Friday, June 21, 2024

Why Los Cabos is easier to reach than ever

Los Cabos has been a popular tourist destination for over 50 years, but in recent years the destination has witnessed a period of unprecedented growth. In 2019 and 2021, the years before and after the pandemic-challenged 2020, Los Cabos welcomed 2.8 million visitors. In the two years since, however, the numbers have increased dramatically, from 3.3 million in 2022, to 3.86 million in 2023. Initial projections for 2024 forecast 4.2 million people this year. If that bears out, the number of annual visitors will have increased by a whopping 50% since 2021.

This remarkable growth has been made possible by enhanced airline connectivity, with more flights bringing more tourists from destinations throughout North America, and increasingly from Europe too. Last year alone, 14 new air routes were established in North America, so that by March of this year, over 600 flights a week were arriving, bringing passengers directly from 30 cities in the U.S., 11 in Canada and 16 in Mexico. 

Flights to Los Cabos have exploded in recent years. (Los Cabos Tourism Board)

More flights are coming from Europe

The big news recently is that Los Cabos will soon see expanded service from Europe, too, courtesy of flights from leisure airline Condor, which will deliver passengers from Frankfurt, Germany. Service on Airbus A330neo jets begins in November 2024 and is expected to run seasonally from November to April. Condor will offer twice weekly non-stop flights, bringing an estimated 16,000 yearly visitors with a benefit of US $1 billion annually for the local economy. 

This added connectivity brings the number of countries delivering tourists to Los Cabos from outside México to four: the U.S., Canada, Spain, and Germany.  Before the recent announcement of service from Frankfurt, Los Cabos received flights from only one European city: Madrid, Spain. 

Spanish airliner Iberojet will continue that service, which has been running during the summer season since 2022. Visitors have increased every year from Madrid, from 8,000 the first year to 10,000 in 2023, with an estimated 15,000 expected in 2024. 

More direct flights are being added in the U.S.

The biggest market for Los Cabos continues to be the U.S. Over 55% of airline passengers to Los Cabos in 2023 originated from México’s neighbor to the north, compared to a little more than 34% from México itself, and only 6% from Canada. Los Cabos’ increased connectivity to the U.S. somewhat masks the fact, however, that almost half of all American tourists in 2023 flew from only two states: California (representing 29% of total U.S. visitors) and Texas (17%).

Germany’s Condor will soon start direct flights from Frankfurt to Los Cabos. (Condor Flugdiens)

But flights have recently been added in other new and established markets. Seasonal service from Las Vegas to Los Cabos, for example, began in December 2023, with Alaska Airlines offering flights four days a week through April of this year. 

Frontier Airlines, which canceled regularly scheduled Denver to Los Cabos flights in February even though it was among the airport’s most popular routes, quickly made amends. Frontier will begin twice-weekly service from Phoenix to Los Cabos beginning on May 16. 

Beginning this month, Southwest Airlines also launched weekly Saturday flights from St. Louis to Los Cabos. Southwest is a major carrier to the destination, bringing passengers from Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Oakland, Orange County, Phoenix, Sacramento, and San Diego in addition to St. Louis.

These airlines are joined by American, Delta, United, JetBlue, and Sun Country Airlines in providing service to Los Cabos from a total of 30 cities or metro areas across the U.S. The Eastern portion of the country is less connected than the West Coast, it should be noted, but flights are regularly scheduled from New York City, Newark, Charlotte, and Atlanta.

Baja California’s beaches are now more accessible than ever, with flights from 30 U.S. cities to the state. (Charlie De León/Unsplash)

New flights from Canada 

Canada brings far fewer passengers to Los Cabos than the U.S., but the nation’s airlines have likewise increased connectivity during the past year. Air Canada, for example, added a weekly flight from Montreal to Los Cabos during the recent winter season (that service ends this month, by the way). The carrier also offers seasonal flights to the destination from Toronto and Vancouver, which will continue through April 

Vancouver is the Canadian destination most connected to Los Cabos, with weekly flights from airlines Air Canada, Flair, Sunwing, and WestJet. However, flights can also be booked from Abbotsford, Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna, and Victoria.

Semi-private jets are now an option

There are plenty of budget-friendly ways to get to Los Cabos but for those seeking more luxurious transportation options – meaning no waiting and no lines – semi-private jet service Aero now offers service from Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles to airports in Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. These flights offer a host of upscale amenities, along with the exclusivity provided by limited seating (the company’s ERJ135 jets, for example, accommodate only 16 passengers).

Aero has partnered with the acclaimed Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal resort, for instance, to deliver guests for special events, and has been providing service to Los Cabos since 2022, with tickets originally priced at $1,600 each way. Prices now vary, often with significantly better rates, depending on when you book and what time of year you choose to travel.

For the discerning traveler, there is always the option of booking a private jet! (Aero)

Domestic flights available from Los Cabos For Vacation Jaunts

Not only is it easier than ever to get to Los Cabos, but it’s also easier than ever to use it as a jumping-off point to other popular destinations on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. That’s because of a new domestic airline, Señor Air, which recently began operating out of Los Cabos International Airport in San José del Cabo. Twice-weekly flights to Hermosillo and Puerto Vallarta are scheduled through April. Flights to Los Mochis and Mazatlán, meanwhile, were offered during the winter months.

Domestic service, of course, is also offered throughout México by airlines such as AeroMéxico, VivaAerobus and Volaris.

Chris Sands is the Cabo San Lucas local expert for the USA Today travel website 10 Best, writer of Fodor’s Los Cabos travel guidebook, and a contributor to numerous websites and publications, including Tasting Table, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, Forbes Travel Guide, Porthole Cruise, Cabo Living and Mexico News Daily. His specialty is travel-related content and lifestyle features focused on food, wine and golf.

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