WARNING! Pack your carry-on bags prudently the next time you depart from Mexico!
If anyone knows specifics of a new carry-on policy in Mexico, I’d love to hear them. For now I can only share my experience departing from the La Paz International airport two weeks ago. It happened quickly and airport staff was not long on details.
The usual bag inspection procedure in Mexico involves hand-inspecting all checked luggage prior to checking in. Carry-ons are X-rayed at the security checkpoint, then hand inspected prior to boarding.
On this trip I had no checked luggage – only a camera bag as my “personal item” and a 10 x 18 inch carry-on with wheels that easily fits in the overhead of the small jets flying out of La Paz. When the inspector grabbed my roller prior to checking in, I informed him it was carry-on but he insisted on hand inspecting.
When he finished inspecting the bag, I tried to retrieve it but he would not let me touch it. He carried it over to the counter, just as though it were checked luggage. The inspector pointed to a sign that said something about new carryon policies. He said it would be gate checked, and available immediately upon arrival in Los Angeles. “Period. End of conversation. Next…”
There was little I could do without creating a scene. You can imagine my relief to find the large sum of cash and prescription medication were still in the bag when I picked it up at LAX.
Mexican authorities may be trying to cut down on the hand inspections conducted at the gate on all carry-on bags. What I don’t know is…
… whether this policy is only for Alaska Airline flights because people try to take everything in carry-ons after Alaska’s new policy to charge for checked bags, or
… whether they were only confiscating carry-ons with wheels, or
… whether this policy is only in La Paz or all of Mexico, or
… whether it is permanent or one of Mexico’s temporary security checks.
Until we know more, be very careful to keep cash, valuables, medication, cameras, the book you plan to read, etc. in your clothing or a very small bag that you can be sure of carrying on the plane as your “personal item.”