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Why It’s Easier (and Cheaper!) Than Ever to Fly to Mexico

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An agreement between the U.S. and Mexican governments is opening up the skies.

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Good news for lovers of tacos and beautiful beaches: nonstop flights from destinations across the United States to Mexico are about to get a whole lot easier to find and afford.

The development is a result of a concerted effort to eliminate most restrictions on flights between the two nations—a move that was formalized this past Sunday. So far, according to an Associated Press report, Delta and Southwest have already announced that they will offer new flights to Mexico over the next few months. American and United (among others) are expected to do the same.

Changes to these flights began in December 2015 when the United States and Mexico agreed to open their respective air markets to each others’ carriers. Before that milestone, rules generally had limited two or three airlines from each country to particular routes. Under the new system, however, airlines on both sides of the Rio Grande will be able to fly whatever routes they want, as often as they want.

The airlines also will be able to set their own prices—a concession that ultimately could cut the price of most tickets in half or more.

The news shines light on why tickets to Mexico were so expensive in the first place. George Hobica, founder of airfarewatchdog.com, explained that, in the past, ticket prices climbed rapidly because both countries imposed taxes to inflate the price of tickets—sometimes as much as 20 to 30 percent of the base (or roughly $100-$200 on most tickets).

“The [base] fares are low. It’s the rest that makes it seem expensive,” Hobica told the AP.

(Of course, it was possible to find cheaper tickets with airlines like Southwest promoting fares as low as $258 for round-trip flights during sale periods.)

It’s worth noting that this week’s headline-grabbing agreement does not relax limits on takeoffs and landings at Mexico City’s international airport. For this reason, the first new flights from U.S. carriers will focus on resort towns.

Delta announced last week that on December 17 it will start daily nonstop flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Cancun and between Los Angeles and Los Cabos. The airline also will run Saturday flights between Kansas City and Cancun. Earlier this month, Southwest announced it will start flying daily from Los Angeles to Cancun, Los Cabos, and Puerto Vallarta. This airline also plans to fly from Oakland to Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta starting in February if it gets approval from the Mexican government.

We’ll follow up with news of other new flights as it trickles in. In the meantime, vámonos! 

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Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com

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