Mexico is truly one of the most astounding countries on Earth. In our travels to over 50 countries, only a handful can even compare to the striking beauties, vibrant culture, and mouth-watering foods of Mexico. We spent two full years living in and traveling around Mexico, and we have experience with every one of the best airlines in Mexico.
The experiences to be had in Mexico belong on every traveler’s bucket list. Flying to Mexico doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, as I wrote in my post on the best airports to fly into in Mexico. This post will dive into the best airlines to fly to Mexico, as well as the best Mexican airlines for domestic flights within Mexico.
The Best Mexican Airlines
There are three main Mexican Airlines. A fourth airline, Interjet, ceased operations in 2021, and a fifth airline, Aeromar, ceased operations in 2023. Mexico currently has one premier airline, two large low-cost airlines that operate flights throughout the country, and a couple of small regional airlines that are trying to grow in the underserved Mexican market.
We have flown on the three largest Mexican Airlines many times. While we lived in Mexico, all three of them reliably transported us all over the country. We rarely experienced more than minor delays.
Aeromexico is Mexico’s flagship airline, and it is the country’s nicest by far. Aeromexico is a major international airline that operates many domestic and international routes. Aeromexico connects more international destinations to Mexico than any other Mexican airline.
If you’re looking for the Mexican airline with the best service, book with Aeromexico. From online check-in and in-flight entertainment to delicious onboard cuisine, Aeromexico meets all the standards of quality air travel.
As the largest of the domestic airlines in Mexico, Aeromexico connects passengers on direct flights to major cities in Latin America and beyond. Mexico’s largest airline operates daily flights to many cities in the United States and Central America, as well as all of the popular destinations in Mexico like Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Escondido, and Cancun.
To sweeten the pot even further, Aeromexico is part of the SkyTeam Alliance. This means it partners with Delta Air Lines, Air France, KLM, and other different airlines. This partnership means you can usually get to your final destination in Mexico with no more than one layover, regardless of where you fly from.
Mexico has two main low-cost carriers, and they are both very similar. Personally, I have always found Volaris to be the better of the two. Both offer very cheap flights, but Volaris Airlines edges out its rival with better service.
Volaris predominantly serves the Mexican market. We’ve flown with Volaris to seven Mexican cities, and we’ve had a fine experience every time. While budget airlines do cut certain services in order to preserve low cost tickets, we’ve still found Volaris to have pretty good service.
Volaris’ flight prices can be jaw-droppingly low at times. It also offers an all-you-can-fly pass, which applies to all of Mexico’s top destinations where Volaris flies. If you have an extended period to travel around Mexico, this is the best deal out there.
Volaris also sells several international flights! We flew direct from Las Vegas to Mexico City Airport on Volaris once, and the experience was great. Volaris also offers popular non-stop flight routes from many American cities, including Los Angeles, Washington DC, and New York.
3. Viva Aerobus
Viva Aerobus is the other major budget airline in Mexico. While it isn’t one of the best budget airlines in the world, it is still a decent airline. Many travelers claim it is one of the worst airlines they’ve ever flown with, and I just don’t agree.
Viva Aerobus isn’t luxurious, but that should be expected when you see the ticket price. Viva Aerobus offers incredibly low prices, and there are extra fees tacked on for things like baggage and seat selection. If you don’t need a checked bag and are okay with a random seat allocation, Viva Aerobus and Volaris may be the best way to get around Mexico.
Viva Aerobus connects major airports with smaller airports all throughout the country. Places like Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Merida, and Cancun can all be reached via direct flight from Mexico City’s airport, as well as smaller towns like Tuxtla Gutierrez.
The biggest drawback to flying with Viva Aerobus is its check-in process. Many travelers complain about the airline’s check-in fees and the frequent inability to check-in online. Still, we’ve flown on Viva Aerobus over 15 times, including a direct flight from New York City to Mexico City, and we’ve never experienced more than minor delays.
4. Tar Aerolineas
Tar Aerolineas is a smaller airline that uses Queretaro as its main airport. This airline is another budget carrier, and serves a handful of routes to almost 20 cities in Mexico. This is a stricly domestic airline with no international routes.
We have never flown Tar Airlines before, and most travelers never will. It operates a very limited network of routes, and its prices often don’t compete with other Mexican carriers like Volaris and Viva Aerobus. I’ve always had good experiences with the other top airlines in Mexico, so while I wouldn’t avoid Tar, I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly with them, either.
5. Calafia Airlines
Calafia Airlines is a very small carrier that exclusively serves the Pacific Coast of Mexico. It is headquartered in Los Cabos, and its main routes connect cities like Los Cabos, La Paz, Tijuana, and Mazatlan. I’ve never flown with Calafia, but unlike Tar, I would absolutely fly with them if I had the chance.
Calafia Airlines has a sleek website and app, and their flights appear to be very comfortable. Beyond just connecting passengers to beautiful beaches all over Mexico, the airline is also a popular charter option for people looking to head somewhere outside of the airline’s typical route network.
Tips for Flying to Mexico
1. Search for International Flights into a Major Hub
Mexico is one of the largest countries in the world, and it is packed with incredible places to explore. However, for your initial arrival into Mexico, I recommend looking mainly at two airports: Mexico City International Airport (MEX) and Cancun International Airport (CUN).
These two airports are incredibly well-connected to other cities in Mexico. They also operate as major hubs, which means they serve more international airlines than anywhere else in Mexico. Major airlines like Delta, American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Frontier Airlines all offer direct routes into these cities from the United States.
British Airways even offers a direct flight from London to Mexico City, connecting the country all the way to Europe.
From Cancun International Airport or Mexico City Airport, you can connect to other major Mexican destinations with ease. Not to mention, both Mexico City and the area around Cancun are among the best places to visit in Mexico!
2. Use Budget Airlines to Travel Within Mexico
While I recommend starting your trip in one of Mexico’s hubs, I recommend using Viva Aerobus and Volaris to actually get around Mexico once you’ve arrived. These budget carriers are some of the best airlines in Mexico. Their low fares can save you hundreds of dollars, and at very little sacrifice to you – especially on short flights.
Budget airlines are not known for being very comfortable. However, domestic flights within Mexico are all fairly short. Very few flight routes in Mexico are longer than three hours.
For long flights, like Tijuana to Cancun or Monterrery to Oaxaca, you might want to consider Aeromexico. But for shorter trips, like a coastal city to Mexico City, Guadalajara, or Puebla, fly with a budget airline.
3. Open a Delta American Express Card to Earn Perks for Aeromexico Flights
I always advise getting an airline credit card to travel with, and this advice is especially applicable for trips to Mexico. Due to the SkyTeam Alliance, travelers with a Delta Amex card can redeem free luggage and earn miles on flights with Aeromexico. I’m a big fan of the Delta American Express credit cards, and I’ve had one in my wallet for years.
The Delta Amex card enables you and your companions to check bags for free on Delta flights and flights with Delta’s partners. This loyalty program extends to Mexico’s flagship airline. I’ve also used my SkyMiles to pay for flights to and from Mexico, often at a stellar value.
4. Take Advantage of Mexico’s Great Bus System
Mexico’s airlines do a good job of connecting passengers throughout the country. However, the fact is that some top Mexican destinations just aren’t close to major airports.
San Miguel de Allende, for example, is one of the most popular cities in Mexico. Despite that, it is a couple of hours from the closest major airport. While you could fly into Queretaro and then figure out transportation to San Miguel, you might be better off flying into Mexico City.
While Mexico City is further away than Queretaro, there are hourly direct bus departures to San Miguel. The buses are comfortable, clean, and air-conditioned. This means that to get to San Miguel from the United States, you could just fly directly into the hub of Mexico City and catch a bus north.
Similar things could be said about the Caribbean coast. While you could fly into Merida or Cozumel, you may just be better off flying into Cancun. From the major hub of Cancun, you can connect all over the Yucatan Peninsula in just a couple of hours by bus with no need for a layover.
Places like Playa del Carmen, Valladolid, and Tulum are best accessed via Cancun. The same can be said for Chichen Itza, which is the only Wonder of the World in North America.
5. Consider Delta Instead of American Airlines for International Travel
Delta Airlines is the top airline in the United States, and it isn’t really close. However, many travelers consider American Airlines flights when traveling internationally due to the robust OneWorld Alliance. For flights to Mexico from elsewhere in North America, that argument doesn’t hold up.
Delta is a part of the SkyTeam Alliance, which includes Aeromexico. American Airlines doesn’t have any partners in Mexico.
Delta’s partnership with Aeromexico includes ticketing and codeshare agreements, which help to facilitate seamless connections all over the country. This is a very good thing for travelers.
This means that Delta flights not only connect you easily to Mexico, but they can also can then connect you through to major Mexican cities on the same flight ticket. Rather than flying with American Airlines to Mexico City and then connecting to another city with Volaris or Viva Aerobus, Delta reservations can include Aeromexico Airlines flights to anywhere in the country.
Beyond just this partnership, Delta is a world-class international airline that I will always prefer over American Airlines. The customer service is top notch, the in-flight service is wonderful, and the hub airports are nicely dispersed throughout the United States. Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, and Minneapolis are some of Delta’s major hub airports.
6. Sign Up for Email Alerts from Each of Mexico’s Airlines Months Before Traveling
If you plan to take any flights while in Mexico, I highly recommend signing up for all of the airlines’ email alerts. All three of Mexico’s major airlines frequently offer large sales, and they are best accessed by emailed coupon codes. These coupons have saved me up to 60% on flights in Mexico, helping me to buy flights for as little as $15 before tax.
The best part is that these emails and coupon codes are completely free. You can unsubscribe from them after your trip, if you wish. In the last year, I’ve seen some really wild deals from each of these airlines delivered straight to my email address.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.