Two weeks ago, Viva Aerobus, Mexico’s low-cost carrier announced that they’ll soon be offering flights between two new US cities and Cancun. Viva Aerobus already services 14 destinations from Cancun and is currently celebrating a network of 85 routes across 36 different destinations, mostly within Mexico.
While Viva Aerobus was never on my radar, learning about the the expansion into Chicago and Newark had me curious to dig deeper and see the possibilities. After all, any chance to escape the wintery cold is worth taking a look at in my book. The airline is advertising that passengers can purchase tickets for as low as $130 (no-frills) for both destinations, though I was unable to find flights that priced that low on any of the dates.
Chicago & Newark Service
Beginning February 17, Viva Aerobus will operate flights from Cancun to Chicago. The flights will operate on a once a week frequency, with a 7pm departure from CUN, getting into ORD at 10:30pm.
Beginning February 18, the flight to CUN will leave ORD at 7:50am, and will arrive by 12:30pm.
Cancun to Newark flights will begin on March 31, also once-a-week frequency, with a 4:05pm Saturday service departure from CUN, with an 8:30pm arrival into EWR.
On April 1 (Sunday service), they’ll be an 8am departure from EWR, arriving into CUN at 11:05am.
The late afternoon/evening departures out of Cancun is certainly an advantage (especially with the Chicago flight) since the rest of the big US carriers depart CUN earlier in the day. With the Viva Aerobus option now available, travelers can essentially pack in a full day at their resort (aka take advantage of a late-check out at the Hyatt Ziva or Hyatt Zilara in Cancun).
The Very Bad
First of all, the prices are hardly competitive. As I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t find any of the $130 introductory fares, so I took it upon myself to compare the actual fares with other carriers on my own. My experiment was from Chicago to Cancun on February 18, where I found Viva Aerobus selling a $311.86 fare that books into their lowest tier, VivaBasic (which gives you a checked-baggage allowance of 15kgs).
On that same date, there are several similar nonstop options with US carries for a fraction of the cost. Heck, even Spirit Airlines, also a low-cost carrier, is offering a flight for almost a third of the price!
Thinking about Spirit brings me to my next point. Several years ago, I flew Spirit Airlines between New York and Chicago in February and was heavily inconvenienced when my flight canceled due to wintry weather in Chicago. Many other carriers were flying on an hourly-basis, while Spirit chose to cancel theirs with no option to rebook until the next day.
Since Viva Aerobus operates one flight weekly, I can only imagine the weather-related fiascos waiting to happen during Chicago and New York winters. If the flight cancels, you’re left to fend for yourself in rebooking a flight at the very last minute, which can be dangerously expensive, and will certainly put a damper on your vacation.
It’s always nice when a new airline moves into a big hub-city, because one can rightfully assume that it would create more competition and better pricing. Unfortunately it is hardly the case with Viva Aerobus.
It would be one thing if they entered the market and offered truly enticing introductory pricing (maybe $49-$99 each way), but from what I saw, it’s a big disappointment all around. If WOW and Norwegian, also low-cost carriers, can offer transatlantic flights between the US and Europe for under $99 from time to time, Viva Aerobus can do better… wayyyy better at attracting a new consumer base.
What are your thoughts? Have you flown with Viva Aerobus before or would you consider flying with them? For now, I’ll stick to the big carriers for my Cancun needs.