1. Benito Juarez International Airport. All of it. The whole dang thing. It wasn't so bad on the way to Cancun, the only real hiccup was that our flight had not been assigned a gate until about 5 minutes before we were meant to board. A lovely German tourist traveling on our flight was not impressed with the airport or the airline service, either. The whole time we were waiting in line to board, the man kept insisting, "I am going to board dis plane!" over and over again. Yeah, dude. We're all going to board the plane eventually. Apparently there was an issue with his ticket, though, because when it was his turn to board, the airline employees asked him to step aside. He refused and leaned over to scan his own ticket on the little airline ticket scanner! Big no-no. The attendants asked him to step aside "for just two minutes" which made him then demand "$4,000 in recompense!" (whatever that means). He then tried to push his way past the attendants and proceed to the plane anyway until they informed him that the police were on their way. At least this guy had a modicum of sense because as soon as he heard Los Federales were coming for him, he shut up and sat down immediately. Even angry German tourists know not to mess with Mexican police.
2. The return trip home? That's a whole 'nother story, my friend. We had a 6-hour layover, over night, on the way home so we got a hotel room in the airport so we could get some sleep. We landed at 3am and groggily wander around the massive airport trying to find our way to the hotel. After asking about 6 different people - none of whom were even aware there was a hotel in the airport - we finally found airport security and asked them. Of course, they knew where the hotel was! They just had to check with the police to make sure it was okay for us to leave the terminal. Um ... what? We need police permission to leave the terminal? Okay ... After about 10 minutes of us waiting around (and The Husband falling asleep on the ground with his hoodie pulled up over his head ...) they finally let us leave and gave us directions to the hotel. It was just one floor down! We walked up to the check-in counter, bleary-eyed, yawning, and barely able to stand, but there was no reservation for us. Just our luck. Turns out, there's actually quite a few hotels in Benito Juarez airport and we were at the wrong one. We needed to take a 10-minute shuttle ride to an entirely different terminal then make our way to the correct hotel. By the time we finally got there, checked in, and got to our room, we had about an hour and a half to sleep before we had to be back at the gate for our connecting flight.
3. Ah, the connecting flight. Here's where things get interesting. And where I vowed never again to fly through Benito Juarez airport unless it was absolutely unavoidable. We stumbled out of bed after about an hour of sleep, made our way back to the shuttle and over to the correct terminal, checked in, and proceeded to check the departure screens to see what gate our flight was leaving from. There was no gate assigned to our flight. "That's okay," I thought. We still had two hours until departure so maybe they'd assign a gate at the last minute, like they did on the way out. We went to get some coffee and food in our bellies then checked back again about an hour later. Still nothing. But it said our flight was "On Time" so there had to be a gate assignment coming soon, right? We were a half hour from our boarding time ... it has to be posted soon, right? Right!?!??! Nope. We checked with AeroMexico's customer services (along with pretty much everyone else on our flight - the line was crazy long!) but they had no clue what gate our flight would be departing from or when said gate would be assigned. It was now 9am. Our flight was scheduled to DEPART at 9:10am. The departure board, and the woman working at customer services, assured us our flight was still on time ... even though that would mean it was leaving in 10 minutes and no one knew where the heck it was boarding.
At 9:30am, the board still said our flight was "On Time" even though that meant it would've left 20 minutes before, and there was no gate info anywhere to be found. Then our flight disappeared from the board. The masses flocked to the customer service counter, no one knew what the hell was going on, and the woman kept insisting there was no gate info yet. Frustrated and way too tired to be dealing with this, I left the terminal and went to the main area outside security to check those boards for info. Lo and behold, there was our gate info. Our flight (still listed as "On Time," by the way) was departing from Gate 58 and the flashing message beside that info said, "Now Boarding! Please Proceed to Gate." I proceeded to the gate, grabbing The Husband along the way, but no one was boarding. In fact, there wasn't even a plane there yet.
Finally, FINALLY! they announced the flight had been rescheduled for 10am and was now boarding. (It was 9:50am at this point, by the way. There was no way we'd actually be out of there at 10am.) Everyone finally boarded, the plane pulled back from the gate, and just as we were poised for take-off, the plane stopped. We just stopped. We sat there on the tarmac for nearly an hour and a half with no explanation or apology for the delay. Eventually, around 11:30am, our flight finally took off, over two hours later than it was supposed to. And the whole dang time, that stupid departure board insisted our flight was "On Time."
1. While we were waiting in line to finally board, the captain of the plane walked past us with his little wheelie-bag suitcase. Plastered across the front was a bright bumper sticker that said, "1000% Guapo." I could only hope our pilot was as confident in his flying abilities as he was in his handsomeness.
2. Even though it was a work trip and even though the journey there and back was less than smooth, the trip turned out to be one of the most relaxing I've had in a while. Despite the airport craziness, we've always had a positive experience in Mexico (between The Husband and I, we've visited about 8 to 10 times). Everyone in Mexico is always so friendly and helpful, and the couple and their friends and family were more warm and welcoming than I ever expected. It really felt like we were spending the weekend with old familiar friends, not new clients we were meeting for the first time, which made it a lot easier to be away from our own friends and family over Thanksgiving.
3. The icing on the cake, for me, was reuniting with an old friend over the weekend. The bride's sister-in-law was a friend of mine from middle school. We haven't seen each other in nearly 20 years but she was there for the wedding, along with her family, brother, and parents. It was so great to rekindle that friendship and catch up with all of them. The Husband and I can't wait to hang out with them again next time we visit San Antonio!
Have you flown through Mexico City's airport before? Any awkward stories from your experience?