California travelers arriving from China, South America, or Mexico may want to consider San Diego’s alternative airport, Tijuana International (TIJ), and its adjacent Cross Border Xpress pedestrian skybridge or CBX. The bridge, which spans above the U.S.-Mexico border, makes Tijuana a truly bi-national airport, one of the first in the world with terminals in two countries.
“CBX is the fastest way to cross the border,” says CBX chief executive officer Jorge Goytortúa. The 390-foot-long bridge, which opened in December 2015, lets travelers bypass the long lines common at other ports of entry.
The Cross Border Express may also help travelers save money, Goytortúa says. “By flying to or from Tijuana, passengers are able to access cheaper flights compared to San Diego or Los Angeles.”
In 2018, more than 2.2 million travelers utilized CBX to get to and from Tijuana, but the skybridge’s popularity is rising, Goytortúa says. By 2025, he says, the Cross Border Xpress will serve 4.5 million travelers in a single year and in June of 2022 the facility celebrated reaching a 15 million passenger milestone.
Tijuana International Airlines
A deep selection of international airlines offer regularly scheduled direct flights to and from Tijuana International: Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Avianca, Calafia Airlines, Frontier Airlines, GOL, Iberia, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Latam Airlines, Viva Aerobus, and Volaris. Destinations include Shanghai and Beijing, as well as Mexican cities like La Paz and Guadalajara, “many of which are not served by other Southern California airports,” Goytortúa says.
Cross Border Xpress Design
Designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, the Cross Border Xpress bridge’s cubist-style colors and shapes house a long pedestrian corridor punctuated by horizontal windows that overlook the international border. Halfway across, travelers can snap a selfie at the line that denotes the exact spot where the two countries meet.
Using the Cross Border Xpress
Passengers flying into Tijuana are permitted to cross the Cross Border Xpress bridge to San Diego within two hours of landing (enter Cross Border Xpress by the baggage claim area). Outgoing travelers may cross the bridge within 24 hours of their flight’s departure. You must possess a boarding pass and a Cross Border Xpress ticket, which you can purchase online, at a Cross Border Xpress counter or kiosk, or as part of an airline travel package ($30 round-trip). Ticket prices vary depending on whether your trip is in the low season, regular season, or high season. Discounted tickets are available for families and groups.
Cross Border Xpress Arrivals Terminal
Once across the border at the Cross Border Xpress’ United States arrivals terminal, stop in at a newly opened the California Welcome Center, which is staffed with bilingual travel experts.
The facility also offers rental cars, shuttles, and ride-share services. Downtown San Diego is 22 miles away, making for a quick trip regardless of which transportation mode you choose. Parking at the Cross Border Xpress is also easy, with eight lots serving the facility. Prices vary depending on which lot you park in and how many hours or days your car is parked. Like the tickets, the parking rates vary based on the demand. If you choose to park, be sure to make the parking payment at a kiosk in the arrivals terminal before returning to your car.
If you find yourself with some free time before or after your flight, the terminal offers a Starbucks, duty-free shops, and a food truck patio.
Get the CBX App
For the easiest crossing experience, download the CBX App through Apple or Google Play. Through the app you can purchase a ticket, link your boarding pass, check your flight status, and find what you need on an interactive map.