Tired of Driving to the border? Fly to Vegas!

 I usually travel in and out of Mexico a few times a year for work or family visits back in the states. But recently, I found myself up against the six month limit on my Mexican tourist FMM. As gracious as Mexico is with the 180-day FMM tourist stay,  it does expire and it’s required that you leave the country. This doesn’t apply if you have temporary or permanent residency. (Something that I am working on getting in the future.)

In order to stay in good standing with immigration, I had to decide how I was going to leave and I had a few options. A friend was driving to Laredo, Texas from San Miguel and I could catch a ride to cross the border then return by bus. I know many people here in SMA do that but I really wasn’t up for the long 10-12 hour ride each way.

My next option was to fly somewhere, but I really hadn’t made any plans to travel anywhere and I wasn’t looking to spend a fortune on airfare when all I really wanted to do was stay in Mexico.

I looked at flying to several cities in the USA but they all came with either annoying connections or high airfares.

What about Las Vegas?

Welcome to Las Vegas!

After doing a thorough search of flights departing from Querétaro and Mexico City, I came to discover that a relatively new route from Mexico City to Las Vegas was available. The flight was on VivaAerobus, one of Mexico’s budget airlines. This route that started in December 2017,  was VivaAerobus’ first international route from Mexico City. (New York is also now available non-stop from Mexico City.)

VivaAerobus celebrates new route Mexico City to Las Vegas

There currently is one flight daily and it departs Mexico City at 10:15 AM. If you are traveling from San Miguel, I would recommend staying the night before in Mexico City as this would be less stressful but you could also arrange an early morning shuttle to the airport.

The non-stop flight is about 4 hours long and Las Vegas follows PDT so you will gain 2 hours upon arrival.

Flying Mexico’s Budget Airlines

New low-cost airlines have been emerging in Mexico in the last few years and offer highly competitive airfares as compared to Mexico’s largest airline Aeromexico and the US-based airlines.

If you are familiar with other no-frills airlines such as Ryanair, Spirit, and Frontier, you’ll immediately recognize the pricing structure. You pay for the seat and things like seat selection, baggage allowance, and priority seating are available for an additional fee.

VivaAerobus allows you to choose between three tiers of service: VivaLight, VivaBasic, and VivaSmart. To get the lowest fare you’ll want to travel light and let the airline choose your seat. 

VivaAerobus Seating

 

Since I was looking for the lowest fare and I was only traveling for a few days, I chose the VivaLight fare. My roundtrip airfare came out to about $240 for my selected dates. I traveled with only a carry-on so there were no additional fees for luggage. The VivaLight fare allows 10 kg (22 lbs) for carry-on items.

Check-in at Mexico City airport was relatively hassle-free. But as is common at this airport, the line went somewhat slow so I highly recommend getting to the airport with no less than 2 hours before departure.

 

I had previously read some blogs about delay issues with VivaAerobus but my flight departed and arrived on time.

VivaAerobus operates a fleet of new Aerobus 320A’s and the aircraft for my flights were very clean. The seats are very basic with minimal legroom in the standard seating area. They don’t recline so they are just comfortable enough for the duration of this flight. 

Service was great in my opinion. The flight attendants spoke English and there were snacks and drinks offered for a fee. This airline operates on a credit or debit card basis only.

Las Vegas airport-quick and simple

The beauty of flying into McCarran International (LAS) is that its a small airport. Going through US immigration and customs was relatively fast. I waited about 25 minutes to get through which is a breeze as compared to other US ports such as Houston or Dallas.

If you are staying in a hotel on the Strip or downtown Las Vegas, taxis, Uber, and shuttles will get you there in less than 30 minutes.

Quick Fact: Las Vegas hotels can be expensive. Look to package your flight with a hotel for the best price on a room. Be aware that most hotels in Las Vegas charge a resort fee that is not included in the room rate. The resort fee can range anywhere from $20-50 depending on the hotel.

 

When returning to the airport for my return flight to Mexico, the check-in was quick and easy. I arrived about two hours before my flight.

Check-In Las Vegas Airport

 

Unfortunately, There was a quite a backup at the security line when I arrived and it took about 30 minutes to pass.  It seems that many flights here are scheduled around the same time and security can get backed up quite quickly.  I recommend allowing enough time to get through any possible long security lines.

Quick Fact:

If you opt to take the bus back from Mexico City to San Miguel, VivaAerobus currently has a promotion with ETN, Primera Plus, and other bus lines. If you present a copy of your flight reservation and of your ID when purchasing your bus ticket, you can receive 50% off your bus fare.  I used this promotion and saved $15 off the normal price. If you are unfamiliar with taking the bus from Mexico city, be sure to see my blog on VisitSanMiguel.com

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for a flight back to the states to update your visa requirement or just looking for a quick getaway,  you may want to consider a flight on one of Mexico’s budget airlines. Besides VivaAerobus, you might also compare prices on Volaris. Their flight schedules are similar and prices can be comparable.  

Gate at airport

 

 Resources:

  vivaaerobus.com/en

  volaris.com

 etn.com.mx/english/

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I do not represent VivaAerobus or receive a commission from them. I share my travel experiences to help others living and traveling in Mexico.

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of David Valle