Review: Aeromexico Lounge Mexico City Airport

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I deplaned at around 5:40AM, leaving me a bit over four hours before my connection to Los Angeles.

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Aeromexico 787 after arriving from Madrid

I proceeded down the arrivals hall, following the signage towards connecting flights.

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Mexico City Airport arrivals hall

On my flight from Madrid, the crew explained I’d have to clear immigration in Mexico City, which surprised me, since I figured I’d be able to make an airside transit. Well, sure enough they were right, and within a few minutes I found myself in a long immigration queue which seemed to move at a snail’s pace.

I know Americans are perhaps overly sensitive when it comes to wanting personal space, but I was especially frustrated that the person behind me was standing so close that I could feel him breathing on my neck. Eventually I managed to put my weekender bag around my shoulder in such a way that I at least had a few extra inches of forced separation.

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Mexico City Airport immigration queue

It took over 30 minutes before I was through immigration. When I was towards the front of the immigration queue, they opened up a new lane. Rather than opening it to those already in the queue, others just arriving at the checkpoint ran to the front of the line.

After that I had to queue to have my bag screened, as all bags are screened on arrival at Mexico City Airport. That wasn’t an especially straightforward process, as others were importing things, which increased how long the screening took.

Then it came time to clear customs.

“You have more than $10,000?”
“No.”
“The form says you have more than $10,000 on you, you need to declare.”

I looked at the form, and sure enough I accidentally checked the box indicating that I was carrying more than $10,000. Crap! I had to fill out the entire form again.

I then handed the same agent my newly completed customs form, and then I had to push a button, which either flashed green or red. This is the first time I’ve seen such a system, but basically it’s a randomizer which decides whether you undergo further screening or not. Fortunately I got “green.”

The entire process took almost an hour, so at this point I had learned my lesson — Mexico City Airport isn’t a good place for international-to-international connections.

At that point I found myself on the arrivals level, and took the escalator up a level to the departures level.

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Mexico City Airport arrivals hall

I swear I’m usually good at navigating airports. I mean, I basically live in them. But I found the departures level to be extremely confusing in terms of which security area I was supposed to head towards, since my flight wasn’t showing on the departures monitor. Eventually I figured out the right checkpoint, at which point my transit experience started to get better.

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Mexico City Airport departures hall

There was a premium security checkpoint, so the process of getting through security only took about five minutes. On top of that, I found the security officers to be both friendly and competent, much better than the TSA in the US.

The airside of Terminal 2 had unique architecture. At first I disliked it, as it lacked natural light and almost felt like a prison. But there was something ever so slightly charming about it.

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Mexico City Airport Terminal 2 airside 

I turned left and followed the signage towards the airline lounges, which were just a very short walk away.

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Mexico City Airport Terminal 2 airside

There I could take either an elevator or stairs up a level. This area is where the Aeromexico, American Express, and HSBC lounges are located.

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Elevator to Aeromexico Lounge Mexico City Airport

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Signage for Aeromexico Salon Premier Mexico City Airport

Upon exiting the elevator I found myself in a long hallway, with the Aeromexico Salon Premier being the first lounge on the right.

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Walkway to Aeromexico Salon Premier Mexico City Airport

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Entrance to Aeromexico Salon Premier Mexico City Airport

As you can see, the lounge is open to SkyTeam passengers, as well as those with The Club Card and Priority Pass memberships.

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Signage for Aeromexico Salon Premier Mexico City Airport

I presented my boarding pass and was quickly admitted by the associate, who didn’t seem to speak any English. As mentioned above, this is also a Priority Pass lounge. The following US credit cards offer Priority Pass memberships, and are a better value than paying for a membership outright, in my opinion:

The lounge was crowded given how early in the morning it was, though perhaps it makes sense since Aeromexico has lots of redeyes arriving from South America early in the morning, and presumably many people connect to the US from there.

The lounge featured one main room, with high ceilings and a few types of seating. There were communal tables, more traditional lounge chairs, a bar area, etc.

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Aeromexico Lounge seating Mexico City Airport

Yeah, the lounge is quite outdated, though there was something almost charming about it, with the cheesy plants and brick walls.

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Aeromexico Lounge seating Mexico City Airport

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Aeromexico Lounge seating Mexico City Airport

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Aeromexico Lounge seating Mexico City Airport

At the far end of the lounge was the second largest room in the lounge, which felt a bit like a hospital waiting room, in terms of the decor and lack of natural light.

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Aeromexico Lounge seating Mexico City Airport

Then there was another room with a buffet area and a second bar.

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Aeromexico Lounge buffet Mexico City Airport

Who wouldn’t want chips and salsa at 7AM?

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Aeromexico Lounge food spread Mexico City Airport

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Aeromexico Lounge food spread Mexico City Airport

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Aeromexico Lounge food spread Mexico City Airport

There was another buffet in the main room of the lounge, with self serve soft drinks, water, beer, wine, and liquor.

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Aeromexico Lounge buffet area Mexico City Airport

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Aeromexico Lounge drink selection Mexico City Airport

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Aeromexico Lounge liquor selection Mexico City Airport

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Aeromexico Lounge liquor selection Mexico City Airport

The continental breakfast spread consisted of cups with fresh fruit, pastries, yogurt, granola, cereal, granola bars, etc.

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Aeromexico Lounge breakfast spread Mexico City Airport

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Aeromexico Lounge breakfast spread Mexico City Airport

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Aeromexico Lounge breakfast spread Mexico City Airport

In the far corner of the lounge were the restrooms, which were rather limited for the number of people this lounge serves.

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Aeromexico Lounge Mexico City Airport

There’s also a spa in the lounge, offering paid treatments.

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Aeromexico Lounge spa Mexico City Airport

The spa menu read as follows:

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The prices would be reasonable in the US, though seemed rather high for Mexico. For example, a 30 minute massage cost ~30USD, while a 60 minute massage cost ~45USD. The lounge otherwise was quite chaotic, so I suppose if the spa was actually nice and relaxing, it may not be a bad option.

While the lounge seemed to be mostly self serve, a server came around and asked if I wanted anything to drink. I ordered a cappuccino, and was delighted to see that it was made fresh by a barista, rather than being from a machine.

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Aeromexico Lounge cappuccino Mexico City Airport

I also had a pastry, which was stale.

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Aeromexico Lounge pastry Mexico City Airport

I hung out in the lounge for about an hour, and spent most of my time getting caught up on work. I wasn’t able to connect to the lounge’s wifi, though I had no issue connecting to the airport’s Boingo network, which I have access to through some of my American Express cards.

After spending about an hour in the lounge I headed to the Amex Centurion Lounge, which I’ll be reviewing in the next installment.

At 8:45AM I headed to my departure gate, about an hour before departure. I enjoyed the variety of planes at the airport, including many Aeromexico 737s.

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Aeromexico planes Mexico City Airport

At the far end of the concourse I could see the Aeromexico 787 which would be taking me to Los Angeles.

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Aeromexico 787 Mexico City Airport

The terminal felt less depressing in daylight, and I almost sort of liked it. While the architecture was from a different era, I found it significantly nicer than the outdated terminals you’ll find at many other airports.

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Mexico City Airport Terminal 2 gates

My flight was departing from gate 68, which was still quite empty when I arrived.

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Mexico City Airport Terminal 2 gates

I was surprised by the number of pilots at the gate, as I counted at least eight pilots in Aeromexico uniforms. Surely they don’t need that many relief pilots for the three hour flight to Los Angeles. 😉 As it turned out, several of them lived in Los Angeles and were commuting.

Boarding finally began at 9:10AM, about 35 minutes before departure. Aeromexico has a great boarding system, similar to what you’ll find on Southwest. There are separate queues for each boarding group, which leads to less congestion at the gate.

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My departure gate to Los Angeles

Aeromexico Salon Premier Mexico City bottom line

The Aeromexico Lounge wasn’t half bad, and was possibly even a bit better than I was expecting. The food and drink spread were roughly in line with what I was expecting, while I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that servers were roaming to offer drinks.

The main takeaway I had from this experience is that I’d avoid connecting in Mexico City in the future. If I did decide to connect in Mexico City in the future, I’d be sure to leave a long connection.

While you shouldn’t arrive early to visit the Aeromexico Lounge, it’s not a bad place to kill some time either.

Do you have a favorite lounge at Mexico City Airport?

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Comments

  1. The Aeromexico terminal at MEX is brand new – open within the last 10 years. Very bold architecture, to be sure. If you thought that was outdated, and from a different “age”, you should see the other terminal. Now that is a tired, old place (but very functional).

  2. I remember this Salon from a few years ago when we travelled between LA and Cuba via Mexico City, and then around Mexico – using Mexico City as a hub. We would have used the lounge probably three or four times.

    I remember being underwhelmed, until I realised there was waiter service. I don’t remember self serving anything. The service may have been so good, as we tipped after receiving our first coffee/Bloody Mary. The service made several longish layovers (more than a couple of hours) a pleasure.

    I seem to remember difficulties with the wifi as well.

    I also agree about the decor. There is something retro and comforting about all those circle pierced surfaces. We were only there during the day – so it always had a light filled quality.

    Not the best lounge, but strangely one of my favourites.

  3. Very good post Lucky.

    I was just curious as I will be spending some time in the MEX Airport in July flying American Airlines. As a Citi Prestige card member and also will be flying F on AA, which lounge would be best to spend my time – the Admiral’s Club or the Aeromexico lounge?

  4. One tip regarding the lounge: the spa offers free showers. There are only two shower rooms and you sometimes have to track down an attendant, however.

  5. And they have constructing a new airport. The new airport is 5miles northeast from the old one, and excepted to be opened in 2020

  6. If you have a Citi Prestige or Citi Premier card you can access to the Beyond Banamex bank Lounge (Banamex is part of citi group), in the Beyond Lounge you have free hot food.

  7. I flew MAD-MEX-LAX just a day or so after you, it appears. I connected from Iberia to American, which meant my transit was in the much older, much more labyrinthine Terminal 1, on the other side of the runway. As @Jason said, you were fortunate to connect in Terminal 2, which is less than a decade old and arguably MEX’s premier facility. Finding one’s way through Terminal 1 requires *extremely* careful attention to the signs, as there are random floor changes, over a dozen ticket halls and associated security checkpoints, and absolutely no natural light or sense of direction whatsoever – not even from little circles on the walls and ceiling.

    Honestly, I didn’t find my MEX transfer to be any more confusing or off-putting than a Heathrow transfer. Yes, you have to clear immigration, but the staff were much nicer and the whole process more efficient than any experience I’ve ever had at LHR. Besides, if one’s whole purpose is to fly interesting routes on new airlines, it’s going to mean connecting in some less savory facilities. Not every airport is going to be Schiphol or Changi.

    The randomizer for customs is common at all Mexican airports and pops up elsewhere from in Latin America from time to time, too.

  8. As others have said, the Aeromexico terminal is actually quite new, it opened around 2007 or 2008. The architecture is simply meant to be rather “avant garde”, or something. We can count you as not a fan 🙂

    And the international-to-international transfer experience is not great, since Mexico is just like the US in not having a sterile international departures zone of the airport (indeed, you could have gone through security at any departures checkpoint, since all areas of the Aeromexico terminal are connected airside; there is also a connections security checkpoint that can be accessed without having to go all the way landside, but it is easy to miss so not surprising you apparently passed it). So you at least had the experience that Mexicans and other Latin Americans have when they have to fly elsewhere in the world and connect through the US…

  9. MEX used to have sterile transit until the 2004 remodel. It was a nice, modern terminal. They made it more maze-like and shabby and eliminated the sterile zone in order to squeeze in more traffic.

    Remember that MEX is the O&D port for a first world megacity of 22 million people. And it’s the size of London Gatwick or the old Hong Kong Kai Tak airport. With mountains and city packed around every side in difficult locations, expansion is impossible.

    The national government is designing a giant new 4 runway airport with space for four more and a giant modern terminal to be built around 2020. That date will slip but the demand exists to get it built. The only space left in the valley where such a project could go is right over the lakebed of the old lake Texcoco. The lake is dry most of the year now because of drainage projects but still fills up in the September rainy season. To avoid flooding, the airport will have to be built hanging down from stilts erected on giant deep caissons. Even the runways will be built on trusses over stilts. It should be very pretty if they can make it work.

    I suspect the elimination of sterile transit is related to crowding. The airport authority wants to preserve space for O&D traffic more than it wants international business so it punishes transfer pax. That prevents growing passenger loads and businesses from the convenient natural hub position that MEX holds between Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

    A new expanded airport with sterile transit could mean steep growth in transit and shipping business for Mexican companies connecting the world. I hope so.

    @James S “Honestly, I didn’t find my MEX transfer to be any more confusing or off-putting than a Heathrow transfer.”

    Damning with faint praise.

    @CJ “flying F on AA, which lounge would be best to spend my time – the Admiral’s Club or the Aeromexico lounge?”

    AM has abandoned T1 for T2 while AA runs all ops from T1, so I’d be surprised if you can access any Aeromexico lounges. There’s a $10 slow bus every 15 minutes between the two terminals landside. I think AA J offers access to a couple contract lounges. (AA does not offer any F service to MEX.)

  10. @Owen – thank you for the clarification. I am not familiar with MEX Airport. Good information and yes, you are correct – J class, not F. Thx again!

  11. Lucky, the chips and salsa are to make your own “chilaquiles” which is a Mexican traditional dish from the north, basically a full breakfast and you can add shredded chicken or eggs. That looks better than the Amex lounge I usually visit. Next time I will eat at the AM lounge and then get a massage at the Amex one.

  12. Ive tried each and every single lounge in MEX. The HSBC Premier lounge is the best in T2 in MEX in terms of quietness and personalized service, food and booze, and has great WiFi. Amex has better food though, but for a fee as you have stated.

  13. In the mornings AM offers a hot mexican breakfast as a burritos, chilaquiles (corn chips with hot salsa and sour cream with cheese), mashed beans, quesadillas, scramble eggs, cereal, fruit salad, muesli, pastries, etc..

    Now the National Salon Premier is closed for remodeling, which expand to twice its capacity with a more modern design and buffet food all day.

  14. All those “polka-dot” walls and ceilings! After a while, even the pictures hurt my eyes 🙂 Hopefully they are a little less annoying in person.

  15. -the terminal is less depressing during the day-
    -massage prices are fine for the US, but overpriced for Mexico-

    I find the arrogant tone of this review even amusing. The writer starts by stating that he arrived early in the morning when it is still dark, and then proceeds to complain over and over about the lack of natural light… blaming it on the facilities!

    I personally find the architecture very appealing, but that is a matter of taste. Apart from personal aesthetic appreciations, the fact is that those “wall-holes” have a clear practical purpose: they let natural light in…nevertheless for this unusual architectural technology to function properly, the sun needs to come out!!!…just check the last pictures.

    Going through customs and security for international connections is a must in US airports. I wouldn’t be surprised if MEX had to implement such a system to comply with security requirements to be allowed to make connections to the US.

    Your are talking about the main airport of an alpha global mega-city which is capital to one of the 12 largest economies in the world… Mexico has plenty of AAA consumers, and those massage prices are quite low compared to high end facilities in Polanco or Santa Fe business districts of the city… Mexico is one of the largest growing markets for luxury products; don’t let your prejudice rule over your reason!

  16. I’ve been through both terminals of this airport and can say that Terminal 1 is definitely more confusing, but Terminal 2 can be confusing as well the first time you go through it. If you have to transfer from T2 to T1 or vice versa, make sure you have about an extra hour! That’s where things really get confusing as the personnel say things like “at the end of the corridor” but fail to mention that the corridor splits and there is no signage about which direction to go, etc…

    I agree with other commenters that the architecture isn’t bad at all. It reminds me of Houston’s Hobby Airport. It’s certainly more aesthetically pleasing than a lot of international airports–IAH, DFW, etc. are all function over form.

    The main problem I have with MEX is that the screens displaying flight times seem to malfunction a lot. 2 out of 4 times my flight has mysteriously disappeared from the board, leaving me panicked… Once the flight only showed up on half of the screens but not the other half…

    I’ve found WiFi in both lounges impossible to connect to with Apple products, and possible but very slow and unsatisfactory with a Samsung phone. I recommend the general airport connection, which you might have to pay for if you don’t have Amex like the author, but it’s worth it if you really need WiFi.

    I didn’t know that the Aeromexico lounge offered free breakfast! Does anyone know if they have food sitting out throughout the day, too–or is it just in the morning hours?

  17. This is one of the most despondent, arrogant and culturaly insensitive reviews that I have read in a long time. The male gaze and white privilege with which this review is written is disgusting.

    I am glad you got to experience what is like for everyone else when connecting through the US.

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