Mexico Travel

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

December 16, 2014

When I planned out the last leg of our Mexican journey from Huatulco to Oaxaca, I assumed that we’d travel by bus. Both of these cities are located in the same state of Oaxaca, so I figured it couldn’t be that tough of a trip. I looked up the bus schedules on the ADO website and found that for about $33 USD we could leave Huatulco at 10 PM and arrive in Oaxaca at around 8 AM on their nicest overnight bus.  The first class buses in Mexico are decently comfortable and hey, I’d once ridden 21 hours on a bus in Argentina.

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

So why didn’t we take the bus? Well, there is no direct route from Huatulco to Oaxaca because there are MOUNTAINS in between. Despite rumors of a new highway being built to provide such a direct route (and lots of hopeful TripAdivsor forum posts) it hasn’t really come to fruition just yet. Thus any trip between the two cities via land takes you on a windy, circuitous path that goes through/around/between the mountains.

In the words of Bertha as she advised me on the situation via email, “A friend just told me that the drive is beautiful but long (about 8 hours) and with lots of curves! But maybe is worth it… Is up to you.” She immediately followed this statement with the website for Aerotucán.

I’ll take that as a hint.

Reviews of the journey throw around horror stories of cliffs, motion sickness, and the need for large doses of Dramamine, not to mention the occasionally exaggerated rumors of bandits and the dangers of traveling through the highlands of Mexico in the dead of night. But for me, if a Mexican says it’s windy, I believe it.

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

As I pictured my bus going over a cliff, or worse yet, Charlie being unable to sleep on an overnight bus and then bitching the entire next day as we walked grumpily around Oaxaca and wasted most of our first day in the city, I found Aerotucán’s not-so-customer-friendly website. I browsed the entire Internet for information regarding the process of purchasing tickets (you can’t use a credit card on the site), a how-to and when-to-buy guide, and a description of exactly what kind of trip I would be taking in an 11-seater death trap with wings, but to no avail. I found myself really craving some reassurance that this flight wouldn’t be so terrible, but was unable to find much. Entonces this post was born.

So now I’ll attempt to describe the Aerotucán experience, from the flight, to the booking of tickets, to the airport, to convincing your significant other yourself that flying in a tiny plane doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll die.

How to fly Aerotucán from Huatulco to Oaxaca

(or any of the other destinations that Aerotucán serves, really)

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

1.  Convince yourself that you won’t die.

This is actually the hardest part of the entire process. Aerotucán flies a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan which can hold eleven to thirteen passengers and up to two pilots. The interior feels like a church van, with seatbelts resembling those of a car and tiny aisles to squeeze through. There are rows of single seats on the left and two seats on the right with full row in the back. You can sit directly behind the pilot and look over his shoulder if you so choose. Yes, it’s a tiny plane, but I didn’t find any troubling news in Aerotucán’s history and from what I’ve read, these Cessnas seem to be very reliable planes with good engines. Plus this plane flies from Huatulco to Oaxaca and back every day of the week – these pilots know what they’re doing. If you need more reassurance, check out this YouTube video of the flight I found – we may have watched it a few times before our departure.

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

2.  Figure Out the Aerotucán Website.

While tons of people on the Internet complained about the basic-ness of Aertotucán’s all-Spanish website, it was actually pretty straightforward. You gotta use the chat function, people! A salesperson will chat with you and quote you a price for the specific date you’re looking for. I chatted with these guys in Spanish and in English multiple times and they were actually very helpful and quoted me the same price for my date each time, no crazy fluctuations like most airlines.

While you’re at it, check out the Promociones tab on the site where you may be able to get special discounts on your tickets. I was able to take advantage of one called Jueves De Preventa, where if you book a ticket on a Thursday, you get a 15% discount. Easy enough!

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

3.  Book Your Ticket.

The salesperson I chatted with on Aerotucán told me I needed to reserve my flight about three weeks prior to my departure date, so that’s exactly what I did… on a Thursday. I went to the website, chatted with a salesperson (this time in English, because when dollars or pesos are involved, I need total clarity), and she asked for my email address.

As a side note, I tried calling the toll-free international number to book, but it was a recording telling me I didn’t qualify for a senior citizens-related gift certificate to Wal-Mart. Or something like that. Really, I pressed all the buttons trying to redirect my call and dialed their phone number several times, all with the same wacko result.

I was confused how a sale could take place over email, but it was simple enough and nothing crazy happened to my credit card afterwards. After my chat session, Aerotucán sent me an email instructing me to fill out an attached form in which I gave them my credit card information and certified the fact that they were charging it the price of the tickets (in pesos). I printed the forms, filled them out, scanned them, and emailed them back to Aerotucán. In return, they sent me a confirmation email and scanned pictures of my tickets. As Charlie called it, the process was a little “bo-bo,” but it worked.

Total Price per Ticket from Huatulco to Oaxaca = $129.50

So yes, this flight was almost $100 more expensive than an overnight bus ticket, but it also saved us over eight hours and a possible bad night’s sleep.

How to fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

4.  Go to Airport. Get on Plane. Don’t Freak Out.

Aerotucán flights leave Huatulco Monday through Saturday at 10 AM from Huatulco International Airport (HUX). The flight is only about 30 or 35 minutes long. It’s a breeze.

They instruct you to arrive an hour before your flight, but don’t bother getting there any earlier than that – the ticket counter won’t even be open. Seriously. When you see people actually standing at the solitary counter that has the screen lit up with the blue and white Toucan Sam-esque logo, then you can head on over and show them your reservations (which you’ve dutifully printed out) and passport. They will take your luggage as obvi there’s no room for carry-ons to be stowed in the passenger cabin on this flight. With boarding pass in hand, you can head over to the terminals, maybe grab breakfast at the café outside on the way, and pass through security.

Keep an eye on any (super touristy looking white) people that you may have seen checking in with Aerotucán so you know when to board. They make an announcement, but it can get lost in the echoing mix of the terminal and all of the other bigger planes boarding at the same time. Also, your flight may be a few minutes late, but don’t fret, it’s Mexico. Once your flight is called, you hand a guy in a vest and Aerotucán shirt (who will later turn out to be your pilot) your boarding pass and proceed out the door, onto the tarmac, and into your tiny little plane… after taking pictures to show all of your friends how brave you are, of course.

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

5.  Choose a Window Seat. Chat with Fellow Passengers.

News Flash:  Most of the people on the plane will also be rather nervous about this flight. Maybe they won’t even sit in the front row behind the pilot because obviously they think that people who sit in those seats will die when the plane crashes. You sit there! Get a seat by the window too, because this flight is going to be super scenic and beautiful. And you’ll be able to watch the pilot as he takes down the sun visor in the window (just like a fucking car!) and fumble around looking for something the entire flight… which will turn out to be his cell phone (just like in a fucking car!). It will be awesome.*

Next, meet the guy next to you that does this flight all the time because he has a house in both Huatulco and Oaxaca. He will reassure you and then tell you about how Miguel is a great pilot “even though he can’t see over the dashboard” (haha, funny joke, I wonder how many times you’ve told that one… but seriously though he can’t possibly see over the dash!) and how brilliant Oaxaca is during Muertos.*

*These things may not happen on your flight.

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

6.  Don’t Get Nervous. Have Excellent Flight.

There is no explanatory preface to this flight. No “Good Morning. This is how your seatbelt works. We will have winds from the north. It is sunny in Oaxaca. Your local time is 10:22.” But who cares about that, because I have seriously never had a better takeoff than on this flight. There’s no need for a long runway and high speeds for this little plane. You start going and whew, you’re off the ground so painlessly you didn’t even realize it. You don’t even really have time to freak out. Truly.

The plane doesn’t fly very high, the cabin isn’t pressurized, and we had very little turbulence except when passing above the occasional cloud. The views looking down on the mountains are spectacular and you can see the aforementioned windy roads and some small cities along the way. Take MANY pictures. The only eerie part of the flight is passing through clouds, when everything surrounding the plane becomes a bright white. It feels like what I imagine traveling in a time machine feels like. It’s very freaky, but all returns to normal once you exit the other side. The rest of the flight was amazing, soothing, and fun. I’m so glad we didn’t shy away from taking a tiny plane, because it was a great experience. Given the option, I would honestly take Aerotucán over a large commercial jet experience any day.

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

How to fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

Told ya, you can get real up close and personal with the pilot.

Just tell yourself that the extra hundred bucks you spent on this plane ticket isn’t only sparing you motion sickness and eight hours of travel time, but you’re getting a world class aerial tour of the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Worth it.

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

As we got closer to the ground in Oaxaca, we could see the fields of marigolds and other flowers that had recently been cut and taken to the markets for the Día de los Muertos festivities.

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

Our fellow local/expat/townie passenger told us that he loved this flight, but he also highly recommended taking the bus trip to the coast during the day because it’s very scenic as well. Maybe one day, guy, maybe one day…

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

How to Fly Aerotucan from Huatulco to Oaxaca

Okay, I’ll stop with the airborne photos. Seriously though, I’ve never taken a flight this fun. Thanks for the ride Aerotucán, you don’t know how happy I am that I don’t regret it! These were some pesos well-spent.

If you’re in need of a short flight to or from Oaxaca from Huatulco or Puerto Escondido, book Aerotucán flights at their website via email using the chat function with the steps outlined above. They have flights once a day, every day of the week, to and from each destination. Look for promotions to save some pesos. The other (much longer) option is to book a flight to Mexico City and then onward to Oaxaca. Or, as mentioned, you can take the ADO bus journey.
Update: I’ve also just learned that if you’re in need of a flight from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca, you can take a 6-8 seater plane with the even more elusive AeroVega for a bit cheaper… and it looks awesome.

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  • Reply Julie (The Red Headed Traveler) December 21, 2014 at 2:55 am

    Oh how I loved this post for so many reasons…good ‘ol Mexico at its finest. The tiniest place I flew on was a year ago when traveling from Toronto to Pittsburgh (also a short flight). My h who hates flying (he does it, he just doesn’t like it) was having a mini panic attack when he saw the propellers. However, this flight makes that flight seem like a jumbo jet in comparison!

    I never did any in-country flights while living in Mexico, maybe next time! I keep eying up Oaxaca (well, the city) somewhat fierce lol. And your pictures are beautiful-nothing beats the incredible sight of mind boggling switchbacks high up in the mountains!
    Julie (The Red Headed Traveler) recently posted…Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History-PittsburghMy Profile

    • Reply Rachel December 22, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Thanks Julie! I was super stressed about this flight before we even left for Mexico. I was trying to find any reviews online telling me “oh don’t worry, it’s great, really easy, no problem!” Nope. Couldn’t find any that eased my worries. It was really great- like one of the best flights I’ve ever taken- though I might be singing a different tune had there been a ton of turbulence. And the views were pretty awesome.

      Oaxaca was fantastic- I’ll be posting about it shortly!

  • Reply Amelia Lynch January 10, 2015 at 7:00 am

    This is one of those things that would be terrifying at the time, and wonderful afterward I think. Thanks for the post letting all of us know we wouldn’t die if we tried it.
    We are moving to Mexico and plan to travel around and see as much as possible, so Oaxaca is on the list. I’ve done the overnight buses in Chiapas, even on the straighter roads you just close your eyes and hang on sometimes!
    Amelia Lynch recently posted…Dealing with Planning ChangesMy Profile

  • Reply Jenny @ Till the Money Runs Out March 17, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Great post! I just linked to this in my post about AeroVega, the other (hard to find info about) airline that flys between Oaxaca and the coast 🙂
    Jenny @ Till the Money Runs Out recently posted…The Best Way to Get from Puerto Escondido to OaxacaMy Profile

    • Reply Rachel March 18, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      That looks SO fun. I’m pretty jealous you got to hang with your pilot and take pictures. I’m definitely trying to visit Puerto Escondido in the future!

  • Reply John Selickman June 4, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    Thank you so much–this was incredibly helpful. I’m not going to lie: I had some serious reservations about AeroTucan before reading this post!

    • Reply Rachel June 5, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks for reading, John! I felt the same way, and I couldn’t find anything online to reassure me! Definitely one of the best decisions we made while in Mexico. Super fast and beautiful.

  • Reply OM August 3, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Hi Rachel

    Thanks for this post…About to book OAX to Huatulco and feeling pretty nervous. You’ve set my mind at ease 🙂 Also, you’re an awesome, funny writer…Good work! 🙂

    • Reply Rachel August 3, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Yay! The flight is pretty awesome and we were so happy we did it. Also, I’m super jealous – wish I was heading back to Mexico! Enjoy the beaches!

  • Reply Pack the Story August 4, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Rachel, Thank you very much for this detailed description. Just booked my flight after reading your post! 🙂 -Nathalie

    • Reply Rachel August 5, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Hooray! So excited for your travels! It was a fantastic flight. Hope yours is just as good.

  • Reply Jodi December 31, 2015 at 11:37 am

    I’ll be taking this flight and enjoyed your post until the unnesasary mention of other touristy white people. We are African American and come across these types of statements daily, always uncomfortable never funny.

    • Reply Rachel January 4, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      So sorry to make you uncomfortable – I was joking about how we felt that we stood out so much at times. But I’m sure you feel the same way while traveling as well! Should’ve used the word “gringos.” I hope you enjoy your flight! It was truly a great experience.

  • Reply Caroline Maher February 11, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Hey Rachel, a big thank you for your inspiring post! We arrived in Huatulco last Tuesday after travelling overnight in an ADO bus from Puebla. We found it somewhat arduous and reluctantly booked tickets for the 5 hour bus trip back to Oaxaca thinking that Huatulco would be too small for an airport. This is our last week in Mexico so we were only spending 2 days in Huatulco as we were keen to visit Oaxaca before flying back to Australia. We took a taxi out of the bus depot and the first thing I notice is a large sign directing traffic to the aero puerto! Gosh, why didn’t I ask about transport options before buying bus tickets….

    We get to our hotel and while waiting for our rooms to be available I google flights from Huatulco to Oaxaca. Your post comes up and as if in direct answer to my question gives the exact information I need! Unbelievable! I quickly follow your link to Aerotoucan and put in a request for 2 seats and make an online transaction. The next day I receive confirmation of reservations on board a tiny looking Cessna. Too easy!

    Today we are in Oaxaca with 2 bus tickets, now with a six month expiry date, that we will give as a gift to some friends in Mexico City. The flight was a highlight especially as my travelling companion was allowed to be copilot, and loved every minute of it.
    So a big thank you for going to the trouble of explaining your research online. It really made our travels far less bumpy and left us with lots more time to experience the Mexican world! I am now trailing you thru your Oaxaca trip. I hope you are able to keep up the fascinating writing you do so well.

    • Reply Rachel February 13, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks SO much Caroline! This is exactly why I wrote this post. I struggled to find anything online other than random forums and spotty information, so I thought it might come in handy for some folks like me that had limited time and dreaded that bus ride. I’ve actually heard it’s quite scenic, but that flight is fantastic! So glad you enjoyed it! Hope Mexico was amazing for you. We loved Oaxaca as well!

  • Reply Amber June 15, 2016 at 11:12 am

    BEAUTIFUL photos. Do you mind sharing please what camera you use? Thanks so much.

    • Reply Rachel June 22, 2016 at 8:13 am

      Thanks so much! The photos on this post are actually all from my iPhone 6! I now have a Nikon D3300 which I’m still learning to use (and forcing myself to haul around with me).

  • Reply Kim August 30, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Sitting at our hotel bar in Tangolunda, on the beach looking out at the sea! Magical! Got here from Oaxaca with Aerotucan. Your description and photos were spot on. We also thought it was value for money to fly rather than risk road travel on hairpin bends (although the roads here are excellent). Only thing that freaked me out was not having a co-pilot. The pilot could get something in his eye or choke on something and you’re completely at his mercy! Anyway, thanks and I wish you many more trips to this paradise.

    • Reply Rachel September 4, 2016 at 6:34 am

      Awesome, Kim, glad you’re loving it! Yeah, the flight was great right? And I thought the same thing about having no co-pilot as ours kept searching for his cell phone the entire flight, haha. I’ve heard that the bus journey is actually worth doing as the scenery on through the mountains is amazing! Maybe another day! I do hope to be back there in the future.

  • Reply Judi October 15, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I came across your blog while researching flights from Huatulco to Oaxaca City. Thank you for all of the detailed info! A few years ago my husband and two teenagers and I flew with the same airline from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido. Though quite nervous about it at first, I quickly relaxed and came to thoroughly enjoy the flight. My daughter (17 at the time), who sat in the co-pilot seat, was quite thrilled. I felt excited for her, but at the same time felt a little less than at ease with the knowledge that there was no real co-pilot to take over if something went wrong! However, I quickly got over it! It was a quick, extremely scenic flight, as the plane flies quite low. I would definitely do it again. We will be in PE again in Dec/Jan and are considering doing a little side trip to Huatulco and Oaxaca City. Do you have any advice/recommendations about Huatulco? Thanks so much. Judi

    • Reply Rachel October 20, 2016 at 10:01 am

      Hey Judi! I’m jealous she got to sit in the front seat, though I’m sure that was a bit unnerving! I have a whole post on Huatulco which you should be able to find in the Travel>Mexico section. We visited most of the bays and beaches in the area (there are 7!). We paid a local man to drive us around in his boat to visit the bays and let us off to swim, which was quite easy to arrange. And one night we went into La Crucecita for some cheap tlayudas. Now that I look back on our trip (which I really enjoyed), I do wonder if we should’ve visited Puerto Escondido instead or in addition, as it seems a bit more happening!

  • Reply Al Auger October 25, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    Hola, Kim –

    Really appreciate the wonderful information. I’m planning a trip to Puerto Angel where my fellow writer friend’s wife has most intriguing cottages. The price of $28 US a night is most budget-friendly. They will pick you up at the Huatalco airport just 5 minutes away. It’s a tiny village and very, very Mexico; great place to lay back and absorb to ambience. Check out the Casa de Huespedes Website.

    Alfred Auger
    53 Taylor Dr. – #111
    Fairfax, CA 94930

    Member: Bay Area Travel Writers
    Freelance writer/Photographer
    Automotive – Travel – Skiing –
    Jazz – Blues – Personalities
    Siliconeer Magazine

  • Reply Al Auger October 25, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Oops, Rachel!

  • Reply Ken Muir December 16, 2016 at 1:41 am

    Hi Rachel… Thanks for all the information. I read on their website that they have a 15kg (33 lb) bag limit. That’s not a very big big especially as we are in Oaxaca for 2 weeks. Do you know if the enforce weight/size limits and if so, what was the extra cost for an oversize bag? Thanks in advance.

  • Reply Dr. Rafael Clemente-Ortega February 2, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Come ON PEOPLE! Have ever hear about EAGLE services? Have you ever flown from LAX to John Wayne in a Havilland? Or have you flown from CHA to Knoxville in a 12 seater? You act like it was the end of the world. Mexico has LESS airline accidents than most any other country The last one was Aeronaves from MEX to Orange county in 1975. You will have more problems in CHI Detroit or LA, and don’t forget NY!

    • Reply Rachel February 2, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      Haha you’re right – I don’t think it’s the fact that it’s Mexico, I think it’s the idea of a small plane. The one I flew from Vegas to the Grand Canyon was smaller and way scarier! Aerotucan was fabulous.

  • Reply David February 19, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    You are Aerotucan’s marketing department. Knowing that the chat function does the trick was a lifesaver, so thanks!

    • Reply Rachel February 19, 2017 at 2:44 pm

      Thanks David! The experience turned out to be so great that I figured I’d help other people fly with them! The site can be a bit of a deterrent.

  • Reply Lamar May 15, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Very interesting and entertaining piece, my only suggestion would be keep the vulgarity out, it does nothing but make you seem like a lowlife, and adds nothing to the story.

    • Reply Rachel May 18, 2017 at 6:56 am

      Thanks for reading, Lamar! Meh, I agree to some extent, but I tend to write rather conversationally (ie, it’s kinda how I talk).

  • Reply Robyn Henderson-Espinoza July 3, 2017 at 7:43 am

    I took your recommendation & booked a flight with this company. I have a question about luggage. I’ve read the airline’s website. It says 15kg. Is the luggage limit. Is that equivalent to a carry on, or did folks bring larger bags?

  • Reply Joseph October 12, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Bought round trip tickets on Aerotucan from Oaxaca to Huatulco. Cost was MEX$ 4,108 per person. This included a 5% discount for buying on a Thursday. The website’s special offer of 15% discount for ticket purchase on a Thursday is out of date, I was told. Seems pricey for the distance but what the hell.

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