Flying Southwest Airlines to Mexico, What To Expect and Holiday Travel Tips

On December 4, Southwest Airlines started new, daily, non-stop international flights from Los Angeles Int’l airport (LAX) to Los Cabos (SJD), Puerto Vallarta (PVR) and Cancun (CUN), Mexico. 

On the date they announced these new flights (August 18), I hopped online to purchase five roundtrip tickets for our family, so we could spend the Christmas holiday in Mexico. We looked at Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit and since we also love those destinations, it was hard to decide but since it had been about 10 years since two of our three kids had visited the Cancun area and our youngest kid had never been, we decided on Cancun, or specifically, Riviera Maya (45 minutes south of Cancun). And Southwest’s introductory rates were in our budget so that we could all go as a family. 

The Mexico Report's Susie Albin-Najera and kids on Southwest Airlines to Mexico

The Mexico Report’s Susie Albin-Najera and kids on Southwest Airlines to Mexico from LAX

In preparation for the trip, and since I hadn’t flown Southwest Airlines in a while, (or internationally), I did some advance research. Here is what you can expect when you fly Southwest Airlines to Mexico:

  • Southwest Airlines International flights depart out of Terminal 2 at LAX (different than domestic which depart out of Terminal 1)
  • Two (2) checked bags per person are allowed FREE up to 50 lbs. each bag, plus a carry on and a personal item
  • Online check in is allowed 24-hours in advance (same as domestic)
  • No pets are allowed on their international flights (unless they are assistance animals)
  • Boarding is the same as domestic travel and grouped by A, B and C
  • Early bird boarding can be purchased in advance for $15 per person (if available) and may be a good idea if you are traveling with young kids (especially if you do not get into Group A or check in online on the dot at 24 hours in advance)
  • Wifi is available for $8 per device (may or may not work internationally)
  • They do provide free snacks on the flight like Oreo cookies, Frito-Lays, cheese crackers and of course pretzels and peanuts as well as sodas and juices.They don’t provide meals. 
  • Since LAX is currently under construction, Southwest advised us to arrive three (3) hours in advance due to the holiday traffic since it was an international flight

Since I checked in, on the dot, at 24 hours in advance, we were able to get into Group A. Boarding the plane, our son Julian took a seat by the window, while our girls sat a few rows back. We sat directly behind our girls, so everyone was happy. We also got lucky with the weather – no rain, no wind and not a cloud in the sky.

Najera kids on Southwest Airlines LAX-CUN

Najera kids on Southwest Airlines LAX-CUN

Tips for Holiday travel:

  • Be sure to make a reservation at your preferred airport parking place during the holidays if you plan on driving to the airport. We learned the hard way, after being denied at about 8 different airport parking places. Thankfully, The Parking Spot on Sepulveda had a space for us in their valet section. I would definitely recommend taking a Shuttle next time (during the holidays). Luckily we arrived about three (3) hours before the flight.  
  • Bring a charged-up battery in your carry on so you or your kids can plug in electrical devices as there are no electrical outlets under the seats to plug in electronics
  • Bring a variety of snacks for yourself or your kids as Southwest doesn’t offer meals; and LAX to Cancun has a flight time of approximately 4 1/2  hours
  • Bring a pen to fill out customs /immigration forms 
Rick Najera and Susie Albin-Najera on Southwest Airlines flight to Cancun

Rick Najera and Susie Albin-Najera on new Southwest Airlines flight to Cancun

The plane had two lavatories, one in the front and one in the back. If you have kids, plan on taking them when there is no line or in plenty of time in advance if possible. 

The flight was as smooth as any other flight I’ve taken to Mexico with a routine landing, followed by passenger applause. 

Najera girls on Southwest Airlines to Mexico

Najera girls on Southwest Airlines, Los Angeles to Cancun

The second we stepped off the plane, my son remember that he left his iPhone in the seat pocket where he was seated. Since passengers are not allowed back on the plane after departing for safety reasons, Kim – the Southwest Airlines flight attendant – offered to go back on the plane to find it. She even remembered where he was sitting. After a few nail-biting moments, she emerged holding his iPhone up in the air. She had, quite honestly, saved our vacation, even before it started.

Southwest Airlines flight staff was friendly, hospitable and – living up to their motto – showed us the love. 

Southwest Airlines flies to these destinations in Mexico:

  • Cancun
  • Los Cabos
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Mexico City

Below is a map of international service on Southwest Airlines from the U.S. to Mexico, Central America, and Caribbean (at the time this post was published).

Southwest Airlines map

 Flying Southwest Airlines to Mexico is a great option for travelers and The Mexico Report highly recommends it. 

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Susie Albin-Najera
Susie Albin-Najera is the creator and editor of The Mexico Report, an award winning travel blog showcasing news, deals and resources for the modern traveler. Najera is a writer, author, travel blogger, marketing and public relations specialist and producer. Najera serves on the host committee for Maestro Cares, founded by singer Marc Anthony and producer Henry Cardenas; and on the advisory board for Corazon de Vida, providing aid to children in Mexico. She is also the creator of 'The Real Heroes of Mexico' showcasing community heroes in Mexico and producer of Latino Thought Makers. Najera has been recognized by the Mexican Consulate and Mexico Tourism Board for fostering positive relations between countries and her dedication to showcasing Mexico as a premiere destination. She can be reached at

1 comment for “Flying Southwest Airlines to Mexico, What To Expect and Holiday Travel Tips

  1. Dale
    2016-12-28 at 7:11 am

    SWA is the best airline flying. Flown them into Cabo, no problems. Fly them all over the US, no problems. Heading to Cuba in mid January and not expecting problems. Nice to have a company that acts like they appreciate you rather than they wish you were a no show. No gimmicks with up charges, able to change plans, they do everthing they can to accommodate their customers.

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