airline at check in as proof of completing the form. I mean, Mexico wants their immigration form filled out perfectly, but they are perfectly content to take the unvaccinated hordes of American tourist when even Colombia and Brazil have or will soon require vaccinations for all visitors. It makes no sense.
There is a reason why AM is bankrupt. Their only benefit is cheap fares and good mileage earning on DL. Logic defies the airline and the Mexican government. Colombia still has paper forms to fill out on arrival (at least it did for us a week ago) and one on departure.
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Old Jan 1, 2022, 10:00 am
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Originally Posted by olouie
If the lines arent moving a tip is just to be super pushy and keep asking the agents to let you through to the priority line that they keep empty most of the time for close connections. Its ugly and I hate doing it but after misconnecting on 2+ hour flights I now know its the only way.
Hmmm, maybe it's because we were transiting on Christmas Day, but there didn't seem to be a priority lane. There was a desk sing posted with "Airline Crew/Diplomats." Is that the priority line?

Originally Posted by hdanh00
Sometimes when the line for Mexican citizens are low, they let certain foreigners through that line, which saved me an hour of waiting.
I saw this happen only once during my two hours in line. Part of the issue is that it was Christmas Day and I think many immigration officers were on leave, so the Mexican citizens line was also full 90% of the time. The one time it was empty the allowed about 15-20 people into the Mexican Nationals line and from that point on, there was always a line even for Mexican Nationals.

Originally Posted by olouie
There is a reason why AM is bankrupt. Their only benefit is cheap fares and good mileage earning on DL.
I would not go that far. Aeromexico has many advantages. It's entire widebody fleet is 787s. No ancient widebodies that all the big 3 USA carriers fly. It has a high proportion of modern 737-MAX aircraft and I was impressed by the one I flew on. They didn't go with OASIS interiors like say AA on their narrowbodies which means seat back displays, no mini-restrooms, and decent pitch even on a regular economy seat (business was sold out so our choice was a row of regular economy to ourselves or split single premium economy seats). Their soft product was pretty darn good. Their flight attendants English is better than the vast majority of airlines not based in native English speaking countries. Their amenity kit blew away the "Flagship Business" amenity kit I got on AA on the way to Chile. They served not one but two tasty FULL hot meals on a 8 hour flight between SCL and MEX. Could their flight attendants be more friendly, yes. Customer service in general sucked, and transit sucked but the latter was on the Mexican government. If Aeromexico could only fix the transit issue, they could go from average to above average. Fixing the customer service issue could make them good or even great with their modern fleet.

Last edited by NWIFlyer; Jan 1, 2022 at 11:47 am Reason: Merge consecutive posts - please use multi-quote function.
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Old Jan 1, 2022, 3:41 pm
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I transited through MEX several times and I see a definite decline over the years, to the point where I will fromnl now on actively avoid this woefully managed airport.
It took 40 minutes in the Skypriority lane to drop off luggage flying in J class in terminal 2, and the immigration line is just one of the worst you will find anywhere: chaotic, disorganised, haphazard. Shame as the on-board service in J can actually be quite good when they try.

Originally Posted by ArlingtonTraveler
Hmmm, maybe it's because we were transiting on Christmas Day, but there didn't seem to be a priority lane. There was a desk sing posted with "Airline Crew/Diplomats." Is that the priority line?
Depending on the day, if you are flying J and if you ask a supervisor with a clipboard, this could indeed be considered the lane to use.

Last edited by NewbieRunner; Jan 1, 2022 at 5:57 pm Reason: Merged consecutive posts by same member
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Old Jan 1, 2022, 10:39 pm
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Originally Posted by ArlingtonTraveler
Standing in line for two hours we saw that, but at least on Christmas Day they were allowing people to step aside. Since only three or four desks were manned, folks went to an unmanned desk and then went back to the immigration officer who told them to complete their forms properly. The issue here is that AM schedules connections that can't be made and first timers like me are dumb enough to believe oh yeah 2 hour 10 minute connection transit is possible because except for the USA most countries allow international transit without clearing customs and immigration. With a three or four hour connection time it can be, but the question is who wants to wait in line for two plus hours? I'm really surprised AM hasn't worked with the Mexican government to reengineer the immigration system. For example, we went to three countries in Latin America. Chile, Costa Rica and Colombia. None of them have a paper arrival form, you do that in advance on a website and when you arrive they scan your passport and immigration has your data. Usually you are e-mailed a QR code which you have to show your airline at check in as proof of completing the form. I mean, Mexico wants their immigration form filled out perfectly, but they are perfectly content to take the unvaccinated hordes of American tourist when even Colombia and Brazil have or will soon require vaccinations for all visitors. It makes no sense.
I am pretty sure my last trip to Mexico I filled out immigration from online before flying.
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