The Alternative Orlando Airports

Orlando has grown massively to become one of the most popular destinations for UK tourists. As a result, there are plenty of direct flights to Orlando on offer from a range of UK airports including London, Manchester and Glasgow. However, I find during peak periods such as Easter, and the school summer holidays these direct flights sell out faster than you can say ‘Mickey Mouse’ – with the few remaining seats selling for a premium.

So to save your dream of a holiday to Orlando may we present the dealchecker guide to alternative Orlando flights. Many of which are cheaper and, if you’re travelling from a regional airport, can be just as quick as connecting in the UK.

Orlando Sanford – the Other Orlando airport

The bulk of flights land at Orlando International Airport: it’s close to the major theme parks and (if you don’t mind paying the toll charge) you can avoid the congested I4 interstate highway, running through the heart of Orlando. However, it’s not the only Orlando airport, your second chance to bag a bargain flight to Orlando sits just north of the city: Sanford International Airport (SFB).

Image by RobBixbyPhotography

The airport is primarily served by UK charter airlines – check out our flight deals with the likes of  TUI. The airport has similar facilities with car rental providers having locations on or close to the main terminal. However, being on the other side of the city to the theme parks, you should allow for a longer transfer from Orlando Sanford to the the main tourist areas. If you cannot find availability with the charter carriers then also consider two Icelandic airlines (Icelandair and Iceland Express) who fly from the UK to Sanford with connections in Reykjavik.

Flights to Tampa & Miami

Another option to consider is to fly direct to another airport within the state of Florida. British Airways offers a direct flight to Tampa which is only a couple of hours to the south-west of Orlando by road. Hmmm… could be a good way of halting theme park overload with a beach break on the Gulf Coast.

Sanibel beach
Sanibel Beach on the Gulf Coast – Image courtesy of Visit Florida

Flights from London to Miami are available with both British and US airlines so flight prices are competitive. With flights to Miami anything up to £100 cheaper than Orlando this is a fantastic way to save money – But before you get carried away we should remind you that Florida is massive. It would be an understatement to say that the 200 miles between Miami and Orlando will be tiring after a long transatlantic flight. Consider investing a little of your savings in a hotel near to Miami airport before you make the long drive.

Miami beach
Miami beach – Image courtesy of Visit Florida

Connections through other US Cities

US airlines operate a hub system where they base their operations around a few cities (hubs) and then fly out to a plethora of US destinations. Many airlines connect their international routes with their domestic timetables opening up the USA for many to discover. When looking for a flight deal to Florida you should consider these stopovers as a way of reducing down the total cost of your holiday.

plane window
Image by UggBoy♥UggGirl

New York is an obvious choice as connecting city with many flights coming from the UK daily.  However, if you are travelling with small children do watch the times of some connecting flights. Some return flights back through New York board late in the day so consider if your little one can stay up until 9 or 10pm in the evening.

Two further options can be found through cities in the southern states. Atlanta is the hub for Delta and they connect through both Manchester and London to Orlando. The other option is to fly via Charlotte with US Airways.  I took this route with my family earlier in the year and found the flight times worked well for my two young children. It was certainly took longer to get to Orlando than flying direct and we did have to claim our luggage in Charlotte. However, we did get a much cheaper airfare which meant we could a afford a fantastic week in Orlando during the normally expensive Easter school holidays.

Top image courtesy of Visit Florida