I'm trying to find flights between New Zealand and Tijuana, Mexico that do NOT stop in the USA, however the flight searches I've been doing all seem to have a stop somewhere in the US - LAX, SFO, IAH are the most common. Is there a way to do a flight search to force it to not include stops in the US?

I tried with the ITA Matrix but couldn't get that to do what I wanted (either it can't be done, or more likely I'm not setting up the search correctly)

How can I find flights that exclude stops in the USA?

Edit for clarity

I am New Zealand citizen, permanent resident of Mexico, and am not trying to avoid the US for legal reasons. Just trying to find alternative routes home after visiting family in NZ.

  • 27
    If a passenger is of enough importance to the US, the US has caused flights transiting US air space to land in the US, even though they had not been intending to. (Memory says that this happened to a Canada-Mexico flight where the passenger concerned was wanted in the US. ) If you are in this category: - You may wish to ensure that the flight does not transit US air apace. - You may also wish to check extradition treaties with intermediate countries. Sep 24, 2022 at 11:29
  • 3
    Similar question with great answers travel.stackexchange.com/questions/80022/…
    – DavChana
    Sep 25, 2022 at 1:55
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    My +9 upvote answer was deleted. Mod said should be a comment. We don't know the OP's reasons. | Flights transiting US air space have been required to land in the US to remove and arrest a passenger. | If relevant then you may also wish to check extradition treaties with intermediate countries. | Similarly: Here is a Paris-Mexico flight that the US refused to allow to overfly the US. It was diverted to Montreal and the passenger deemed to constiture a security risk to the US was removed and arrested. Sep 25, 2022 at 23:17
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    @RussellMcMahon: "If a passenger is of enough importance to the US" - while true, note that there are much more "mundane" reasons to avoid transit in the US than being wanted by US authorities, such as trying to avoid the hassle of immigration. As far as I have read, in some (all?) US airports, apparently travellers cannot transit between international flights without immigrating. Sep 25, 2022 at 23:44
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    @O.R.Mapper I agree. My original answer was posted as a p0tentially-important-for-some aside. It had 9 upvotes. (The comment version must necessarily be far shorter). It made the point that this is an unusual case but that some who have not noted it have regretted the fact. I don't know why it was not felt useful as a relevant add on, but that's not my choice. Sep 26, 2022 at 0:02

4 Answers 4


I found two options

It looks like the best option would be going with Latam through Santiago de Chile to Mexico City. One ways on October are around $800. You can actually book directly to Tijuana but that's insanely expensive so you are way better off buying MEX->TIJ as a separate ticket.

Emirates through Dubai and Barcelona to Mexico City also works, but is a longer flight and more expensive.

This is a tricky search: I used flightconnection.com to do a map based search for possible airlines starting in Mexico City and then checking with the airline directly


You can setup this search in ITA Matrix by excluding the connecting airports (example ~SFO,LAX,DFW,IAH,JFK) and using MEX as the destination. This produces the LATAM option but not the Emirates one. There is also apparently an ANA option through Narita and Air Canada through Vancouver. If you want to avoid a Visa, Canada is not going to help either.

  • 5
    But Canada's transit visas are free of charge.
    – phoog
    Sep 24, 2022 at 18:12
  • @phoog are they always quick / easy to apply for? High chance of getting?
    – Tim
    Sep 24, 2022 at 21:58
  • @Tim no idea, I'm afraid. I have no experience, direct or indirect.
    – phoog
    Sep 24, 2022 at 22:17

You can try using Google Flights and filter by the airport type, if those are located in the United States. For example here's how I did this for a random date, and assuming an Auckland departure:

enter image description here

However, nothing shows up. It may just be the case that such flight options do not exist, at least for the specific date ranges.

You may thus want to take a look at flights that are known not to be listed on Google Flights, such as certain low-cost carriers. You can also try searching on other websites, such as Kayak, where you can also filter:

enter image description here

Again, however, there is no guarantee that such a flight route exists.

  • 3
    I did something similar with Kayak, except I chose Auckland=>Mexico City on the basis that once you were in Mexico, it would be a domestic flight to Tijuana. I found some flights via Canada and also South America
    – Peter M
    Sep 24, 2022 at 3:42
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    Same but with Flight Connections (flightconnections.com/flights-from-auckland-akl) shows AKL-MEX flights connecting in Seoul, Tokyo, Vancouver, and Chile
    – hojusaram
    Sep 24, 2022 at 5:35
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    You can also use Google Flights to search for flights to a whole continent. Checking for nonstop flights to South America in the next 6 months, surfaces again the Chile route: google.com/travel/… (it seems that from Santiago, you'll then have to also stop in Mexico City, as suggested by the other commenters)
    – berdario
    Sep 24, 2022 at 10:52
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    It looks like you just picked the wrong day of the week to search. If you go to the "date grid" and switch to another day of the week (other than a Tuesday) Google Flights will return an itinerary that goes Auckland–Santiago–Lima–Mexico City–Tijuana. Sep 24, 2022 at 12:43
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    @computerscientist. Just an unrelated point. the software that runs SE is so bad that it doesn't realize screen shots on the main screen of a mac laptop are double density. Hence a feature of SE is the "absurdly large" images such as your second one. As a Friendly Service, I changed the density. (Note that, of course, you need only click a button to undo the edit - if you want the huge one! :) ) Cheers
    – Fattie
    Sep 26, 2022 at 23:45

In general when you do this,

one approach that may help is simply ...

start backwards from the destination.


enter image description here

You instantly learn that you will have to fly via Mexico City

Do the same "from" Mexico City


enter image description here

Finally do the same "from" Auckland


and you have your answers. Either Tokyo or Santiago.

(Or Vancouver, but I assume you wanna avoid entanglements and US flyovers.)

Note that you now know, for a fact, there are only two possible solutions to the flight you desire - and that's that.

Unfortunately, for those "2" possibilities, you just have to check if they exist under a single, or any, airline booking. Every flight site, eg Expedia, allows you to check this (set the stopovers / multi-destination / whatever), or at worst just call the "first" airline and see if they happen to book it through as one.

On a flight problem as obscure as yours, that is how it's gonna be. Awesome challenge!

Another simple site for doing this: https://www.flightsfrom.com/TIJ

  • 1
    Thanks, this is useful information, but how does this help me actually find flights? Do I need to book multi single-leg trips to make it happen?
    – Midavalo
    Sep 26, 2022 at 23:55
  • @Fattie I've flown Aucland return to Toko once, Taiwan 3x, China many - so I know :-). Interestingly - flying Auckland to China, when you finally leave Australian territory you are almost half way there! Sep 27, 2022 at 0:11
  • Russ - same! !!
    – Fattie
    Sep 27, 2022 at 14:21
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    @Midavalo Good point: note that you now know, for a fact, there are only two possible solutions to the flight you desire - and that's that. Unfortunately, for those "2" possibilities, you just have to check if they exist under a single or any airline booking. Every flight site, eg expedia, allows you to check this (just set the stopovers or multidestination etc), or at worst, just call the "first" airline and see if they happen to book it through as one. Unfortunately, I didn't state this explicitly, on a flight problem as obscure as yours, that is how it's gonna be. :/ Awesome challenge!
    – Fattie
    Sep 27, 2022 at 14:24
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    @Fattie That makes sense, thanks. It might be worth editing this comment into the answer, as it's valuable information to consider for my problem.
    – Midavalo
    Sep 27, 2022 at 14:47

New Zealand and Tijuana, Mexico

How can I find flights that exclude stops in the USA?

Let's start getting from Australia/New Zealand to the continent. Google Flights can search non stop Auckland - South America flights and shows the only flight existing is into Santiago, quite a way from Mexico. It can also search for Auckland - Central America but that comes back empty. But alas, this is the only way if you want to avoid North America. If you move the map around, Vancouver also shows up:

enter image description here

Via Santiago it's 10 095 miles, via Vancouver, it's 9492 miles. That's not a significant difference -- but both add a sizable distance to the 6800 miles between Auckland and Mexico City but what can one do? You can test with the Great Circle Mapper that any major hub elsewhere is even worse: Tokyo is over 12000 miles, the rest like Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai is over 15 000 miles.

That established, while Wikipedia in general is not a reliable source to say the least, airports are neutral enough that not much trolling is going on so it's a reasonable good resource for this sort of research. We can look at the Tijuana airport article and find this curious tidbit:

International service ended in early 2020 (due to COVID-19 pandemic) after Hainan announced the cessation of all flights to Mexico.

So we will need to transfer within Mexico, no matter what. For connection, Mexico City is the evident choice, it is an extremely large airport -- the 16th busiest in the world.

You can try searching for flights transferring in Vancouver or Santiago first and in Mexico City second. Or you can even make the second connection point "anything" in hopes it'll find some other point than Mexico City (it doesn't):

enter image description here

Or you can buy two tickets. When flying on an unprotected connection, especially with flights this long and expensive always presume you will be bumped to the next flight and buy the connecting ticket correspondingly. Spend a night in the connecting city, in other words.

So fly to Vancouver or Santiago, sleep there and then fly to Tijuana via Mexico City. I would prefer this even if I had a single ticket because the first leg is just brutal and a shower and a bed is very, very enticing after such a long flight.

Also, as a small footnote, Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world but I might be slightly biased in this.

  • I've seen Vancouver (lived there downtown for several months). It was OK. Now Rio. That affected me the first time I saw it (and all the times after that).
    – Peter M
    Sep 25, 2022 at 0:39
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    I've only lived Vancouver downtown for fourteen years. It's still breathtaking :)
    – user4188
    Sep 25, 2022 at 0:52
  • The OP may have reasons to avoid Vancouver: The next flight is over US airspace in case he has USA legal problems. However, I believe, and you can confirm, that unlike USA airport the OP can transit without doing CDN customs and immigration, and does not need a transit visa if either a New Zealand or Mexican citizen. Sep 27, 2022 at 5:30

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