Aeromexico B737-800, B737 MAX & B787 Domestic Business Class (Clase Premier) Review
I originally wrote this review of February of this year from a trip we took in November of 2020. Since that review my wife and I have taken two addition trips to Cancun and both times returned in Clase Premier (Business Class). In April we flew on two B737 MAX 8's and yesterday again a B737-800 and a B787-8 (this time Dreamliner from MEX to TIJ). Most of the review from a few months ago is still accurate. I will update any changes within the review (our meal from MEX to TIJ yesterday was a huge improvement). I am also keeping a side note at the end of the review about a disturbing incident in March while trying to purchase our tickets on aeromexico.com
Hopefully this review will not be 100% accurate in the near future as my wife and I flew on these flights in November 2020, during the second surge of Covid-19. We flew to Cancun on American through Miami, but had a hard time finding a return flight back to San Diego. I have always wanted to try flying in or out of Tijuana International Airport and have heard how easy it is using the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) Bridge. So that, along with the fares being half the price of flying back to SAN was enough for me to fly back into TIJ (Same on next two trips. Flying back to US was always expensive, while Tijuana was reasonably priced and Business was only slightly higher than Economy. Plus, you do not need a negative Covid test to return back through the land borders - which CBX is) . Well, that and I saw that Aeromexico was flying a B787 from Cancun to Mexico City.
Aeromexico has a fleet of Dreamliners (both 787-8’s and 9’s), B737’s (mostly 738’s and 737 MAX 8's) and Embraer 190’s (Aeromexico Connect). We flew the Dreamliner from CUN to MEX and a B737-800 from Mexico City to Tijuana. I am not sure if Aeromexico uses the B787 on many domestic routes or if they are just utilizing them while most their International routes are on hold. They have several flights between Cancun & MEX a day and more than a few of them were operated with the B787 and they operate the Dreamliner from MEX to TIJ. For this review I will focus more on the B737 than the 787 because it is the aircraft they fly most within Mexico and to the US, Canada and Central America. My guess is just like the service on US Carriers is the same between the US to Mexico as it is within the US, Aeromexico’s service within Mexico is the same as to other cities in the America’s with maybe JFK being the exception. But again, the service (especially between MEX & TIJ) is hopefully different under more normal circumstances.
Flights from Cancun to Mexico City leave out of Terminal 4. Check-in was relatively quick. Despite only having two lines for Priority we stood in line for less than 5 minutes before we reached the counter. The agent wasn’t the most engaging and in his defense it is hard to hear with mask and partition (other times agents were friendlier). But, trying to hear him explain about the health test (www.vuelaseguro.com) and QR code you need to upload onto your phone before you clear security was difficult and I forgot to reconfirm our Delta SkyMiles #’s (which we still haven’t gotten credit for - finally after several calls to Delta received our miles, but second trip was no issue - we received within a few days). The lines at security were short which was good as there wasn’t a dedicated line for Business Class or Priority. This may have been due to safety issues but if not, this would be annoying when traffic levels return to normal. Before you could be screened the health assessment you took on your phone was checked. Terminal 4 opened in 2017 and is a nice terminal, but disappointingly there is only a Priority Pass Lounge in the terminal ($30 entry fee). I think the only Aeromexico Lounge is in Terminal 2.
The gates are not posted until less tha an hour or so before the flight time. Luckily I had an idea where our gate was as it was hard missing our Dreamliner taxiing to the gate. Boarding was surprisingly easy despite announcements being in Spanish only and the gate agents arriving a few minutes before boarding started. A little different greeting as
you entered the plane, but one that unfortunately may be around for a while. A flight attendant holding a bottle of sanitizer squirting a glob into each passengers hand (and my hands were full ;)). A pre-departure drink of Orange Juice (not very good) or Water was offered. Other than that not much interaction with the crew. I will not go into great detail about the seats as this was not a long-haul flight and Aeromexico flies both the B787-8 & 9 versions and each have different layouts. This flight was on a 788 that has 4 rows forward (2x2x2 configuration) and a mini cabin behind the galley (has 2 center rows, but only 1 window/aisle) for a total of 32 seats. Not all seats have direct aisle access, whereas AeroMexico’s 789 Business Class (Clase Premier) do all have direct aisle access. The seats are 180 lie flat seats with AVOD IFE. They are the exact same B/E Aerospace Diamond Business Class seats United (B757) and American (A321) fly on their Transcontinental routes between New York and SFO/LAX and Air Tahiti Nui (which I recently reviewed https://www.patstravelreviews.com/post/air-tahiti-nui-b787-business-class-review-lax-to-papeete-tahiti ). On the negative side these seats don’t have much storage and it is very hard to contort your body to reach the power plugs and headphone jack, but on the positive side there is an air-vent overhead and of course they have the large B787 windows. As this was just a 1hr & 45min flight there were no blankets nor pillows on the seats, a few did have headphones (hope only used for domestic flights)
stored near the power ports and headphone jack. On our flight from MEX to TIJ the same was true only this time a flight attendant came around with headphones. They are much better quality than the disposable type ones that were on our seats on the B738's but they are not noise canceling and not the best quality. I think they use same for international flights. About 20 minutes after take off the flight attendants came around with a beverage cart and a tray of snacks. You could choose your drink of choice (including alcohol) and grab a snack or two. I will say, the flight attendant pulled back after we choose one snack as if to say “only one”. I had a Nut Mix and Principe Cookies and my wife had potato chips and Canelitas Cookies. On our flight yesterday we received a proper Business Class meal. Either Omelet of Pancakes. The Pancakes were very good as was the Fruit, Yogurt and Croissant. I was hoping that their catering would return to some normalcy, but this meal was better than I hoped for. The In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) was not available until after take off but was available all the way to the gate. Most of the programming was in English (some had subtitles, but most dubbed) or Spanish. There wasn’t an enormous amount of content, but there was a large selection of TV shows and classic movies. Just not a lot of recent releases (may have to do with there has not been a lot of movies made since the Coronavirus). More than enough to keep one occupied on a short flight. Now if on a 12 hour flight you might have a little harder time finding content of interest. The B787 has a slightly different Wi-Fi than their other planes. The plans and rates are the same, but the 787 uses Panasonic, while Gogo is the provider on their B737's. There is free messaging (WhatsApp, Viber, etc) with both and the rates from MEX to TIJ was $19.95 for 180MB and $39.95 for unlimited use for entire flight.
We arrived on-time into Terminal 2 at Mexico City International. The connection process was a little confusing, but we were in the terminal after a 10 minute walk. (by 3rd time it is a little easier). There was no need to go through any further security (but it feels like that is why you arrive on one level and need to go upstairs to departure level). It took another 10 minutes to find the Salon Premier Lounge as there was no signage. Aeromexico has two Lounges in MEX. One National (Domestic) the other International. We used the National lounge because it was the first lounge we found (and probably the only lounge we could have used). The lounge was a little crowded (airport was full of activity – stark contrast to US Airports) and like most things these days had just a small amount of self-serve food. However, there was menu service. Most items had a charge but there were a few options that were complimentary. My wife and I both got a Pesto Pasta that was edible. There was plenty of drinks available in refrigerators and two full bars.
Boarding to Tijuana was cordoned off into groups. Only boarding was from rear to front (due to social distancing - same on flights in April, but yesterday Zone 1 boarded first). So the last group boarded first and surprisingly Business Class boarded last. Boarding was on time and orderly and despite boarding last the Business Class cabin was empty (half
full when all passengers boarded). This was an older B737-800 because the overheads
were smaller and it was showing its age a bit. The Boeing 737 MAX8 has much larger overheads and can fit a few suitcases (on their sides) in each bin. The cabin has 4 rows in a 2×2 configuration. We sat in the bulkhead (1A&B) which had decent leg room, but not more than other three rows. The seat pitch is listed as 39 inches (38" for MAX) and width as 21″ Similar to a US Airline’s First Class (maybe an inch or two more pitch). The main difference between the Aeromexico Clase Premier seats and a US Airline First Class seat is Aeromexico has a foot/leg rests that come up from the front bottom of the seat. The recline is the same, but still makes the seat a little more comfortable. The MAX did not have these same leg rests but did have a small foot rest (not adjustable) on bottom of seat in front of you (bulkhead seats did not have this footrest). Seats are blue leather with
leather headrests. My headrest was a little wobbly and I had to pull the leg-rest up manually (controls on side of armrest). In addition to the overhead light, these seats also had an adjustable over the shoulder light. Despite the signs of aging the cabin looked still looked smart. The MAX are obviously new so the cabin looks very fresh and the seats are not the same as the 738's. They are very similar to the new American Airlines domestic First Class seats ( https://www.patstravelreviews.com/post/american-airlines-a319-first-class-review ) & ( https://www.patstravelreviews.com/post/american-airlines-a321-first-class-review ) with a storage area under the center armrest. On the 738 there was a USB port and headphone jack next to the seat control and universal power plug on the front/bottom of the center armrest. On the MAX the power ports are in the storage area as is the remote for the entertainment system. The 738 we took yesterday has seat back monitors and the USB plug was under the TV screen. The 737’s also have a Premium Economy similar to AA, UA, and Delta call AM Plus. These seats in rows 6 thru 8 have a few extra inches (34″) of leg room.
Like with the headphones on the flight to MEX some seats had blankets (sealed) on them and others didn’t (I was just happy to see blankets). There were plenty of additional blankets in the overhead. On other flights disposable headphones were at your seat and on the MAX to TIJ they had their nicer headphones in storage area. We were offered a pre departure drink of Orange Juice or Water. Outside of that and the squirt of sanitizer when we boarded, there was not much interaction with the flight attendants on the ground.
After take off there was no sign of a flight attendant for almost 45 minutes. No hot towel was distributed and no meal order was taken. The flight time from MEX to TIJ was 3 hours and 30 minutes and when I booked our ticket it stated that a premium meal would be served (stated snack on CUN to MEX). I knew from flying within the US not to expect a hot towel do to Covid-19 restrictions and on most routes meals have been reduced to snack boxes. But I booked this ticket six months after the pandemic hit and I assumed Aeromexico would have updated their information on the details portion when selecting a flight. Outside of the small pasta in the lounge we hadn’t eaten for a while and I was looking forward to trying Aeromexico’s catering. Unfortunately, when the flight attendant finally arrived she had the same offerings as on our flight to MEX. Once again she pulled back when I went for second package 🙂 You could select a drink of your choice and the flight attendant did come by a second time with what snacks were left over. On our second flight from MEX to TIJ on the MAX we did get a slightly upgraded meal. A cold sandwich in a box with a packet of nut/fruit mix. We were served a second beverage and snack basket prior to landing. I hope the nice meal we received on the B787-8 yesterday is a return to full catering and it wasn't an anomaly (I did see someone post a photo today of a nice meal from SFO to MEX on a B737). The meal service from Cancun to Mexico City was always the same. Drink and Snack Basket.
Wi-Fi was offered through GoGo Inflight. The look and plan is similar to Delta. In fact, if you have a GoGo account with Delta you can access the Wi-Fi with AeroMexico (although just yesterday I read Delta was moving to ViaSat). They claim they have the fastest onboard speed with 2Ku through GoGo. I did not try so I can not comment on that. The rates are in Peso’s and by the hour or flight. There is a browsing rate or streaming rate. From MEX to TIJ it was $115 MXN for 1 hour browse ($380/flight, 190/flight CUN to MEX) and $190 MXN for stream ($535/flight). Unlike GoGo in the US there isn’t 1 hour of free internet with T-Mobile, although there was free messaging available that I wasn’t able to access (probably user error). To make things a little confusing the MAX's Wi-Fi is through ViaSat also has free messaging, but was priced in US dollars ($8/hr) There isn’t an IFE package with your own device, but all of AeroMexico’s 737’s seats (both Coach and Business) have in-seat entertainment. This is in contrast to their Embraer’s which do not have seatback screens, but do have IFE streaming through your own device. I know that some Business Class seats on the B737 have seatback screens, but on this plane the screen raises from the center armrest. The TV screens are not all that big and the only way to access programing is through touch screen (no hand-set). Surprisingly the content was mostly English speaking programming with subtitles or dubbed in Spanish. There are of course some Spanish speaking programs as well as a few other International Movies. I can not say there was a large amount of content (similar to the B787 from CUN) but again more than enough to keep you entertained on a 3 to 5 hour flight. Programming was the usual. A few recent Hollywood movies (may have more when more movies are being made) but the majority was older/classic movies. Also, all types of TV shows, plus music and a moving map. In addition to the moving map on your screen, there was another one on the TV in front of each row in Business Class. The MAX have very generous (13") seatback screens that have a very clear picture. The B737 we flew yesterday also had seatback screens. Both are touchscreen but have handsets if you prefer. All the movies I watched were uncensored.
Announcements were in Spanish and English. There was one flight attendant in Business. I can not say that any of the crew we came in contact with was overly friendly, but understandably anyone working with the public these days has a more standoff attitude. I am sure the service and food is better when we are not in the middle of a pandemic (on the other four flight we took the flight attendants were slightly more friendly)
Aeromexico and really all places we visited in Cancun were very mindful of safety. I must say despite not being served a meal to TIJ and a few other minor issues I was very happy we flew into Tijuana with Aeromexico. Besides the cost savings the CBX Bridge was as convenient as I heard. We prepaid the $16 per person fee when we bought our ticket (bought next 2 trips ($16) directly through CBX site as I will never purchase anything again directly through Aeromexico's site) and we were through passport and in the U.S. 15 minutes after we deplaned. The only downside was the Uber rates are very high from there. The CBX may even be more convenient now, as you do not need to have a negative Covid test when entering a land border (open only to citizens and legal residents) whereas you would if flying into SAN or LAX. Plus, it was nice being in an airport (MEX) that had a pulse and was somewhat busy.
**** My wife and I will once again fly from Cancun to Tijuana (thru MEX) in early April 2021. I will update the meal service from MEX to TIJ if there is a change from this review. But I did want to add a very disturbing incident while trying to buy our tickets through https://aeromexico.com/en-us After I inputted my wife and my (and credit card) information and clicked purchase I immediately received a notice that the fare was no longer available (this page came on a half second after what looked to be confirmation page). I remember when I purchased our tickets in October from this review there was a problem authorizing the credit card so I assumed this was what the issue was. Shortly thereafter, I received two e-mails from Aeromexico (or so I thought). One in Japanese the other in Korean. Ten minutes later I received another e-mail, but this time in English. It had a phone number to call if you couldn’t complete transaction. I thought, they just need to confirm my credit card. So I called this toll free # for the US (number is really toll free in Columbia). I will not go into detail but I spoke with someone with a thick Indian accent (I assumed Indian call center). I became leery with the call, but the e-mail came directly from Aeromexico and I remember having to verify credit card before so I continued. The call ended with me giving a lot of my information and a number to call to give an authorization number that was given to me to complete ticketing. At this point I knew something was not right, but was too late and hoped for the best. The phone # he gave me was for the San Diego Airport. I immediately called my credit card company and canceled my credit card but still my personal information was compromised. The worst part is I called AeroMexico’s toll free number several times. I was on hold for 3 hrs after I was told a supervisor was available and waiting to speak with me. Another time I was told I would be called back. I did get a call from Mexico City but they immediately hung up when I answered (didn’t get a 2nd call) then I was told that a supervisor would not speak with me and I would need to send an e-mail about what happened (which I did, but had already sent one through the Aeromexico site the evening before). I never received a reply from either of my e-mails. Lastly, I posted a comment on my Twitter page which did get a response, but again, no further reply when I sent what happened. Obviously Aeromexico’s site is not secure and I am sure they are aware of this (one resv. agent told me this). But not to acknowledge it is quite upsetting. We still needed to fly back from CUN and Aeromexico is the only option to TIJ so a day later I purchased the tickets with no issue through Expedia (I did the same for 3rd trip - still never received a reply from them.