I recently took my 6th trip to Cabo San Lucas and thought it would be a good idea to make a comprehensive guide. This guide will feature several parts and will start with different ways of getting to Cabo San Lucas.
As one of the safest cities in Mexico, Cabo San Lucas has seen an increase in tourism and is a hotspot for young people during spring break. The area is developing well and many resorts and golf courses are springing up! With low airfares and amazing beaches, Cabo San Lucas is becoming a vacation destination for many.
What Airlines Fly to Cabo?
Cabo San Lucas has one major airport where all planes fly in and out of. SJD Airport sees planes flying in from all over the United States but mostly from the West Coast. Here is a list of airlines that fly into SJD.
From the list, the most major US Airlines are United, American/US Airways, Alaska, AirTran, Delta, Spirit, Frontier and Virgin America. Southwest Airlines will be starting services from Orange County (SNA) and Denver later this summer.
If you live in smaller cities, you’ll most likely have to connect somewhere on the West Coast before heading over to Cabo San Lucas. The departure times can be a bit detrimental as most flights leave hub cities like Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco in the morning.
Should I Use Points or Pay Cash?
Airfare to Cabo San Lucas is usually $400 R/T from the East Coast and less than $200 from the West. Often times, you can get airfare for as low as $70 each way with Spirit Airlines. It doesn’t often make sense to use points because of the regular prices but if the trip is being planned last minute, certain points can come in handy. In addition, if you are planning a trip with a lot of people, points can greatly offset the costs of airfare
Being part of Oneworld, British Airways now partners with three airlines (US Airways, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines) in the US that fly to Cabo San Lucas. Their distance based award chart also helps people get to Cabo on the cheap! Note that you can search for all the space on AA.com but you will need to call British Airways to book Alaska Airlines space. The call center fee will not be waived.
Fly out of these cities for 7,500 Avios one way:
Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and Dallas
For 10,000 Avios one way, fly out of:
San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Charlotte and Chicago (Seasonal)
United Airlines/American Airlines
At 17,500 miles one way or 35,000 miles Roundtrip, the ticket price has to be really high for this redemption to make sense. Unlike British Airways where 15,000 Avios can buy you a roundtrip, using 35,000 AA miles means that your ticket would have to cost more than $546 (1.56 CPM Valuation) to be worthwhile. On United, the price would have to be above $483. (1.38 CPM Valuation) The only time the prices would ever get that high is either from the East Coast during peak season or last minute. If booking last minute, remember that without status, $75+ will be tacked on as a late booking fee with United or American per person.
The problem with Delta is that you never really know how much an award will cost with them. The lowest I was able to find for the month of May was 65,000 miles roundtrip. I cannot imagine a time that you would use that many miles to get to Cabo San Lucas from anywhere in the US. The cost of a ticket would have to be above $838.50 (1.29 CPM Valuation) for the miles cost to be worth it.
At 17,500 miles each way, Alaska Airlines is the same cost as United/American but they do not charge a late booking fee. However, a ticket would have to cost over $546 (1.56 CPM Valuation) to make sense of using miles. Alaska generally has very competitive rates on their routes. For example, last minute upgradeable seats usually average around $200 one way from Los Angeles. Regular seats range from $91 – $150 each way.
Frontier offers flights from Denver at a cost of 15,000 miles one way or 30,000 roundtrip. I have never redeemed with Frontier Airlines but they are transfer partners with American Express and also have their own credit card.
Theoretically, ANA can be a great use of miles if you can find space on their partners. They have a distance based award chart and the cost is calculated on the entire amount of miles flown. For people in Houston or any other United hub city, ANA can be a better use of miles than United. You can transfer miles in ANA from American Express and SPG.
The Best Use of Miles to Cabo
The absolute best use of miles that I have found to Cabo San Lucas is with British Airways cash + points. From Los Angeles or any of the other 7,500 range destinations, you can pay as little as 2,500 Avios and $90 one way. This worked out great for me as I needed a one way ticket to Cabo a few days ago. Prices were ranging right around $200 for the flight and using Avios saved me a ton of money. Even if you value Avios at 2 cents per mile, you still come out ahead!
When it comes to booking with points outright, British Airways is still the best because of it’s distance based chart. Taxes are somewhat high on this route but there is nothing that can be done about that. An average award booking costs around $100 in taxes plus points with British Airways.
Make sure to be on the lookout for more parts of this guide!
Part 2: Rental Cars & Transportation
Part 3: Hotels, Resorts and Timeshares
Part 4: Activities and Places to Eat