News, features, and commentary from the biggest city in the Americas, Mexico City.

Escape from Mexico City, Part III: Guadalajara Airport

GDL (Photo: Darren Popik)

By Darren M. Popik

(MEXICO CITY) — Back in Mexico City after a weekend trip though Guadalajara Airport, I’d like to share a few thoughts on the airport that serves the country’s second-biggest city.

After recent renovations, Don Miguel Hidalgo International Airport (GDL) is now a very modern-looking facility.

The Good

First off, it only took a few minutes to check-in with my airline, Volaris, and I had no wait at all passing through security screening. (However, I did see longer lines for passengers checking in for Volaris’ international flights.)

What I like most about this airport is the very good selection of food and beverage options. On the public side (pre-security) of the airport, you can find one of my favorite Mexican coffee chains, Café Punta del Cielo, as well as a Starbucks. They’ve also got a Burger King, and another favorite of mine, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

There’s also a selection of retail outlets.

Once you pass through security, the food and retail options increase. Aside from yet another Krispy Kreme and two more Starbucks, there’s also a central food court area, which includes Chili’s, Wings, and Johnny Rockets.

A personal recommendation: Try a torta ahogada (one of Guadalajara’s signature food items) at the Guacamole Grill. They’re excellent.

GDL’s Central Food Court Area (Photo: Darren Popik)

And as for the retail, I wasn’t here to shop, but GDL did impress me with the amount of stores it offers. A tip: If you’re looking for a souvenir to take back home, stop at the GDL Store (located on both sides of security) or one of the tequila outlets for a bottle from one of the state of Jalisco’s local distilleries.

The other good news is that you’ll find Wi-Fi throughout the terminal. (And to my surprise, even a number of electrical outlets, most notably in the central food court area by the big windows.)

A Few Cautionary Notes

There are a few things I should warn you about, however.

First, I noticed that many of the food outlets were closing up at 9 pm. My flight was scheduled for a 10 pm departure, but fortunately, I got to the airport early, and got my torta ahogada before closing time.

Another curious thing is that on all four occasions that I’ve been to this airport, I have never actually deplaned or boarded my flight AT the terminal. I’m guessing they think they have a lack of gates at the terminal — though I certainly saw empty gates — so planes end up parking out on the tarmac, and they shuttle you in to the terminal by bus.

You’ll be using stairs to board and deplane at GDL — out on the tarmac. (Photo: Darren Popik)

When you’re in a hurry, this is a nuisance. When you land in the middle of a thunderstorm, and get soaked getting from the plane to the bus, it’s downright aggravating. (And yes, this did happen to me here two years ago.)

The other thing that I must mention, however, is the ground transportation situation at the GDL. Quite simply, beyond taxis, it doesn’t exist.

When you’re leaving GDL, you’ll be forced to pay exorbitant taxi fares. If your journey takes you by bus elsewhere beyond Guadalajara, you’ll be required to fork over 270 pesos just to get to the bus station.

And to make matters worse, unlike at Mexico City International, GDL won’t take credit cards for their overpriced monopoly service. Cash only. (They must be making a killing on their take from the taxi fares — even more than they make on landing fees, I’d guess.)

Related to this silliness, the airport authority has constructed a MXN $20-million peso Terminal Terrestre (Ground Terminal) a short walk from the airport terminal.

Sounds great, right? Wrong!

I checked it out, and discovered that at this place, you have just two options: A bus to Lake Chapala, or else to Guadalajara’s dirty old bus station, which only serves a few local communities via second or third-class buses.

They do not allow ETN, Primera Plus, or anyone else to pick up passengers here. Seriously — no joke.

In Conclusion

All in all, if I put aside my dislike of the taxi/transportation situation, I do like Guadalajara Airport.

It’s comfortable, it has good amenities, and as I mentioned at the outset, it’s very modern.

But a few words of advice for the airport authority — quit banning ETN, Primera Plus, and the other bus companies from picking up passengers at the Terminal Terrestre.

It’s not just the high taxi fares that are a problem, it’s also that the lack of connectivity creates unnecessary complexity for travelers wanting to fly to GDL, but continue their journey elsewhere.

Take my case: My trip consisted of a taxi to Mexico City airport, short flight to GDL, taxi to Guadalajara bus station, and then a bus to Colima.  Add up all the time involved, and I didn’t save any time whatsoever. I prefer to fly, but this was a hassle.

And mine is not an isolated case. I have a number of friends who prefer just taking the overnight bus from Mexico City, rather than pass through GDL en route to Colima or other destinations in the region.

So come on GDL — offer ground connections at your terminal terrestre. That’s what you built it for, no?

Twitter: @darrenchannel

3 comments on “Escape from Mexico City, Part III: Guadalajara Airport

  1. Bradley Gunn
    February 27, 2013

    I don’t know when this was written – but there are many option at the ground transport terminal – you can get buses direct to/from nearby cities – but good luck finding written schedules….

    And btw – what’s wrong with the old bus terminal – fee to get there from GDL is 6 pesos – cab fare from there to (for example) Chapultepec is only a couple bucks. But yes – when you are in a hurry ground transport at GDL can be expensive

  2. Bradley Gunn
    February 27, 2013 Brad…Just so you’re aware: cab fare from airport GDL to downtown GDL say Chapultepec is 280 pesos – or 24 dollars or so. In summary – it’s expensive but can be pretty cheap if you have an extra half hour or so.

  3. Karlos
    March 8, 2013

    The new taxi fare from the airport to Chaputepec is $300, the prices went up..

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