- Aeromexico serves as the flag carrier of Mexico and has close links with Delta Air Lines.
- Seat-back entertainment screens were found at every seat, a rarity on most US airlines, and alcohol was complimentary.
- But the aircraft seemed quite out of date and filled with tired-looking and worn seats.
Aeromexico is the flag carrier of Mexico and one of the country’s largest airlines.
Americans may relate to Aeromexico as the Delta Air Lines of Mexico as the two are very closely linked.
Delta owns 49% of Aeromexico and the two are also linked through the SkyTeam airline alliance. Travelers can book tickets on either airline through each other’s website for international itineraries.
And just like Delta, Aeromexico is facing stiff competition from ultra-low-cost carriers offering cheap and unbundled fares on routes across Mexico. Rivals include airlines like Volaris and VivaAerobus that are rapidly growing in Mexico and beyond.
On a recent trip to the US West Coast, I took a Mexican detour and flew Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana. Here’s what it was like.
My Aeromexico journey started at Mexico City International Airport, where I’d arrived from New York on a Delta Air Lines flight. I had a two-hour connection at the airport and got my first glimpse at Aeromexico’s operation.
The check-in desk for Aeromexico, as the largest airline in Mexico City’s Terminal 2, was not hard to find. There was even a dedicated check-in area for elite status holders, including those with elite status on Delta such as myself.
And just like in the US, airline staff are separated from passengers by plexiglass partitions. Unlike the US, however, most staff wore face shields in addition to face masks.
Self-serve kiosks were also available and I stopped by one to see if there were any better seats for the three and a half hour flight.
It was looking to be a full flight and I wasn’t hopeful I’d be moving from my window seat in the back of the plane. I was, however, put on the upgrade list to first class thanks to my Delta elite status.
My Delta Sky Miles Silver Medallion status didn’t yield any upgrades to extra legroom seats in economy class, known as “AM Plus.” The seats also come with priority boarding and priority baggage handling.
Getting a boarding pass was quick and easy. And with that, I headed to the gate.
Mexico requires that all domestic passengers complete a health declaration before going through the security checkpoint. There was a lot of confusion among foreigners, myself included, on how to fill out the form given the spotty WiFi in the terminal but I was ultimately able to complete it and proceed on.
I would describe the post-security experience in the terminal as unremarkable. There’s no shortage of premium lounges in the airport, including an American Express Centurion Lounge, but I had a tight layover and headed straight to the gate.
The flight departed from a remote gate, meaning that we’d have to take a bus from the terminal to the plane.
Social distancing measures were also in place at the gate including more plexiglass partitions and face shields.
And the floors had social distancing placards to remind passengers on where to stand when waiting in line.
Boarding started in groups around 30 minutes before departure. Elite status holders and first class boards first on Aeromexico followed by economy class passengers.
And for all the social distancing measures in the terminal, there was none on the 10-minute bus ride to the plane.
The upside was that we got a closer look at Aeromexico’s fleet of Boeing and Embraer planes, including the Boeing 737 Max.
Plus, boarding from air stairs is always the most exciting way to board an airplane.
A Boeing 737-800 with registration N950AM was taking us north to Tijuana. It’s a 12-year-old plane that’s only ever flown for Aeromexico.
Judging from the outside, it looked like it could’ve been brand-new.
Placards at the boarding door reminded passengers of Aeromexico’s top marks from the Airline Passenger Experience Association. I was going to put that to the test.
Inside the plane, it seemed that the aircraft had not been updated since 2012. Yellow lighting didn’t blend well with the blue seats.
A total of 160 can be found on this aircraft across two cabins, “clase premier” first class and economy class. Clase premier features 16 recliner seats across four rows in a 2-2 configuration.
In economy class, the first three rows are reserved for AM Plus with a total of 18 seats offering 34 inches of pitch and 17 inches of width.
The remaining 126 seats were regular economy class seats across 20 rows. And they looked quite familiar, almost as if they were plucked straight from Delta planes.
Each seat boasts 31 inches of width and 17 inches of pitch, which is quite average by US airline standards.
I got to my seat, 25A, and got settled for the flight ahead.
The one saving grace on this flight was that each seat had in-flight entertainment screens.
It was a pleasant surprise.
Some of the largest full-service US carriers can’t even boast this type of in-flight entertainment.
The seats were quite comfortable and it was clear that the old-looking aircraft was just that. There wasn’t much to dislike besides the onboard aesthetic.
The old age of the plane once again showed in the tray table. It wasn’t dirty but it was quite worn out.
The seat-back screen was the primary seat amenity with not much more to boast besides a USB charging port under the screen and an adjustable headrest.
The legroom was quite decent and I didn’t feel closed in at all.
And I was pleasantly surprised to see an in-flight magazine as most US airlines have retired theirs.
Our departure was slightly delayed because of the time it took to board using buses. But it wasn’t slated to be longer than 20 or so minutes.
Social distancing and health safety messaging was played through the system including reminders to mask up at all times and not crowd the aisles.
Flyers with any symptoms of COVID-19 were instructed to tell flight attendants about it “in the moment.”
Flight attendants also wore face shields in addition to face masks, just like airport staff. It was the first time had seen flight attendants wear the extra level of protective gear.
We quickly got underway once all passengers boarded and headed towards the runway, which was thankfully close by.
It was finally time to head to Tijuana, with great views of Mexico City to be had on takeoff. Mexico is the perfect country for window seat gazing.
Flight attendants quickly began the first snack and beverage service of the flight, walking up the aisle with a trolley to serve each row.
Soft, hot, and even alcoholic drinks are complimentary in economy class on Aeromexico domestic flights, regardless of seat location. Such a concept is unheard of on US airlines.
I opted for a club soda, without ice, as I didn’t realize alcohol was complimentary. That’s what decades of flying US airlines will do.
Beverages were accompanied by a small snack of nuts and a small packet of hand sanitizer. It wasn’t much for the three-and-a-half-hour flight but it was a tasty snack nonetheless.
I spent the first few minutes of the flight looking through the in-flight entertainment system to see what I was going to watch during the flight. On offer was a good selection of movies, television shows, and games.
The movie selection was extensive but just a pain to scroll through as there were multiple versions of a lot of the movies. But, Aeromexico did pass my “You’ve Got Mail” test as the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan classic was available.
Aeromexico must also be a big fan of the Harry Potter series as all of the movies were loaded onto the system.
The music selection was not vast and selections were mostly Spanish language songs. But there was a good selection of classical music.
The rest of the flight continued quite peacefully, which was the most I could’ve asked for.
In-flight WiFi was available for purchase but I opted against paying up, choosing to watch a movie instead.
Flight attendants performed the second and final drink service of the flight around an hour before landing in Tijuana as the flight neared its inevitable end.
The rest of the flight was unremarkable and it was soon time to start the descent into Tijuana.
As far as its in-flight experience, Aeromexico was on par with most full-service US carriers and even better than some.
Our flight touched down in Mexico’s northwesternmost city around 20 minutes late. Flight attendants asked all to remain seated as we deplaned by row.
This type of procedure has been discontinued in the US for quite some time. But nearly all passengers complied and waited as the groups of rows were called.
All in all, it was a perfectly boring flight and it got me to Tijuana quite close to the time that I had booked.
Read the original article on Business Insider