It seems there’s no end in sight to the travel woes this season. While Mexico has successfully averted most of the bad press directed at Europe recently, the epicenter of the chaos, the situation in places like Cancun seems to be just as bad, with airlines like Delta, Air Canada and Spirit all urging tourists to leave for the airport as early as 5 hours prior to departure.
For several consecutive months, Cancun has been a major tourism magnet, attracting millions of tourists even when Covid brought the world to a halt. In order to cope with the high demand and ease movement into and out of Cancun Airport, local authorities decided on reforming and expanding the main boulevard leading to it.
Now, it seems that the ongoing construction is causing some serious disruption Cancun officials had not foreseen:
Roadwork Makes Reaching Cancun Airport More Challenging
Cancun Airport is one of the busiest in the post-Covid world, having far exceeded the pre-pandemic levels and being the preferred gateway into Mexico for millions of visiting Americans and Canadians. One huge problem facing travelers, though, is the sub-optimal infrastructure that has historically led to delays at the Riviera Maya entry point.
Arriving to Cancun Airport, visitors surely have no shortage of private transfer options to pick from, ranging from shuttle vans to Escalades (and of course, the infamously overpriced taxis). Unfortunately, besides a not-so-popular Airport Shuttle that does not stop at any of the main hotels, public transportation is scarce.
Unlike major airports of the same league, like London Heathrow or JFK, Cancun’s does not have a train system connecting both the hub and the city it serves (yet). While that is poised to change at some point beginning next year, once the long-delayed Mayan Train project is delivered, only the ever-busy roads provide access to the airport – at present.
Naturally, this poses a problem when the Luis Donaldo Colosio Boulevard, the most vital avenue keeping the fragile system in place, is placed under construction for a whole year. The wait lines have become longer, the traffic jams virtually inevitable, and the chances of travelers missing their flights home has increased drastically.
Airlines Urge Their Customers To Plan Accordingly
As a result, three of the biggest airlines operating in Mexico – Delta, Air Canada and the low-cost Spirit – have since updated their travel advisories for Cancun Airport. All three urge visitors to ‘be more cautions’ when planning their schedules, taking into account the construction carried out on the Colosio Boulevard.
More specifically, the trajectory between the city, including the resort strip, and the airport is said to take up to 2 hours amid traffic blockages; on top of that, an average 3 hours are needed for checking into an international flight to the U.S. or Canada, clearing security, and proceeding to the boarding gate when arriving at the airport.
To be on the safe side, perhaps you should consider not traveling to Cancun with any checked bags at all. This may help reduce waiting and get you out of the airport faster, especially now that luggage mishandling is becoming a widespread issue across the industry. Even then, you are still advised to reserve a minimum of 5 hours for commuting.
On the bright side, security wait times at Cancun Airport have been reducing significantly lately, proving the Mexican Government is keen on ensuring visiting Americans have the smoothest experience possible. Nevertheless, the roadwork is set to be a thorn in the side both of incoming travelers and those leaving.
Will The Situation Improve In The Long Term?
It is, of course, temporary, and once it has been completed, the traffic flow is expected to be improved. However, for the immediate future, the complications will probably persist: despite having opened alternative access routes to the airport, the Quintana Roo state Governor Carlos Joaquin Gonzales has conceded those have not been enough to lessen congestion.
In some of them, transfer times are taking more than one hour, up from half an hour previously. Out of the six secondary routes established, five had an increase in traffic between 20 and 85 per cent, going from 4 vehicles per minute to a shocking 28. Needless to say, the lines of cars and private shuttles waiting to bypass the boulevard closure have become extensive.
Soon enough, tourists may be forced to transit dirt lanes as an alternative, according to Gonzales himself, who is quickly running out of options to mitigate the crisis and deliver on his promises: ‘We work day and night, and even so the estimated times are what they have seen until the end of next year‘, admitted the Governor.
It remains to be seen whether the full reopening of the Colosio Boulevard, and the long-delayed debut of the Mayan Train, will help Cancun Airport tackle its operational issues.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com