Playa Balandra (Balandra Beach), Baja California Sur, MexicoAfter a few days of vacation during which I had been eating like a whale, and becoming a human chicharrón under the La Paz sun, I had to return to the US. This time, I opted for Baja’s regional carrier Calafia Airlines, since they had a convenient flight into Tijuana (airport code TIJ), allowing easy access to San Diego, California via the CBX (Cross-Border Express) footbridge. CBX comes with a price, but if you’ve ever waited at the San Ysidro or Otay Mesa borders during the day, you will be glad to pay for the much faster access.
Following a 25-minute Uber ride from downtown La Paz, I made it to the airport (LAP). It’s a small terminal without jet bridges, but it can be nice to be able to make it in a few mere minutes from the curb to the gate, assuming check-in and security work in your favor.
Normally, I’d check-in online, but seeing as I had to check a bag (given the small aircraft plying the route), I made it so at the airport. Quite seamless…though the Volaris flight next to us, yeesh. That line went out the door. Check-in on line when you can, folks!
One pro I’d have to say about Mexican airports is that security is usually stress-free…no pack wolves yelling at you like in the US or Europe. La Paz was eeaa-sssyyy.
It’s not a particularly busy airport with regards to the number of flights; that said, because it’s a small terminal, you may be out of luck for a seat (some seats can’t be occupied due to COVID-19). I was able to go into the “VIP Lounge,” but that was really to take advantage of wi-fi that didn’t expire after 30 minutes. Due to COVID-19, the buffet part was shut, but snacks and drinks were available. For those who don’t have lounge access/don’t care, after security (airside) there are a couple of stores, and a café.
Boarding was nearly on-time, and rather orderly. As it was a short-hop, and the route was a new one for me, at check-in I had elected for a window seat.
As you might notice from the following photos, the rugged and austere gulches, plateaus, and crags were quite the spectacle:
Following the short 1 hour, 55 minute flight to Tijuana, I followed signs for CBX/baggage claim.
Note: Buy your CBX ticket online to save a few bucks (TIJ offers 30 minutes of free wi-fi), but make sure you choose the right direction (either Tijuana to San Diego, or San Diego to Tijuana).
Note.2: apparently, you are only able to use CBX within two hours of your flight landing in Tijuana.
Note.3: Mexico does not have formal outbound immigration checks, similar to the US.
Once at baggage claim, you will be lining up with other passengers for CBX, which is tucked away in a corner:
Much of the scrum is for people who haven’t yet bought CBX tickets, as it’s only at the last-minute when employees distinguish between passengers who already have the tickets, and those who don’t. Nevertheless, I scanned my QR code, and walked up, down, and around to get to the line for US immigration.
Once you make it through the asinine questioning and baggage scan, you can buy a ticket for a shuttle for downtown San Diego/SAN (airport), or opt for a ride-share.
All in all, a rather carefree trip with the customary anticlimactic immigration experience back to the United States. I can’t say the city of La Paz is particularly comely, but Balandra beach, the food, and the weather are worthy of a return.
Have you ever been to La Paz, and/or used CBX?