Tijuana International Airport Guide

Tijuana International Airport
Tijuana International Airport.

Courtesy of Cross Border Xpress 

Tijuana’s airport, officially known as the General Abelardo L. Rodríguez International Airport, serves the Tijuana area in Mexico as well as San Diego in the United States. The airport is located just immediately south of the U.S border, in Tijuana's Otay Centenario borough, 6 miles east of the Tijuana city center, and 18 miles south of San Diego. A binational pedestrian bridge known as the Cross Border Xpress spans the border, connecting terminals on the Mexican and U.S. sides, and allows passengers traveling to and from the United States direct access to the Tijuana airport.

Tijuana Airport Code, Location, and Flight Information

Know Before You Go

Tijuana's main terminal, sometimes referred to as Terminal 1, is where all commercial flights land and depart from. There is an old terminal across from the main terminal which is mainly used by the Mexican military and doesn't host commercial airlines. The main terminal has a single runway with a parallel taxiway and a high-tech control tower (one of the tallest in Mexico). There are two concourses, 23 gates, a food court, and other passenger services such as shops and money exchange offices. The CBX terminal across the border has a check-in and processing facility for departing passengers and U.S. immigration and customs inspection, but no gates or arrival facilities.

Cross Border Xpress

Since December 2015, people traveling to and from the United States through the Tijuana airport can do so easily and conveniently by making use of a pedestrian bridge that spans the border. The bridge is 390 feet (120 meters) long, and the fee to access it is $20 per person (there’s a discount if you purchase tickets online through the CBX website or through your airline). Only passengers with boarding passes flying in or out of TIJ are allowed to use the bridge. Departing passengers may cross the bridge up to 24 hours prior to their flight departure time but arriving passengers only have two hours from the time they disembark their flight to cross the bridge into the United States.

Flights within Mexico are often quite a bit cheaper than international flights, so travelers can save money by flying out of Tijuana, and with the Cross Border Xpress, it’s easy to do so without the hassle of going through the city. Travelers can check in to their flight on the U.S. side, show their boarding pass and bridge ticket to the attendees (or scan in an automatic kiosk) before crossing, then walk across the bridge (there is wheelchair assistance for those who require it), go through Mexican immigration and customs and then go through the airport security. This is much faster than other Tijuana border crossing locations and taking a taxi to the airport, however, it may be a bit more expensive.

Tijuana Airport Parking

There are parking areas in both the Mexican and U.S. terminals. Parking on the Mexican side is cheaper than parking on the U.S. side, however. If you’re traveling through Tijuana when you return, because of long wait times getting across the border from Mexico to the United States, it’s a lot faster to walk across the CBX bridge and pick up your car on the U.S. side.

Driving Directions

If coming from the U.S., cross at either the Otay Mesa or San Ysidro crossings: the Otay Mesa crossing is closer to the airport. Generally, the wait to cross the border with U.S. immigration and customs inspection into Mexico isn’t as long as going in the other direction when it can sometimes take hours. Check the border wait times online, and be sure to give yourself enough time. From the Otay Mesa border crossing it’s about a 15-minute drive to the airport, and about 20 minutes from San Ysidro.

Public Transportation and Taxis

There are a few modes of transport you can use to get to and from the airport in Tijuana.

Bus: Local city buses run to and from the airport and downtown Tijuana, or Tijuana’s Zona Río. There are no public buses providing transportation to and from the CBX terminal, but there are shuttles. 

Shuttle: Volaris provides a shuttle service from San Diego to the Tijuana airport. The shuttle doesn't depart from the San Diego International Airport, rather you must take a local bus from the airport to the Depot Amtrak Station at 1050 Kettner Blvd. at the corner of Broadway Ave in downtown San Diego. For the return trip, it makes the most sense to cross at CBX and then take a shuttle from there.

There is shuttle service to and from CBX on the following routes:

  • Los Angeles with stops in Santa Ana, Anaheim, Huntington Park, and downtown Los Angeles
  • San Diego with stops at the Santa Fe Depot and Car Rental Center
  • San Ysidro to Las Americas Outlets and San Ysidro Transportation Center

Taxi: Taxis may drop off passengers at the airport, but cannot pick up passengers from the terminal in Tijuana because of legal restrictions by the Mexican government. There is a dedicated transportation service at the airport known as Transporte Terrestre (Servicio Aeroportuario de Autotransporte Terrestre). This service is more expensive than a regular taxi but is meant to be secure. Travelers on a tight budget should take a city bus.

Rideshare services: When Uber first arrived in Tijuana it wasn’t welcomed by taxi drivers, and there was some conflict. Now it is mostly accepted, and you can get an Uber or Lyft to pick you up at the airport.

Where to Eat and Drink 

In the boarding area, there are several options including Panda Express, Starbucks, Johnny Rockets, and some small shops selling snacks. There’s a sit-down restaurant, Wings, located before going through security. Food concessions throughout the airport have varying schedules, with a few open 24 hours including Aca las Tortas, Mini Market, Subway and Wings.

At the Cross Border Xpress terminal on the U.S. side, you’ll find a Starbucks, Wetzel’s Pretzels, Baja Fish Taco, and Cayenne Foodtruck.

How to Spend Your Layover

If you have a layover in Tijuana, you’ll want to make the most of your time. If you have four hours or more, you’d be safe to head out and see some sights. You can sample the exquisite culinary offerings and inviting ambiance at Mision 19 which is only a 15-minute taxi ride from the airport, or head to Avenida Revolución to do a bit of shopping. If you have several hours, you could visit the Tijuana Cultural Center, or check out some of these other things to do in Tijuana.

If you’re looking for a hotel to spend the night, there’s no hotel in the airport, but there are several nearby, some of which offer free transportation to and from the airport. 

  • Hotel del Principado
    has airport transfers available for an extra fee. 
  • Hampton Inn by Hilton Tijuana offers a free shuttle service to and from the airport.
  • Fiesta Inn Tijuana Otay Aeropuerto is located about eight minutes drive from the airport.

Airport Lounges

There is one V.I.P. lounge at the Tijuana airport located in the main terminal on the upper level, immediately after the security checkpoint, on the right-hand side. Access is available to Priority Pass, Lounge Club, and Diners Club members, or you can purchase a pass online in advance, or pay a fee at the door. 

Wi-Fi and Charging Stations

There is free Wi-fi available throughout the airport, though signal strength varies in different areas. The network name is "GAP," an acronym for Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (the company that operates the airport). There are power outlets on the seats near the departure gates. Before going through security, power outlets are more scarce. 

Tijuana Airport Tips & Facts

  • This airport is among the 20 busiest in Latin America and the fifth busiest in Mexico. More than 8 million passengers traveled through here in 2019. 
  • The airport was named after General Abelardo L. Rodríguez, who served as Governor of Baja California state from 1923 to 1929 and President of Mexico from 1932 to 1934.