Now that the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) is operating it is like having a second major airport in San Diego. The Tijuana airport has been completely remodeled and acts as the gateway to Latin America. Flights throughout Mexico are ridiculously cheap but the real convenience is a border crossing at the airport that has little to no wait. If you haven’t used the Cross Border Xpress yet you have to check it out.
I started using the Tijuana airport on a regular basis in 2009. Before the Cross Border Xpress was completed it was difficult and time consuming to cross the border on foot, with a surfboard and get a taxi to the airport. Standing in line at San Ysidro at rush hour is an absolute nightmare and the Otay crossing isn’t much better.
When I first saw the model of what the CBX terminal was going to look like I was blown away. The Tijuana airport is literally right on the border. The bridge that stretches from the baggage claim to the US side of the border only needs to clear 150 meters. The US side of the border was an open field that has grown into a major transportation hub.
How The Cross Border Xpress Works
The Cross Border Xpress (CBX) is only open to ticketed airport passengers. You can’t use this crossing if you took the bus into Tijuana. Because it is only for airline passengers the line to cross nothing like Otay nor (‘ni se diga’) San Ysidro. That does not mean there is no line. You still have to clear immigration on both sides but it is way more convenient and comfortable.
There is a cost of about US$15 – $20, each way, to use the bridge. You can buy tickets at the same time as you purchase your airfare, buy them on the CBX website or buy them right before you cross the bridge. Buying your tickets ahead of time is usually the cheapest option, however, we have gotten some discounts emailed directly from CBX.
Oversized luggage is still going to be tough. There are little carts to help you but there are a lot of gates and x-ray machines to go through. There are no porters that can cross immigration with you and carry your bags all the way. Remember that when your elderly mother is coming with all the stuff you ordered from Amazon US.
Make sure to plan on a little extra time. It is a little further to Otay Mesa than you think it is. The traffic along the 805 and the 5 gets heavy at rush hour and the immigration line can get busy. I recommend arriving to the US side of CBX two plus hours to be safe. We have made planes that leave only an hour later but everything has to go your way or you are going to miss your flight.
How To Get There
The entrance to the CBX passenger bridge is right in the baggage claim. You leave the gates, pass through immigration, grab your checked bag and walk to the far end of the room. You can’t miss the huge CBX signs.
From San Diego
CBX is out in the sticks. It is about 5 minutes away from the Otay Mesa border crossing off of the 905 freeway. Two things to keep in mind. If you are taking the 805 south keep an eye out for the 905 east. It is not really well marked and I have missed it more than once. You will exit the 905 east on Britannia Blvd, but again, it is poorly marked. Make sure to use a your Google maps so you don’t miss the exit. There is only one tiny sign that says Cross Border Xpress.
You take Britannia Blvd down two blocks and make a left. A block and a half down Siempre Viva road and you are pretty much on the US-Mexico Border and almost inside the Tijuana Airport.
A Funny Story
The first time my dad came to pick me up at the CBX he got super lost. I flew home the weekend that it opened, December of 2015, and he missed the exit on Britannia Blvd. He wound up on a dirt road being followed by border patrol trying to get back to the brand new and slightly unmarked border crossing.