Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Mexico City Airport

I’ve heard horror stories about the Mexico City (DF) airport but aside from ridiculously long waits in between flights, I’ve never really had any problems.

On Friday my plane landed in DF at 11am and I had a whole plan for how I was going to amuse myself until my flight at 3:40pm. I figured my biggest problem would be not falling asleep from sheer boredom and missing my flight.

Let’s just say I didn’t get bored.

When I checked in at the Zihua airport I was told I’d need to get my boarding pass for the connection once I landed. Okay, no big deal. Well, an hour and a half later I finally had that boarding pass and arrived at my connecting gate. The longest I waited in line was maybe five minutes, so that was 85 minutes of schlepping across the DF airport, going from one counter to the next to the next, then yet one more. No one seemed to know exactly where I was supposed to go, but that didn’t stop them from giving me a destination, all of which involved going “way way down there, all the way to the end, then turn left.”

The most bizarre was when I was told I had to go to Terminal One. My instructions were something along the lines of “go way way down, all the way on the left, then go outside and at the very end there’s a white bus.”

“A bus? Not a train?”

“A bus.”

Sure enough, I walked outside (with the cabs, etc) and at the very end was a white bus surrounded by a little rope. Two women sat at a folding table and were checking IDs before you could board. Shortly after I got on the bus took off on the main road that normal cars drive on – not an airport access road. Then someone emerged from behind a bush and opened a large gate and we entered the actual runway. We even had to stop to let planes go by! (This was the point that I started looking around for hidden cameras, convinced we were either filming a movie or I was part of some prank show.) We meandered past hangars and planes and luggage carts. Apparently that was just a shortcut because we came to another gate where we were let back onto the street.

Or we tried to get back onto the street. See, there was a parade going by and no one wanted to let us in. The man who’d opened the gate stepped into the 4-lane road to stop traffic, but they kept driving around him. Finally another bus let us through. A few minutes later we pulled up to Terminal One and I only had to go to two more counters before I finally got my boarding pass.

In the midst of all this I was asking everyone I talked to where I was supposed to get my FM3 visa stamped because I somehow missed that step when I came to the States in August and they didn’t want to let me back in the country. Once again, everyone agreed with me that “yes, you would have problems if you didn’t have it stamped, but I’m not the person who does it, but if you go way down there then turn left, you should find the person that can help you.” I did eventually find the proper counter.

After all that, I still had three hours to kill, then a four-hour plane ride. I’ve never been happier to see cold weather.


Allen said...

Sounds like a great show. "Melanie, the Airport trip."

Can we see the outtakes, too?

Melanie Avila said...

Ha, I always want to take pictures in the airport but I never know what's considered a possible terrorist threat and it's just not worth it.

Anonymous said...

I've never got close to having your problems. Gate to Gate and check in was easy. US side was the pain.

Janna Qualman said...

But... but... I don't know how to turn left.

:roll: I crack me up.

So glad you made it! Whew. What a trip.

mary h said...

Was it all in Spanish too? I would never have made it to my flight!

Thanks for making me laugh this morning!

ElanaJ said...

Wow, this was fascinating. I hope you use it in a short or a novel someday. Just a little of it.

Melanie's Mom said...

I would definitely avoid taking photos in an airport. That's all you would have needed -- having the federales come take away your camera or worse!

Natasha Fondren said...

Wow! That's quite an adventure. Funny afterwards, in the telling. Doesn't sound at all fun in real life!

Anonymous said...

I like the way you told about the "adventure." Glad you made it!

Erica said...

Wow. That sounds like a show for sure. A parade? Really?

What an interesting uh... adventure that must have been. Glad you made it over here :o)

JLC said...

*Takes notes* Ok, NEVER travel to Mexico City. Check!

Robin said...

Wow! Makes the whole China thing seem sort of benign. I like the "go as far as you can go and make a left" advice. It reminds me of the advice people give to get through a corn maze. You're supposed to keep your hand on the left or right wall and never lose contact, and you'll get out.

Nadine said...

Wow, life is never boring!

The directions reminded me of the John Cusack movie Better Off Dead - "Just go really really fast, and if something's in your way, turn!"

Melanie Avila said...

Gary, this was the first time I had these kinds of issues. At least now I know what to expect.

OMG, Janna, I busted out laughing when I read that and three orderlies turned around and looked at me. :P

Mary, yes, all Spanish. I did think to myself that it's a good thing I understand or I really would have been in trouble. Especially because I was alone.

Elana, I have an idea for something in the future that could use these details.

Melanie Avila said...

Mom, I agree. :)

Natasha, I really didn't mind too much at the time because I had HOURS to kill. I may not have felt the same way if I had a tighter connection.

Thanks anneskal!

Erica, it was SO bizarre. I kept thinking that these things just don't happen.

JLC, I'd avoid it if you can. I told one of my friends who came to visit to avoid it for this very reason.

Robin, I'll have to remember that! I still think your China adventure was right up there.

Nadine, so true!

Jewel/Pink Ink said...

*We even had to stop to let planes go by!*

This had me cracking up!!

What an adventure. Glad you got through okay.

Travis Erwin said...

Glad you found your way way to you destination.

Virginia Lee said...

Yes. There's at least one story/chapter in this.

It's been too long since I've been by, Melanie. I won't make that mistake again. :)

Anonymous said...

That's hysterical. Good thing you had a long time between flights. Imagine the even worse nightmare if you had to catch a quick connection?

Melanie Avila said...

Jewel, that was seriously the point where I started looking around for hidden cameras. No one else seemed phased by it though.

Thanks Travis!

Welcome back Virginia. :)

Gypsy, I was SO glad I had so much time. I have the same layover for the return flight but I hope I don't have to run all over again.