Most visitors to Mexico arrive by air and more and more business and vacation travelers are taking to the web to plan their trips. Unfortunately, many airline web sites suffer from bloated software that slow the downloading process and make the online session susceptible to crashes. My brand-new iMAC computer froze twice during the research of this column!
While some airlines offer free generic email updates, none provide reservation services via e-mail. This is on the top of my wish list as I have yet to succeed in making reservations online. I'd rather deal with my friendly travel agent. What you will find online are some basic price quotes and in-depth information about the airlines that is otherwise hard to find. The sky's the limit here, though you might end up with a message reading "Server ID error."
Aviation Internet Resources
*** (out of five*)
Known as AIR for short, this excellent web site provides a top-notch introduction to the world of aviation, complete with searchable databases for airlines, airports and specific aircraft. Online reservations are supposedly available, but only within a short time frame. When I tried to book a flight seven months from now, I received the message: "We're sorry, but we're unable to process your request. The web site is unable to check the availability of bookings that are more than 329 days from today's date." We don't have to wait for a "Year 2000 Problem" when the simple task of making reservations online remains a challenge in 1999. Outside of the reservations system, everything on this site is first class. E-mail contact: webmaster@AIR-online.com
If you're booking a flight, you might want to proceed directly to a travel agent. This site looks great, but it isn't very filling. Added content would make it more useful. As it stands, the best sections include
"Promotions" ( www.aeromexico.com.mx/ingles/html/promo.html),
"Destinations" ( www.aeromexico.com.mx/ingles/html/dest.html)
and Aeromexico's "Mundo Premier Program" ( www.aeromexico.com.mx/ingles/html/mundo.html).
Spanish-language readers can go directly to www.aeromexico.com.mx/.
Reservations ( www.sharesweb.com/am/process-form?home&host_code=AM&lang=E) were the most difficult to process for flights six months in the future. The form takes the potential client to a page of flights, though when I tried to select a flight, I received an error message. Choosing a flight within the month works without technical problems, though I think a travel agent could have processed my request faster from an 800-phone number.
This bilingual site—also available in Spanish ( www.mexicana.com.mx/mx2/spanish/homen.htm)—provides the typical array of reservations, schedules and specials. Site highlights include the airline's Frequenta newsletter ( www.mexicana.com.mx/MX2/english/Frames/BoletinFrecuentaFS.htm) for frequent flyers and a digital version of the in-flight Vuelo magazine ( www.mexicana.com.mx/MX2/english/vuelo/home.htm). You'll find program updates and specials and reservations, but I ran into the same "error messages" when I checked out flights more than a few months in the future. E-mail contact: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares
For serious Mexicophiles, the site provides a great deal of practical and technical information, including a list of Mexican airports ( www.asa.gob.mx/Aerored.html) and even a list of fees that are charged to airlines for landings or security services: www.asa.gob.mx/Tarifas/main.html.
A hipper than hip online monitor allows you to access both arrivals and departures of all aircraft at Mexico City's airport: www.asa.gob.mx/Vuelos/Vuelos.html. Try to find that at the terminal! One caveat: if you live in Mexico City and are using this to monitor flight arrivals, by the time you get the info on the site, it will probably be too late to head to the airport. E-mail contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other online sites for Mexico-bound travelers include:
American Airlines ( www.aa.com/),
American West Airlines ( www.americawest.com/),
Continental ( www.continental.com/),
Delta ( www.delta-air.com/),
Japan Airlines ( www.japanair.com/),
Northwest ( www.nwa.com/)
and TACA Airlines ( www.grupotaca.com/).
To keep track of these and other airline-specific sites, bookmark
Yahoo ( http://dir.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Companies/Travel/Airlines/)
and Airlines in the World ( www.turismoverde.com/italia/trasport/airport2.htm).