Published on February 14th, 2016 | by Mark Chesnut
AIRLINE REVIEW: American Airlines Boeing 737, Mexico City to Miami
Mexico City is one of my favorite big cities in Latin America (check out my Mexico City travel tips here to find out why). Following my most recent visit to Mexico‘s capital, I flew American Airlines to Miami for a connecting flight. This is an airline review of my experience, in the airport and on the plane.
THE ROUTE: Mexico City – Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX) to Miami International Airport (MIA); Boeing 737; economy class; 2 hours, 32 minutes
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THE DEPARTURE: Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport (which is due to be replaced by a completely new airport in a totally different location within the next two or three years) is a crowded place, especially in the larger Terminal 1, which is where American Airlines operates. Our flight was on a Sunday, and while we arrived just in time to avoid a line for the automated kiosk check-in (we got there about three hours before our flight), we then had to wait for more than an hour just to drop off our bags, standing in a tiring line that snaked around the entire ticket counter area.
When we finally reached the bag drop counter, I asked an agent if lines like this were always this bad. Her response: “We have six flights scheduled to leave during a two-hour period.” (That might make it a good idea to avoid flying American from Mexico City around 3pm, at least on Sundays.) Interestingly, we were not charged to check our bag, although when I recently flew American Airlines from Cancun about a month earlier on the same type of fare, they charged me to check my bag (when I called American Airlines afterwards to try to figure out who made a mistake, unfortunately it appears that they should have charged us in Mexico City — American charges for checked baggage from anywhere in Mexico, unless you travel in a different class or have the right credit card).
After our hour-plus wait for the bag drop, we luckily didn’t have have to wait at all to go through airport security. Mexico City’s screening procedure is a bit different; you don’t have to take of your shoes, but you do need to extract not only your computer but also any cameras or other electronic devices you may have. Boarding was also quick.
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THE AIRCRAFT: Economy class on the American Airlines Boeing 737 featured airline seating with no blankets or pillows, but they did have headrests with wings, which I love. The power outlets between each seat were also a big plus.
INFLIGHT SERVICE: American Airlines inflight entertainment was in the form of overhead video screens, and we could use our own earphones for free, to view the NBC programming. Beverages were free but food was only available for a fee.
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THE ARRIVAL: We landed on time at Miami International Airport, but had to sit on the tarmac for about 45 minutes before getting to the gate. It was a typically long walk to immigration screening, and the wait for the Global Entry kiosk was about 10 minutes (the regular line would have taken much more time). We then waited for about 25 minutes for our luggage before proceeding through the customs line, which was fast.
The confusion came after leaving customs and immigration. Normally, when connecting from an international flight, it’s just a simple matter of dropping off the checked bags once again, just outside of the customs area. This time at Miami International Airport, however, it was confusing and time consuming. One person directed us away from the usual bag drop area and toward a door further way, but the gentleman staffing that door said that “American Airlines has closed this section for the night” (although it was only about 8pm) and he said we had to go all the way to regular check-in counters on a different level to drop off our bags, as if we were passengers just starting our trip. That required an extra 10-minute walk and 15 minute wait in line. We also had to walk further for security screening to find a place where the TSA pre-check line was functioning. Luckily, the gate for our connecting flight to New York City was close, and the flight was late, so we didn’t miss our connection. Otherwise, I would say the risks may be too great for making quick connections in Miami on American Airlines.