The Cross Border Express, or CBX, is an innovative way to get in or out of Tijuana Airport in Mexico from San Diego, without dealing with the long lines at the San Ysidro car/pedestrian border crossing that goes between Tijuana and San Diego. The CBX has been open a few years, but it seems like it is still a bit under the radar, so in this post I’ll explain why you might want to consider CBX for your next flight in or out of the San Diego area.
Aeromexico is the national airline of Mexico and is the main airline handling flights around Mexico and to international cities from Mexico. If you haven’t flown Aeromexico before, you might not know why you’d want to fly them. Here is why: Aeromexico tends to have good prices on flights, and many of their flights are on new airplanes! There are a few old duds with hard seats still flying, but on the majority of the Aeromexico flights I’ve taken, the planes are newer and nicer than their U.S. counterparts.
Not only that, but Aeromexico always serves some kind of snack in Economy, and you can order as much Mexican coke (no corn syrup!) and tequila (or coke and rum) as you like, for free. So, if you are flying anywhere in Mexico or even south of Mexico from San Diego, crossing the border to Tijuana so you can pick up an Aeromexico flight can make a lot of sense. Aeromexico flights from Tijuana to the rest of Mexico are usually cheaper than the same flight would be from LAX.
The Sala VIP Tijuana
If you have Priority Pass through a credit card, you have access to the Sala VIP at Tijuana Airport. The Sala VIP Tijuana is a fantastic lounge for such a small airport: they have snacks like chips, pizza, and mini-sandwiches, free Wifi, full service from very friendly and attentive waiters, and some comfortable lounge chairs that you can relax on while you wait for your flight. And unlike the United, Delta, and Airspace lounges at SAN, all the drinks and food are free.
And not only is the Sala VIP lounge a great lounge for such a small airport, it even has a VIP security entrance. This means that you can get into the Tijuana Airport secured area through a special security lane just for Sala VIP customers. It makes TSA Pre-Check look slooow.
How does CBX work?
Going to CBX/TIJ to catch a flight is mostly just like going to a regular American airport. You can either be dropped off in front of CBX on the U.S. side of the Mexican border, or you can park your car in the available parking lot. The lot is well-lit and seems to have a constant security patrol. There is a price to park there, though, and you can find a cheaper daily parking rate at some of the truck parking lots near CBX, like Delta Truck Parking. Delta Truck Parking will drive you over to CBX and drop you off there.
Once you’re at the curb at CBX, you enter and obtain your boarding pass from the Aeromexico clerks at the check-in desk. With your boarding pass, you then head to the border crossing, which is a long, secured tunnel that crosses over to the Tijuana Airport. You will have to show your passport and boarding pass, as well as pay a CBX crossing fee. Once you have crossed over, you’ll find yourself in a Duty Free shop with plenty of colognes, makeup, booze, and the usual Duty Free stuff on sale.
TIJ airport only has two concourses, and there is a small selection of restaurants and bars on each. So I usually go to the Sala VIP Tijuana to wait for my flight. The attendants there are super helpful and remember you if you’ve been before.
Returning to the U.S. through CBX
Returning to the U.S. through CBX is the same as leaving from there, but in reverse. You simply fly to Tijuana, and instead of leaving Tijuana Airport on the Mexico side, you follow the signs in the airport to the CBX exit. There, you pay your CBX fee and cross back over the CBX bridge to the U.S., where you show your passport to the U.S. Customs officers and enter the U.S. Upon exiting the CBX on the U.S. side, you are back where you started, and you can be picked up by friends or go to your parked car.