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The Best Mexican Budget Airline: Viva Aerobus or Volaris?

As a fairly regular flyer with the two biggest and best budget airlines in Mexico, Viva Aerobus and Volaris, I like to consider myself an authority figure on their prices, service and, above all, punctuality. You might be thinking ‘well, whichever is cheapest is obviously the best’. Amateurs! Price is one of the biggest factors, but don’t con yourself into thinking it’s the most important factor; as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. What you save on the ticket might cost you elsewhere and this applies to both of these airlines in equal measure. Anyway, with that in mind, here’s my semi-serious, semi-tongue-in-cheek, and generally pretty arbitrary guide to the best Mexican budget airline.


BEST MEXICAN BUDGET AIRLINE

Price

As far as price goes, and especially on the route I’m most familiar with (Mexico City-Monterrey), Viva Aerobus takes first place on 9 out of 10 occasions, only beaten when Volaris has a really decent sale on. Do make sure to check both sites though, because when buying Viva Aerobus tickets online, the ticket price you see doesn’t include the fuel surcharge (which at the time of writing is MXN$135 each way). So, if Viva’s price is only a little lower than Volaris’ at first glance, it might actually be cheaper to go with them.

the best mexican budget airline

Volaris is almost double the price for the same date

the best mexican budget airline

Viva Aerobus will always add on the fuel surcharge riiiiight at the end

Added Extras

Viva Aerobus have the annoying habit of checking the added extras for you, which forces you to go through and unclick the ones you don’t want. This is incredibly annoying. (UPDATE AUGUST 2017: They no longer do this, so you actually don’t have to uncheck everything anymore.) Volaris doesn’t do this though, meaning they definitely take the prize for common decency.

Another point on which Volaris takes first place is in seat selection. While Viva Aerobus makes you choose a seat when purchasing (if you’re getting your tickets late, the only options left are often ones you have to pay for), Volaris’ website allows you to skip that part. Instead, you can just choose when you check in.

Speaking of which, buying a ticket with Volaris means you can check in online and save time at the airport. With Viva, if you choose their cheapest package (which everyone obviously does), you have to brave the airport queues to check in. *Update: From March 6th 2017, you now have to have your Viva Aerobus boarding pass printed or on your phone before arriving at the airport*

the best mexican budget airline

Whereas Viva checks every added extra (pretty much), Volaris leaves it up to you

Navigability of Website

It seems like a minor issue, but with budget airlines (who will without fail get you to accidentally click on added extras to bump up your price) it really is an important factor to consider.

Viva Aerobus also wins this fight I’m afraid to say, because although you have to expand each potential added extra and unclick what you don’t want, it’s far easier to know you’ve unclicked everything.

Volaris’ website, on the other hand, is always a tiny bit glitchy and awkwardly laid out, making you scroll down to the very bottom of the page in order to move to the next screen. Nothing major, but bad enough to be irritating when you just want to buy tickets and get on with your life.

the best mexican budget airline

This loading page on Volaris will be the bane of your life

Food

Who cares? It’s a budget airline that flies (for the most part) nationally. If you can afford to buy underwhelming, overpriced food on either Viva or Volaris, you can afford to fly with Interjet or Aeromexico.

the best mexican budget airline

Punctuality

HAHAHA, Volaris wins this round. Viva Aerobus is hands down the worst airline for punctuality I have EVER travelled on. And they have the gall to play you a recorded track if you do land on time, praising themselves for their excellent service. It’s all very self-masturbatory if you ask me, and FYI, I’ve only ever heard it played once. (For the record, I travel on Viva Aerobus about once every three weeks).

the best mexican budget airline

Legroom

I won’t lie to you, neither Viva Aerobus nor Volaris have a whole lot of legroom unless you fork out in the added extras section for a Premier seat near the front or next to the emergency exits. But who wants to pay more for something on a budget airline? Not I.

If I had to award legroom to one or the other, Viva or Volaris, I’d have to say that Volaris takes it, simply because on two occasions I’ve had an entire row of seats to myself (and I know plenty of others this has happened to).

the best mexican budget airline

A luxurious three seats all to myself!

Class of the Clientele

I’m not talking about the social class of the travellers on board each flight, just their overall common decency and knowledge of budget flying etiquette. For reference, budget flying etiquette includes things like:

  • Middle seat gets both armrests, obviously.
  • Under no circumstances should you recline, because nobody has any legroom at all. (whatever happened to we’re all in this together?)
  • Shove your bags in the overhead locker as fast as possible and sit the hell down so everyone else can get on.

In short, make yourself as panicked and uncomfortable as possible, so no one judges you. (I’ll admit, this could be the Brit in me talking).

Weirdly, Viva Aerobus takes this one. I’ve had far more flights with them where all the passengers seemed in on the unwritten social conduct rules, whereas everyone on Volaris is far too recline-happy for my liking. On my most recent Volaris flight, all three seats in front of me decided they just needed to have a nap at the same time.

the best mexican budget airline

Colour Scheme

Viva Aerobus has the whole patriotic thing going for it with their red, green and white colour scheme, but while to some that screams Mexican, to me it screams Christmas.

Volaris, in contrast, has a very attractive purple colour scheme, that even includes matching purple pinnies for the crew when they bring out the food trolley. So, if you like your budget airline colour scheme pleasing on the eye, Volaris is the one for you without a doubt.

the best mexican budget airline the best mexican budget airline

Miscellaneous

The category for all those extra bits and pieces that are kind of unimportant but still deserve a mention. I have to say, Volaris easily wins this for the simple fact that their planes have names! Yes, each Volaris aeroplane has a name printed on the side of it. I forever dream of the day I spot one called Lauren, but I won’t hold my breath.

the best mexican budget airline

Viva Aerobus logo | © Jav20/WikiCommons / Volaris logo | WikiCommons

WHICH IS THE BEST MEXICAN BUDGET AIRLINE?

Based on the entirely subjective and anecdotal evidence presented above, I’d have to say that overall Volaris takes the prize for Mexico’s best budget airline. Having said that, I always seem to end up on Viva for one simple reason: it is cheaper, and I’m a sucker for a bargain…even if I do arrive two hours late.


6 comments

  1. Laura Bronner 24 February, 2017 at 17:50 Reply

    I\’d vote for Volaris EVERY TIME. I hate viva. With Volaris you always get a bag and the staff are nicer AND you can check in at a kiosk. I always end up waiting in line foreverrrr with viva. I gotta admit, I\’m a recliner (I guess I\’m one of those annoying Volaris customers! haha). Good comparisons though. What about Interjet? I\’ve flown them once and they were okay – better than viva for the most part!

    • Lauren 24 February, 2017 at 17:52 Reply

      Yeah, I don\’t disagree when you say volaris are better. I\’m just too cheap and always go for viva 🙁 and I\’m with you about those lines! So annoying. I don\’t think I would class interjet as budget :/ i do think they\’re far more expensive for internal flights, although they tend to have decent flights for international locations – i flew to Cuba with them!

  2. pierre champagne 21 June, 2017 at 19:41 Reply

    The first time I took Volaris they too had me unclick all the things I did not want, quite the bother. Last year when I took them, like you mentioned, no more automatic add on making the booking experience less stressful. Love your writing.

  3. Freddy L 11 September, 2017 at 23:31 Reply

    Gotta disagree about Vivaaerobus having the highest class of ppl. I too am an expat in CDMX and my joke about Vivaaerobus is its “the airline for people who don’t usually fly” Even volaris and interjet seem to have much more courteous and well traveled passengers.

    Its always granny and grampa, the kids, and a bunch of ppl who literally seem confused and dazed and possibly their first time flying ever. Its really for people who are counting every last penny to get from A to B.

    There always seems to be more children on the flight then adults, and I have never had a flight where there wasn’t some misbehaved child kicking on my seat the entire flight.

    I prefer just cough up little extra money and fly Aeromexico or interjet. Once you add up all the little deceptive fees for carry on bag, checked bag, choosing your seat, “cargo de emission” etc etc, it really ends up being not that big a difference in price.

    • Lauren 11 September, 2017 at 23:35 Reply

      Hahahaha, fair enough! I only judge Volaris more harshly cos my experience is that they always recline, whereas people on Viva rarely do. BUT I totally understand your point about people on Viva just seeming confused by the flying process lol.

      I disagree that Interjet and Aeromexico work out only a little more overall though. Even with all the hidden extras, I still find them WAY more expensive than both Viva and Volaris!

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