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Monday, January 2, 2012

Cancun Airport--Christmas Week 2011

Arrival in Cancun

I read a lot of information about transportation options before our trip, and everything I read, talked about shuttle services, and the need to set up transportation beforehand. I even read information that said that taxis are not allowed in the airport for arrivals. Since we saw many taxis when we arrived--and, the shuttle service was a MESS--I tried to find that information online again. I could not find what I had read before our trip, although I did find this: It is against the law for anyone to approach you to offer you a fare from pirate [I assume this should be private] transportation. Cancun Airport and the Mexican Transportation Authority, and the local Police works together to eliminate any illegal activity. YOU MUST have your transportation from airport to your hotel ONLY with an official provider and BEFORE your arrival to Cancun. 

I looked at many of the transportation options beforehand, and it is not easy to tell if a company is an "official provider." Based on our experience, I wished we had not pre-booked transportation, and that we had approached a cab driver to negotiate a price upon arrival. The post above does not say that it is illegal for a visitor to approach a cab driver; only that it is illegal for the driver to approach a visitor. The impression that I have from what I have read and from our experience, is that the statements on the airport website have more to do with who gets the transportation money than it has to do with visitor safety. If anyone reading this blog has had experience taking a cab after arriving in Cancun, that was not pre-arranged, please share your experience with the rest of us! Following was our experience:



We observed people holding signs with company and tour names written on them inside the terminal and outside. The time share folks were stationed inside, right before the exit doors, mingling with some of the people who were holding signs. Expect to be approached by at least one of these people who will make it appear as though they are trying to direct you to the correct shuttle company.

Once outside, we observed taxis parked at the curb, and people who were holding signs at the curb and across the street/drive. The area across the drive was apparently the "shuttle zone," although I did not see any signage indicating this, and our company had not told us to cross over to that area to search for our driver. The only thing we had been told was that our correct driver would have our name on a list, and NOT to get in with someone who did not have our name, because they would not be responsible for any charges we would incur.

Our transportation was booked with Prestige Services through the JW Marriott. I did not see either of these names visible as I walked the length of the shuttle area twice. All the parking spots were full, vehicles were trying to get in and out of spots--blocking each other in, and many people were wandering about--confused about where to go. To say that the shuttle services were operating in utter chaos, is an understatement. I began to ask people for the company names we were looking for, and after being directed back and forth a few times, we finally found the JW shuttle director. Not to be outdone in the chaos department, our shuttle director assigned us to 3 different pickup spots before we boarded the shuttle! This was not because he directed us to full shuttles; he just kept changing his mind for some reason.

Picking up our baggage inside the terminal before this was just as much of a mess as the disorganization outside. Since I do not have any hints for avoiding that chaos, I am not going to write about that experience.


Departure from Cancun

The trip to the airport by cab from the Holiday Inn Arenas (located at the top of the hotel zone) cost 300 pesos and took 30 minutes--including the time in the cab at the airport to get to terminal 3. If you have Delta Sky Priority baggage drop and boarding privileges, as we did, 1.5 to 2 hours is more than enough time to arrive for departure. I suggest declining assistance from the porters who will grab your bags when exiting the cab--unless, of course, you want to have someone transport your bags for you. We had only 1 regular sized bag, and 1 small bag, so we did not need assistance. The porter who attempted to take our bags made it sound like we would need assistance finding the check-in counter. The inside of the airport looked just like any other airport I have been in, and the Sky Priority signs were highly visible. It was a little crowded to get around the kiosks in front of the Sky Priority area, although we made it through without having to ask anyone to move. The Delta employee who checked our bags spoke perfect English, and provided all the information we needed without us having to ask.

When you go through security, you do not need to remove your shoes--yay, I thought! The sign that states this is kind of small, and we almost did not see it. The shopping area after security is huge, and complete with alcohol samples, just like in the Cancun shopping areas. I have a Priority Pass card through American Express, so we decided to go check out the club. This was my first experience using the Priority Pass card. I had read that the cost is $27 for a guest, so I wanted to see if the club was worth $27 first. When I stopped at the desk, the employee told me there is no charge for 1 guest. I asked if she was sure, and she said yes. I went back out to get my husband. A short time later, another guest stopped with his card to ask the same thing. She also told him there is no charge for 1 guest, so he left and then returned with his wife. When I spoke with American Express after this, they said that Priority Pass says that there is a $27 charge for a guest. They said that if I did get charged, to contact them again, and they would see if there was anything they could do. This club was not worth paying $27 for, so I hope I will not have this fee. If the charge does come through, I would guess I won't be the only unhappy Priority Pass holder!

**Update - I received a $27 charge for my guest almost two months after visiting this club. I contacted Priority Pass and then American Express, and am currently waiting to hear whether this will be refunded. Another month later, I received word from American Express stating that the $27 will not be refunded. I know that the T&C say that there is a $27 charge for a guest, so if I am ever told that there is no charge in the future, I will make sure that the agent enters "0" for the number of guests with me. Priority Pass told me that they occasionally run promotions where the guest charge is waived; however, since the person who checked me in wrote that I had one guest, Priority Pass charged me for one guest.