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.
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.
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
- Southwest also has holiday travel tips listed on their website
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.
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:
- 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).
Flying Southwest Airlines to Mexico is a great option for travelers and The Mexico Report highly recommends it.