My husband and I choose to go to Cancun on our honeymoon last month and flew in and out of Cancun International Airport (CUN). We flew with First Choice as the flights were included in our package holiday and had very smooth flights indeed.
On arrival at Cancun Airport they attached one of the tunnels to the plane meaning that we could simple walk straight into the airport without having to get one of the small buses and feel like sardines! The first thing we noticed was the heat, we had come from about 15 degrees in England to around 35 degrees to the midday Mexican heat. This was not helped by the poor air conditioning inside the airport.
On the plane on the way into Cancun we were given immigration forms to fill in which we were told we would need to hand in on arrival. After a short walk and down a couple of flights of stairs we got the arrivals section where we were met by a rather large queue This que was for passport and imigration control, thinking it would move quite quickly I was not too bothered. But the queue did not move quickly at all, we were in fact queuing for around an hour to have our passports and immigration forms stamped. This seemed to be due to a combination of three flights arriving at once and lack of staff.
After this procedure we were able to collect our cases from the conveyer belt, this was fairly quick and our cases were amongst the first to come around. I was very pleased that the cases were undamaged and all intact. Then the next queue came, this was to place all of you luggage through scanners. Although this queue only took around 20 minutes.
After this it was a little confusing, we had been advised not to approach anyone asking if we needed help with our cases but just to walk straight out of the airport and look for the first choice rep who would direct us to our coach for the hotel transfer. We were fine as just walked past everyone offering to take our cases for a charge to the coach for us but I could see how someone could easily get confused as there were a lot of them about and some shouting the names of the holiday companies.
Once out the airport we found our First Choice rep and coach easily, but the whole process did take around 2 hours which is much longer than I have experienced in any other airport.
On the return to the airport it seemed much smoother. We did have to queue to get through the check in desk but this only took about 20 minutes even though the queue was again very long.
You also need to be aware that not only do you need to have in the immigration form again on departure (if you lose yours it cost $50 for a new one to be issued), you also need to pay the departure tax. We were informed of this very well by our First Choice rep but I have known some people that have been and have not found out about it until they are at the airport. The departure tax while we were there cost £39 each, although you can pay in Pesos', Dollars and Euros too, but it has to be in cash. This was paid at a small desk half way around the check in queue
A tip for the departure tax as it is very expensive especially for a family travelling as children have to pay the tax too is to look at the exchange rate while you are on your holiday. We worked out that if we changed our pounds to peso's then with the exchange rate we would only end up paying £33 each for the departure tax.
After check in we quickly got through passport control and found the duty free section. The duty free shop was big and had a good selection of alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes, sweets and perfume. It is just a shame you have to stick to the allowance when travelling out of Europe or I think I would have enough alcohol to last a year at those prices!
There was a great selection of shops and eateries to pass the time quickly in the airport. We decided to go to the dominos and had a meal of an individual pizza and drink each which came to about £9 which I didn't think was too bad value for an airport. There were also plenty of seats even though the airport seemed very busy. I used the toilets at the airport and they were very easy to find and clean.
There were also plenty of monitors around the airports you could keep an eye on whether your flight was on time and when they had assigned a gate to your flight. The tannoy announcements were also very clear and were repeated in Spanish and English.
When called to our flight we found the airport very easy to navigate around, there were plenty of signage and we found our gate easily. We boarded the plane using one of the tunnels which was again much easier than using the sardine buses. We were due to depart on time but had a small delay due to the tug which pushes the plane back breaking down. But the airport staff quickly pushed the broken tug away and brought another, meaning we were only delayed for a short time.
All in all I found Cancun International Airport to be rather a good experience. Apart from the queuing on arrival and the airport tax there was plenty to do and I think even if we were delayed the time would have passed quickly as we didn't get around all of the shops. The only thing I would like to see is improved air conditioning!
I have been to Mexico twice and both times I arrived and departed at the Cancun International Airport.
The first time I went to Mexico was with a group of friends for a wedding in October 2003, it was a fab holiday but the airport wasn't much to look at, it was quite small, old and didnt have many shops or places to eat.
But when I returned 3 years later for my honeymoon it was completley different. I didnt really take much notice of the airport when we arrived because of the long flight and trying to get my luggage and go through immigration, but when the 2 weeks were up and we returned to the airport to go home it was amazing I could have quite happily spend hours and hours shopping in the duty free shops or eating in the restaurants and fast food areas.
The first thing I remember seeing was a big TGI fridays restaurant, then lots of smaller fast food places like burger king, a mexican take away place and many more. The shops were really good and had a large variety of food, drinks, designer bags and purses and also purfumes and aftershaves. I am hoping to return to Mexico with my husband and our little girl, cant wait for a TGI's on the way home
Ive been to Cancun twice and have detailed my experiences of the airport for both times, Arrival & Departure below. I think I should add that I have been to many airports(15-20 at a guess) so please dont read my reviews and think im exaggerating ive never felt this way about one before. Additionally dont be put off going to Cancun that is the last thing I would wish upon you. It is great.
August 2002 - Arrival
We stepped off the plane and climbed down the steps onto the tarmac, walked the short distance in the amazing heat (100 or so in the shade) to the ramp leading up to passport control. Halfway up the ramps and your starting to queue. Your not exactly dressed for this weather having left the uk in jeans etc and it is HOT. Never mind it cant take that long to get to immigration, show a passport, and hand over the tourist card you filled out on the plane. OR CAN IT. About half an hour later we make it into the terminal (still not at immigration, just inside where it is air conditioned). Another ramp to go down and then into the queue itself, yipee! It would seem that the delay is caused by people who have not filled out the tourist card on the plane as asked and we are having to wait for the immigration people to fill it out at the desks. I mean a 10 hour flight and they couldnt find the time? Very inconsiderate in my opinion.
Anyway finally we reach immigration the man looks at both our passports and takes half our cards and gives us half back(You need this for getting home) Took 1 min as we had filled in our cards! On to the baggage hall - By this time the conveyor had stopped and 4 or 5 bags remained thankfully ours was there. Picked them up and onto the next queue another hour or so later we reach a set of traffic lights and are asked to press a button. They are searching peoples cases and I assumed that if the light is green you go through if red you are searched. Well the light went green and we were ushered across to get our bags searched. This was pretty painless really, more a precaution after 9/11 I think and the guy didnt seem to care that I had 600 cigarettes for 2 people so I wasn't that bothered. After getting our bags back you walk outside and on the way are handed a bag(I suggest you take this, its free with no strings attached and no time share spiel and there are discount coupons you can use during your stay).
After getting outside there are people trying to carry your bags for you, just say NO THANK YOU and walk on. They get the message and leave you alone. Our rep was waiting outside so we found out which bus and got on it to find most people already there. So all in all Id say it took us 2.5-3 hour to get though the airport which in my opinion is awful when youve just had a 10 hour flight and want to get to the hotel to freshen up.
August 2002 - Departure
Got off the coach at the airport and into check in. We seem to be the last ones there(thanks first choice!) Anyway it appeared to be much of the same, they were checking through everyones bags and things were moving very slowly. About an hour later we reached the front of the queue and were told to go straight to check in! No bag search? It seems that the bag searchers could not keep up with the check in staff so we got to miss them out(So much for security!) Anyway check in was painless, pay your departure tax(which was about 25 pounds payable only in dollars or mexican pesos), hand over the tourist card and they put all you bags on the scales and if they are below 50kg including hand luggage your ok. I think at the time it was 5 pounds per kilo if over. We were over by 2 kilos or so and the nice man pointed to my video camera case and said "hand bag take it off" which meant we went below 50kg. You then go upstairs put your searched hand luggage through scanners and get scanned yourself. They seemed to think after scanning my wifes hand luggage that her hair dryer was a gun so another manual search was conducted(yawn!). The good think about the long queues to check in was that it was not long to wait for the flight. There was only the one restaurant that we could see anyway and it looked pretty awful. Before boarding the plane however, guess what?, your hand luggage is searched again just in case you have purchased a 200 mega ton nuclear warhead at duty free. We hadnt so we were ok and finally got on the plane.
Arrival - August 2004
After previous experiences we shot off the plane as fast as possible and were quite near the front of the queue, one improvement was that they were checking to see if you had filled in your tourist card before you entered the terminal. If not the people who couldnt be bothered on the plane had to stand outside in the heat in uk clothes and fill it in. HA HA JUSTICE!!! Immigration was quick this time approx 10-15 mins then off to get our bags which were another 10 mins or so. Then onto the traffic lights as above but not really a queue this time as they didnt seem to be searching everybody(I think they had cooled off a bit since 9/11). I pressed the button on the traffic light as before and it was green again. Great we get to go straight through! Nope get to the left your being searched. Everything else was the same as before but this "journey" through the airport took less than an hour.
August 2004 - Departure
We declined the offer of a free coach to get the airport and paid for a taxi just before the bus left instead which cost about 8 pounds. This let us beat the queues so check in was painless. Only thing different from before was that you paid the departure tax(still about 25 pounds each) and handed in your tourist card before joining the check in queue this time(another idea they have came up with to save delays I think). The rest of checking in is the same, searching you before check in, then scanners after check in(minus a hairdryer on our part this time!). The departure lounge was better this time, there seemed to be more of a variety of shops(newsagents, handicrafts, etc, before it was just spice shops I think) and also now there was a burger king and a dominos there. Once again before boarding the plane your already scanned hand luggage that was also searched at check in, is once more searched for any guns/weapons that you purchased at duty free.
I have to say the airport experience at Cancun has improved greatly from the first time we went, but whether it gets worse/better in the future I will still go. They do seem to be making improvements and anyway I wouldnt miss going to Cancun for anything. I recommend the airport only because Cancun is so great and you have to do it to get there!