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Tijuana may be best known for its “anything goes” mentality and cheap prescription drugs (that don’t require a prescription), but to many San Diegans, a trip south of the border also means cheaper flights, and many more nonstop destinations. Locals crossing the border for a visit to Tijuana International Airport (TIJ) are now in for a much more pleasant experience.

San Diegans have long taken advantage of TIJ’s close proximity for travel to other destinations in Mexico, as it offers flights to more Mexican cities than any airport in Southern California (Aeroméxico also has flights to Shanghai-PVG out of TIJ). But with more than 2 million passengers a year crossing via Tijuana specifically to use the airport, there are unpredictable border wait times and often lengthy delays.

That’s because since August of 2015, Mexicans going into Tijuana have been waved through, while everyone else has to show a passport, fill out paperwork and pay a 330-peso ($20) fee if they intend to stay in Mexico for more than a week.

Cross Border Xpress
TIJ’s new Cross Border Xpress facility.

If you’re traveling into Mexico by car, this will still be the case. But if you’re going into Mexico just to use the airport, the Cross Border Xpress, scheduled to open December 9, will streamline the border crossing process for ticketed airline passengers. The facility includes a 390-foot enclosed pedestrian skybridge that spans the US/Mexico border between TIJ and a new structure on the US side. From there, passengers can use the new short- and long-term parking facility, hop on a shuttle bus to SAN, or take a taxi or Uber to their final destination in the US.

There will still be a fee to pay, by way of a toll; if you buy the ticket online via the Cross Border Xpress site (available starting December 1; the site is still under construction), it’s $15. At the border it’s $18. For passengers ages 2-12 and 65+ there is a 20 percent discount, and there is no charge for kids under the age of two.

As for convenience, there are plenty of reasons to head south of the border before traveling farther into Mexico. Let’s take a look at Aeroméxico fares for one-way travel from SAN and TIJ to Mexico City (MEX):

SAN-MEX Aeroméxico

And here is a similar flight from Tijuana:

TIJ-MEX Aeroméxico

Not only is flying out of TIJ cheaper, but it’s a nonstop flight – much better than the layover at LAX when flying out of San Diego.

We know there are plenty of San Diegans out there, so let us know in the comments – will you be taking advantage of the new border crossing?

H/T: TPG Reader David H.

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