How can a single mom afford to travel so much? Budget airlines that offer dirt cheap flights. To be even more specific, Mexican budget airlines. In the 7 years since I moved abroad, there are three companies that have grown and continue to expand their service to international destinations. They now serve large U.S. cities: Vivaaerobus, Volaris and Interjet. They are also continuously adding new routes in Central America.
Small prices but Big Improvements
When I first flew with these companies, over 5 years ago, they couldn’t accept my U.S. debit card online and the websites were all in Spanish. I remember having to book online, print out a voucher and bring it to the local Oxxo (7/11 style convenience store) to pay in cash. I had the opportunity to fly with all three of them in the past few months, on different routes. I have noticed several attempts to bridge the language barrier and appeal to international travelers. They are now giving instructions in English and Spanish and using bilingual flight attendants. Of course, their websites also have English versions and will accept all major debit/credit cards. Still, when I travel one them, I am usually the only foreigner. Why? Because most non-Mexicans don’t know about these airlines.
Why don’t you know about these cheap options?
They won’t show up if you search on many of the travel websites, like Google flights, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc. But if you are willing to put a few minutes into checking out flights on their direct websites, you can end up saving hundreds on your airfare. To give you an idea, I flew from Merida to Veracruz on Vivaaerobus in March for under $50 with a baby and luggage. I also recently flew from Mexico City to Guatemala City on Interjet for under $200 again with the same baby and luggage. Below, you will find some of their upcoming deals, what U.S. cities they service and certain travel tips that I have discovered along the way.
Mexico’s budget airlines
Service from: Houston, Texas
Best Upcoming Deal: Houston to Monterrey any Sunday, Monday or Friday in June for $76.55 (including 1 carry-on and 1 checked-in bag).
Travel tips: Vivaaerobus operates similarly to Spirit Airlines. They are a no-frills carrier. Expect to pay more if you are traveling with several pieces of luggage. They have three different fair rates: light, basic and smart. Each includes different amenities like additional luggage, preferred check-in and boarding, seat selection, etc. They have limited service from the U.S., but once in Mexico they have many route options at the cheapest prices.
Service from: Over 20 U.S. Cities, Ontario, Guatemala City and San Jose
Best Upcoming Deal: New York City to Mexico City on June 26th for $111.13.
Travel Tips: Sign up for the VClub if you are planning to travel round trip or more than once with this airline within the year. If you pay in pesos, the Vclub costs $500 MXP pesos ($26.71 USD according to today’s exchange rate). However, if you pay in dollars, it costs $49.99. *One note: If you are traveling with a baby, Volaris is the only airline of these three that required an additional payment for infant luggage. This included a stroller, car seat and carry-on diaper bag. The other airlines checked my stroller for free at the gate.
Service from: New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas and several cities in Latin America (including Cuba).
Best Upcoming Deal: Miami to Cancun on June 26th for $123.02.
Travel Tips: The light fare option does not include a checked in bag. It is an additional $25 USD for a checked in bag. Often times, you can choose the Optima fare category for the same price or just slightly higher. This option comes with additional benefits. You can choose your seat and are able to change the passenger name or your flight for a discounted rate ($35).
ALWAYS SEARCH IN THE LOCAL CURRENCY
Additionally, you should note that to get the best deal, search in the local currency. The following fares were in pesos and converted to dollars at the current exchange rate of 18.68 pesos to 1 dollar. The difference in the peso and dollar fares ranged from $6 to $33 for the same flight. If you are flying round-trip and/or with other people, that money can add up quickly.
To continue saving on these budget airlines
All three of these companies have sales and promotions all the time. If you are a frequent traveler, it is worth it to sign up for their e-mail alerts. Vivaerobus sometimes has flights up to 90% off (at $300 pesos, just over $15), Volaris and Interjet up to 50% off. Either way, they are basic and cheap airlines that will get you to your destination for a fraction of many other companies.
These were just some of the specials that I found for the month of June. July and August are the high season for American travelers to Mexico, so there are few deals to be found during those months. Of course, if you look ahead to September through December, you will find even better prices in the low season.