After going through customs you will pick up your luggage, then pass through screening. You will press a button for a red or green light. The red means they will search you, the green means you can go. If you are taking a connecting flight to another location and the bags are already tagged for their final destination, you will drop them on a belt located to the right of the inspection tables. If tagged to Mexico City only, you will need to check in again with the airline. Foreign travellers using connecting flights from Mexico City are sometimes required to pass through customs again when they reach their final destination.
Just before passing out of the secure area into the arrivals hall, ‘for your safety’ your luggage will be xrayed. At this stage, if you’ve exceeded the Baggage and Duty Free Allowance, the officers will charge duty on your excess possessions. For example if you have 3 spendy cameras, they’ll charge duty on the 3rd camera. They’re particularly zealous about electronic components they don’t recognise. Be prepared for this unpleasantness. If possible have a receipt or packing list and depreciate the value shown as much as possible.
The entire process, from when the plane arrives to when you are done with customs, usually takes about an hour. After completing customs, you will go through large doors to the waiting area for international arrivals. Be prepared to see a lot of people in this area. It is a custom for families to pick up their loved ones at the airport and the hall is rather small for a city of its size.
In a fine bit of job creation, you can’t use an airport baggage trolley to push your own luggage through the arrivals hall. Your trolley will be agressively taken from you just outside the secure area. There are carriers who will offer to carry your luggage. This is a service authorized by the airport and is safe–they will be uniformed with white shirts, navy blue tie and dark blue pants and will carry a wheelie (or keep it nearby) with the union logo on it. There is no fixed price for this service, but 15-25 pesos should be fine, unless you are traveling in a group or have a lot of bags.
Taxi – The airport offers a service of licensed and secure taxis known as Taxis Amarillos, Yellow Cab Aeropuerto or Transportacion Terrestre. These cabs are white and yellow with black airplane stickers on the doors. You should buy a ticket in the marked counters inside the airport. You can ask one of the wheelie guys who will take you and your luggage to the Taxi counter for “Taxi Seguro” or “Boleto de Taxi”. Be sure to get the detachable piece of the ticket back. Prices range from 100 to 300 Pesos for the taxi service, depending on the size of the car and the zone of the city you are going to. A drawing of a car on the ticket will tell you what type of car the ticket is valid for. Some ticket vendors are known to sell more expensive tickets for huge vans to single persons with moderate amounts of luggage.
Once you’ve picked up your taxi ticket, join the melee’ (especially outside Terminal 2) in the taxi staging area. Join the queue of people carrying the same colour card as yourself, or ask the taxi marshals which line to join. You might notice people moving past you. They’re family groups boarding vans.
The Terminal 1 taxi boarding area is outside Puerto 10, to the right of all the arrivals halls. The different taxi company ranks are different distances from the terminal. If you’re meeting somebody with mobility problems, check out in advance which cab company stand is nearest the terminal.
Metro – If you are looking for a more economical means of transportation and you’re not carrying too much luggage, take the Metro (Subway). The Terminal Aerea station is next to the Domestic Flight Arrivals hall in Terminal 1. Go to the left when coming out from Terminal 1 International Arrivals. See map for information. It is a bit hard to find the Metro station, so be prepared to do some detective work, and keep an eye out for the orange 1970s style M designating the entrance. It’s also a long walk. The station’s not geared up for travellers with luggage, there are lots of stairs and no escalators or wide gates for luggage.
Metro tickets cost 3 pesos each. Don’t try paying with the 500 peso note you’ve just received at the exchange bureau. Realize that the Metro has its own risks. Pick-pocketing is a moderate danger here so be aware of your surroundings, and keep an eye on your belongings. Especially, don’t take the Metro during rush hour unless you are especially fond of the sensation a sardine has in a tin. See below for more information about riding the Metro.
Beware that there are some stations with bad signing and with few maps available. Study your route before venturing in the Metro. Try to avoid peak hours: remember that approximately 4 million people use this service every day.
The Aztec Empire • Locations & Activities