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 CBX 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.”
Hainan, Volaris, Aeromexico, Interjet, and Viva Aerobus offer regularly scheduled direct flights to and from Tijuana International. 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.
Designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, the CBX 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. At CBX’s United States arrivals terminal, a newly opened California Welcome Center is staffed with bilingual travel experts. Rental cars, shuttles, and ride-share services are available. Downtown San Diego is 22 miles away.
Passengers flying into Tijuana are permitted to cross the CBX bridge to San Diego within two hours of landing (enter CBX 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 CBX ticket, which you can purchase online, at a CBX counter or kiosk, or as part of an airline travel package ($30 round-trip). Discounted tickets are available for families and groups.
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.
Given the continued growth we are seeing, we now project CBX will close 2019 with about 2.9 million passengers.” By 2025, he says, the CBX will serve 4.5 million travelers.