We recently went on a family vacation to Oaxaca, Mexico. I definitely recommend Oaxaca for foodies or people looking to explore a different piece of Mexican culture. Going into the trip, though, the thing I was most excited about was leaving! Not because I had some great award ticket booked. No… quite the opposite. We were flying Volaris, one of Mexico’s discount airlines. However, we were flying from Oaxaca (OAX) to Tijuana (TIJ), using CBX to land in Mexico, but leave the airport in San Diego.
I find the Tijuana airport, which is still under construction, to be an incredibly fascinating project. It was built with a pedestrian bridge that connects Americans directly with the United States. This project was part of a collaboration between San Diego and Tijuana. This pedestrian bridge facility is called CBX. For those of you unfamiliar with San Diego / Tijuana, a national border divides two countries, but the cities pretty much run right into each other, with Tijuana especially butting right up to the border.
The San Diego airport is downtown, and it’s very conveniently located. However, it also has a few constraints that limit its appeal and ability to expand. Geographically, it’s surrounded by a freeway, the ocean, and downtown. There isn’t much room to grow the airport. Additionally, there are many residences nearby, which means the airport has a curfew in place. No flights are allowed to depart between 11:30PM and 6:30AM. Where is there a fair amount of available real estate with more relaxed constraints? Right on the border of the United States and Mexico, in Mexico. I made a video about my experience.
I apologize if I sound overly excited about this, but I think it’s just so cool that one can land in Mexico and exit the airport in San Diego. As you get off the plane, signs for CBX are easy to spot. The entrance to CBX is right near baggage claim so you get your bags, and then they scan your boarding pass to verify you’re eligible. From here, you walk through a pretty long set of corridors, complete with a duty free shop. In the beginning of your walk, you can see Mexican taxis picking up passengers who have just landed in Tijuana.
Then on one long hallway soon after the Duty Free shops, there’s an American border. It’s clearly marked, and you’re encouraged to take a pic there! Once you cross the border, you’re just about 30 seconds away from the US Customs and Border patrol checkpoint. And yes… they do have global entry kiosks here!
After going through the checkpoint, you end up in a little mini arrival terminal of sorts. There are a few rental car kiosks, some vending machines, and a small food truck park outside. We grabbed an Uber from here, and we were on our way!
CBX was great. If you live in San Diego / Orange County and you need to fly to Mexico or some other international destination, it really is worth checking out Tijuana as an option. CBX has USA-side parking available, and they make the experience just as seamless as if you were flying via an American airport.