By Carla Land
So you think getting to Cancun is out of your price range, especially now with the cost of rising fuel! Thanks to the arrival of Viva Aerobus service from Austin, Tx. your Caribbean dream vacation can become a reality. Imagine a round trip ticket for under $200 on average and some as low as $75/round trip! It's like a flash back to the 80's...seems too good to be true. But the reality is the carrier is counting on a clientele that doesn't mind no frill flights in exchange for a quick safe trip to and from Mexico.
Seems that bet is paying off, since their inaugural flights began in the first part of May they have already sold 50% of their seats for the summer season in the first three weeks of operation. The demand has been so great for the Cancun flights that the Mexican airline discounter is considering adding other Mexican destinations. Monterrey is already a destination ). Their fleet consists of 148 seat Boeing 737-300 airplanes, in the industry known as the baby bubba jet, real work horses of the industry.
Viva Aerobus was the brain child of the Ryan family no strangers to the airline industry. The Ryan family who started the discount airline company RyanAir (Irish)) has been given credit for turning the European travel industry around. Viva Aerobus is a partnership between the Ryan family and the Mexican bus company IAMSA. The partners were drawn to the market by the growing Hispanic population in South and Central Texas and the amenable business climate of Austin. Plus statistically Texans from all over the state tend to travel to Mexico in large numbers each year, they were betting these customers would drive to centrally located Austin to take advantage of the low fares.
The airline also wanted to appeal to the large number of Mexican nationals who come to the U.S. to shop and vacation. Monterrey citizens in particular have the largest number of travelers coming to El Norte. The second largest group of travelers from Mexico use the bus for transportation or drive themselves. The company hopes that with the raising cost of fuel Mexican travelers will opt for Viva Aerobus.
While the popularity of the Cancun route has been phenomenal they are offering huge discounts from the U.S. to Monterrey, a beautiful, historical yet very modern Mexican city. Fares as low as $117/round trip and are being offered to entice Americans to visit the area.
Okay there has to be a downside, right? Well that depends on how you look at it. You know the old saying you get what you pay for, it certainly applies here. This is a no frills airline and you get that from the moment you show up at the airport. There is no fancy waiting area to lounge in, or restaurant, bars and gift shops to fill your waiting time. In fact one of the big draws for Viva Aerobus to come to Austin was the citys' willingness to convert an old national guard building. into basically an empty warehouse where passengers can board plans. Passengers walk right out onto the tarmac and board the plane via stairs. Seating is first come first serve though for $4 extra dollars you can get priority boarding, families with small children and the disabled are also boarded first. No free meals, no free snacks, no free drinks, though they can be purchased on board. One bag on board per customer, no exceptions! Additional bags can be loaded into the belly of the plane for about $45/per bag, ouch! Hey all you need is flip flops, shorts, and swimsuit anyway!
One slight customer service issue has arisen in locales other than Cancun. Viva Aerobus has been known to change their itinerary depending on flight loads, so it's good to check in with the airline prior to your departure to make sure no changes have occurred. They will not call you if these changes come up....it's a budget airline! By in large though most passengers have found this to be a workable situation considering the travel bargain they are getting by flying Viva Aerobus.
So if you don't mind bare minimal comfort to get to and from paradise, this is the ticket!
Check out their web site and travel offerings at Viva Aerobus! If the site comes up in Spanish don't panic, in the top right hand corner there will be an American flag, just click on it and the whole site will convert to their English translation.
See you in paradise!