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HomeCredit CardTulum’s new airport is a contemporary, intriguing and imperfect possibility for vacationers....

Tulum’s new airport is a contemporary, intriguing and imperfect possibility for vacationers. Right here’s what it’s like


There is a brand-new airport for vacationers hoping to go to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

A number of U.S. carriers launched service in the course of the previous week to Tulum’s brilliant and glossy Felipe Carrillo Puerto Worldwide Airport (TQO), and TPG was there to report because the inaugurals started.

About 20 miles from the middle of Tulum, the airport might be a extra handy possibility for vacationers visiting the area’s seashores, resorts and historic websites — a lot of which sit nearer to Tulum than Cancun.

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SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Although it opened for home service in December, the airport welcomed its first worldwide flights from past Mexico on Thursday.

As a part of that worldwide “grand opening,” TPG was on board the first-arriving American Airways flight — in addition to the first-departing Delta Air Strains flight. We aimed to get some perception into the brand new airport and the brand new dots and contours on these airways’ route maps. This manner, we may help you determine whether or not that is the fitting airport to your subsequent journey to Mexico.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Preliminary response

From the entry highway into the airport to the constructing to the terminal, taxiways and runways, all the pieces is new. It is clear, contemporary and fewer overwhelming than the older and better-known Cancun Worldwide Airport (CUN).

Total, it is a beautiful area with excessive ceilings, intelligent creative touches and loads of nods to the great thing about the encompassing Riviera Maya.

SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Pure mild floods into the terminal with floor-to-ceiling home windows, illuminating the spacious ticketing space and permitting visitors loads of views of the ever-increasing variety of plane coming and going.

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Nonetheless, readers needs to be conscious it’s missing some facilities proper now: The Wi-Fi and air-con had been lackluster on day one in all worldwide flights, and it has little in the way in which of concessions in the intervening time.

Total, although, it is a powerful new possibility for vacationers.

Here is what we discovered arriving and departing on the primary day of worldwide service at Tulum’s new airport.

What vacationers can count on on a visit to TQO

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Tulum, the Riviera Maya, Cancun and all the Yucatan Peninsula are stuffed with beautiful resorts.

Traditionally, although, visitors hoping to get to Tulum have needed to fly into busy Cancun Airport earlier than getting a taxi or non-public shuttle to their resort; this generally is a multihour trek and price $150 or extra every manner. The brand new airport is designed, partly, to unravel that drawback.

Sadly, it is nonetheless not the proper resolution.

Because the airport is definitely south of Tulum correct, the drive may nonetheless doubtlessly take near an hour (or extra) when you’re heading to the farther-north resorts of the Riviera Maya.

Nonetheless, there’s hope amongst some locals that splitting passengers throughout two airports may finally assist relieve a few of the site visitors issues the broader Cancun space has seen not too long ago.

The place is the brand new Tulum airport?

Once more, the brand new Tulum airport is not precisely in Tulum.

It is about 20 miles from the middle of city — and it’s kind of farther from lots of the standard resorts within the space.

One employee TPG spoke with at Tropical Elite Journey, a neighborhood transportation firm, was fast to notice the airport is greater than a “stone’s throw” from a few of the area’s better-known resorts north of Tulum. That is one thing for vacationers to bear in mind as they plan journeys.

GOOGLE MAPS

For some extra context, the airport is near 100 miles south of Cancun. Playa del Carmen is correct in between these two locations alongside the coast.

Attending to and from the brand new Tulum airport

The Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Following a keep on the Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort, TPG managing editor Clint Henderson — who was on the first-departing Delta Air Strains flight Thursday — spent about an hour driving to the terminal.

On the plus aspect, that is rather a lot sooner than the 1 1/2 hours it took to get to the resort after arriving on a flight from Cancun.

Nonetheless, even with that shorter distance, attending to TQO was pricier than you would possibly count on. The shuttle from the beforehand talked about Tropical Elite Journey charged riders the identical $120-plus for a switch to TQO.

Our workforce discovered a taxi trip from the Tulum airport to the middle of city (a couple of 45-minute trip) was about $60. From the Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya, north of city, it was nearer to $100 for a taxi to the brand new airport.

There are additionally some cheaper methods to get to the airport, like taking an ADO bus.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Departing the brand new Tulum airport

Passengers enter the brand-new terminal by any of the 4 ground-level doorways.

Total, it is a a lot quieter really feel as you enter the airport. If you happen to can image the honking horns, police sirens and general bustle and chaos frequent at busy airports’ drop-off curbs, that is removed from that.

It is also a far cry from Cancun’s a lot busier airport, which sees thousands and thousands of passengers yearly (almost 4.8 million from the U.S. alone in 2023) and plane arriving from all around the world.

Apart from the occasional noise of a jet taking off, it sounds (and indirectly feels) extra such as you’re in a public park than exterior a busy airport.

Floor flooring

Inside, on the bottom flooring (which is technically the arrivals degree), there are presently just a few outlets, rental automotive firm places of work, taxi stands and bus line places of work.

That is the place you will find yourself after baggage declare (extra on that in a bit).

Throughout, you would hear the sounds of building, making clear that components of the airport (most notably the food and drinks institutions) stay a piece in progress.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Ticketing space

A number of escalators, elevators and stairs take you as much as the ticketing space, which is spacious and ethereal — and simply probably the most spectacular a part of the constructing.

Daylight pours in by a translucent roof. There are two massive islands the place airways have arrange their check-in and bag drop stations.

American, Delta and United every have a row of check-in counters with loads of area. On the opening day of U.S. flights, there have been balloons and treats to honor the inaugural flights.

United added its personal check-in counters with some modest decor when it launched service Sunday.

JetBlue plans to launch service to Tulum within the coming months. So do Air Canada and Panama-based Copa Airways.

Safety

The safety space was effectively staffed and took just some minutes to get by.

Since Tulum is a a lot smaller airport than Cancun, you’ll be able to doubtless count on smaller crowds — notably till airways totally scale up their flight schedules out of the airport.

SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

For Clint’s departure on Delta’s inaugural flight, two officers checked his passport and boarding cross earlier than he was allowed to scan his ticket at automated gates.

At safety, officers requested passengers to take away belts and watches so that they might be put by the X-ray machines. Different gadgets, like laptops and Kindles, needed to be eliminated and put right into a separate bin for scanning.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Airside

The departures concourse is one straight hallway. If you happen to go not noted of safety, you will discover gates for home Mexico flights — a minimum of proper now.

If you happen to go proper, you will discover the gates for flights departing to U.S. locations.

In all, the airport has 13 plane parking positions. There are solely 4 true gates within the concourse itself, however some gates result in a number of jet bridges. So, you would find yourself departing from a “D3A” or a “D3B.”

Aesthetically, the beautiful ceilings had loads of lighting, with Mayan-inspired wooden sculptures making a dramatic impression.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

This airport’s floor-to-ceiling home windows will doubtless encourage AvGeeks with killer views of plane taking off and touchdown.

Departing passengers will discover wide-open areas, loads of seating, and sporadic plugs and retailers. Like most airport terminals, when flights begin boarding, passengers congregate within the concourse a bit. Nonetheless, usually talking, it is a pretty spacious concourse. That will likely be much more true as soon as building totally wraps up and there are extra locations to eat, drink and sit.

Marble flooring and excessive ceilings give the terminal a high-gloss look.

These gates quantity D1 by D4.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The gates appeared to be usually interchangeable, “frequent use” gates. So, you would possibly see a Delta jet depart from a gate at one level within the day after which an American aircraft at that gate later within the day.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

On day one in all worldwide flight operations, American Airways adorned its gates with balloons and signage to mark the event.

Tulum makes use of automated gates that allow you to scan your boarding cross, however proper now, gate brokers nonetheless appear to be checking passports previous to departure.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Because it was the primary day of worldwide flights to Tulum, the flights had been much more packed arriving than departing, so the concourse was pretty empty. That can doubtless change within the coming months as U.S. and different worldwide airways add extra service.

On today, nonetheless, Delta’s inaugural outbound flight was flippantly booked, with one employee saying there have been 120 empty seats on the Boeing 737-800 — reminiscent of how empty planes had been flying in the course of the worst of the pandemic.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Facilities on the new Tulum airport

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

As talked about, though U.S. airways solely simply launched service to Tulum, the airport has technically been open for about 4 months.

Nonetheless, it is pretty bare-bones in relation to facilities — a minimum of proper now.

That is very true concerning food and drinks choices.

Foods and drinks

Exhausting-hat areas make it clear that extra outlets and eating places — together with large chains and native spots — are on the way in which.

SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Ultimately, extra eating places will likely be out there, together with some that will likely be acquainted to Individuals. TPG noticed “proximamente” (“quickly”) indicators for all the pieces from Starbucks to Firehouse Subs to Le Ache Quotidien to Burger King to Applebee’s.

It is a comparable story landside, the place we noticed indicators for well-known retailers like Starbucks and Domino’s, together with some extra regionally impressed food and drinks institutions.

Proper now, although, be warned: Meals choices are sparse, with just some small concession stands — assume snack bars, not eating places.

Till extra locations open, vacationers can count on little greater than bodega-like institutions promoting chilly water, sodas and bagged snacks like potato chips.

This could get rather a lot higher within the coming months. In reality, there are already tables in place for what seems to be a budding meals court docket.

In the intervening time, a key piece of recommendation when you’re headed to the airport: Do not arrive hungry.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Purchasing

Mockingly, regardless of the concourse being devoid of sustenance, there’s already a duty-free store up and operating instantly post-security. Distributors wasted no time promoting merchandise like cologne, make-up and booze to vacationers heading residence from trip.

Is there a lounge on the new Tulum airport?

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Among the many “coming quickly” areas is a Sala VIP membership. A employee there mentioned it will be opening in just a few weeks.

The indicators close to the boarding space the place American Airways had arrange festivities for its first flight out of Tulum instructed the lounge can be referred to as The Grand Lounge Elite Salas Membership; it has a number of retailers at Mexico Metropolis Worldwide Airport (MEX) and accepts Precedence Go.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Different facilities

A small nondenominational chapel with an enormous lighted cross on the altar may present a pleasant respite for individuals who need a non secular second on the airport.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

There have been additionally a number of massive restrooms in a number of spots all through the terminal. The loos had been spotless, and all the pieces labored completely, as one would possibly count on at a brand new airport.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Inside was a big restroom as effectively.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Lastly, there have been two youngsters’s play areas. One was close to the home gates, and there was one other close to the worldwide departure gates (D3 and D4).

Arriving on the new Tulum airport

The arrival at Tulum was seamless for TPG aviation reporter Sean Cudahy, who was on the first-ever industrial flight from exterior Mexico to the touch down on the new airport.

SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

After stunning views of the Mexican shoreline on the ultimate descent, it was a fast taxi to the gate; passengers had been off the plane in minutes.

SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

With a a lot smaller footprint than the Cancun airport, it was a really quick stroll to customs — not more than a minute or two down a ramp.

Getting by customs

Alongside the way in which, it grew to become clear that this can be a extra visually interesting airport than the one in Cancun.

There have been loads of nods to the Mayan aesthetic and pure fantastic thing about the Riviera Maya. One instance is that this tunnel main into the customs space.

Passport management was a breeze. Since we had been the primary worldwide arrival (and a few of the first vacationers off the plane), the customs brokers had been ready for passengers — not the opposite manner round.

SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Nonetheless, with 18 lanes and a comparatively modest variety of worldwide flights deliberate to the brand new airport this 12 months, it looks as if a facility that needs to be effectively outfitted to deal with the deliberate passenger site visitors at the same time as issues get busier.

However, as all the time, it will likely be price watching how that unfolds within the coming months.

Baggage declare

Sean waited not more than 5 minutes for his bag at baggage declare, the place there are three carousels for worldwide carriers.

SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Notably, baggage declare is mere steps from the place floor crew members unload baggage from the plane. This needs to be a significant assist in getting baggage again to passengers expeditiously.

That is an space the place Tulum has the possibility to excel over Cancun. These days, TPG has heard stories of multihour waits for luggage on some peak days in Cancun.

SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Upon getting your bag in hand, head to at least one final customs station, the place all your belongings (even carry-on baggage) must undergo one further scanner. Quite a few vacationers had been stopped randomly by Mexican officers to have their baggage opened and inspected.

TPG workforce members have skilled this in Cancun as effectively, so it is pretty in keeping with the arrival expertise there.

This might flip right into a spot the place bottlenecks might be an issue within the coming months, so simply be ready that upon getting your bag in hand, your wait is probably not over. As one of many first worldwide passengers to proceed by this checkpoint, although, the wait was nearly nonexistent.

Floor transportation

Vacationers who’ve flown into Cancun know it may be a bit chaotic when you emerge from baggage declare; there are taxi firms, shuttle companies, timeshares and tour operators all attempting to get your consideration.

There have additionally been stories of scams and unscrupulous pricing from taxi and Uber drivers on the Cancun airport for years, with guests typically caught within the center.

Snap response at Tulum: There’s a few of that, nevertheless it’s on a a lot smaller scale at a smaller airport.

Sean organized on-site for a taxi to his central Tulum lodge for $60, and the driving force was attentive and pleasant.

Total, although, Tulum’s floor transportation nonetheless appears costlier than what you’d count on within the area. You may be wherever from $100 to $120 when you go to any of the bigger resorts.

In case you are headed to Tulum correct, there are taxis for much less; our trip to get there was “simply” $60. Most guests, nonetheless, will doubtless be headed farther afield.

The airport additionally gives rental automobiles, nevertheless it’s price checking opening and shutting hours. Rental automotive places of work are already open on the airport, together with Hertz and Europcar, and that might be price it when you do not thoughts driving. Simply remember most resorts will even cost you for parking.

You would possibly wish to examine a bus service referred to as ADO, which can drop you at spots near main resort areas beginning at $20 one-way. It was already taking bookings on the Tulum airport. You may nonetheless have to take a taxi to your remaining vacation spot, however this might assist cost-conscious guests.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Transportation on this a part of Mexico shouldn’t be terribly organized, and the brand new airport will not remedy these points.

Ultimately, the brand new (and controversial) Tren Maya (Mayan Prepare) will open a station on the Tulum airport. There was signage and building for the practice on my journey into the airport, nevertheless it does not appear to be it is opening anytime quickly.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The practice began service in December, however up to now, it solely goes between Cancun Worldwide Airport and the town of Campeche. Ultimately, it would come to Tulum and to the airport, however that is a good distance off, judging by the development websites on the airport.

If you happen to’re planning a visit to Tulum, we might advise checking prematurely along with your lodge to see what sort of transportation you would possibly have the ability to ebook prematurely.

How costly is it to fly to Tulum?

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

For the foreseeable future, U.S. airways will function far fewer flights to Tulum than Cancun. That is partly as a result of airways are simply getting operations off the bottom. Additionally, Tulum is, fairly merely, a a lot smaller airport.

Due to the forces of provide and demand, that may make for costlier airfare to the newer Yucatan Peninsula airport.

Between now and the top of September, the common round-trip airfare to Cancun is round $364 (or $433 if you wish to ebook a nonstop flight), in line with reserving app Hopper.

For Tulum, round-trip costs sit round $437 — about 20% greater — or $455 for a nonstop flight.

What US airways fly to Tulum?

From the outset, the “Massive Three” legacy U.S. airways are providing service to Tulum. A fourth service is coming quickly.

Airline Airports
American Charlotte Douglas Worldwide Airport (CLT)

Dallas Fort Price Worldwide Airport (DFW)

Miami Worldwide Airport (MIA)

Delta Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Worldwide Airport (ATL)
United Chicago’s O’Hare Worldwide Airport (ORD)

Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

Los Angeles Worldwide Airport (LAX) — launches Could 23

Newark Liberty Worldwide Airport (IAH)

JetBlue New York’s John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport (JFK) — launches June 13

Spirit Airways had initially deliberate Tulum service from Orlando and Fort Lauderdale however needed to quickly postpone these flights amid fleet constraints. In February, the airline advised TPG it hoped to reestablish plans to launch Tulum service sooner or later.

Backside line

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The brand-new Felipe Carrillo Puerto Worldwide Airport is a gorgeous airport that’s price contemplating in your subsequent journey to the Yucatan Peninsula.

The airport is not as shut as visitors visiting Tulum, Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen resorts would possibly hope.

Nonetheless, it will possibly nonetheless be a extra handy possibility than Cancun Worldwide Airport for guests to some resort cities within the space.

It is also rather a lot much less crowded and chaotic than the Cancun airport and does not have (up to now) as lots of the aggressive salespeople attempting to get you to hire a automotive, purchase a timeshare or hail a cab.

Except you are touring to a resort in Cancun itself, or in any other case visiting the northern reaches of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, it could be price contemplating TQO over Cancun — even when you must pay a bit extra to fly out and in of this airport.

That mentioned, the airport has rising pains. The air-con is spotty, the Wi-Fi is not presently working, and there are only a few outlets and eating places proper now. Oh, and there’s no lounge as of writing.

Keep tuned as TPG screens how the airport performs as crowds and flight choices develop within the coming months.

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