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Border & Immigration

Thousands stranded in Tijuana airport after mass flight cancellations

Flight cancellations have turned Tijuana’s airport into a makeshift hotel — with stranded travelers sleeping on air mattresses while they struggle to find a way out.

“People have been waiting here three days,” said a man named Moises who would not give his last name. “This is an injustice.”

Hundreds of people who checked their bags were unable to get them back after their flights were canceled. At one point over the holiday weekend, angry passengers tried to reclaim their bags by forcing their way into the cargo area of the airport, according to local reports. 


Moises drove from San Diego to Los Angeles Monday morning for a flight to Guadalajara. The original plan was to fly from Tijuana. He said the airline, Volaris, refused to refund the $560 round trip flight after it was canceled.

Volaris did not respond to a request for comment.

The delays were originally caused by dense fog Friday night. But airlines gave no explanation for Monday’s delays.

One family drove eight hours from San Francisco only to find out that their flight to Cabo San Lucas was canceled.

The family was originally scheduled to fly out of the San Francisco International Airport. But bad weather in Northern California canceled that flight.


So, the family decided to save their Christmas vacation by driving to the border to fly out of Tijuana.

“We got here at 3 a.m. this morning and our flight kept getting pushed back, and eventually we found out it was canceled,” Ryan McCargar said. “So, this morning we’re just going to drive back.”

Even though his family spent Christmas Day driving and waiting in airports, McCargar tried to stay positive. He pointed out that the family technically crossed the border into Mexico – they just didn’t make it past the Tijuana airport.

“We technically went to Mexico,” he said. “Just not Cabo or the resort we were supposed to stay in.”

Other holiday travelers anticipated more delays and cancellations.

Bernard Beltran arrived at the Tijuana airport five hours before his flight to Mazatlán. He bought special passes to an airport waiting lounge.

“Well, we have priority passes for the club,” he said. “So we’re just going to chill at the club.”
San Diego International Airport has also experienced a chaotic holiday season. Severe weather in the Midwest and East Coast grounded eastbound flights, leaving thousands stranded.

With another storm expected this week, the situation at the airport could continue ahead of New Year’s Eve.