Important terminal information & more must-know travel tips for Mexico City International Airport.
From where to stay near the airport and using public transportation during your layover to what to expect when going through immigration, this Mexico City Airport Guide is packed with must-know travel tips.
After reading this post, you’ll know my 10 best Mexico City Airport tips for smooth and stress-free travel such as:
- Cheap places to stay near the Mexico City Airport
- Where to get pesos (spoiler alert: avoid currency exchanges)
- How to get to downtown Mexico City using public transportation
- Must-have travel items
- & more!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links (at not extra cost to you). Please read my disclosure policy for more info.
Mexico City International Airport – Know Before You Go
Officially called the Benito Juárez International Airport, the Mexico City International Airport is the busiest airport in Latin America. If you’re traveling to Mexico, there’s a good chance you will stop in Mexico City before taking a connecting flight to your final destination.
Here’s some general info about the Mexico City Airport that you need to know before you go:
- Airport Code: MEX
- Name in Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez
- Website: https://www.aicm.com.mx/en/
- Flight tracker: https://flightaware.com/live/airport/MMMX
- Travel time to Downtown Mexico City: 30 minutes via taxi (depending on traffic)
Despite having flown in and out of the Mexico City Airport dozens of time since moving to Mexico in 2017, I’m always taken aback by its chaotic energy. I’ve rarely (if ever) had an smooth travel day where the Mexico City Airport is involved.
From broken kiosks and overbooked flights to extremely long lines for baggage drop off, I find that it’s always something at the Mexico City Airport
Even if you’re an experienced traveler—even if you consider yourself an expert traveler, arrive at least two hours before your flight. Three hours is even better, especially if it’s an international flight.
If you plan on traveling to Mexico (which you absolutely should because it’s incredible), then the Mexico City Airport is just something you’re going to have to deal with. Hopefully, with the tips in this post, it will be a largely painless experience.
#1 Know Your Mexico City Airport Terminal
Perhaps this sounds obvious, but the terminals at the Mexico City Airport are incredibly confusing because, unlike other airports, they’re not organized by international and domestic flights.
The Mexico City Airport has two terminals: Terminal 1 & Terminal 2.
The majority of international flights (United, Air Canada, Lufthansa, American, KLM…) depart from Terminal 1. Delta Airlines and Aeromexico depart from Terminal 2.
Please do yourself a favor and take the time to double check (triple check!) your terminal.
To look it up, I usually just Google the name of the airline and “terminal Mexico City.”
How do I get from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 at the Mexico City Airport?
There is an inter-terminal train that will take you from one to the other, but you will need to show your boarding pass to access it. The shuttle depart every five minutes, and it takes less than 10 minutes for it to travel between terminals.
In Terminal 1, the train platform is located in the middle of the “Bridge of Pilots.” To get there, take the escalators in Hall D.
The Terminal 2 train platform is near Hall M next to Salidas Nacionales (domestic departures).
Ground Floor & Upper Level of the Mexico City Airport
The ground floor of the Mexico City Airport is the Arrivals floor. It’s where you will find baggage claim areas, public transportation options and car rentals.
Escalators and elevators will take you to the upper level of the airport. This is the Departures floor. The upper level of the Mexico City Airport is where the check-in counters, security controls and airport lounges are located as well as places to eat.
#2 Consider Staying near the Mexico City Airport Before Your Flight
But, if you’re like me and you hate spending money to stay near the airport, a clean, safe and close-by budget option is the Hostel Mexico DF Airport. It offers dormitory as well as private room options, and it’s in the neighborhood right across from Terminal 1.
Click here to book a stay the Hostel Mexico DF Airport. Private rooms with a private bathroom start at $66 US per night.
I use Uber to get to the hostel from the airport and back again—keep reading for tips on calling an Uber from the airport.
#3 Opt for Carry-On Luggage Only When Possible
True story: I once arrived to the Mexico City Airport during a thunderstorm and baggage claim was delayed 45 minutes due to the rain. If it weren’t for our giant suitcase, we could have been on our way.
If you’re traveling to Mexico City during the rainy season (June-September), rethink that checked bag.
If you’re coming from from an international destination and have a domestic flight to catch, there is a good chance you will need to switch terminals. So if you have a short layover window, then it’s just better to do a carry-on.
My go-to travel backpack is carry-on approved and the perfect size for sprinting through the airport without blowing out your back. Make the most of the space with packing cubes—it took me way too long to start using these & now I never travel without them.
#4 Avoid Currency Exchanges
Traveling to Mexico for the first time? Since cash is king here, I advise getting your hands on some pesos before you leave the airport.
I’m not a fan of currency exchanges. Instead, I use my Charles Schwab debit card to withdraw pesos from the ATM. I like to use the Santander ATMs—the one at the airport is safe to use and if you decline the conversion, your bank may give you a better rate.
#5 Take Advantage of the Free Wi-Fi
There is one thing to love about the Mexico City Airport: the free Wi-Fi. I’ve never had an issue connecting to it, but just in case you do, you can always pop into Starbucks or another establishment to use their complimentary Wi-Fi.
You can purchase a local SIM card from an Oxxo OR (and this option is much easier) use the Airalo app to buy an eSIM. The code “EMILY9681” will get you $3 off your first purchase. Airalo is safe to use, and with data packs for 200+ countries and regions including Mexico, it’s a total game changer.
If your phone or other electronics are running low on battery, there are charging stations in both terminals. However, I recommend traveling with a portable charger in case you aren’t able to score a free outlet.
#6 Don’t Leave the Airport If Your Layover is Less than 8 hours
I know it sucks to wait around in the airport between flights, but personally, I would not go into Mexico City if my layover was any shorter than 8 hours.
Traffic in Mexico City is notoriously bad, and if you do decide to leave the airport, definitely factor in rush hour if that overlaps with your return trip. Mexico City rush hour is 6:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.-9 p.m.
If you do have enough time to travel into Mexico City during your layover, you can leave your bags in the luggage storage facilities on the ground floor of Terminal 1 and on the lower level of Terminal 2.
Airport Lounges at the Mexico City Airport
Another way to spend your layover at the airport is chilling in one the the airport lounges. Here’s a rundown of the various VIP lounges including hours of operation and location.
Some airport lounges only allow passengers with a loyalty membership or business-class ticket. Select VIP lounges offer day passes. The Lounge Mexico by Global Lounge Network in Terminal 1 is one option.
Where to Eat and Drink At the Mexico City Airport
Regardless of the time of day, there’s always somewhere serving food at the Mexico City Airport. You can find everything from Starbucks and Subway to Cinnabon and Krispy Kreme.
Personally, I’m a fan of the taco spots in Terminal 1 in the hall near the bus ticket counters. You can find more food options here including fancier fare like La Mansion in Terminal 1.
#7 Have a Plan For Public Transportation
Whenever I’m traveling somewhere new, I message the hostel or Airbnb host to ask how to get from the airport to their location. They can tell you to the best way to get from point A to point B using public transportation.
If you’re trying to get to downtown Mexico City from the airport, the metro (subway) is your cheapest option.
The metro station closest to the airport is Terminal Aérea Station in Venustiano Carranza. It’s a short walk from the airport (approximately 200 meters).
From Terminal Aérea Station, you take Line 5 toward Pantitlán. At Pantitlán, you transfer to Line 1 toward Observatorio. You get off at Pino Suárez, then it’s an 11-minute walk to the Zócalo (Mexico City historic center).
Tickets cost $5 MXN each, and you can purchase a reusable smart card for $10 MXN.
#8 Clearly Communicate Your Pickup Spot to the Uber Driver
Uber is available to and from the Mexico City Airport as is other rideshare services such as DiDi.
When you’re arranging the pickup, make sure to note the gate “puerta” where you’re going to meet the driver. Sometimes you can select this when you do the location or you can message the driver inside the app.
If you’re taking an Uber to the airport, make sure you select the correct terminal.
Authorized Taxi Drivers
If you want to take a taxi from the Mexico City Airport, pay for the journey in advance at an authorized taxi stand inside the airport. This is the safest way to take a taxi in Mexico City.
#9 Take a Bus Right From (or to) the Airport
If Mexico City isn’t your final destination and you’re trying to get somewhere else in central Mexico like say Querétaro, you can catch a bus right from the airport. Buses leave from both Terminal 1 & 2—just follow the signs.
Primera Plus is the line that will get you to Querétaro. You can buy tickets at the counter or online ahead of time. A one-way ticket costs $490 MXN and the journey takes around three hours.
There are other long-distance buses that will take you to other destinations in central Mexico including Cuernavaca, Toluca, Puebla and Tlaxcala.
This YouTube video is a comprehensive guide to bus travel in Mexico (learn what to expect).
#10 Your Immigration Form Is Now Digital
If you’ve traveled to Mexico in the past, then you likely remember the flight attendants handing out the FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple) for you to fill out prior to landing.
As of the end of 2022, this immigration form is now digital. Tourists only need to show their passport, and in most cases, they are granted 180 days in Mexico.
If you’re entering Mexico with your temporary or permanent visa, this post explains how to create an account to print out your FMM to take with you when you go to INM for the canje process.
Final Thoughts on the Mexico City Airport
Now you know what to expect when departing from and arriving to Mexico City International Airport. Utilizing the tips in this post, you can put yourself in the best possible position for a smooth and stress-free travel day.
If you have any questions about the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, please feel free to ask in the comments. Buen viaje!