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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cancun, Mexico Airport and Transportation ~ Canada Transfers and between hotels

February - March 2015

Arrival experience - February 2015

Delta baggage claim

We waited a long time for our bags, because we did not know that Delta has a new process for Sky tagged luggage. I do not know if this is a new process for all International travel, or if this is only in place in some airports. We traveled to Jamaica less than two months before this trip, and our experience was different at that time.

When the bags from our flight came around on the carousel, only a couple of them had Sky Priority tags on them. After most of the bags had been delivered, I started to look around and walk over toward the Delta baggage counter. As I walked around the carousel, I observed our two bags lined up, along with several other Sky Priority bags. I do not know how long the bags had been sitting there or how they had been delivered to where they were. When we collected our bags for customs in Detroit (DTW) on the way home, I observed a sign on baggage claim #5, which said that all Sky Priority bags would be delivered at baggage claim #3. We saw no such sign stating this in Cancun, and when we returned through Atlanta (ATL) from Jamaica, Sky Priority bags had not been delivered separately.

Hotel shuttles/Canada Transfer information

We booked transportation with Canada Transfers a couple of weeks before our stay. The cost for non-shared transportation for two was $53 round-trip between the airport and our resort in the hotel zone (before tip). We would have preferred to pre-pay with a credit card, and then just pay the tip in cash upon arrival; however, that was not an option with this company. The company accepts pre-payment through Paypal only, or payment in cash upon arrival. We opted for cash upon arrival.

Before choosing Canada Transfers, I researched the cost and reviews of several other companies:  Super Shuttle, Cancun Transfers, USA Transfers, Cancun Shuttle, Ire Cancun, Cancun Cheap Transfers, Discovery Mundo, Cancun Valet, Best Day, Amstar, and ESL Transfers. The round-trip cost varied from $52 to $170, and the cost was less for a round-trip transfer than it was for two one-way trips. Our round-trip was actually to and from two different hotels in the hotel zone, and I did not see a way to make a round-trip reservation using both hotels online.

I contacted a few of the least expensive companies to confirm the cost, and to ask how to make a round-trip reservation: Canada TransfersCancun Transfers, Super Shuttle, and Cancun Shuttle. I received the following responses: Canada Transfers confirmed the cost and made our reservation; Cancun Transfers (another of my top choices, except Canada Transfers answered my email first) said I could make a round-trip reservation online with the hotel we were going to, and then write our departing hotel in the comments box. This company accepts credit card payments online; SuperShuttle said I would need to make two one-way reservations, so the cost would be more than a round-trip booking, even with their discount coupons; and I did not receive a reply from Cancun Shuttle.

We received Arrival Vouchers from Canada Transfers via email for our reservation. The instructions said to look for staff in uniform and holding a Canada Transfers sign in the airport arrivals area. Both times we have been to Cancun, our transportation representatives were standing outside of the airport building entrance. If you have never been to Cancun before, be aware that many people will approach you before you get to the exit door as if to offer assistance or imply that he or she is your contact. You can find additional Cancun airport information in my blog post from our visit in December 2011.

It only took us a few moments to locate two Canada Transfers representatives after we stepped outside. Our name was on the list of names the representatives had. We were asked if we wanted to get a beer or margarita for the ride from the stand outside the airport, and then we were escorted to a waiting van. They loaded our luggage, and offered us bottled water and chilled washcloths.

The van was clean and comfortable. We arrived at our hotel in less than 30 minutes.

A couple of notes ~ Print the transportation vouchers, even if you do not pre-pay, because our driver requested this both times. Full payment was requested when we arrived, and we did not receive any kind of receipt. I asked our driver if he could write "paid" on our return voucher, and he declined. I was hopeful that we did not need anything more when we were picked up, and all went smoothly. The only thing we needed for the return trip was our voucher and tip money.

Transfer to Cancun hotel - February 2015

We had inquired with Canada Transfers about a ride between hotels when we booked our airport transportation. The rate was $33, and the hotels are only five miles apart, so we did not make that reservation. We knew that this was easily walkable, although we were not sure we wanted to do that with our luggage. There was also a bus stop in front of both hotels when we last visited, so we decided not to pre-book this transportation.

Before departing for our second hotel, we learned that the cost for a cab ride was 120 pesos or $10. We decided to take a cab, and we paid with pesos.

Departure experience - March 2015

Canada Transfers

Our departure flight was at 4:10 p.m., and the pickup time on our departure vouchers was 1:10 p.m. I read my Cancun airport blog post from our last visit to Cancun, and saw that the ride back to the airport had taken 30 minutes, and that 1.5 to 2 hours had been plenty of time to check-in. Since a pickup at 1:30 would be more than 2.5 hours before our flight  time, I asked if we could change our pickup time to 1:30 p.m.

Our pickup time was changed to 1:30 p.m., and our Canada Transfers shuttle arrived at 1:25 p.m. Our experience was the same as it had been when we arrived; the driver was courteous, the van was clean and comfortable, and we arrived at the airport to check-in less than 30 minutes later.

Delta check-in and security

We only had to wait behind one passenger in the Sky Priority lane to check our bags, so this process only took a few minutes. The Delta employee was courteous, and he spoke perfect English.

The security line was not very long, and it took about 5 to 10 minutes to get through security. I observed a separate handicap lane, although I did not see a separate priority lane, so our 10 minutes time was going through the regular lane. If there is a priority lane, it is not well marked. We now had almost two hours before our departure time, and the airport was super crowded!

VIP Lounge

The VIP lounge was exactly the same as when I had visited at the end of 2011. I went by myself to have a little something to eat, and my husband ate in the airport. He said he was not going to pay $27 to enter the lounge because it was not worth it. While I was in the lounge, I overheard the lounge representative tell another guest with Priority Pass the same thing I had been told three years earlier; that one guest is allowed. If you have not read my other blog post; yes, one guest is allowed, but you will be billed $27 for that guest. I also heard another guest turned away who tried to get complimentary entry with her American Express Platinum card. If you have the American Express Platinum card, you need to fill out the online form to join Priority Pass in order to enter International clubs. Priority Pass membership is a complimentary perk with the American Express Platinum card.

Gate area

I thought the worst part of this trip was the departure gate area. It was jammed full of people, and it must have been close to 100°F. There were not nearly enough seats to accommodate everyone. There were only two flights at the end of the terminal where our gate was located, and the area did not clear out after the flight before ours departed. If I had not had a 1st class seat, I probably would have found a seat away from the gate area until after the flight was half boarded. I did not need to worry about getting on the plane right away because I did not have any luggage that I needed to stow.

On the other hand, we may not have been able to know or hear what was going on, because more passengers probably would have been arriving for flights after ours. And, there were passengers seated near me and my husband on the airplane who were trying to get people to switch seats with them, and they probably would have made the switches on their own, if we had not boarded when our zones were called to get in our assigned seats. I do not mind switching with passengers who want to sit together, and I have sometimes inquired myself when my husband and I both receive an upgrade to 1st class, and our seats are not together. I would not, however, do what any of the passengers on our flight were trying to do. The first couple tried to keep the whole row of three seats by choosing the window and aisle seat, and leaving the middle seat open. This almost worked for them because the middle seat was empty until after we got to the airport. At the last minute, I decided to take my upgrade because I did not want to sit in my current middle seat for a 3+ hour flight since a passenger was seated in the window seat next to me. After I vacated my seat, another couple moved to my middle seat and the open middle seat between the other couple. This couple expected passengers to switch with them so they could sit next to each other in the middle and aisle seat; they did not want the middle and window seat together, they wanted the aisle seat. Then, they whined about not being able to sit together when the switch they had planned did not work out the way they wanted. Unbelievable!

As beautiful as I think the Cancun area is, I do not think we will be flying to Cancun again anytime soon. The chaos and discomfort in the airport is something I do not want to experience again. Our flight was also delayed 40 minutes, which I am sure added to my dissatisfaction.