The Segmental Info System

Air Travel to Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean

Airlines from around the world bring eager visitors to the Mexican Caribbean

Photo credit: © Paul Brennan |
Flying to Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean

Cancún is Mexico's tourism capital, making the city's Aeropuerto Internacional Cancún the major international gateway in the country. Air travel offers a fast and convenient way to get to the popular Mexican Caribbean. Cancún, however, is just one of approximately 30 cities throughout Mexico receiving direct flights from North America. Five international airports and several national airports are located in and around the Mexican Caribbean.


Three of the five International Airports are used for incoming flights from the United States, Canada, and Europe, Aeropuerto Internacional Cancún (CUN), Cozumel Airport (CZM), and Licenciado Manuel Crecencio Rejon International Airport (MID). These are located in Cancún, Cozumel, and Merida, respectively. The other two international airports are Campeche Ingenerio Alberto Acuna Ongay International Airport (CPE) and Chetumal Airport (CTM).

Inside the country, travelers can also fly to Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Chichen Itza, Isla Holbox, and Majahual airports. These are exclusively for domestic flights. However, travelers may fly in to an international airport, then travel across the country to these smaller airports.

Rates, Airport Location and Facilities in Cancun

Round trip tickets, booking well in advance, off-peak flying times, and travel to a particular airport are all ways to consider to reduce your air fare.

Most flights from the United States are nonstop to Cancún, and direct flights typically connect in San Juan or St. Thomas.  Travelers looking to cross the country in planes will be able to tell the popularity of the flight by the price of the ticket. Lower-priced tickets are often on the most popular routes, and special deals may be offered.

When leaving Mexico, make sure to have cash for your departure tax unless it is included in your ticket. This can range from $18(USD) to $25(USD) depending on the location. Authorities may require you pay the tax with pesos. It's best to check ahead of time because cash is the only accepted form of payment.

Located on the northeast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun Airport International (CUN), being one of the busiest airports in the Caribbean, is easily accessible and convenient to fly to and from Mexico.  It is approximately twelve miles away from the hotel zone which takes an average of twenty minutes travel time by car.

The main terminal features restaurants, bars, banks, duty free shops, a business center with lounges, a video arcade, ATM machines and money exchange stores, as well as tourist information booths.

Ground transportation includes rental car agencies and both public and private bus services. Prearranged transportation to your hotel is strongly recommended to avoid unnecessary delays.  


Once you're in Mexico, you can cross the country or island-hop on one of the many small local airlines. Reliable service is offered on the following airlines, all of which have regularly scheduled flights to Cancún:

Airline Telephone Number
Air Canada 888-247-2262
American Airlines 800-433-7300
Continental 800-231-0856
Mexicana 800-531-7921 (U.S.)
800-12-CLICK (25425) (Mexico)
998-881-9093 (El Centro)
998-886-0068 (Airport)
Northwest Airlines 800-225-2525 (U.S.)

In the past travelers could choose to travel with Aerocaribe as well, but vacationers looking to fly this line will now need to book their travel with Mexicana. The two merged in July of 2005.

Travelers unfamiliar with the reputation of a particular airline may consult the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA ranks carriers based on safety, service and performance. Contact the FAA at: 800 Independence Ave., SW; Washington D.C., 20591 or via the Internet at You can also phone the FAA regarding specific issues:

Regulator Telephone Number
Air Travel Service Problems 202-366-2220
Aviation Safety Hotline 800-255-1111
Aviation Consumer Protection Division 202-366-2220
Questions about FAA-monitored consumer issues 866-835-5322
Transportation Security and Baggage Screeners Concerns 866-289-9673

Airport Security

Checkpoints staffed by security officers regularly check baggage, carry on luggage and passengers. Random passenger inspections are also becoming part of the routine at many airports. Travelers should plan to arrive at least two hours or more before the scheduled time of departure.

Regulations for carry-on luggage prohibit items such as scissors, nail clippers, knives and razors. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a full list of items at their website,, or call 866-289-9673 in the United States.

Taking note of the following standards for carry-on luggage and personal effects will help travelers to reach their plane in a timely manner:

Before leaving for the airport, call the airline to confirm the actual time of your flight's departure.  Make sure to bring (and keep readily accessible) your passport and ticket or e-ticket confirmation page.  All U.S. citizens, including minors, are required to produce a valid passport. Only ticketed passengers will be allowed to pass through security.

  • The carry-on limit per passenger is one carry-on bag plus one private item such as a briefcase, laptop case, or purse. Liquids, aerosols and gel toiletries must be contained in 3.4 ounce (or less) bottles, in a clear zip-type plastic bag measuring one quart or smaller, and placed separately in a bin to pass through the x-ray machine.

  • Loose change, cellular phones and other personal devices will also need to be removed, and placed on the screening belt, as well as your shoes, jackets, sweaters and other outer-wear.
  • Should you wish to bring food or beverages on board, you will need to purchase them after you have cleared security.

  • If you plan to bring gifts or presents with you, leave them unwrapped to avoid possible damage, or consider shipping them to your destination.

  • Bring a signed note from your doctor if you have any metal surgical implants to avoid further delays.

Travelers visiting Cancún will find flights a quick and easy option when trying to reach this vacation paradise.


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