Cross Border Xpress makes flying from Tijuana Airport easy

Nov 16, 2019

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Four years ago, some enterprising business people negotiated a deal to build a 390-foot transborder skybridge between the U.S. and Mexico 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 impressive. (Photo by Harrison Photographic.)

One of the main benefits 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 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 offers a bridge to the Tijuana, Mexico airport. (Photo courtesy of CBX.)

The CBX facility is 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.

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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, however, we used CBX to get to the Tijuana Airport and actually allotted more time than we needed. It took exactly 22 minutes from when we entered the CBX terminal in San Diego to the time we reached our gate in TIJ to board our flight, which is outstanding.

Scanning our tickets at the CBX E-gate makes entry even easier. (Photo courtesy of CBX)
Scanning our tickets at the CBX E-gate makes entry even easier. (Photo courtesy of CBX.)

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. Here we scanned our CBX tickets, boarding passes and passports at the automated e-gates. From there, we walked across the bridge in about three minutes and went through a quick passport check on the Mexico side of the facility.

Walking across the CBX Bridge, travelers can visibly see when the border is crossed into Mexico. (Photography by Harrison Photographic)
Walking across the CBX Bridge, travelers can literally see the Mexican border. (Photography by Harrison Photographic.)

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. It was easy and efficient.

Exiting the CBX area into the Tijuana Airport, travelers walk directly into the boarding gates area. (Photo courtesy of CBX).
Exiting the CBX area into the Tijuana Airport, travelers walk directly into the boarding-gate area. (Photo courtesy of CBX.)

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 USD per person round-trip or $16 USD each way. There are also ticket packages online for familys of four, five or six people and for larger groups of 15 or more.

When we were ready for our trip, I printed the CBX tickets with QR codes to scan at the entrance. There are also kiosks on-site where travelers can purchase and print their tickets at CBX on their day of travel.

Children under 2 years old do not need a ticket.

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

VIP option

CBX recently launched a new Assisted Pass, its VIP offering. We haven’t tried this yet, but it does seem to make the process even more streamlined and worry-free. The pass includes:

  • Single or round-trip CBX tickets at $60 USD for round-trip, $40 USD for one-way
  • Preferred front-of-line access at CBX entry gates
  • VIP check-in counter
  • Concierge services
  • Porter assistance for luggage handling
  • Amenities bag for each passenger containing bottled water, breath mints and hand sanitizer.
  • 25% off at Starbucks located within CBX
  • Reserved parking (valid in San Diego lot only)
  • Bilingual assistance to help with forms
Tijuana International Airport has gone through some extensive renovations to upgrade the travel experience inside and out. (photo courtesy of CBX)
Tijuana International Airport has gone through some extensive renovations inside and out. (Photo courtesy of CBX.)

CBX is a better alternative

Before CBX was built, cheaper flights were still a lure for Southern Californians 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, with our family of four squished into a bumpy cab with the windows rolled down and no air-conditioning. On the plus side, it was cheap, around $3 USD for the ride.

CBX boarder crossing from Tijuana Airport to US
When returning to the U.S. 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 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.

Cross Border Xpress buildings are architecturally impressive. (Photography by Harrison Photographic)
Cross Border Xpress buildings are architecturally impressive. (Photography by Harrison Photographic)
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