Published on November 18th, 2013 | by Mark Chesnut
AIRLINE REVIEW: American Airlines MD-80, Puerto Vallarta to DFW
A lot of different airlines fly between the United States and Mexico, so it’s a good idea to shop around — not just for price, but also for inflight service and overall experience. At the end of my recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, I flew American Airlines from Puerto Vallarta International Airport to Dallas/Fort Worth on American Airlines. Here’s a review of my experience.
THE ROUTE: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (PVR) to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas (DFW); economy class (2 hours, 21 minutes, 2,900 feet, McDonnell Douglas/Boeing MD-80; American Airlines calls it the S80).
THE AIRPORT: Puerto Vallarta International Airport is a relatively modern, pleasant facility, and I was pleased to find no lines when I arrived (although the nearby check-in counter for a flight to Canada was super crowded). Before approaching the ticket counter, an airline employee instructed me to first obtain my boarding pass from one of the nearby automated machines. When the machine proved incapable of reading my passport and my credit card, I was then allowed to proceed to the counter to check in and drop off my bag.
I would recommend that travelers flying from Mexico on American print their boarding passes before leaving the hotel — I hadn’t printed my boarding pass ahead of time because I needed to speak with a ticket agent, since the American Airlines Website would not allow me to choose a seat on my connecting flight (I’d already paid extra for an aisle seat on the PVR-DFW segment). I requested an aisle seat on the connecting flight and the very friendly ticket agent said that she’d give me one — although upon boarding in Dallas/Fort Worth, I found out that, unfortunately, she’d actually given me a middle seat.
After checking in at the Puerto Vallarta airport, I had a Carl’s Jr. hamburger (don’t judge me) before heading through security, which had a gloriously short line. There are lots of retail shopping opportunities, as well as a small food court, in Puerto Vallarta’s international departures area (but if you’re hankering for Carl’s Jr., you’ve got to eat before going through security).
THE AIRCRAFT: Rather than calling the aircraft an McDonnell Douglas MD80, American Airlines uses the term S80, but the plane itself is interchangeable, with three seats on one side of the aisle and two on the other. The economy-class seats have wings, which I love.
THE SERVICE: One round of free beverages was served during the flight, and snack food and alcoholic beverages were available for purchase. The MD80 has no inflight entertainment system, so bring your own stuff to do if you’re flying on one of these planes.
THE ARRIVAL: We arrived on schedule at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, where I passed through customs and immigration. This was the first time I’d ever experienced an automated kiosk for immigration. These new machines are available for citizens of the United States and Canada, and were also recently introduced at Miami International Airport. Using the kiosk, I had to scan my passport and pose for a photo; the machine then spit out a piece of paper that told where I’d just arrived from and where I was headed next. I like the concept, and the line did seem to move faster — but the self-service kiosk actually meant that I had to wait in a second line, for a U.S. Customs and Border Protection offer to review the form that the kiosk gave me.
MORE MEXICO TRAVEL TIPS:
• “My Puerto Vallarta” — Travel Tips from Don Pickens, Casa Cupula
• VIDEO: Mexican Music & Art on the New Malecon in Puerto Vallarta
• HOTEL VIDEO REVIEW: Sheraton Buganvilias Resort, Puerto Vallarta
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