Note: this is a vintage airline review! do be sure to check out my latest Aeromexico 787-8 business class review to get a better sense of what the service is like today.
Finally! After all these years, I finally got the chance to fly AeroMexico. This is one of those airlines that I see everywhere here in the US, and back in my aviation photography days it got to the point where nabbing pics of an AeroMexico (AM) aircraft was about as exciting as getting pics of a boring ‘ol Southwest Airlines 737.
Yeah, this airline has pretty good coverage here in the US so I’m kind of surprised that it has taken this long for me to give them a try. And is there a better way to get acquainted with them other than experiencing their Premier Class business class cabin on the 787 Dreamliner? I think not.
Tijuana, Mexico (TIJ) – Mexico City, Mexico (MEX)
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Seat: 3A (Premier Class / business class)
I found myself in the heart of the main terminal at the Tijuana airport (TIJ) immediately after crossing the US/Mexico border via the Cross Border Xpress bridge (CBX), and right away I was impressed with the airport. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but here in the interior it’s a world class facility with all the shops and nice cafe’s and restaurants you’d find in any other major airport anywhere in the world.
It was really crowded though, and there was some construction going on so it did take a bit of effort to find the line leading to the security checkpoint that would take me to the gate area.
Once inside, I wasted no time in exploring the layout and trying to find places to take some pics. It turns out that there are two levels to the terminal, and the bottom level is the place to go if you are looking for peace and quiet. I spent about an hour down there just relaxing and taking pics while waiting for my flight to MEX to start boarding.
While downstairs, I was able to watch the 787 arrive, and it surprised me to learn that it came from MEX. I was convinced that the morning 787 flight came from NRT, but apparently that isn’t the case.
I went upstairs to the gate a bit early (or so I thought) only to see that the flight had already started boarding. This was approximately 15 minutes early according to what it said on my boarding pass, but no worries – I was anxious and ready to get on that airplane!
Boarding was through door 1L this morning, which meant that all passengers got the chance to walk through the business class cabin on their way back to economy class. And right away, I was impressed with the layout. The seats were identical to the ones I experienced in Air China 777-300 business class from PEK to LAX two years ago, and that was good to see considering how comfortable that particular flight was. This trip down to MEX was only scheduled for three and a half hours, but being comfortable is still quite important, right?
The business class cabin looked to be about half full as far as I could tell, though there was someone seated next to me in 3B. This wasn’t a big deal at all considering how spacious this cabin is, but I got really lucky when one of the flight attendants approached him and asked to see his boarding pass. Apparently he was sitting in the wrong seat – he should have been forward one row in 2B, so he apologized, gathered his belongings and moved. Props to the FA for giving me a full row (well just another seat) to myself!
The cabin crew seemed somewhat attentive during the boarding process – they were there and available to assist passengers in getting situated, and they did come through the cabin once with a tray of pre-filled glasses with orange juice or water.
I kept myself pretty busy during pushback / taxi / takeoff by filming the entire process, and I managed to get some decent footage despite shooting into the sun nearly the entire time. I certainly won’t win any cinematic awards for this video, but it’s a pretty good representation of what it’s like to depart from Tijuana airport on a Boeing 787:
For those of you who prefer pics instead, here’s the departure sequence:
Lunch service began shortly after we reached cruising altitude, and it didn’t even occur to me that they didn’t even serve beverages and a quick snack beforehand until they presented me with the meal. I wasn’t expecting a 10-course meal or anything, but I would have expected a quick snack before the meal service. Oh well – lunch looked pretty good anyway.
The lights were dimmed shortly after the meal service, and the widows darkened completely. I’m a big fan of the 787 in general, but the fact that the cabin crew has control of every single window shade with the touch of a button is something that doesn’t sit right with me. I wouldn’t be happy if the light was really good outside and they darkened the windows while I was trying to take pics – but at least today conditions weren’t great out there (sun was too high) so I didn’t mind all that much.
I did make one trip to the lavatory during the flight, and during my trek to find one that was available I found all the flight attendants just sitting in the galley laughing and talking and not doing much of anything in general. While it did seem odd that they seemed to be goofing off instead of working, I can’t complain about the service on this flight overall.
It was good – not stellar, but good. The cabin crew was certainly scarce for most of the flight though, which was a far cry from what I recently experienced on Sun Country Airlines from SAN to MSP last December.
The descent into MEX caught me off guard a bit even though I had been watching the moving map on the personal video screen for the entire flight. It turned out that the estimated flight time remaining was off by about 15 to 20 minutes or so – which is something I’ve never experienced on any other flight. Maybe these kinds of time warps are a feature of the 787? That’s innovation, I tell ya! Yes, I’m being sarcastic…
The descent into MEX was twisty, bumpy, and scenic. I knew Mexico City was dense, but wow! It’s a sprawling urban jungle jammed in between beautiful mountain ranges, and I tried to get as many pics as I could despite the really bad angle of the sun (and the odd window tint).
I also shot some video of the approach and landing, and I got totally lucky (if you consider it luck) that we had an aborted landing and had to go around and line up again. That’s only happened to me two other times in 617 flights in my life so far, so the fact that I got this one on camera was kind of cool:
The pilot said that a go-around was necessary due to wind conditions, but we were probably less than 10 feet off the ground and flairing smoothly when they applied max power and took off again. It didn’t feel like we were getting tossed around by the wind so I’m not really sure what happened.
Once on the ground, it was a long 15 minute taxi to the terminal, and I began thinking how convenient it was to fly out of TIJ instead of SAN for this trip to Mexico City. Especially for the chance to experience the 787 in Premier Class like this.
Overall, it was a really great flight – the hard product was really good, the soft product so-so, but overall the convenience of flying out of TIJ made this a really great way to start another SANspotter adventure.