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A couple of years ago, some enterprising business people negotiated a deal to build a 390-foot trans-border skybridge across the US/Mexico border that deposits travelers directly into Tijuana International Airport from San Diego. Our family of four has used the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) bridge and terminal several times now, and it makes traveling into Mexico a breeze.

CBX Cross Border Xpress to TIJ
The passenger drop-off entrance at the Cross Border Xpress is visually impressive. (Photo by Harrison Photographic)

One of the main conveniences of flying out of Tijuana Airport (TIJ) is that flights tend to be less expensive, particularly for families traveling to destinations throughout Mexico and Central or South America. Mexican carriers Aeroméxico, Interjet and Volaris, as well as several smaller airlines, all have flights from TIJ. Both the CBX and the newly remodeled Tijuana International Airport are clean and modern, with all the necessary comforts and amenities. However, with potentially a couple of million passengers per year crossing into Tijuana specifically to use the airport, there can be unpredictable border wait times and delays.

Cross Border Xpress, San Diego from Otay Mesa, USA to Tijuana, Mexico airport
The Cross Border Xpress building in Otay Mesa, USA bridges to the Tijuana, Mexico airport. (Photo courtesy of CBX)

The CBX facility is located about 20 minutes from Downtown San Diego. CBX even offers valet and secure parking options for as low as $15 USD per day. Since we live in San Diego, we opt for a car service to the Cross Border Xpress. You can also take an Uber from Southern California to Mexico.

CBX: Quick and Easy to Use

We’re usually that family you see in the airport, rushing for the gate because we cut our timing too close. On a recent trip to the Mexican Caribbean, we used CBX to access the Tijuana Airport and found we had actually allotted more time than we needed. It took exactly 22 minutes from the time we entered the CBX terminal in San Diego, to the time we reached our gate in TIJ to board our flight, which is pretty outstanding.

CBX ticket entrance on US side
It was easy for us to walk right up, present our tickets and cross over the Mexico border into the Tijuana Airport.

When we arrived, we checked in for our Aeroméxico flight on the United States side of the CBX facility. Everyone we encountered spoke English, and the attendants were efficient and friendly. Once checked in, we proceeded with our bags to the checkpoint at the entrance to the bridge and showed our CBX tickets, boarding passes and passports. There were three people in line ahead of us, and we made quick progress. From there, we walked across the bridge in about 3 minutes and went through a quick passport check on the Mexico side of the facility.

Boundary of the USA at CBX
It’s fun to walk across the CBX bridge and see the point you actually cross the border into Mexico.

After dropping off our luggage to be checked, we walked out of the CBX facility and into the Tijuana Airport. Our gate was just a few steps away, and we actually had extra time to burn, which is unusual for us. It was all very easy and efficient.

Purchase CBX Tickets In Advance

I recommend purchasing CBX tickets in advance, only because it saves a step at arrival. The airline made it easy for us, offering the CBX tickets as an add-on when I made the flight reservations. CBX tickets can also be purchased directly from the CBX website at a rate of $30 per person round trip or $16 each way. When we were ready for our trip, I printed the CBX tickets with QR codes to scan at the entrance.

Families with young kids will appreciate that children under 2 years old do not require a ticket.

CBX interior on US side
The CBX interior is clean, bright and modern. (Photo courtesy of CBX)

CBX Is A Better Alternative

Before CBX was built, cheaper flights were still a lure for Southern Californians willing to fly from Tijuana, but getting to the Tijuana Airport was more of a challenge. When we did this — just once — we had to park our car at the border and walk across with our luggage. Then we hailed a cab, which drove us from the border crossing to the airport. This was about a 15-minute ride, consisting of a family of four squished in a bumpy cab with the windows rolled down and no air conditioning. On the plus side, it was very inexpensive, at around $3 USD for the ride.

CBX boarder crossing from Tijuana Airport to US
When returning to the US from the Tijuana Airport, the CBX entrance is easy to navigate. (Photo courtesy of CBX)

Bottom Line

For our family, it’s a no-brainer to use the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) bridge when fares or schedules tip the scales to flying out of Tijuana instead of San Diego. The CBX terminal provides easy access to flights throughout Mexico that are often less expensive and available with minimal extra time or hassle.

Have you heard of any other airport in the world that has a bridge from one country to another, directly into the airport gate area? Me neither.

Jon Bailey covers LGBT family travel for TPG and blogs at 2DadsWithBaggage.com. Follow Jon and his family’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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