We just returned from a quick getaway vacation to Mexico. We flew from Los Angeles to Cancun, and stayed at the Andaz Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen. Entering Mexico did not require us to bring a COVID test prior to flying to Mexico. But here’s what we did prior to leaving the US, and our observations during our trip in Mexico, and our return back to the US.
Prior to the trip
On our own, we decided to take a free COVID test two days before our flight. We took the test on a Thursday, and the results came back negative. We were notified within 24 hours. We did not need to bring the results with us to Mexico, although if ever we were asked, we could present the email that show our negative test.
At the airport in Los Angeles
As expected masks were required inside the airport. We also had our masks as we visited the Alaska Airlines Lounge. By the time we made it to our Terminal (jetBlue), passengers waiting to board were all wearing masks. The seats in the waiting area had stickers asking everyone to leave certain seats open in order to keep the social distance.
Inside the jetBlue flight
Once we made it to our seats, we used our hand wipes and wiped down the seats, tray, and arm rests.
The plane was 90% full, with a few seats empty. In our row, the middle seat was left empty. No issues with passengers and crew with the masks. We only removed our masks when we were served with snacks and drinks. I did notice one of the flight attendants gestured to one of the passengers to wear his mask. Other than that, no issues.
Arriving in Cancun
Masks were required inside the airport. The airport personnel had their masks on. Since we only traveled with a carry on luggage and backpack, we skipped baggage claim…notorious for being a place where everyone tends to congregate.
I noticed the same protocols were followed outside where we waited for our airport shuttle transfer. Our shuttle greeter led us to our private van (just me and my wife for this ride – not mixed with other passengers). Our driver gave us hand sanitizer, and once we boarded the van, there was no doubt that it was kept clean, it smelled clean. The floors were wiped down so well that my shoes kept sliding. During the entire ride, all of us in the van were all wearing masks. We felt very safe.
Arriving at Andaz Mayakoba
Before entering the Mayakoba compound, the guards checked our temperature, and once cleared, we were driven to the the resort. Our temperatures were once again checked, more hand sanitizers given to us by the staff who was also wearing masks.
After we checked in, we were led to the golf carts to be taken to our suite. Our golf cart driver had his mask, there was also a plexiglass partition between us and our driver.
Our room was extremely clean. Our pillows were wrapped in plastic, same with our bathrobes. We were also given extra wipes and hand sanitizers, and extra masks. These were replenished every time housekeeping visited our room.
Resort restaurants, gyms, spa, shops
Just about anything and everything indoor – masks were required, and there were extra masks provided and hand sanitizers. I noticed the staff kept their masks on even when walking around the premises (outdoor). Most of the guests also work masks outdoors – not everyone, I did notice quite a few kept their masks on. It was different in the pool and beach areas where the guests didn’t have their masks. But the resort never felt extremely crowded. The lounge chairs were kept socially distant.
Taxi rides to Playa Del Carmen
Yes, as expected, the taxi driver was also wearing a mask, and he also made sure to give us hand sanitizer before entering the vehicle. Playa del Carmen was more crowded compared to the Mayakoba compound. We ate at a couple of local restaurants and we also visited the Grand Hyatt Playa Del Carmen. Our temperatures were checked and hands were sanitized before entering the properties.
COVID testing in preparation for the flight back to the US
The Andaz Mayakoba offered free onsite antigen testing to its guests. According to Jessica, the one who administer our tests, on average, she administers 40 tests per day. My suggestion is to make sure you know when your nearest test centers are available, find out if there’s a cost to you, and more importantly, inquire how and when you will get your results back. If ask to write your email address, please make sure to write your name legibly.
Flight back to the US
USA Transfer, the shuttle company who gave us a ride to the resort, was the same company that drove us back to the airport. Our driver, Gabriel, was efficient. He showed up earlier than scheduled, kept his mask on the entire drive, and made sure to have our hands sanitized before boarding.
At the airport, we headed straight to Alaska Airlines desk. We gave our passport, our boarding pass, and a printed copy of our COVID test results. We were asked to fill out a separate form related to COVID, a check mark here, and a signature there and we were done (so we thought).
We began making our way to security. We noticed quite a few folks were gathered away from the line. My wife noticed this sign, so we moved away from the line and followed the instructions. Long story short, we had to scan a QR code, answered a few COVID related questions using our phones, and another QR code will pop up stating that we’ve done what they asked.
We moved back to the security line, showed our passport, boarding pass, and new QR code to the agent, and to my surprise, we were asked to go to another station. To be honest, I couldn’t really understand the guy who I was talking to. He was wearing scrubs (so it looks like he was a health professional). I was pointed to another official wearing a uniform, he gave me a piece of paper. The prints were so tiny, but I could read everything. It was all the same questions from the QR code that we scanned earlier. So I’m not really sure what I did wrong. I answered them all the same way. I showed the form back to the officer. He looked at my form, and let me go. He handed my form back to me. We then headed back to the security screening section where we had to get our personal belongings scanned.
The flight itself was uneventful. We followed the same protocol, masks were on, cleaned up our seating areas. No issues with the staff or from other passengers.
Arriving at Los Angeles International Airport
I’m so ever thankful that we have Global Entry because the line was extremely long if one didn’t have Global Entry or Mobile Passport. Looking at the line, we must’ve saved at least 30-45 minutes. This is not counting any other wasted time spent at baggage claim because we didn’t have any checked luggage.
We went straight to Global Entry kiosks, handed our printouts to the officers. We were asked if we had anything to declare. We had none. No question about COVID tests. We weren’t asked to show proof our negative tests. Our temperature wasn’t checked. Frankly, I was surprised. I’m just hoping that the COVID records that were obtained from us in Cancun were good enough indicators that we had negative results needed to enter the US.
Common theme when arriving on US soil
I surveyed my friends and followers on Facebook. I asked:
What protocols (if any) were done once you arrived on US soil?
Did you show your negative COVID test result at the US airport where you entered?
Did someone from the US airport check your temperature?
Did someone ask you anything related to COVID on your return?
They all had a similar experience like mine. The checks were all done from their departing airport. They showed their COVID test results before their flights to the US. But upon arriving on US soil, no one asked for the COVID test results, nor anything linked to COVID at all. That came to me as a shock. I guess what I don’t know is the agreement between the airport systems around the world. Are the US airports simply assuming that all passengers traveling to the US have willfully provided their negative COVID test results to the airline personnel before boarding their US-bound flight? At this time, that’s the only assumption I could think of.