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Tourists Face Up To 90 Minute Waits At Cancun Airport

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Immigration Process Still Slow Despite Additional Agents Added Last Year

Tourists arriving at the Cancun International Airport are facing increased wait times as they move through the entry process in immigration. The experiences are coming despite the addition of many new immigration agents last year.

cancun airport

Visitors this week were documenting their experiences on social media, with many of those arriving spending as much as 90 minutes waiting to be processed.

It’s a problem Cancun has been trying to deal with for several years but to no avail. As Cancun’s popularity continues to grow, the likelihood of multiple flights hitting the tarmac in quick succession will rise considerably, meaning more and more time will be spent processing.

busy airport

Many passengers took pictures of the enormous lines with only two or three stations open to process new arrivals. It’s unclear why the other stations were unused. Large crowds formed with unorganized lines as no staff directed the arriving passengers to their correct station. Several of the complaints noted that the mood of the groups was not good, and much frustration was being vented, further slowing the process.

airport tarmac

According to the airport itself, for the immigration process to move smoothly, four or five agents must be present to accommodate peak arrivals time, but more is preferred. A peak time would be around four flights arriving within a short period. With Cancun receiving over 500 flights a day during its peak months, it’s a problem that will continue to rise as more arrive shortly.

All of this comes despite last year’s announcement that the problem would be solved. Almost a year ago, the airport announced that it would be hiring 100 new immigration officers to help speed the process up. The claims at the time suggested that passengers would move through the entire entry process in just two minutes.

busy lines cancun

Before the increase, Cancun Airport employed only thirteen immigration officers. It is unclear how many are still used or why the allotment of stations seems so low currently. However, it was recently announced that the airport would have many aspects of its functionality taken over by the Mexican Navy.

 The bulk of the military presence seems designed to counteract claims of extortion and fraud in the customs and security areas of the airport. Still, the Navy may also be used in the immigration department too.

bisy airport

The airport issues are another issues the Quintana Roo government needs to tackle to help cement Cancun’s place as a world-renowned destination. Its massive increase in popularity has, in part, been due to Mexico’s relaxed stance on COVID restrictions. With no entry requirements, Cancun skyrocketed to the top of many top travel lists, but the real challenge will begin as other countries start to loosen their own rules.

security line

With many of the other Caribbean countries relaxing requirements and the European hotspots doing the same, convincing tourists to commit to the region becomes a tall order. Ironing out kinks in the administrative side of things will go a long way to improving the tourist experience.

More significant issues concern tourist safety in the region. Several high-profile incidents this year have asked questions of Cancun and the surrounding area in relation to organized crime’s effects. Tragic incidents have seen tourists killed in the cross-fire between rival gangs, while assassinations have taken place in broad daylight in some of the area’s most popular resorts.

security cancun

Although tourists are generally unaffected, shocking violence is a public relations nightmare, and those not familiar with the area can be justifiably worried about visiting. Steps are being taken across the state to help counteract the natural effects, and for the most part, tourist figures seem undeterred. But once again, as the pandemic relaxes its grip on the travel industry, problems like this can be troublesome for Cancun.

Those hoping to visit Cancun in the near future should continue to keep on top of any restriction changes, both in their own country and in Mexico. 

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Sunday 24th of April 2022

Puerto Vallarta can be like that, too, on Saturdays. For some reason many large planes arrive about the same time, & there is a huge delay…seems PVR could require flights to be more staggered throughout the day. I changed my travel to another day this year, and immigration & customs was easy!


Friday 25th of February 2022

I traveled several times to Cancun before the pandemic thru the pandemic and after the pandemic never had any issues till this past December of 2021, I work in the aviation industry so I m familiar with the hassles at the airport but to be honest from my perspective some if this clusters are created by negligence and rogue behaviour of their immigration officers, zero communication among the airlines management and the airport management for instance the airline had No knowledge of having to fill out a health form to LEAVE Cancun just to get in the country not to leave the country , what s the purpose ? When I asked the airline personnel they denied the need for such a document mmmmm ... ? Rouge agents ? Also their immigration officers are really good at enforcing the law to justify anything but not to request a "mordida" small fee to allow you in with your luggage and with No hassles. Also some hotels fall in the practice of denying you a double occupancy room at the moment if check in even though your reservation shows double beds rooms knowing that you are there they will offer you the double bed for extra fee. Local car rentals are not any different you could waste up to 4 hours waiting to be processed in at least that you offer some 20$ extra bucks now it will only take 20 minutes. I like the area I love it but some of this airport personnel are giving a bad reputation, lucky Not everyone is like that and once you pass the airport, the car rental and the hotel check in experience the local people are helpful friendly and will guide you so you could be safe

Peter Robinson

Friday 25th of February 2022

90 minutes my arse. We arrived from London yesterday. The plane touched down at about 4:30pm and we managed to get out of the airport at 7:40pm. A total shambles. On top of that, there was no organisation, for example a pile of vomit was left untouched for two hours on the floor near the luggage carousel.


Thursday 24th of February 2022

Was stuck in Customs in Cancun on Sunday…we were there for 4 hours and I wish I was exaggerating. 90 minutes sounds like nothing.


Tuesday 25th of October 2022

@Anonymous, 4+ hours for us & treated like cattle the whole time ( after 9 hour travel day)... has me rethinking next holiday destination . Some hookers cut us in the line - that may have been the most amusing part of the fiasco .

Raudel P

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

United States also limiting border agents at the southern border needlessly causing delays in border crossings. The difference is one is lack of "staff" and the other is intentional.