Before we knew it, it was time for us to return home – vacations are never long enough! We had arranged for round-trip shuttle service between the airport and our hotel, so we were promptly picked up and deposited at the airport. Though our driver insisted that we needed to leave the hotel by 4:30 AM, we found that the airport counters and security are not open until 5:00 AM. Adding to the fun: most stores and restaurants are closed until 6 or later, depending on the store.
Our initial flight from SJD to MEX was fairly uneventful. We were once again on a regional jet operated by Aeromexico Connect, and we were asked to not use headphones until we reached 10,000 feet. Another interesting quirk: Aeromexico doesn’t serve alcohol before 11:00 AM local time, but all alcohol is complimentary after 11:00 AM.
While taxiing, my girlfriend was able to snap a few gorgeous shots of planes, including a Boeing 727 used by the Polícia Federal! We quite a few Dreamliners, as well as a plane with livery I couldn’t recognize in the least… it almost looks like a funky Alitalia color scheme. If you can figure out who’s flying this plane, let me know!
Aeromexico Salon Premier
Instead of the Heineken sponsored lounge that we visited during our first time through MEX, we opted to grab some caffeine and libations at one of the larger Salon Premier lounges.
This lounge is one of three that are located in the mezzanine – to reach it you have to either take the elevator or climb the stairs near security. The lounge itself was quite spacious with two circular bars that served alcohol as well as coffee and tea. There was plenty of seating available with easy access to power outlets. Tucked away in the furthest corner were coolers for self-serve beer, water, and juice as well as a few snacks.
Probably the most frustrating part of the return was the experience while waiting to board the flight from Mexico City to Atlanta. A Delta representative let us know that we would need to get freshly printed boarding passes from Delta (our Aeromexico boarding passes would not allow us to board). Getting new boarding passes took nearly 15 minutes even though there was nobody in line before me, simply because the gate agents were talking to each other instead of paying attention to passengers – thoroughly disappointing.
Once we had received our new boarding passes, we got to experience the new TSA security measures for US-bound flights. While I understand the premise of asking the same question multiple times to ensure that you get the same answer, I tend to find this works best when the question isn’t immediately repeated. For example, I was asked how long I had stayed in Mexico three times… one right after another.
The remaining of the boarding process was fairly uneventful, but shortly after approaching the runway, we were turning back to the gate. There it was: the dreaded maintenance delay. Thankfully, we had planned for a 3 hour layover in Atlanta, so we made it to our connection with 10 minutes to spare (sans dinner).
Finally on our way, we were given physical menus to select our lunches from. I opted for the arroz con pollo while my girlfriend opted for the pasta. The chicken was slightly drier than the flight to Mexico, but the rice (really a pearl couscous) was quite good. The charcuterie plate was probably my favorite part of the meal, though.
A few months ago, I received an invitation to visit Westin’s newly renovated resort property in Los Cabos. Given the price of the stay, I had a hard time saying no! I knew that this was going to be a timeshare pitch, given my experience at the Westin Lagunamar, so I had mentally prepared myself for the whole spiel prior to arrival.
The routing was a little wonky since the direct flight from Atlanta was not available on the days I was considering, so we had a second layover in Mexico City. Though I wasn’t able to fly on a Dreamliner as I had hoped, I was still able to give Aeromexico a shot.
The Club at ATL
With some time to kill upon arrival at Atlanta, we headed to Concourse F for our flight to Mexico City. Though there is a SkyClub, I opted instead to visit The Club (a member of PriorityPass). Unfortunately, since we were flying on a Sunday and it was before 12:30 PM we were not served any alcohol due to Georgia state law.
There were various cookies, chips, and breakfast items when I initially arrived, but they were in the process of setting out the lunch items.
Since the flight from Atlanta to Mexico City is a short three and a half hours, Delta opted for a 737. Unfortunately since it was using ground-based WiFi, it was only available while we were flying over the US.
Upon boarding, we were offered orange juice, champagne, or mimosas as our pre-departure beverages. Since we were heading out on vacation, our choice was clear. 😉
Shortly after reaching cruising altitude, we were given our option for meals – chicken or vegetable lasagna. I wasn’t really feeling pasta, so I opted for the chicken. Expecting a single tray of food, I was quite surprised when we were given a multi-course meal instead!
Our lunch started with olive-oil crostini with what I think was cheese and candied sweet potato. Also present was a Caesar salad and Tiramisu.
Once our appetizers were done, the small plates were cleared and replaced with our entree. The sweet potatoes with our entree weren’t nearly as sweet as those with our appetizer (thankfully!), and the chicken wasn’t as dry as most airline meals.
Since this was my first time visiting the Mexico City airport I planned for a longer layover than normal – just over five hours. While it might have been a little unnecessary, I prefer to err on the side of caution for international connections when Customs are involved. Thankfully, it went fairly smoothly and we had some time to explore.
Our last flight of the day was on an Embraer ERJ-190 operated by Aeromexico Connect. Though the first row had substantial legroom, which we were quite grateful for, the presence of oxygen tanks in the overhead bins meant that we had to stow our bags a few rows back. Something to keep in mind!
The only snack available for this short flight was a nut medley (cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds and so on).
Overall, the flight was a smooth one. I was very surprised that we were asked to not have headphones on or use electronic equipment below 10,000 feet. I’m not sure if that is something that is unique to Aeromexico or Aeromexico Connect, but I can’t remember the last time I was asked to remove my headphones on a plane.
Just recently, a good friend of mine in San Diego returned from a vacation in Italy and had a very interesting picture to share with me. While at the Bologna airport, he noticed planes being led by a Lamborghini on the tarmac.
Apparently this is a common occurrence because of Lamborghini’s relationship with the region and the city of Bologna in particular. I think I’m going to have to move Italy a little higher on my bucket list, now!
Schedule changes are really no surprise in the travel game, but they are decidedly not fun. A few days ago I received an automated call from Delta to let me know that there was a schedule change that would make one of my connections in an upcoming trip illegal. Taking a deep breath, I logged in and started poking around to see what had happened.
Alas, it was what I had feared – the flight from JFK to Mexico City had been shifted. While it involved a huge upgrade on the equipment involved (a 787-800 with 2x2x2 seating to a 787-900 with 1x2x1 seating), it led to only an hour and a half to make my way through Immigration and Customs, and then manage to board my next flight. With the flight having a history of 30+ minute delays, this was clearly not going to work.
Thankfully, a Delta agent was happy to get things sorted out and rebook me with legal connections. Unfortunately, I won’t be flying on a Dreamliner this year after all. 🙁
I’m really looking forward to being able to take a ride on Aeromexico’s 787 service from New York-JFK to Mexico City, on my way to Cabo San Lucas. Thanks to stockpiled Citi ThankYou and Chase Ultimate Rewards points, I was able to book two business class tickets for half the price I would spend, otherwise.
The -800 variant is arranged in a 2x2x2 configuration in business class, which means there’s limited aisle access, so getting in and out might get a little tricky. Shouldn’t be any more awkward than the Club World seating on British Airways 777s! 😉 Note that the -900 variant, also flown by Aeromexico, has a 1x2x1 configuration with aisle access for all! Aeromexico is also known for having an excellent in-flight experience, so I’m quite looking forward to seeing just how it stacks up, in person!
For those not aware, the 787’s cabin is pressurized to 6,000 feet as opposed to the standard 8,000 feet on most aircraft. This means the body is able to absorb oxygen more easily. What’s not to love about that? The Dreamliner also has an advanced air filtration system that also increases cabin humidity – moist tissues are happy tissues! As someone who spends (what some might consider) an obscene amount of time in the air, I am really looking forward to this experience. Check out all the tech that goes into this amazing plane!
For those that follow me, you know that Delta has surprised me in the past with Porsche rides. Between the operational record, excellent customer service, and surprises like this, it should come as no surprise why I pick Delta consistently!
This weekend I had flown to Cedar Rapids, IA to attend a memorial service for a good friend and coworker of mine (James West). After two days of waking up at 4 AM for flights, I was running on fumes when I landed in Atlanta on my way to Raleigh (especially after arriving at the gate just in time to board the flight to Atlanta). My girlfriend and I were very pleasantly surprised to see Kevin of Delta Elite Services waiting for me at the door. He was an incredibly engaging and kept everyone in the car laughing for our drive… no small task given we had all been awake from far too early!
He walked us to the SkyClub in our next concourse and provided us with these brochures as well as his business card (not pictured for privacy reasons). I’ve actually never seen these brochures before, so it was twice as cool for me in that regard. Though the reason for the trip was somber, this was definitely a very welcome surprise. Thanks, Kevin!