Tag Archives: airlines

Travel Day: Santa Cruz, California to Mexico City

This was an experiment. It seemed easy enough and the cost was far less: take a Southwest Airlines (WNA) flight from San Jose (SJC), California. Connect in Orange County (SNA) and fly directly from there to Mexico City. Arrive in time for an afternoon nap and settle in. Easy.

Santa Cruz Pier & Amusement ParkExcept that even by arriving at the airport by 5 a.m., the hour-and-a-half line to get through security meant that I missed my flight by two minutes. Along with about 40 other people. We stood in another line for an hour to get rebooked. And, with few options, I have a six-hour delay plus the hop-hop-hop flight plan that Southwest is famous for, going first to Las Vegas, then Houston, then Mexico City.  Ah, the vagaries of travel during peak season (after Thanksgiving) wtih a high security alert on top of that.


So, here’s the good news. I’m in the SJC airport editing photographs that I took on my new mirrorless Olympus OMD M5 Mark II camera in Santa Cruz. It weighs a fraction of my Nikon D7000 when I use the 17-55mm Nikkor lens, which is a big plus! I did a lot of research before I bought this one, so here is hoping.


The verdict is still out on whether the photo quality matches up. But, I’m inclined to consider that the convenience could outweigh any negatives.  I’m still learning the settings, so we shall see.


This post includes experimental photos I took with my sister and son in Santa Cruz on West Cliff Drive overlooking the famous area where surfers, runners and strollers convene. The perfect beach life, even at the end of November.

This was a great last day in California, perfect for focusing out onto the horizon.


View of Monterey Bay from West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, California


Bully Pulpit: Why Not Fly Aeromexico to Oaxaca?

Aeromexico, are you listening? Why is it so hard to have a decent customer service experience with your airline company? I’ve been debating whether to publish this and decided to go ahead. Maybe it will get a decision maker’s attention. There is no customer service feedback link on your website!

I arrived in Mexico City from the U.S. on June 4 from San Francisco on United Airlines, in time to get from Terminal One to Terminal Two and the Aeromexico counter. I wanted to buy a ticket to arrive in Oaxaca on the same day, despite the one-way ticket cost of $217 USD.  I rationalized that the cost was worth the wear and tear to avoid the overnight bus.

At the Aeromexico counter,  I pulled out my passport and credit card and gave it to the agent to buy the ticket. I signed the voucher and put my bags on the scale to weigh.  She said, I need your credit card back to charge you $50 USD for the second bag. (She was holding my ticket and my passport behind the counter.)

I said, you still have my card. She said, No, I gave it back to you.  I said, No you didn’t, and searched my wallet and handbag six times. We went back and forth: I gave it back to you. No, you didn’t.

A supervisor ( whose name is Mr. Cisneros, I was told) came out and watched as she rifled through papers and searched the counter. He did not help in the search for my missing card. In frustration, I pulled out another credit card to pay for the second bag and pushed my luggage around the side of the counter.

No, he said, blocking the way, you have to put it on the scale. I said, I already did that. She knows how much it weighs. I was traveling with my cane because of my recent knee replacement surgery, but that didn’t seem to matter either.

By now 30 minutes had passed and the window was closing on when I could board the plane. The scale was blocked by another customer.

I said, please hurry. Is there enough time for me to get through security and get on the plane? I heard him mutter under his breath, I don’t care.  

I was startled. What did you say? Did you say you don’t care if I make the plane or not?  He stared at me. I said, As a courtesy you should put my second bag through at no extra cost. You lost my credit card, I’m going to have to call the company to cancel it, it’s a huge inconvenience and I’m going to have to run to make this flight.

Mr. Cisneros was steadfast. Crossed his arms. Glared, then said, I don’t believe you. You hid the card in your purse so you could ask us to send your bag through free. Then he turned on his heels and walked away to the back.  I asked the agent to cancel the ticket and give me his name.

When I got to TAPO regional bus station and after I bought my bus ticket. I called Chase and cancelled the card. The card never turned up in my bags or luggage when I unpacked. Chase sent a new card via UPS Express to Oaxaca and I received it within three days!

What to do? Fly Volaris or Interjet to/from Oaxaca and Mexico City? Take the ADO GL or Platino bus (a six-and-a-half hour ride when there are no roadblocks)? Fly directly to Oaxaca from Houston on United Airlines? Avoid Aeromexico at all costs?

I did not buy an advance ticket on Aeromexico because if you don’t check in two hours before scheduled flight departure, they have the right to bump you. That’s happened to me before and I lost the value of the ticket. Planes are delayed. Lines at immigration and customs can be long. Odds are not good you will make a connection if you are not flying on a Delta codeshare with Aeromexico.

My friend Lee Ann who lives part of the year in Puerto Escondido, says, When you cross the border, never ask why and always look down? In many places in the world there is an attitude of why try, it is impossible to change the system.

We always look down here to avoid the potholes and pitfalls on the sidewalks so as not to stumble and fall. The subtle connotation is to look down to avoid confrontation. One becomes acculturated not to challenge authority based on upbringing and country of origin. Never asking why means accepting things as they are, of knowing that it’s not your right as a visitor to effect change. It’s a lesson I’m still learning.

Getting to Oaxaca, Mexico: Take Two

Oaxaca is easy to get to from the USA when you use the gateway city of Houston. There is a direct flight from Houston to Oaxaca daily on Continental (soon to be United)Airlines. This is not a bargain route and you will pay a premium for the more direct routing. Take two flights and you are in Oaxaca.

I am writing this at the recommendation of Chris, one of our photo workshop participants. He doesn’t speak Spanish, missed his Mexico City flight to Oaxaca on AeroMexico because United had published the wrong departure time, and had a hard time communicating his need to get on the next flight when it was overbooked.

Ah, the vagaries of international travel when language is a barrier.

So Chris says, spend the extra money, go through Houston and take two flights instead of three. Spend the extra money and save the wear and tear, and extra travel time.

On his return trip to the US yesterday, all went well, though there were delays in Chicago, where he had his second connection. He got home to Columbus, Ohio after 2 am. his route: Oacaca, Mexico City, Chicago, Columbus.

My route tomorrow will be Oaxaca, Houston, Raleigh-Durham.

In October when I return to Mexico, I’ll fly into Mexico City because once in a while I like to go from there to Puebla first by bus. I’ll spend the night and then take a bus from Puebla to Oaxaca. Very easy, but I. Familiar and can negotiate the language.

For novice tourists to Oaxaca, take Chris’ advice.

What’s been your experience?