CBX Tijuana Border Crossing
A Step-by-Step Guide
September 21, 2016
Located just 20 miles from San Diego International Airport, Tijuana International Airport is giving Southern California residents another option when it comes to flying. When we were planning a trip down to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico we were disappointed at the cost of the airfare from San Diego down to PV. We also checked Orange County and LAX and really weren’t pleased with those fares either. Tijuana wasn’t even on our radar. It wasn’t an option that we had thought about for a variety of reasons. Traffic through Tijuana can be very bad and the wait to cross back into the US is often times a lengthy process. Then we heard about the new CBX sky bridge and also heard from friends who had used it. The cost to fly down to PV from Tijuana was much cheaper, so we decided to give it a try! We found it to be convenient and cost-effective. Below is information about CBX and a step-by-step guide to help you.
When did CBX open?
What is CBX?
It stands for Cross Border Express and is a 390 foot enclosed pedestrian bridge connecting the US to the Tijuana International Airport. Many people don’t realize that the Tijuana International Airport is literally on the border of the two countries.
A 390 foot sky bridge, all equipped with escalators, does not make for a difficult crossing in my opinion. But I will mention that we were each traveling with carry-on sized luggage that each person could manage themselves. If you’re planning to travel with a lot of luggage and are not able to carry it or roll it for a 5 to 10 minute walk, then it may be best for you to make other plans.
If you are thinking of flying to your destination from Tijuana instead of another Southern California airport, you’ll need to factor in the following costs to decide if it’s worth it for you. Considering the airline ticket fare alone really doesn’t give you the whole picture.
1. Location: The Tijuana airport is an additional 20 miles from the nearest US airport. Consider the cost of gas and time.
2. Parking/Additional Transportation: There is one lot to park in. It’s the CBX lot and it costs $17 per day. This is higher price than what can be found at other airports. Or if you decide you are going to take a shuttle, bus, Uber, or taxi to the CBX crossing, you’ll need to factor that in too.
3. CBX Fee: In order to use the pedestrian bridge to cross over to the Tijuana airport, you’ll have to purchase a CBX ticket. These cost $16 one way per person or $30 round trip per person, or $55 per family one way.
For our family of four, it turned out to be a greater savings to fly out of Tijuana, even after adding the gas, parking, and CBX tickets. Plus, we were curious about how the whole thing worked, so we purchased our tickets through Volaris (Mexico’s budget airline) and off we went.
Here is a Step-by-Step Guide for Crossing:
1. Drive to CBX, located in Otay Mesa at 2745 Otay Pacific Drive. You’ll find an adequate and secure parking lot. Park and retain your ticket stub.
2. Purchase your CBX crossing. You’ll need your boarding passes in order to do this. Print them at home before you go or use a kiosk located in the lobby.
3. Enter sky bridge. An agent will check your CBX ticket along with your boarding passes. You’ll pass through a duty-free shopping area and then enter the sky bridge. It is a 390 foot enclosed pedestrian walkway and takes about 5 minutes to walk through. You can even stop see the exact place where you cross from one country into the next.
4. Next you’ll come to customs where you’ll need to fill out a form. Be sure to mark “by land” as your point of entry. Then the final step to clear Customs is to hit the button like a game show contestant and you’ll either receive a green light or red light. I haven’t quite figured out how this all works, but if you’ve gone through Customs in Mexico before you’ve seen this before. If you get a red light, they may decide to go through your luggage to see what you’re bringing into the country.
5. Welcome to Tijuana International! Find your airline counter and check bags if necessary. Note about Volaris: Mexico’s budget airline has an unusual luggage policy. Carry-on sized luggage is not allowed in the cabin and must be checked. They allow one 55 pound bag per person at no cost. You can bring a personal item, backpack or briefcase sized bag in the cabin.
6. Then it’s time to go through security and head to your gate.
7. Once you land at your destination in Mexico, you’re free to go! This is considered a domestic flight since you originated in Mexico and you are not required to go through customs. That was a nice touch and we enjoyed that feature at the arrival.
Time From Car to Gate
Of course times will vary based on many factors. For us, it was exactly 60 minutes from the moment we parked our car in the US to the moment we arrived at our boarding gate in the Tijuana airport.
On the Return:
1. Make sure you retain your customs stub from your entry into Mexico. Although I have never actually had these collected, they say you should show them upon your departure from Mexico. The first time I don’t have it will be the time they ask for it. Right? Also hang onto your boarding pass from your flight. You will need to show it in order to use the CBX crossing back into the US.
2. Upon arrival in Tijuana, claim your baggage if you checked any.
3. Find the CBX ticket counter located near the baggage claim.
4. Purchase your ticket to cross the sky bridge. If you’re traveling as a family, remember they offer a family price of $55.
5. Follow the signs to enter the US. You’ll be required to show your CBX ticket as well as your boarding pass from your flight. (I think they do this to prohibit non-flying pedestrians from using the sky bridge).
6. Cross the sky bridge. (By the way, it's a separate bridge. You won't pass anyone coming from the other direction).
7. Go through customs just like any international border crossing. (There is no paperwork required. The US officers may ask where you’ve been and what you’re bringing back).
8. That’s it – welcome to the US.
9. Find your way out to the parking lot where you left your car or meet your ride. At the exit, you’ll find a parking attendant who will accept credit card. The fee to park in this lot is $17 per day.
Time From Gate to Car?
Of course times will vary based on many factors. For us, it was exactly 30 minutes from the moment we landed in Tijuana to the moment we were getting into our car.
So as you can see, it’s easy and efficient. If you’re trying to decide if it’s right for your next trip, remember to consider the cost of the airfare along with the higher parking fee and CBX ticket price. For us, it was worth it! Even with those extra costs, we still saved about $500 for our family of four. Be sure and also check the CBX website for additional information.
All prices were accurate at time of publication.