I would write a review of my Southwest flight to South Florida for the cruise, however, being so similar to the other flights I have written about, I instead wanted to point out some of my favorite aspects of the simple journey. Let’s call it a semi-review for my flight from Washington Regan (DCA) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL).
This article is part of my Cruise Trip Report: Weekend in the Bahamas including:
- Affordable and Efficient: Southwest to Florida
- Booking a Cruise: Triple Stack
- Liberty of the Seas: Interior Cabin Review
- Liberty of the Seas: Ship Review
- Perfect Day in Coco Cay Review
- Spending a day in Nassau
- Lounge Review: Centurion Studio FLL
- The Weekend Cruise… would I do it again?
It was an early morning. Six AM departures are rarely fun, but at least leaving out of Reagan Airport, it wasn’t horribly painful. I took the train back from Charlottesville the night before, so after quickly doing laundry and repacking, it was a lovely 4:30 AM wake-up on Friday morning.
In the Uber to the airport at 5 AM and having no need to check a bag, we were at the gate by 5:30 (thanks to CLEAR and TSA Precheck because security surprisingly had a line).
Boarding began within 5 minutes of reaching the gate. Since we lost A-List status, we opted to use our A1-15 boarding pass to snag four seats together since it was a sold out flight. The rest of us had boarding group B, which wasn’t horrible, and we were able to get all of our seats together.
The flight was full, and it was very uneventful given that pretty much everyone was sleeping. A little while after departing out of DCA, the crew came around with the typical drink service (however, not their new -very sugary- iced coffee) as well as some pretzels.
I listened to music and slept throughout the majority of the flight and before long we were landing in South Florida just under 2.5 hours later. Fort Lauderdale is great because of how easy it is to get from the plane to the curb. The morning flights are always painful, but it’s great when you arrive somewhere before 9 AM.
I’ve said it before, but if there’s one thing Southwest nails, its consistency (minus the unfortunate mess ups this past holiday season). You know very much what to expect and that level of simplicity is exactly what I needed on that early Friday morning.
It’s always easy to check bags (not that we needed any this trip) with two free checked bags included, which means we also rarely face issues with overhead bin access. We were easily able to carry all of our baggage on board despite being one of the latter of the boarding groups.
The drinks, the service, the funny crew. Keep it simple and it does its job. Nothing was over the top and there were no disappointments. I had to check in exactly 24 hours in advance, but Southwest’s app makes it simple as well.
After we locked in the cruise from Fort Lauderdale, I knew the next step would be flights. Being that it was a holiday weekend, I figured it would be expensive. Quickly checking Google Flights, as I always do for a reference point (Southwest is not shown), my theory was correct.
Luckily, we had some flexibility on the routing since we were able to fly out of any of the D.C. airports, which fly to many South Florida airports. Ideally, DCA to FLL, but we were flexible. However, we were not flexible on times, we needed to fly down Friday morning before the cruise and return Monday afternoon after disembarkation.
Southwest was surprisingly reasonably priced. I believe the price was $329 per person for the round-trip flights out of our preferred airport. Nothing crazy, but not overpriced given the holiday.
However, that is still over $1,300 for a family of four, hardly a steal. Though this is where things get fun. We had two companion passes for the months of January and February thanks to a promotion Southwest ran in October. After flying the required two segments for a wedding they were already attending, both my mother and father had newly minted passes.
This dropped the cost in half since we only needed to pay $5.60 per direction for each of the companions, bringing the total cost to roughly $680. We would have used Southwest points to cover this balance, which can be redeemed at a flat value, but we had LUV vouchers that were soon to expire. These passes were given as an apology for a delayed Southwest flight last year and totaled $400.
The total cost for the family of four to fly roundtrip to Florida was $280, not too bad, and not on an Ultra-Low-Cost Carrier. We were very happy with this option.
The Last Point
It was an early morning, but nothing will beat getting from my bed to South Florida in just about four hours. From booking, to adding the companions, to the actual flight, it was easy. And for a cost of about $70 per person WITHOUT using points, I am very happy with the experience and would happily do it again.
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