Most travelers arrive in Mexico City by air; at MEX Benito Juárez International Airport, located in the eastern part of the city.
The airport has two terminals, Terminal 1 (for most international flights) and Terminal 2 (mostly used for Sky Team airlines).
The airport is at full capacity and a new airport is under construction ten miles further east along the Texcoco highway. This is expected to open in 2020.
There are frequent flights to and from most larger cities in the world, including Amsterdam Schiphol, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Shanghai, Santiago de Chile, Lima, London, Los Angeles International Airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Madrid Barajas Airport, Munich Airport, New York City, Frankfurt Airport, Chicago O'Hare, Toronto, Vancouver and Tokyo.
In addition to that there are shorter international flights to most Central American capitals as well as domestic flights to almost all Mexican airports with any scheduled service whatsoever.
The airport has two terminals in the southwestern end of the airport grounds at opposite sides of the runways. Within each terminal (the main buildings) it is further divided into large bay like rooms or halls referred to as sala or bahia on airport maps which contain airline check in desks in the departures (salidas) zone and baggage reclaim for arrivals (llegadas). In Terminal 1 all arrivals and domestic airline check in are at lower level (Salas A-E3) while international airline check in (Salas F1-F3, G) are at upper level towards northeastern end of the building. In terminal 2 all arrivals and ground transportation are at lower level while the airline check in and departures are at the upper level . They are:
- Terminal 1:
- Sala A: National/domestic Arrivals (llegadas nacionales)
- Sala B: Escalators up to security screening stations for domestic departures gates.
- Sala C: Sala de Exposición/Exposition Hall. Shuttle bus to Terminal 2 outside Puerta (door) 6.
- Sala D: Interjet (Between Doors 3 & 4), Magni Charters (Door 5), Volaris (domestic) and MetroBus Rt#4 outside Puerta 7
- Sala D1: VivaAerobús and Volaris (domestic)
- Sala E1-E3: International Arrivals
- Sala F1: All Nippon Airways (ANA), Alitalia, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, Air France, China Southern, KLM, Lufthansa, United and Volaris (international)
- Sala F2: Interjet (international) and LATAM (formerly LAN & TAM)
- Sala F3: American, Avianca, British Airways, Cubana, JetBlue, Iberia, Southwest and Volaris (international)
- Sala G: Security screening stations to access international departures gates; Elevator/lift to the Hilton Hotel Lobby and Food court (comidas rapidas).
- Terminal 2:
Your airline might only let you board your flight to Mexico if you have a valid return ticket. Your carrier might not tell you this until you're just about to board. If you plan on, say, driving out of Mexico, or leaving on a cruise ship, make sure you check this out well in advance. One way around the problem is to buy a second full price refundable ticket that you don't intend to use and then get a refund as soon as you arrive (or before you leave, as long as you have the original paperwork to show at the jetway). In most major US airports, they'll sell you this 'token' ticket at the jetway. Airline staff in the boarding area help travellers with this problem every day. There are few ticket sales offices at Benito Juárez, so you might have to arrange your refund by phone. Make sure you'll have access to a phone that allows international calls. Get a refund number from the phone agent.
Benito Juárez International Airport has plenty of congestion problems, so a new airport further to the Northeast is currently under construction. In the meantime, landing delays and long taxi times are quite common. Don't schedule very tight connections at the airport.
If you arrive on an international flight, you will go through immigration, luggage retrieval and then customs. If the immigration officer gives you an immigration form, keep it until you leave the country. If you lose or misplace it during the visit, you must visit the immigration office at the airport to fill out a new one and pay a possible (but rarely enforced) fine of 440 pesos.
There is a USD300 duty allowance that includes new clothing, tobacco and liquors. The Mexican customs law allows passengers to bring free of duties a laptop, an MP3 player, a digital camera, a tripod, a video camera, and used clothing. Be careful with iPads, as they are sometimes considered laptops. If you have brought a laptop and an iPad, customs may consider this two laptops and refuse to allow entry with both.
After going through customs you will pick up your luggage, then pass through screening. You will press a button for a red or green light. The red means they will search you, the green means you can go. If you are taking a connecting flight to another location and the bags are already tagged for their final destination, you will drop them on a belt located to the right of the inspection tables. If tagged to Mexico City only, you will need to check in again with the airline. Foreign travellers using connecting flights from Mexico City are sometimes required to pass through customs again when they reach their final destination.
Just before passing out of the secure area into the arrivals hall, 'for your safety' your luggage will be x-rayed. At this stage, if you've exceeded the Baggage and Duty Free Allowance, the officers will charge duty on your excess possessions. For example if you have 3 expensive cameras, they'll charge duty on the 3rd camera. They're particularly zealous about electronic components they don't recognize. Be prepared for this unpleasantness. If possible have a receipt or packing list and depreciate the value shown as much as possible.
The entire process, from when the plane arrives to when you are done with customs, usually takes about an hour. After completing customs, you will go through large doors to the waiting area for international arrivals. Be prepared to see a lot of people in this area. It is a custom for families to pick up their loved ones at the airport and the hall is rather small for a city of its size.
In a fine bit of job creation, you can't use an airport baggage trolley to push your own luggage through the arrivals hall in Terminal 1. Your trolley will be aggressively taken from you just outside the secure area. There are carriers who will offer to carry your luggage. This is a service authorized by the airport and is safe—they will be uniformed with white shirts, navy blue tie and dark blue pants and will carry a wheelie (or keep it nearby) with the union logo on it. There is no fixed price for this service, but 15-25 pesos should be fine, unless you are traveling in a group or have a lot of bags.
To get to the city you have the choice of bus, metro or taxi. There is a metro station in terminal 1, and tickets are just 5 MXN but large bags are not allowed in the metro system. Taxis cost 100-300 MXN and require you to get a tickets first and then stand in line. Bus is the cheapest option, but local buses don't enter the airport. To go to other cities, go to the bus station in Terminal 1.
Walking out of the airport – Taxi Sitio
Be aware the airport is not located in the best area of the city, so it is not recommended for tourists to walk outside the airport terminal in search for cheaper taxi service unless you have pre-arranged your service. Definitely do not attempt this if you are not comfortable speaking Spanish. Despite this, an alternative Taxi Sitio (site) can be reached by using the overpass located outside of Gate D. Taxis here are about half the price of the official airport taxis and are considered secure. This is the Sitio that is set up for the airline employees.
A good place to take a regular (non-sitio) taxi is on the Circuito Interior road close to the Metro station. The usual security advice about non-sitio taxis applies, but you'll see plenty of Mexicans who do this together with their luggage. Take a taxi from the other side of the road using the pedestrian bridge if you're heading south or west.
The airport has five companies providing licensed and secure taxis, including Porto Taxi, Sitio 300, Taxis Nueva Imagen, Taxi Excelencia, and Yellow Cab. You should buy a ticket in the marked counters inside the airport. You can compare prices to your destination at each but they are quite similar. You can ask one of the wheelie guys who will take you and your luggage to the Taxi counter for Taxi Seguro or Boleto de Taxi. Be sure to get the detachable piece of the ticket back. Prices range from $100-300 MXN for the taxi service, depending on the size of the car and the zone of the city you are going to. A drawing of a car on the ticket will tell you what type of car the ticket is valid for. Some ticket vendors are known to sell more expensive tickets for huge vans to single persons with moderate amounts of luggage, so specify which type of car you want, otherwise you are likely to be ripped off.
Once you've picked up your taxi ticket, join the melee (especially outside Terminal 2) in the taxi staging area. Join the queue of people carrying the same color card as yourself, or ask the taxi marshals which line to join. You might notice people moving past you. They're family groups boarding vans. If you're waiting a long time because your chosen taxi company is short on cars, go back and ask for a refund. You can then buy a new ticket with a different company.
The Terminal 1 taxi boarding area is outside Door 10, to the right of all the arrivals halls. The different taxi company ranks are at different distances from the terminal but are all within a few meters of each other.
If you have a smartphone with internet access, you can request a car using Uber or Cabify. It will be significantly cheaper than the official airport taxis.
- See also: Mexico City#By metro
If you are looking for a more economical means of transportation and you're not carrying too much luggage, take the Metro (subway). The 1 Terminal Aerea station is next to the Domestic Flight Arrivals hall in Terminal 1. Go to the left when coming out from Terminal 1 International Arrivals. Terminal 2 is 15 minutes walk from Pantitlán station, but the walk involves passing through a relatively run-down area.
Inside Terminal 1, there are signs pointing to the Metro station, which is a long way towards the left if you exit from any door. Keep an eye out for the orange 1970s style M designating the entrance. Large bags are officially prohibited, but a large-ish backpack should be fine as long as you're not travelling in rush hour. Note that throughout the Metro system there are plenty of stairs. Not all stations have escalators and none have wide gates for luggage.
Metro tickets cost $5 MXN each. Don't try paying with the $500 peso note you've just received at the exchange bureau. However, buying a public transport smart card and putting up to $200 pesos in it is fine. The Metro has its own risks. Violent crime is very rare but pick-pocketing is a moderate danger here so be aware of your surroundings, and keep an eye on your belongings. Especially, don't take the Metro during rush hour unless you are especially fond of the sensation a sardine has in a tin.
There are system maps in every station near the ticket booths and on the platforms, as well as neighborhood maps close to the ticket booths. Try to avoid peak hours: remember that approximately 4 million people use this service every day. Line 5 (which is the one that passes by the airport) is relatively empty, but Lines 1, 2 and 3 can be crowded at any time of the day.
Local buses do not enter the airport, but if it's not rush hour and you're not carrying too much luggage, it's possible to walk to the Circuito Interior ring road from Terminal 1 (follow the signs towards the Metro). Regular ($2 peso) and express ($4 peso) RTP buses pass frequently and have routes around the ring road. You need to pay with exact change (or pay extra) in the coin boxes. From Terminal 2 you could walk to the Pantitlán Metro Station (which is the terminus of dozens of bus lines), but it involves passing through a relatively run-down area.
If you are going to another city by bus, the 2 bus station in Terminal 2 is located on the far right of the arrivals floor, after coming out of customs, past the escalators, by domestic arrivals. The 3 bus station in Terminal 1 is located by the auto ramp by the international arrivals area, between Doors 7 & 8. To get there go up the escalators to Sala 'G' by the food court (opposite side of the food court from international departures & international airline check in). Go across the bridge next to the food court (between 7 Eleven and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts) to the the bus companies' check in desks at the opposite side to buy the tickets. Follow sign to the right and down the escalators to the bus loading area. The following bus companies serve the airport:
- ADO (Autobuses Del Oriente), Aeorpuerto, TAPO, Central Norte, Taxqueña, Col. Santa Martha, Del. Iztapalapa, ☎ , toll-free: 01800-009-9090. They only go to Cordoba and Orizaba from the airport. Passengers can transfer buses in Cordoba to get to Veracruz city.
- Caminante, Aeoropuertos (Toluca & Mexico City), Mexico Poniente. Travels mainly between Mexico City and Toluca.
- Grupo Estrella Blanca (White Star), Aeoropuerto, Central del Norte, Taxquena, ☎ , toll-free: 01800-507-5500. From the airport they only go up to Pachuca.
- Estrella Roja (Red Star), Aeorpuerto, TAPO, Carcel de Mujeres (Women's prison), ☎ , toll-free: 01800-712-2284. From the airport they go to CAPU (Central bus station in Puebla) and their own terminal on 4a Poniente closer in to downtown Puebla on alternating schedules. Passengers continuing to Oaxaca can catch this bus to Puebla CAPU and transfer there or they can take local transport to the nearby TAPO in Mexico City and take a direct bus to Oaxaca with ADO. There are also flights from Mexico City to Oaxaca with multiple airlines too.
- Primera Plus, Aeorpuerto, Central de Norte, Obsevatorio, ☎ , toll-free: 0800 375-75-87. From the airport they only go up to Celaya, Queretaro and San Juan del Rio. For those going to San Miguel de Allende or Guanajuato this is the bus to take. Take the first bus up to Queretaro or Celaya where you transfer to another bus going to Guanajuato or San Miguel de Allende. There are also direct flights to Leon Bajio Airport (BJX IATA), the nearest airport to Guanajuato, Leon and San Miguel Allende from Mexico City, the U.S. and various other places in Mexico with multiple airlines.
- Pullman de Morelos, Aeorpuerto, Taxquena, ☎ , toll-free: 0800 624-03-60. From the airport they go to Cuernavaca.
- Transfers USA, Airport, ☎ , toll-free: 01800 890 6351, e-mail: email@example.com. Safe transportation to and from the airport
- Metrobus #4 is a Bus Rapid Transit Line to the TAPO bus station/San Lázaro Metro, Centro Histórico, Revolution Monument and Buenavista Station in the central part of Mexico City. They stop at Puerto (Door) 7 in Terminal 1 and Puerta 2 (lower level) in Terminal 2. Fares to/from the airport cost $30 pesos. You need a smart card to ride the system, which can be bought at the 7-Eleven inside the terminals. The Metrobus from the airport into the city may have an on-board conductor who accepts the $30 pesos fare in cash, but the smart card must by used for the Metrobus to the airport from inside the city.
Click here for a compiled schedule and fare tables for all the bus companies serving the airport.
The two terminals are connected by a bus line and a light rail system, which is significantly faster than the bus. Note: For some reason, you can only board the light rail if you have a flight boarding pass or ticket stub from your arriving flight. Tough luck if you have an e-ticket and haven't printed your boarding pass or if you're travelling to terminal 2 to meet somebody. The storm troopers won't let you board the train!
If your arriving flight is in Terminal 2 you will need to take the light rail Aerotrén or the airport shuttle to Terminal 1. The Aerotrén is only available to airport/airline employees and people holding airline tickets or boarding passes. Credentials will be checked. Otherwise the white shuttles with a white and red checkered design on the back provide free inter-terminal transport (you can find them at Puerta 6 in T1 and Puerta 4 in T2). There are also red buses that travel between the terminals, but charge a fee. These buses make a stop at the 4 Hangares metro station when going from T2 to T1 (but not on the way back).
It is also possible to reach the 5 Pantitlán metro stop from T2 by walking east on Eje 1 Norte. The Pantitlan Station is also a major bus station with various buses, peseros and taxis serving the delegaciones (boroughs) in the southeastern part of Mexico City as well as the terminus for several metro lines. Be careful as this walk can be potentially dangerous, especially at night and especially for the obvious tourist.
There is an art gallery with temporary exhibits in Terminal 1, close to the domestic departures.
Seating is scarce in the ground floor landside area of Terminal 1, but you should be able to find something around the food court in the departures level. You can sit down or lie down in the stone steps in the arrival area of Terminal 2.
The airport used to have a plane spotting area but it was closed in 2008 when the airport went through an intensive modernization. Plane spotters now usually go up a pedestrian bridge close to Terminal Aérea Metro Station.
Eat and Drink
There are plenty of restaurants inside both terminals and a large food court in Terminal 1. Prices are slightly higher airside than landside. For a cheaper alternative, you can buy something from the 7-Eleven convenience stores inside both terminals.
The airport rarely offers the best rates for converting your currency. However there are many currency changers, some offering better rates than others or not charging a commission. The converter near Gate E1, in the arrival wing, usually offers the best rate. There are also numerous ATM/Cashpoint (cajero electronico) machines located throughout both terminals, operated by various banks, which take foreign Visa, MasterCard or debit cards to draw money in pesos.
There are paid Prodigy Infinitum hot spots throughout the airport. Although many restaurants offer free Wi-fi for their customers, do not count on being able to connect without costs.
The hotels at or next to the airport seem to be at around US$90-135. There are more budget options for under US$75 further away in Colonia Moctezuma Segunda, west and southwest of the airport runways. They would be too far to walk so ask if they offer shuttle service to/from the terminals. The surrounding areas are not the safest or the best neighborhoods but they would be ideal if needing to stay near the airport after a late arrival and/or for an early flight out.
Sleeping at the airport is possible but quite uncomfortable . You probably want to avoid it unless you're in a very tight budget.
- 1 Camino Real, Puerto México No. 80 Col. Peñón de los Baños (Pink building directly connected to Terminal 1 by the same bridge accessing the Aerotren terminal (to Terminal 2)), ☎ .
- 2 Courtyard Marriott - Mexico City Airport, Sinaloa 31, Col. Peñón de los Baños (directly connected to Terminal 1 and the airport bus station from the food court by Sala G), ☎ , fax: . Direct walkway access to Benito Juárez International Airport Terminal 1, also has a complimentary airport shuttle to Terminal 2. Free Wi-Fi. starting at $2,400 MXN.
- 3 Fiesta Inn, Blvd Puerto Aereo 502, Venustiano Carranza, Moctezuma Segunda, ☎ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Has an onsite restaurant and bar, pool, and fitness club. The hotel is completely nonsmoking, with free Wi-Fi, and airport shuttle service. US$107+.
- 4 Hilton, Av Capitan Carlos León S/N Terminal 1 (Lobby located above Sala G in Terminal 1.), ☎ . Check-in: after 3PM, check-out: before 1PM. Situated directly above Terminal 1, accessed from Sala 'G' in the upper level of Terminal 1.
- 5 Hostel Mexico City Airport, Aguascalientes 33, Col. Peñón de los Baños, ☎ . Only hostel closest to the airport for those into staying in hostels. US$40.
- 6 Hotel Aeropuerto, Boulevard Puerto Aéreo no. 380, Venustiano Carranza, Moctezuma Segunda (Set on Boulevard Puerto Aéreo west of Terminal 1. Can be accessed by going through the Terminal Aérea metro station or go past the metro station to Blvd Aéreo and go across via the pedestrian bridge), ☎ .
- 7 Hotel Cima, Alfonso Ceballos #12, Venustiano Carranza, Moctezuma (Middle of block along Alfonso Ceballos, btwn. Calz. Ignacio Zaragoza and Calle Jose Rivera, just a few blocks SE of TAPO (bus station) along Calz. Ignacio Zaragoza.), ☎ .
- 8 Hotel Planet, Av Emilio Carranza 209, Venustiano Carranza, Moctezuma 2da Secc (Ave Emilio Carranza & Ote 162).
- 9 Nh Collection, Av. Capitan Carlos Leon S/N, Venustiano Carranza, Peñón de los Baños (The hotel is located above Terminal 2.), ☎ (local), (US). Situated directly above Terminal 2, lobby access from international arrivals.
- 10 Ramada Inn, Blvd. Puerto Aereo 390, Venustiano Carranza, Moctezuma Segunda (Set on Boulevard Puerto Aéreo west of Terminal 1. Can be accessed by going through the Terminal Aérea metro station or go past the metro station to Blvd Aéreo and go across via the pedestrian bridge. Second building next to the Hotel Aeropuerto.), ☎ . Check-in: after 2PM, check-out: before 1 pm. starting from MXN$1292..
As the airport is close to a somewhat shoddy neighborhood, your best bet is to take the Metro (during daytime) or a cab (at night) to your final destination in Mexico City once you leave the airport.