Is Interjet a Budget Airline? Guadalajara to Lima: A Review

interjet mexico city lima

Yesterday I flew the Mexican airline Interjet from Guadalajara, Mexico to the illustrious city of Lima, Peru. Which means I’m now in Peru. I’ll give you 16 opportunities to guess what I’m doing at this exact moment. Coffee shop? Damn.

Yes, I’m in a coffee shop called Cosmo Beans located in the homey Magdalena del Mar neighborhood where I’m staying for a week, drinking an americano I expected to be much (much) better. It tastes burnt. And to top it off they served what I thought was going to be sparkling water in a small glass next to the americano, which is something they usually do south of the equator and is awesome, but instead it’s just still water.

But back to Interjet. Interjet, with their marketing and logo and whole vibe they give off, seem like a budget airline. And they sort of are. But they have many characteristics budget airlines don’t have. For example, I could’ve checked a bag yesterday weighing up to 55 kilos. Fifty-five kilos! I barely weigh 55 kilos. I could’ve checked a mastiff, or a crate of iron ore, but instead I just checked my duffel bag, which is getting really annoying to travel with, but contains my tent and sleeping bag and so I can’t ditch it.

I had aisle seats for both flights, which was fortunate, because they didn’t let me choose my seat when buying the flight. The first thing I noticed upon sitting down was how much legroom I had. At least it seemed like a lot of leg room. I’d gotten up at 3:30am that morning, and was pretty out of it. But it seemed like quite a bit of legroom, and also the aisles seemed wider than normal. Everything seemed more spacious than normal. I put on the song “La Follia” by Vivaldi and we taxied to the end of the runway, and took off just as the song got intense. I don’t usually listen to music when traveling, but this was a good decision.

On the flight to Lima the flight attendants served mango granola bars and sandwiches on orange bread with lettuce that look like it might’ve been from sometime in the late 90’s. But it was better than nothing. The couple next to me proceeded to order every sugary drink they could imagine, and I realized why Mexico’s obesity problem is starting to reach epic proportions. The flight attendants were very nice but one of them was speaking in her “flight attendant voice,” i.e. a voice you could tell she used for a job she didn’t really like dealing with less-than-grateful customers. There was an Argentinian guy across the aisle who somehow got drunk during the flight, despite the fact that I only saw him drink one beer. He wore sunglasses for 98% of the flight. When we landed in Lima it looked like an inch of stubble had grown on his face, and he seemed thoroughly hammered. I don’t know what happened.

All in all the most important thing about Interjet is something I still haven’t mentioned: the price. My flight to Lima from Guadalajara cost $175, which you can’t beat. Which means all the previously mentioned things are just luxuries. Legroom on a budget airline? Free food and alcohol? A checked bag weighing as much as a small manatee?

Which begs the question: Is Interjet really a budget airline?


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Mexico City vs. Bogota: The battle of the high-altitude Latin American metropoles

Bogota and Mexico City are two of the biggest, most important cites in Latin America.  Bogota has 10 million inhabitants (depending on which source you consult), and Mexico City 20 million (depending on which source you consult).  When you factor in food, people and quality of life, the two cities are fairly evenly matched (of course, one city might be better in one category and worse in another).  But as we will see, there is an X-factor that tips the scales.

In terms of cuisine, Mexico City wins.  Not to say that the food in Bogota is bad; the lunches are delicious, but the dinners are lacking.  For whatever reason, the cheap delicious meals available at midday disappear once the sun sets.

In Mexico City, the food is delicious 24 hours a day.  This is due to to the Mexican mastery of one particular crop: corn.  Mexicans are wizards with corn, from tortilla soup to tacos to chilaquiles to tamales.  And that’s not even touching on foods like mole, the mysterious (usually) chocolate-y dish of Oaxaca.

In contrast, Bogotanos have the arepa, a thick tortilla that, on the inside, tastes like cardboard.  Arepa con huevo is delicious, but that’s about it.

When it comes to ethnic food, both cities are garbage.

la candelaria

Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico DF.

The people are wonderful in both of these great metropoles.  They’re hardworking, they’re professional, they dress well.  If you ask for guidance in the street you’ll get it.  It’s easy to make friends.  It’s easy to find shows and events and parties and things to do.

Bogota girls are prettier.

The overall quality of life is similar in both cities.  Both cities treat pedestrians like dog shit.  Both cities have tons of traffic.  Both cities have smog.  Both cities have luxurious neighborhoods, and both have sketchy neighborhoods.  In both cities, unsweetened yogurt is hard to find.

Transportation is better in Mexico City, simply because of the metro.  Bogota has the MetroBus, which is fine if you don’t mind getting cozy with 60,000 sweaty people in a space the size of a broom closet.

Lastly, there’s the question of beauty.  Which city is more beautiful?  When it comes to architecture, Mexico City takes the cake with its zocalo and Palacio de Bellas Artes and cobblestoned streets of Coyoacan and San Angel.  But when it comes to green spaces and an overall mood, the nod goes to Bogota.  Bogota has better air.  On its eastern edge, Bogota is corralled by a mountain ridge that provides a fetching forested backdrop .  In one part of Bogota you can be more or less in the heart of the city, but on a leafy trail at the base of the hills, listening to the murmur of a stream.  Granted, wander too far from the stream and you’re likely to get robbed at knife point, but the murmur is still there.

If it only came to the categories previously listed — food, people, quality of life, and beauty — the match between Bogota and Mexico City would be a tie.  But there is an X-factor, and that X-factor is the proximity to the US.  In Mexico City, the US feels like it’s lurking in the backyard (because it is); in Bogota the US feels far away. Bogota is on a completely different continent — being there feels like you’ve actually gotten away from the long arm of Uncle Sam (to an extent). Like you’re exploring distant lands and have all of South America at your feet.  In contrast, Mexico City is basically a dingier, more fun version of LA, but without the ocean.

In the end, because of this X-factor, the nod goes to Colombian capital.  Mexico City comes in a close second, but Bogota is the best city in Latin America.