Voluntarily choosing to return to Tijuana on a 737-700 instead of the 787-8 was a difficult decision to make. There was space available on the Dreamliner, and the price wasn’t any more expensive than the 737 either, so I think I actually cringed a little bit when I clicked the “purchase” button on aeromexico.com which locked in my decision to fly the smaller and less-exotic bird.
But there was simply no way I was going to drag myself to the airport in Mexico City to make a 7am flight (the time at which the 787 departed), so opting for a more leisurely 12:00pm 737-700 instead (in business class) seemed like the more relaxed and practical option. Oh I yearn for the days when I was younger and carefree about this kind of stuff! 10-years-younger SANspotter would have taken that 7am 787 departure like a boss, grinning from ear to ear the entire way home.
Mexico City, Mexico (MEX) – Tijuana, Mexico (TIJ)
Monday, March 14, 2016
Seat: 3F (Premier Class / business class)
Negativity aside, I secretly was looking forward to seeing how the 737-700 Premier Class cabin compared to the one I experienced several days prior on the flight down from Tijuana. My expectations were pretty low as the driver weaved his way through traffic on the way to the airport, but nonetheless, I was looking forward to the flight.
I was dropped off just outside terminal 2 at Mexico City Benito Juárez International Airport airport with approximately three hours before the departure to TIJ, which I admit was a bit too early (especially since 1 hour layovers are possible at MEX). I was actually expecting traffic to be worse on the way to the airport this morning, so I guess I got “lucky” arriving with so much time to spare.
No matter though – I checked in and printed my boarding pass at one of the self-serve kiosks just outside the main doors and was standing in the security line within minutes anxiously looking forward to checking out this “new to me” airport.
Unfortunately, once inside I quickly discovered two things: first, there are very few windows to the outside world so photography and general plane spotting was not going to be an option. I hate closed in airports like that! What is the purpose of not letting people see outside? I really don’t get it.
Anyway, the second thing was the fact that the terminals were VERY crowded and there simply wasn’t anywhere quiet to sit.
It was right then and there that I nearly kicked myself for being a doofus and arriving so early. Oh well. Long story short, I was able to kill some time in the AeroMexico Lounge (Salon Premier Club) before heading back down to the main terminal to grab a quick salad for lunch.
Boarding began right on time, and right away I found the AeroMexico boarding process to be a bit stressful here at MEX. It’s organized, for sure, but they way they make everyone line up beforehand by zone number creates really long lines that require snaking through an already crowded airport terminal.
Luckily I was one of the first in line for the SkyPriority lane, but the other lines did get a bit chaotic by the time boarding had begun.
I kept telling myself not to expect too much for this flight as I walked down the jet bridge to board the plane. I was fully expecting a domestic US-style first class experience, and that’s pretty much what I found upon stepping onboard and getting my first look at the Premier Class cabin.
I do have to say though that the seats were a bit more supportive and contoured compared to anything I’ve experienced in domestic US first class. These seats were certainly comfortable, but the default (upright) seat back angle was a bit too steep for me.
These seats have a bit of natural recline to them that just didn’t feel right IMHO. “Gangsta Lean” is the best way I can describe it.
Just as on my TIJ-MEX segment two days earlier, pre departure drinks were offered as the rest of the economy class passengers came onboard. I declined once again, mostly because I was crammed into a window seat for this flight and I wasn’t planning on getting up to use the lavatory.
Pushback and taxi out to the departure runway were completely non-eventful, though there were so many other airplanes on the ground zipping every direction possible meant that we had to stop and wait a lot. Stop and go. Stop and go – just like being in car traffic on the freeway!
If you’re interested, I also shot a full video of the taxi and take off sequence:
Once airborne and at cruising altitude, a beverage and snack service was offered which actually caught me off guard a bit. I didn’t get a snack on the 787 two days earlier, so I thought that it wasn’t part of the AeroMexico Premier Class experience. Not that I’m complaining, but I found this inconsistency interesting. Maybe they try harder on the 737’s to make up for the inferior seat? Hey, you never know…
I should note that language issues are not a problem for AeroMexico passengers who can’t speak Spanish. The flight attendant spoke to me in Spanish at first when it came time to serve lunch, but quickly switched to English once she saw that I was struggling to mentally translate everything she said. She didn’t have to do that (I really wanted to practice my Spanish!) but I appreciated the gesture.
Speaking of lunch, the same exact meal I was served two days ago made another appearance. It was ok, but I was hoping for something different this time around (and perhaps a bit Mexican).
The flight attendants did well to keep drinks glasses filled and passengers happy for the rest of the flight, and I actually found myself sleepy enough to doze off for a solid hour. It wasn’t comfortable sleep in these big recliners, but I guess this 737 couldn’t hold my interest enough to keep me awake as much as the 787 did!
The descent into TIJ was visually similar to the the approach into SAN (as expected), so that helped to make me feel like I was home even though I wasn’t even on US soil once we touched down. No matter though – crossing the Cross Border Xpress bridge back to the US was simple and fast, and I was at my car on the US side within 15 minutes of landing.
So…do I regret snubbing the 787 in favor of the 737 for this segment? Personally, no. Don’t get me wrong – Aeromexico 787-8 business class is leaps and bounds better than what was on this old and tired 737, and there simply isn’t any comparison when it comes to the hard product.
I actually found the service (soft product) to be friendlier and more personable on this segment to TIJ, and the timing of the flight worked out much better for me as well. I’m satisfied with my decision, but those of you who seek as much comfort as possible on this route should look no further than the 787 and those dreamy lie-flat seats.