Review: Tijuana VIP Lounge

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Would you believe a tiny domestic lounge in a smallish North American border city that can be accessed with a variety of credit cards also offers an amenity that competes with some of the best international first class lounges in the world?

Sure, tarmac transfers and high-end champagne are delightful, and I’m not going to turn down a manicure (I will turn down a bubble bath, because it’s too weird to me that we’ve all been in the same tub, but that’s a separate issue).

But what’s the one thing that can impact your airport experience more significantly than any other?

Guys, guys — the VIP Lounge Tijuana has a private security lane.

Private security!

In the lounge!

The only other lounges I can think of with separate security are the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt and the Turkish Business Class lounge in Istanbul, so it’s crazy that a podunk Priority Pass lounge would offer it.

This is a completely unadvertised perk, so we nearly missed it. In fact, had we not arrived at the airport via the CBX we would have skipped it entirely — landside lounges are not a thing I do with my husband, as he likes to be at the gate about a month before departure.

The entrance to the lounge was down a side hallway of the airport — if you went to the check-in desks you’d miss it.

Landside sign for VIP Lounge Tijuana

We went up an escalator, and entered a very small lobby. Too small to take pictures, because there was only room for the single person check-in desk, the baggage screening belt (and screening agent), and the metal detector (and screening agent).

The staff spoke even less English than I do Spanish, but were incredibly friendly. We presented our boarding passes and Priority Pass card, then were helped with organizing our bags for security. A few moments and we were in the main lounge.


The rest of the lounge was decent, but like — does it even matter? You could go from the lounge entrance (with the private security lane!!) into the trash room, and that would still be an improvement over the experience British Airways offers domestic passengers at Heathrow.

VIP Lounge Tijuana airport

The lounge was lightly staffed for the mid-morning, but the bartender was incredibly attentive. He promptly delivered water and coffee, and checked on everyone in the lounge every few minutes.

His colleague hovered over the buffet a bit too much for me to feel comfortable taking pictures, but you’re not missing much. There were both hot and cold items, including fruit, cereal, eggs, etc., and a full bar.

VIP Lounge Tijuana airport

The Tijuana VIP Lounge had a main seating area, with plenty of tables and chairs, and then an elevated area with couches.

VIP Lounge Tijuana airport

VIP Lounge Tijuana airport

There were also conference rooms, and a children’s play area.

VIP Lounge Tijuana conference room

VIP Lounge Tijuana playroom

The main things I’d improve? None of the seating was by the windows, and there weren’t outlets available near the tables. I imagine most people aren’t spending much time in this lounge, so those aren’t huge problems, but it’s worth noting.

We left the lounge via the “main” entrance, which is airside.

VIP Lounge Tijuana airside entrance

A convenient elevator took us back down to the terminal (but past security!).

Tijuana Airport terminal

Bottom line

The VIP Lounge Tijuana wasn’t chock-full of amenities in comparison to some international lounges, but it’s decent for what is essentially a domestic lounge.

The separate security lane is a great, great, perk. Being able to access private security through Priority Pass is unheard of, and something they should promote. How’s that for a hidden benefit of a credit card with lounge access?

Hey Priority Pass — I fixed your web copy for you

Can you think of other lounges with private security? Anyone been to this one?

  1. Security in the lounge is a great perk. I know of three other lounges that have it if you get the chance to come this direction (though none of them are Priority Pass)…
    Virgin Australia MEL –
    Virgin Australia SYD –
    Virgin Australia BNE –

  2. The lounge at BGY (Bergamo, Italy) is landside, but the exit of the lounge puts you into the VIP fast track security, which is totally separate from normal security. Never more than 1 or two people in front of you. Lounge is boring, but it can save an hour or more in security lines during peak times.

  3. Bologna also has a landside lounge with it’s one security.. well at least it was when I visited in 2003….


  4. Arrived into Doha for the first time and remember going into a separate First & Business class lounge with immigration in the lounge. Very cool.

  5. Doesn’t Virgin Atlantic offer a private security, which is accessed through a private entrance to the airport, in LHR?

  6. @ George B — That’s what I hear, but I haven’t been there myself. Matthew from Live & Let’s Fly was there a few weeks ago, and sent me some pictures of the separate lane.

  7. @ IL — Well, it’s a private entrance with a shortcut to the regular premium security lane. It’s one lane for all premium passengers though, and you exit to the terminal and duty free shops, not to the lounge.

  8. @George B

    From this blog post on loungebuddy

    The lounge is located just past security and immigration near Section H on the Departures level of the International Terminal, and there is a dedicated security and immigration line for Turkish Airlines premium passengers that leads directly into the lounge. Access is currently available to Turkish Airlines business passengers, as well as Elite and Elite Plus members of Turkish’s Miles and Smiles frequent flyer program. In addition, Star Alliance Gold members departing on a Star Alliance flight are eligible for entrance

    Can’t say for certain that it’s all *A flights, but is definitively on TK own flights

  9. “Completely unadvertised”? Those big letters at the top of the sign saying “FAST TRACK” sure seem to be advertising this very benefit.

  10. I’ve never waited more than 5-7 minutes clearing security at TIJ in the regular line. So much better than TSA in the USA. I will keep this in mind for my next flight.

  11. This Lounge review is incredibly helpful and useful! I am flying out of Tijuana for the first time, thanks for the heads up or I too would have likely missed it. Well done!

  12. I appreciate this review as I will be flying out of TIJ in about a month! I was on the fence about checking it out. Now that I know that it gets you into a priority security line I’ll be much more likely to check out the lounge, especially if I see a long security line once I get there. One thing you forgot to include is payment/price! How much did it cost to access the lounge? Did you pay before arriving or when you got there? Thanks!

  13. A couple of tips when crossing over via the CBX (circa April 2018)

    Tip #1: Once entering the airport, head to the right towards the baggage check counters, look for the entrance as pictured/labelled “Landside sign for VIP Lounge Tijuana” above.

    Once into the airport from the CBX you will likely be asked what airline you’re flying. I was flying Aeromexico and directed to the left and through a smaller secondary security checkpoint. I repeatedly said I wanted to go the VIP lounge, but was still directed to go left. Once I was airside I asked a few guards/agents about the VIP lounge. Most did not know what I was talking about while others told me I could only access the lounge by first leaving security.

    Tip #2: There current are no airside VIP Lounge signs and you will need to pass under “Do not enter / No pase” to get there.

    There is a lot of construction going on inside the terminal. The airside entrance looks like the photo above labelled “Tijuana Airport terminal” but with a giant flight monitor on the right side and the “Do not enter” sign that leads into the main security check point. I had to go into this area and immediately turn to the left to find the elevator up to the lounge.

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