This was my first trip to Argentina and instead of starting in Buenos Aires like most people would, I decided to start in Cordoba.
I flew out of Tijuana airport because it was the fastest way to get to Mexico City. I was flying LAN from Mexico City to Cordoba and although LAN is notoriously stingy when it comes to award space availability to/from the US, it’s fairly available from Mexico City. I just had to find a flight from TIJ to MEX as a positioning fight.
As luck would have it, I was able to find a business class seat on Aeromexico which fit my timetable and was able to book that through the Avianca Lifemiles program .
TIJ is a great option since you can take the CBX (Cross Border Express) and walk across into the TIJ airport from San Diego. Even with the added cost of getting to the CBX as well as the cost to cross the CBX, flights are much cheaper if you’re flying to Mexico or South America. You can read everything you need to know about the CBX from my earlier post here.
The BEST Priority Pass Lounge
For me, the lounge isn’t a place to stock up on a meal, drink as much free booze as I can, or use every amenity available just because I’m there. I like the lounge as a quiet oasis away from the normal rush of people to get some work done. The only thing I really care about is something to nibble on, grabbing some water, and a quiet place to work. However, this lounge has an amenity that makes me love this lounge more than any other.
Once across, my first stop is the lounge. In my opinion, this is the BEST PRIORITY PASS LOUNGE I’ve ever visited. I think this for one simple reason. The lounge has a semi hidden back entrance which HAS IT’S OWN SECURITY LANE! I love being able to avoid the security lines and getting right through.
The back entrance is a little hidden and if you’re not looking for the movable sign that points to the entrance, it’s very easy to walk past. Basically, as you walk from immigration into the airport, you’ll see a row or eateries on your left. As you walk down, you’ll see a Carl’s Jr. and a hallway to the left of it. Walk down that hallway and you’ll walk past some bathroom then up a flight up stairs and through the glass doors. Enter through there and if there is no one at the desk, press the buzzer to have someone check you in. You’ll immediately see the metal detector so you’ll know you’ve passed into the secure area.
As a side note, the lounge itself really isn’t anything special. But it would still be my favorite Priority Pass lounge because of the security lane.
When you’re leaving the lounge. Make sure you leave through the main entrance. Otherwise you’ll be back outside in the non secure area and have to go back through security. The main entrance is easily identifiable since there are 2 elevators there to get to the first floor and the entrance is much more inviting.
TIJ has expanded quite a bit and has certainly stepped up their game in terms of the facilities. It used to be a bit of a dump to fly out of but I didn’t recognize it this time around and it was a pleasant surprise.
The flight to MEX was a normal flight. Lunch was served but I decided to pass since I wasn’t too hungry. It looked like it was some sort of carnitas sandwich though.
We landed in Mexico City ahead of schedule and were at the gate almost exactly at 5pm.
Mexico City to Santiago
Upon landing in Mexico City, I had to make my way to Terminal 1. Aeromexico operates their flights out of Terminal 2 while most other flights fly out of Terminal 1 (to be honest I’m not sure if other carriers fly out of Terminal 2).
There is an Airtrain connecting the 2 terminals but you need to show your boarding pass in order to ride it. They do check it before you can enter the waiting area. My guess is to make sure passengers will be able to board in a timely matter.
What I don’t understand is how the security lines in MEX always seem virtually empty when I’m there. I don’t think it’s ever taken more than a few seconds to get through security because the lines are nonexistent. Maybe I’ve just been lucky with the timing but that is seriously a huge positive.
MEX has no shortage of lounges in the Priority Pass network as well as lounges that I think are for certain credit card holders (including 3 Amex Lounges). LAN business class passengers can access the Iberia lounge but since I’d been there in the past and only had an hour to kill, I just went to the Grand Lounge. It’s a nice enough place to sit and watch tv but nothing memorable. It had some a lot of very forgetful food options.
Boarding for the LAN flight began promptly at 6:50pm. The way they have the boarding area set up just makes for a very orderly boarding and the fact that they start boarding so early just makes everything go smoothly. It isn’t this chaotic rush or push of people trying to get to the front of the line.
LATAM 787 Business Class
Business class on the 787 is set up in a 2-2-2 configuration and is fairly outdated in terms of layout. It would clearly be nicer if every seat had aisle access but what is nice is that they have individual air nozzles.
The cabin crew was fantastically pleasant and helpful. After getting settled in, they came by to put the cover on the seat so I could go to sleep whenever I chose after dinner. Then they took dinner and breakfast orders. They took breakfast orders since the timing of the flight meant that breakfast would be served around 2am and some would rather just sleep.
I ordered the braised beef ribs which was surprisingly good. Then I had the flan for dessert. Dinner service was fast and efficient and was served within 45 mins of take off. Even though I don’t really sleep on planes, I appreciate a quick service when it optimizes sleep for the rest of the cabin.
After a quiet few hours of working and watching movies, a cabin attendant came by to tell me it was time for breakfast. The lights were kept off since most were still sleeping so I left my reading light off as well so as not to disturb by seatmate. However, breakfast was pretty good. It was an omelet with some assorted bread and fruit. Overall it wasn’t bad.
The flight landed ahead of schedule by about 40 mins which was nice and overall the flight was decent. The one con is of course the seat layout. The 2-2-2 layout where you have to climb over someone to reach the aisle is a fairly antiquated concept now. I know they’re installing new seats on certain aircraft so hopefully the next time I fly them I’ll be able to check out the new seat.
The pros are the friendly crew and the thought put into maximizing sleep. A lot of flights tend to drag out meal service and although that may not be a bad thing on certain daytime flights, on nighttime flights, a lot of passengers just want to eat something and go straight to bed. Although I’m not one of them, I do appreciate it for others. Also, they ask if you want to be woken up for breakfast and if so, you can even ask for a fast/limited breakfast to get for sleep. Again, great idea. Obviously I can’t overstate the friendliness of the crew. I appreciate it when they’re proactively setting up blankets and seat covers before being asked. Small touches make all the difference.
Long travel days are never really fun but they are exciting when everything just works out. I wish every lounge had it’s own security lane to beat the crowds like the one in TIJ. That feature alone makes it the best lounge. And although MEX isn’t my favorite airport in the world, it’s always shocking how quickly I can get through security there. They do a wonderful job of staffing the lines so there is little to no line when going through security. Finally, the crew of the LATAM flight was great. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the crew coming back to MEX so the proactive nature really made me realize how great they really were.