As the gateway to Mexico's capital city and many other destinations in Mexico, the Benito Juarez International Airport is one of the busiest in the world. Many travelers will land here before taking connecting flights to their final destination in Mexico and this huge airport receives more than 40 million passengers each year. Although it's notorious for being extremely busy and confusing to navigate, the Benito Juarez International Airport has the advantage of having many shops that are open 24/7, a range of overnight accommodation located inside the airport, and it is easy to get to and from the city center by car or public transportation.
Airport Code, Location, and Contact Information
The Mexico City Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX) is officially known as Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de Mexico Benito Juarez or AICM.
Know Before You Go
For many, the terminals are the most confusing part of this airport, since they are not separated by domestic and international flights. Here, which terminal you'll leave from or arrive in is decided by the airline you are flying with. For example, AeroMexico operates out of Terminal 2 (T2) while most other airlines will arrive and depart from Terminal 1 (T1). The terminals are not very close together, but you can take the Aerotren, a free monorail, to travel more easily between terminals. It's also possible to take a shuttle bus between terminals, but this would require paying a small fee.
If you are arriving on an international flight you will have to clear customs and fill out the immigration form, which should be handed out by flight attendant's before you land. You'll need to keep the bottom part of the form for the day that you depart Mexico. If you lose it, you will have to pay a fine. When you get off the plane follow the signs for immigration. You may find long lines, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get through the system and find the gate for your next flight.
Once you pass through immigration, you can move on to the baggage claim area to pick up any checked luggage before passing through customs. Luggage carts will be available, but you will not be able to take them out to the curb with you. If you have more luggage than you can handle on your own, luggage carriers will make themselves available to help in exchange for a small tip.
The airport offers three parking lots, each equipped with handicap-accessible spaces, bathrooms, and elevators. Rates can be found on the airport website, but remember to hold on to your ticket. If you lose it, you may have to pay a large fee.
The airport is just 8 miles (13 km) away from central Mexico city and accessible from the north and south by the Circuito Interior Highway. From downtown, take Paseo de la Reforma east, turn right on Avenue Rio Consolado, then turn right on the Circuito Interior Highway, and follow the signs for the airport.
Public Transportation and Taxis
Travel time to downtown Mexico City will depend greatly on traffic, so be sure to leave plenty of time to get there before your flight.
- There are authorized taxi stands inside the airport where you can buy a ticket to your destination. With an authorized taxi, you will pay for your fare in advance by purchasing a ticket. Look for the stands that say "Transporte Terrestre" and then proceed outside to the taxi line to catch the taxi.
- If you're not carrying too much luggage, the metro is a good option to get to and from the Mexico City Airport. The metro station is Terminal Aerea on the yellow line and will take you directly to the airport.
- There are direct long-distance buses to and from Cordoba, Cuernavaca, Pachuca, Puebla, Querétaro, Toluca, and Tlaxcala. Look for signs that say Transporte Foréano/Terrestre at either T1 or T2.
- Uber is available from the Mexico City airport.
Where to Eat and Drink
At an airport as big as this, you can find hundreds of places to eat from small cafes, bars, and full-service restaurants. You'll see familiar brands like Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Subway, and other fast-food chains located throughout the airport. These are perfect for grabbing a quick bite to eat, but you can also find many places where you can purchase something to take with you on the plane. If you have a late flight, you'll be pleased to know that some places, though not all, are open 24/7.
If you have more time, consider sitting down at one of the restaurants finer restaurants like La Mansion in Terminal 1, where you can fill up on Mexican breakfast or order a juicy steak. In Terminal 2, Casa Avila is a Spanish restaurant that offers a slightly more intimate dining experience–so much so that you might even forget that you're eating at the airport!
Where to Shop
Shops stay open late and some even stay open throughout the night. You'll find plenty of last-minute Mexican souvenirs like tequila, Mexican chocolate, and silver jewelry, plus plenty of perfumes, cosmetics, and other goodies at the Duty-Free stores which are located in the Arrivals and Departures sections of Terminal 1 and the Departures section of Terminal 2.
How to Spend Your Layover
Traveling to the city by metro takes just about an hour each way, so if you have a long layover of seven hours or more, you may want to consider killing some time by visiting some of the top sights in Mexico City or, if you'd rather relax, enjoy a long lunch at one of Mexico City's top restaurants. You can also take a taxi to save yourself some time, but avoid doing so during rush hour.
If you have an overnight layover, consider booking a room at one of the three hotels located inside the airport: The Hilton Mexico City, Hotel NH Collection, or the izZzsleep Hotel.
The airport has 10 different lounges, some of which are only accessible through loyalty membership or by having a business or first-class ticket. However, it's possible to buy a day pass at any of the following lounges:
- Avianca Operated by Global Lounge: located in Terminal 1 near Gate 31.
- Aeromexico Salon Premiere: two locations in the domestic and international sections of Terminal 2.
- Salon Aeromar: located on the mezzanine level of Terminal 2.
- Terraza Premier Aeromexico by Heineken: located in Terminal 2 near Gate 75.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
The airport itself offers free Wi-Fi, but if you're looking for a faster option you can also connect to one of the complimentary Wi-Fi signals from establishments like Starbucks or obtain a password from one of the VIP lounges. If you need to charge your phone, you'll find many charging stations throughout both terminals.
Airport Tips and Tidbits
There are a few tricks to ensuring a smooth experience at Mexico City's Airport.
- Departure gate numbers are usually announced only thirty minutes prior to boarding, so be aware of the time and check the departures screens for your gate number to be sure you get to your gate on time.
- There are luggage storage facilities on the ground floor of Terminal 1 and on the lower level of Terminal 2.
- You will also find banks, ATMs, and currency exchange booths as well as options for car rentals, and tourist information desks.
- The rule against drinking tap water in Mexico still applies even when you're at the airport, so make sure you purchase bottled water once you are past security.
- Currency exchange kiosks in Mexico will give you a favorable fee in exchange for trading in your pesos for American dollars. You can even turn a small profit, so make sure to trade in all your pesos for dollars before you go.