I just stepped off the first Calafia Airlines flight from Tijuana to Puerto Peñasco today. WOW! Easy, smooth, and fast. It took us a whole 43 minutes to get from Tijuana, Baja California to Rocky Point – great scenery, no hassles, and a direct flight. You can catch this flight from Peñasco to Tijuana, and vice-versa, every Friday and Monday. As I said in the Editorial, this Peñasco connection now makes Tijuana most connected hub – even over Mexico City.
Calafia Airlines is flying an Embraer ERJ 145ER that seats 50 passengers. Though the plane is smaller, the seats seemed to be the same size as any other major U.S. airline I’ve taken in the past few years although under the seat storage was a bit tighter and the aisle a bit narrower which meant a few people got knicked by my backpack (sorry). There was plenty of overhead storage and the flight was smooth and quick – did I mention 43 minutes! It takes longer than that to get across Calle 13 during Semana Santa! I was extremely pleased with the flight itself and definitely look forward to taking it to connect to other flights such as La Paz and for my California peeps to take it to Peñasco to get here faster.
The Tijuana airport was easy to navigate, check-in took a little longer than I expected for the length of the line, but I assumed that’s because we were on a “special” flight. Going through security was a breeze though I did lose my spray hair conditioner, corkscrew, and a small knife – I know! I know! In my defense I had intended to check my backpack so I could get the full “checked baggage experience”, but then changed my mind and forgot I had those items in my pack. The security gals were very nice, and it was a much more pleasant experience than those I’ve had in the U.S. or Canada. They didn’t make me feel like a criminal for my contraband nor did we have to take off our shoes…bonus! Signs were easy to follow in English and Spanish and there was lots of shopping…another bonus!
As I said in the Editorial, I was the +1 guest of Wayne Corcoran, Resort Manager and Real Estate Broker of Laguna Shores Resort. Laguna Shores Resort along with Peñasco del Sol, ReMax Costa del Mar and the Mayan Palace joined forces to form Peñasco Connections and are the ones who are sponsoring this new flight – along with Calafia Airlines, of course. According to Wayne (I’ll throw him under the plane) Laguna Shores Resort will be offering flight and hotel package deals and will have a link on their site by the time you read this article so go visit their website at www.lagunashoresresort.com and find some good deals. Yes, Laguna Shores Resort has two brand new beautiful boutique hotels. I assume the other sponsors will have links and specials as well.
The invited guests took a private shuttle, provided by Sierra Tours, from Puerto Peñasco to Tijuana on Thursday, May 28th, spent the night, and then boarded the 1st Calafia flight Friday morning, April 29th and flew back home and we had a great time in-between – or at least I did! On the ride over, which took 7+ hours, I sat next to Peñasco’s new Tourism Director, Omar Saenz and we had a good time chatting about Puerto Peñasco: what is good, what is bad, what can be done to make it better, what needs to be done now, plans for the future, etc. I look forward to working with him to make Peñasco much better than it is today and get the darned potholes fixed. The shuttle ride was fine, and our driver did a good job even with the strong winds going up La Rumorosa. Truth be told, I thought it might get a little dodgy with the high winds at that elevation, but all was good.
We spent the night at the Holiday Inn Express – great place to stay near the airport – and right next door is a huge outdoor mall with tons of restaurants and shops. The group met up after relaxing for a few and we headed over to the center for dinner. I assumed we were all picking our own restaurant so I did some research and found the best selection of wine to be at Baja Nostrum so that’s where Wayne and I headed…would you expect any less from me? As it turned out, most of the group ended up dining there together which was really nice. Someone – I think Francisco Naver, owner of Naver Car Rentals here in Peñasco – ordered wine for the table, which was very gracious but I’m not a fan of Valle de Guadalupe Nebbiolo, so I picked the Duetto, a 2015 Santo Tomas blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet and it was excellent! It was a bit spendy and when the first bottle got passed around the table, and then 3 more ordered, I felt bad when the dinner bill was split evenly between all diners at the end. I probably owe a few people a drink or two – or dinner and a drink! Come collect! And if you’re out with me and you see me ask for the wine list…ask for separate checks…pronto! All in all everyone seemed to have a great time at dinner – lots of chatter, laughter, and a little bit of business.
We were told to be in the lobby at 9:15am to catch the shuttle to the airport where we would check in to get our tickets and then head to the gate to attend a ceremony and ribbon cutting with the flight leaving somewhere between 11am and noon. Let’s just say I was in the lobby at 9:15am and saw most everyone walk out the door and get into a shuttle headed for the airport leaving 6 of us behind waiting about 40 minutes for another shuttle to arrive. A bit of a cluster, but we joked about spending the weekend in Tijuana and catching the next flight out on Monday. That’s just the way it goes in Mexico sometimes. And as it turned out, by the time we arrived at the airport, alot of our group was still at the ticket counter and I wasn’t terribly worried since no ceremony or ribbon cutting could be held without one of the ones left behind – I won’t say names, but you can probably guess who it was. And I was just thankful I wasn’t the only one left standing in the hotel parking lot – which happens more than you might think! LOL
As I said above, the check-in was easy – showed my residence card and got my ticket. Wayne ended up checking his bag and they have these nice little bins by the counter that you can put your luggage and personal items in to make sure you don’t exceed the size. I much prefer them over the standard flat measurement signs. From there we went toward our gate – everything was clearly marked in English and Spanish, and the gate signs were in bright yellow. We showed our ticket and ID and then went through security and onto our gate. After some speeches, lots of photos and the ribbon cutting ceremony we were loaded onto a shuttle and were taken a few feet over to our plane, which I was thankful for since I stupidly wore heels, which I rarely do. And btw, I do not recommend wearing heels and carrying a heavy backpack and purse when one has to climb stairs to get into the plane…my bad. Lesson learned – don’t try to be fancy. Yes, you do have to climb the stairs to get into the plane and there are rails on both sides and people to help if you need assistance. The plane is narrow so if you have carry-on items, make sure they aren’t hanging off the sides of your body like mine were – your fellow passengers will thank you.
Flight was great. We went though the safety guidelines in English and Spanish and hardly waited at all to get in line on the runway. Take-off was smooth and during the flight we had a few guest speakers and before you knew it, we were landing in Peñasco to much fanfare. (Landing was smooth as well.) The airport was packed with everyone there for the press conference with our Governor, Alfonso Durazo and Mayor, Jorge Pivac as well as many others involved in making these flights happen.
I tried to get a solid answer on pricing as I’ve seen (and heard) various numbers being tossed around, but I couldn’t confirm anything, so I went right to their website at calafiaairlines.com, which was easy to navigate in English. I understand the flight is brand new so not all of the links and information are up on their site and/or the sponsors’ sites, but it was easy to book a trip to/from Peñasco to Tijuana (until the very end when it hit me with an error message). You cannot book a flight + hotel package to Peñasco yet, but I assume that is coming since companies here will be offering package deals.
I went through the process of booking a roundtrip flight from Puerto Peñasco (PPE) to Tijuana (TIJ) departing on Monday, May 9th and returning on Friday, May 13th for 1 passenger. I chose the “Plus” fare which gives you 30kg of luggage. The flight departed at 11:50am and arrived in Tijuana at 12:55pm and was $2097.34 pesos for this leg. My return flight left Tijuana at 11:45am and arrived in Peñasco at 12:55pm and was priced at $1820.00 pesos. (There are two additional fare choices as you can see.) The total cost of my flight was $3917.34 ($217.63 @ 18:1 and $195.86 @ 20:1) including “air taxes” BUT there are additional charges as you continue the checkout process so pay attention as some of these can be deleted and some are mandatory. I did run into a problem when it had me choose my city – I used my U.S. address and Ajo is not listed so I chose Phoenix, which didn’t seem to cause any problems. After you fill out all of your information you then move onto your seat assignment which charges you $149 pesos each leg ($298 total). You can get rid of this fee by hitting the x right below the bar (I didn’t see a way to choose your own seat with the Plus fare). On your next screen you have things you can add such as extra or overweight luggage, pets and traveler’s insurance which is $219 pesos each leg ($438 total)- probably not a bad deal since it seems to cover a lot, but I deleted it to get to the bare bones pricing. As you continue to the next screen you are prompted to add the TUA (airport usage fee) which is $545 pesos – this is NOT an option. The only charge I couldn’t seem to delete was the $12.93 pesos SMS notification fee. So, from this last screenshot you can see a breakdown of the pricing with my roundtrip flight coming to a grand total of $4715.34 ($235.76 @ 20:1 and $261.96 @18:1) which included an additional $15 pesos for additional text notifications – can’t have too many! Unfortunately, when I tried to checkout and pay, I got an “error, please try again later” message.
So, the good and bad news is that the flight is real…I was on it…and it is on their website, but I couldn’t get it booked. Same with their Facebook Page “Book Now”. The SWM Vuelos Peñasco-Tijuana Facebook Page has an advertised rate of $1249 pesos but when you click ”Book Now” it takes you to this page (see screenshot) and says “starting at $65 USD” and if you choose a time it then takes you to a page where you can request an “appointment”. On the Calafia Airlines Facebook Page, in the comments section, it says to book online at calafiaairlines.com or call +52 332-451-0505…I suggest you call to book a flight until these glitches are fixed. You can also call in the U.S. (619) 354-5138 or WhatsApp them at +52 331-828-5990.
All in all – great new flight to and from Peñasco which will allow us, and others, to fly in and out with ease. If the Rocky Point Times Newspaper gets ahold of any promo codes, special rates or updated info we’ll post it on our Facebook Page and will update the June edition. Thanks again to Wayne Corcoran of Laguna Shores Resort for the invite and Williard Lazzarini and Meisi Chao from SWM Marketing for the hospitality and, of course, for Calafia Airlines for the new flights.
*You can go to swm.com.mx and book one-way tickets to and from Peñasco/Tijuana for $1250 pesos each way. My total for a roundtrip flight was $3593.00 pesos which included a $108.00 TUA fee for Peñasco and the $545 TUA for Tijuana as well as 16% IVA and a $40 peso convenience fee.
- The group heading to Tijuana to catch the 1st flight back to Peñasco.
- Dinner in Tijuana at Baja Nostrum.
- Me getting ready to board the 1st flight.
- Wayne Corcoran of Laguna Shores Resort and me taking selfies.
- Boarding Calafia Airlines 1st flight to Puerto Peñasco.
- Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the Tijuana airport.
- Booking a flight on Calafia’s website.
- Total price for round-trip flight.
- SWM Facebook Page.
- What happens when you click on the SWM Facebook special.
- After you click on a time on SWM Facebook special.