Pros: good airline selection, clean and spacious terminals
Cons: no assigned car rental agency bus stops, slim corridor between TC and TD
Recently my wife and I took a trip to Ft. Lauderdale. Not only Ft. Lauderdale did we visit, but we also went to Hollywood Beach, Vanderbilt Beach in Naples, and Boca Raton. To get from New York to Ft. Lauderdale, it makes most sense to fly instead of taking the train or driving. The closest airport to our resort near St. Olas was Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport.
Everything You Want To Know: Flights, Airlines, Destinations
One of the neatest aspects of the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport is that the airlines have such a huge route network out of the busy city. There are flights going east, west, north and south. There are also international flights. And the other neat thing is that youre bound to find low fares. Why? Because Florida is the premiere location for low-cost carriers such as Southwest, JetBlue, Spirit, AirTran, and Southeast Airlines. Therefore, the big guys have to lower their fares to compete with these low-cost carriers.
If you have those Delta SkyMiles, youre in luck! Delta flies into many destinations from Ft. Lauderdale including: Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Hartford, Islip (in Long Island), New Orleans (new route), New York (JFK, LaGuardia and Newark), Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa and Washington D.C. Usually Delta has average fares, but you can also fly on their discount airliner: Song.
Southeast doesnt have the biggest presence and decided to fly into Allentown, PA and Newburgh, NY. I dont know how that airline makes a profit on those routes since Philadelphia is right next to Allentown, and there are many more people willing to fly into Philadelphia over Allentown. Also, Newburgh really isnt convenient to anywhere except Binghamton which is too small of a city to offer non-stop service to anywhere in Florida. Southeast also flies into New York (LaGuardia) from Ft. Lauderdale.
AirTran also has a pretty good presence in Ft. Lauderdale - mainly to compete with Delta, its largest enemy. AirTran flies into Atlanta, Baltimore, Gulf Port/Biloxi and Philadelphia. AirTran has very low fares to Florida. You can sometimes find excellent deals on the internet. I found a web special at $49 one-way to Fort Lauderdale from Philadelphia.
Spirit is one of those airlines that isnt known very well. It does serve some of the most popular destinations, and it carries many flights to/from Fort Lauderdale everyday. It flies into Atlantic City, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, New York (LaGuardia) and San Juan from Ft. Lauderdale. The airline is known for low quality service along with low fares. Its known as a you get what you pay for airline.
Southwest is Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airports busiest airline. It can get you to and from wherever you want to go. From Ft. Lauderdale, it services Baltimore, Chicago (Midway), Jacksonville, Islip, Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando and Tampa. Southwest is known for its flying cattle car, but Ive heard that its a decent airline. Southwest offers super low fares as it doesnt serve food on its flights - only snacks.
American Airlines doesnt have the greatest presence at Ft. Lauderdale. This is probably because everyone has had enough with their horrible service and sky high fares. From Ft. Lauderdale, American Airlines serves Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York (LaGuardia, JFK and Newark), St. Louis and San Juan.
American Trans Air is a smaller airline at Ft. Lauderdale that is known to have decent fares and pretty good service. Ive never flown them before, but they continue to rapidly grow and carry more passengers to date. They also have a good presence in Florida. ATA serves into its two major hubs from Ft. Lauderdale: Chicago (Midway) and Indianapolis.
Continental is a pretty good airline. I flew them once to Las Vegas and they had decent service. The price was also fair. From Ft. Lauderdale, Continental has a variety of locations it flies into including Cleveland, Houston, Key West, New York (Newark), Orlando and Tampa. Usually Continental doesnt fly outside of its hub network, but its Continental Connection service allows them to make short hops to other Floridian cities.
US Airways is one of the stupidest airlines - their many gates at Ft. Lauderdale always just sit open while they continue to pay for use of them. No wonder they were bankrupt before! US Airways flies into Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. It used to fly into LaGuardia from Ft. Lauderdale, but the airline stopped that route a little while after their low-cost airline, MetroJet, went out of business.
Midwest is known for the highest quality of service. You dont have to go to coach because there is no coach! The whole airline is first class. Its seats at 2x2. Fresh cookies are made aboard, and all the seats are huge from what Ive heard. As expected, the fares are very high. From Ft. Lauderdale, Midwest flies to Milwaukee.
JetBlue is one of Ft. Lauderdale/ Hollywood International Airports most rapidly expanding airlines. The airline is known for its low fares, leather seats, friendly service and DirecTV at every channel. From Ft. Lauderdale, JetBlue serves into Long Beach (near LA), New York (JFK) and Washington D.C.
Northwest is one of the Big 6 airlines that flies into Ft. Lauderdale. However, it has a very small presence. Northwest has been known for high fares and rude service. Some people made a name for them: NorthWorst Airlines. I dont think Ill fly them anytime soon. From Ft. Lauderdale, Northwest flies into Detroit, Memphis and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport also has charter airlines such as TransMeridian and Air Sunshine. Also, some of Southeasts flights are chartered. TransMeridian flies into Syracuse from Ft. Lauderdale. Just so you know, Florida is a mecca for charter flights. Thats what makes it such a cheap place to fly into. All the other airlines I mentioned in the part above have scheduled flights.
As I mentioned before, Ft. Lauderdale also does have international flights. Those flights go to the Andros Islands, Bagota, Cape Haitien, Eleuthera, Freeport, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Grand Turk, Kingston, Marsh Harbor, Mexico City, Montreal, Nassau, Paradise Island, Santiago (Dominican Republic), South Caicos, Toronto and Treasure Cay. These destinations are served by Lynx Air International, Aces Columbia Airlines, Continental, Lake Airways, Cayman Airways, Air Jamaica, AeroMexico, Air Canada, Air Transat, Bahamas Air,
Everything Else You Want To Know: My Experience
We were approaching Ft. Lauderdale on Delta Air Lines flight 2465 from LaGuardia International Airport in New York. We were flying right over the coastline and could see the difference in the color of water. The shallower parts of the water were very light blue. At one part, it was just like there was a border line - the water turned very very dark blue. It was thundering when we got in, so there was a lot of turbulence as we went through the clouds.
We were flying south, and then we turned west as we started out descent. About half way to the ground, we turned south just a little bit more, but this time we were flying over the mainland. Then we turned east and flew right onto the runway. The airport isnt located right on the water, so the arrival procedure of circling around the airport is necessary. From Las Olas Blvd., you can see the planes arriving and departing.
We flew over so many highways, roads and hotels before we landed. Right next to the arrival and departure runway (the only one working at the time) is a highway. Imagine driving on that highway and seeing a plane fly right above you as if you could reach out and touch it. When we arrived, the flaps went up and we slowed down so quickly. The airport doesnt have large aircraft to handle, so the runway was just long enough for our Boeing 757 - the second largest aircraft that flies into the airport. The largest is the 767 which is operated by Delta on Atlanta flights.
When we arrived, we taxied off the runway as there was a Southwest flight coming in right behind us. Our gate was being occupied at the moment where we arrived, so we taxied to the side of the terminal and waited for about ten minutes. I could see what was going on - there were two Song flights in the same area and they caused congestion. So it took about ten minutes for those two flights to get out of the area and get onto the line for departure.
The space between the Delta terminal D and the terminal next door - Terminal C with JetBlue, Continental and Northwest, was very limited. Two planes couldnt back out or come in at the same time. This made we a little bit nervous as the aircraft that were used in the little corridor were large jet planes such as 757s, A320s and MD-80s. On the other side of Terminal D was a lot of space for the planes to pull out as Terminal E was a very far distance away. This is because the other side of the Terminal D is used by Deltas two 767 gates which need a lot more room for push-back than smaller planes.
We got into the terminal very quickly. Right when I got out, I noticed little fish head statues sticking out from the wall. We walked just a few steps and went past the border line. At the border line, there were many people waiting for their families and friends to come off the flight. No non-ticketed passenger can go past this border line.
I took a right and went straight. We passed a newsstand and then I saw escalators and some bathrooms next to them. We went down the escalators and took a sharp right to see about five baggage carousels. Our flight wasnt identified on any of the electronic screens above the baggage carousels when we went down, but it was eventually put on the screen. The baggage area was very large and clean. It also had its own car rental ticketing counters which is really convenient. Other airports like Orlando have only one car rental agency area throughout the whole airport which is really annoying. But the fact that there was a separate car rental agency in each terminal made me happy.
The car rental agencies are all the norm. There is National, Budget, Hertz, Avis, Alamo, Florida Car Rental Agency, and Dollar. We were with National. I was given directions to exit out of the terminal and make a right. We were to walk outside to the bus stop where the National bus would stop to pick us up and bring us to the parking lot.
So we followed his directions. It was a very short walk to the bus stop. Right behind the bus stop was a huge Delta 767 with its engines on, so it was hard to talk with my wife while we waited for the bus to come. Unfortunately, there is no assigned bus stop. For example, you never know where the car rental agency bus will stop to pick you up. This could have been a lot of an easier situation had there been a sign indicating which companys bus would stop.
We had a great time in Ft. Lauderdale and were kind of happy to leave. After all, two weeks basking in the sun, swimming and doing things with hot temperatures can get a little boring after awhile.
Returning, the limo picked us up from the hotel at 6:45 in the morning. We were scheduled to leave on a Song Airlines flight to Kennedy at 9:50am which was later delayed. It was about a 20 minute drive to the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport from our hotel in Boca Raton. Our driver dropped us off in front of the Delta terminal where curb-side check-in was open.
We decided to check-in inside. There was not even a line, but we decided to check-in at the kiosks. After having some really big trouble, we finally got ticketed. The Song Airlines agents told us to bring our baggage to the security screeners so they could screen it for bombs and anything that may be harmful to the aircraft. So we brought the luggage to the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) member and gave them to him. He put it through the machine without a problem, and were directed to go out of the roped-in area to the security screeners.
There wasnt much of a line. A TSA member informed us to give him our tickets. He checked them over very thoroughly. Above him hung a sign saying that only passengers on flights departing until 10:00am could go into the gate area. Ive never heard of such rules in other airports - even after the September 11th terrorist attacks. We were asked to take off our shoes, take out everything metal we had on us, and put our carry-ons onto the belt.
I went through with no problems, but my wife was caught with a small pocket knife. They took it from her saying, Were looking for Swiss Army Knives. Im not sure how a pocket knife can be mistaken for a Swiss Army Knife, but I am happy that the security is very tight. It makes me feel safe to fly in American skies. The TSA members were friendly and made me feel very comfortable throughout the whole security process.
We got into the gate are to find that our flight was delayed. We were boarding a gate D1. The boarding area was very large with many chairs. Unlike the airports in Rochester or like JFK, there was plenty of space for people to sit. The rows of chairs were spread out so much that I could extend my legs out to the maximum. I was so extremely comfortable in that airport waiting area...somewhere where not too many can be comfortable.
I went walking around the airport. I spotted another Delta 757 and a Delta 767 with passengers going to Atlanta. There was also a small Comair Delta Connection Canadair jet that was going to Columbus, OH. I went to the bathroom which was very large and extremely clean. There was also shoe shining and a fairly large shop with magazines, books, shirts, key chains and last minute travel accessories and souvenirs.
There was a small eating area next to the security checkpoint. There was a pizza restaurant and a Miami Subs Express. From there, I bought two breakfast sandwiches and an orange juice. The breakfast sandwiches were served on bagels (as I asked for) and were smothered with melted cheese and egg. he price was very cheap - I could get everything for a lot less than $10. The food was disgusting, however, and I should have gone for pizza...even though it was still morning.
We finally boarded the flight and taxied out of the narrow corridor. When backing out from the gate, I was so scared that the planes wing would hit the back of the Continental 757 behind us. We had to taxi all the way to the end of the runway. We sat there for about 15 minutes of so waiting for several flights to depart and land. Boy, the airport is very busy! We finally took off going east and flying over the water - one last look at the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale and Hollywood.
Everything You Learned + A Little: To Sum Things Up
If your intended destination isnt Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood or Boca Raton, you dont have to fly into Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. Alternative airports are Naples and Ft. Myers which are located on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida. They are both about an hour from the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. On the east side of Florida where Ft. Lauderdale is located, you can fly into West Palm Beach or Miami. Miami is the airport for European flights.
The Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport has some negative points, but not many. First of all, it would be nice if they flew into Phoenix, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Seattle or San Francisco. With new flights constantly being added, the airport has a good chance of being served from those cities. Southwest has a good mind to fly into Phoenix and Las Vegas. Salt Lake City can be served by Delta which has a hub there, Seattle by Alaska Airlines which doesnt fly into Ft. Lauderdale yet, and San Francisco by JetBlue (Im sure its going to happen one day from Oakland).
The car rental agencies had both a negative and a positive. I liked how there are agencies in each terminal instead of one main agency. However, it was kind of confusing catching the bus to the parking lots where the rental cars are located. It would have been nice if there were assigned spots for each bus to stop. This would have saved us a lot of time looking for the bus and running to it instead of sitting calmly on a bench waiting for the bus with no worries.
Another negative is how the terminals arent all connected. They are connected by road and sidewalk, yes, but there should be an indoor corridor that leads to each every terminal. This would be more convenient to the many passengers which take connecting flights to the Caribbean. It would be more convenient than having the sidewalks outside because this way you can avoid the hot and humid weather in Florida and instead walk inside with air conditioning blowing on you.
The biggest negative is how close Terminal C and D are to each other. It made me quite nervous when we turned into the gate area and when we backed out. Planes being very close together is a very sensitive subject in the first place, but it could have been avoided if the Delta Connection flights instead used the east side of the Delta terminal instead of the north side. Therefore, the planes wouldnt be as close, and it would be the safest solution.
There are many positives to the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, also. The airline selection is great and many destinations are served into. The terminals are spacious and the gate areas have many seats. I also like that the terminal(s) is clean and has great security. Overall, I wouldnt mind flying into the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport as long as I dont have to be in a plane thats in that cramped airplane corridor.
Thanks to SurgRN911 for adding this to the database for me!