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Indirect flights - Well worth the saving - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

When setting out your budget and looking at options to fly to Florida many people look to fly direct, without really taking much time to view the options for indirect flights. An indirect flight as the name suggests does not go direct, but uses a main hub airport to connect you with another airplane. There are many hub airports within the US (New York, Miami, Boston, Charlotte, Washingon) to name a few. Each of these airports has a major carrier that uses it for its onward services.

When selecting an indirect flight, many people focus purely on price without actually looking at the total time (door to door) or the connection times. This can be a costly experience as in some cases you can be travelling to 24 hours and not realise this when booking.

There can be many benefits of travelling indirect. Cost is the main one and can during peak UK holiday periods cut almost £200 – 300 per individual off the fare. For us the saving was £250 per individual to fly with US Airways via Charlotte from London Gatwick. The next is if you have small children it can be good to break up the journey with a stop over in another airport to allow them to explore and stretch their legs. Some stop overs can be as short as 1hr 30 min, so only enough time to get a drink and then get to your next flight. And thirdly it can save time clearing customs in a smaller airport than Orlando. On average it can take 30 – 45 minutes to clear Orlando customs, but in Charlotte this was 10 minutes. As you clear customs in Charlotte you do not need to clear them again in Orlando, meaning you can get straight to the baggage and car hire when the queues are less.

For our experience we travelled US Airways via Charlotte and were very pleased with the service and amenities onboard. The food was very good (apart from the return leg breakfast! ) and entertainment system was very new with a lot of on-demand movies. This certainly rivals any system Virgin or BA use. Our stop over in Charlotte was 2 hours in which time we cleared customs and had to re-hand our bags in (painless as it is 200m from the arrivals terminal). In this time we got a coffee and stretched our legs before boarding a smaller aircraft down to Orlando. In total we added around 2hrs to our travel times, but actually only got to our Villa around 30 minutes later than we would have normally done using the Virgin Gatwick service. Most of this was put down to clearing customs in Charlotte as opposed to Orlando.

It really is worth shopping around for flights and trying to get the best possible value to allow you extra spending money when in Orlando. We saved £750 as a family and this money was put to very good use buying park tickets. The fact you have to get off a plane and hand your bags in is in my view worth the saving. A word of warning though. Try to avoid New York as the Queues through customs can be extremely busy and often people miss connecting flights. Because of this I would opt for smaller US airports to use as your hub (Charlotte & Philadelphia). If you do and have good connecting flights then it is really worth considering.

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