JetBlue’s First Flight to Tulum’s New Airport

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JetBlue’s inaugural flight to Tulum, Mexico, marked a historic moment as it departed on Thursday. The cabin buzzed with excitement, passengers waving both Mexican and American flags while cheering as the aircraft readied for departure. The atmosphere was charged with anticipation, fitting for the launch of not only a new route but also service to a newly minted airport.

Each seat greeted passengers with flags and a retro-style postcard featuring a JetBlue aircraft. The celebration kicked off at the gate, adorned with balloon columns, where travelers enjoyed festive breakfast burritos and fruit arrangements.

The recent opening of Tulum’s Felipe Carrillo Puerto Tulum International Airport (TQO) to international flights this spring has drawn major airlines like American Airlines and Delta Air Lines to establish routes there. Prior to the airport’s inauguration, visitors had to land in Cancun and undertake a two-hour journey to reach Tulum.

Andrés Martínez Reynoso, director of the Quintana Roo Tourism Board, shared with Travel + Leisure at the gate after an energetic ribbon-cutting event that the new airport has significantly altered access to Tulum and its surrounding areas. He noted that vacation planning has shifted from the usual Cancun arrival, enhancing travel options within the state.

JetBlue now stands as the sole carrier offering direct flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Tulum.

Here’s an account of what it was like on JetBlue’s first flight to Tulum and the experience upon arrival.

The Flight

The special nature of this flight was evident right from boarding. Passengers were welcomed by alternating U.S. and Mexican flags at their seats, along with a keepsake canvas pouch. The excitement even reached the cockpit, with pilots stepping out to inform passengers about the flight path.

In-flight festivities included Bingo, where crew members selected winners from seat numbers for prizes that included $500 JetBlue Vacations travel package certificates and roundtrip tickets for two to any JetBlue destination.

The roughly three-and-a-half-hour flight swiftly passed over the Gulf of Mexico before descending into Tulum.

JetBlue’s daily flights from New York to Tulum are part of the airline’s expansion in Mexico, which also includes Cancun and Los Cabos. Flights operate on an Airbus A320, offering economy and Even More Space seating options. Departures are scheduled for 8 a.m., arriving in Tulum at 11:15 a.m., with return flights at 12:45 p.m., landing back in New York at 5:49 p.m., considering the one-hour time difference between Tulum and New York.

In celebration of this new route, JetBlue introduced a special offer of $99 one-way fares for bookings made by June 14 for travel between Aug. 3 and Oct. 30, excluding Thursdays and Fridays.

The Airport

Tulum’s international airport began servicing domestic flights in December 2023 and opened its doors to international visitors on March 28. The airport still boasts a fresh ambiance, with vibrant screens guiding passengers to baggage claim and expansive windows and skylights illuminating the space. Notable features include a vivid jungle-themed play area for children.

Travelers can find various dining and shopping options, including duty-free shops, mezcal outlets, and familiar brands like Starbucks and Carl’s Jr. Some establishments, such as Le Pain Quotidien, are set to open soon.

Located approximately 30 minutes from Downtown Tulum, the airport’s connectivity is poised to improve with the expansion of El Tren Maya. This train service, which commenced in January between Cancún and Playa del Carmen, is expected to extend its route to include both Cancun and Tulum airports by August. The ambitious project will eventually feature over 34 stations across southeast Mexico, connecting key locations such as Chichén Itzá.

The Stay

Stepping out of the airport into the warmth, we headed towards the beach, passing Downtown Tulum where enticing shops beckoned with stylish wicker clutches and charming baby attire. Our destination was the Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort.

Opened in 2022, this expansive resort offers 735 rooms and suites along a pristine sandy beach. It boasts 13 dining venues, a spa that piqued my interest, and numerous pools along the shoreline. From my room, I admired the sway of palm trees and the rhythmic dance of sea glass-hued waves on the shore, eager to discover more.

Although I’ve traveled extensively across Mexico, including Cancun, this was my first visit to Tulum. With its stunning beaches, sparkling cenotes, and vibrant downtown area, there’s an abundance of excitement awaiting every traveler.

By Alison Fox

Source: Travel and Leisure