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Igggy

Early Flight Out of FLL Hints

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I've booked a Monday 10 AM flight out of FLL after our Reflection cruise in January. This is the first time we've gotten an early light versus staying a night and leaving in the morning, Any helpful suggestions? Also, is a luggage valet service for SWA still available? Thanks.

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You will probably be advised to do self disembarkation with a 10:00 flight.  SW does participate in luggage valet but the flight has to be 11:30 or later.

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You will probably make it by carrying off your luggage. But I wouldn't chance a flight even in FLL where the airport is 10 minutes taxi ride from the port.  As noted luggage valet is not available for early flights.

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Do self disembarkation and you will be fine.  We have made an 8:30am and 9am flight.  Just be in line by 6:30am and you will have plenty of time.  

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Need to line up VERY early for walk off

And hope no delays at Customs,  on roadways,  airport security line..etc

 

Too much stress for our taste but they say it can be done

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We have made it to FLL by 8:30, when all things went smoothly. On our last cruise, we booked an undesirable 2 pm flight, with a stopover adding hours to our trip home. We requested a late disembark time. There was a delay, probably because the terminal couldn't handle so many at once. Never would have made the 10 a.m. flight that day. You most likely will make it to the airport on time if you walk off your own luggage. Look at alternate flights and other close by airports so you have a plan B in mind in case you don't make it. 

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1 hour ago, Igggy said:

I've booked a Monday 10 AM flight out of FLL after our Reflection cruise in January. This is the first time we've gotten an early light versus staying a night and leaving in the morning, Any helpful suggestions? Also, is a luggage valet service for SWA still available? Thanks.

I've made a 10:30 flight out of FLL on a Monday morning with no problem, at all.  I did self-disembarkation and there was a little bit of a holdup (we couldn't get off until about 7:15), but I was at my GATE by 8:15.  I have global entry so that helped move things along at both the port and the airport.  The fact that your flight is on a Monday, rather than Saturday or Sunday, should also help (you won't be contending with volumes of passengers from the mega ships).

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Most times if you do self assist you can be at the airport by 8.  

Last time there was a delay and self assist didn’t begin until 8 15.  By then the people whose luggage tags had them getting off at 7:30 and later were jamming the stairs,  midship elevator area and doorway.  It was chaos- including guests, pushing, shoving, cussing at each other and the crew who were desperately trying to get order. Swore we would never do that again.   We had a 11:00 flight and made it.

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Posted (edited)

I just booked a  1 pm out of FLL on southwest..I would not chance an earlier flight then 11:30.  Never know if there is a delay.  Yes we have made it to the airport early,  would rather wait around then miss my flight.

Edited by ebtrip

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Walk off the ship and the chances are very good you won't have any issues. More than once we've been at gate before 8 am.  Having TSA Precheck helps.  

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On 8/15/2019 at 11:29 AM, Igggy said:

I've booked a Monday 10 AM flight out of FLL after our Reflection cruise in January. This is the first time we've gotten an early light versus staying a night and leaving in the morning, Any helpful suggestions? Also, is a luggage valet service for SWA still available? Thanks.

 

Things that help with early flights:

1. Doing self disembarkation, and being ready to go before they actually call for self disembarkation to start, as the line can be long.

2. Having Global Entry- some cruise terminals let you go to the front of the customs line if you have your GE card

3. Not waiting on a ship transfer to the airport; just grab a waiting cab and go.  Second choice would be Uber/Lyft

4. Being able to fly with carry on only so you don't have to wait in line to check luggage.  Check in for your flight on your phone when you wake up and then go straight to security upon arrival at airport

5. Having priority status with your airline if you do have to check bags; sometimes that means a shorter line. 

6.  Having TSA Pre-check and/or Clear to get through airport security more quickly.

 

On 8/15/2019 at 12:52 PM, mysparky said:

  The fact that your flight is on a Monday, rather than Saturday or Sunday, should also help (you won't be contending with volumes of passengers from the mega ships).

 

You won't be contending with huge volumes of cruise pax, but early Monday morning is a busy travel time for weekly business travelers.  And yes, there is a lot of business travel in and out of FLL.  It's not just an airport for cruise pax; millions of people live in the area, they aren't all retirees, and many travel for business.

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Here is the thing about early morning flights.  When it works out it is wonderful and when it doesn't you will miss your flight.  As long as your ship docks on time and is not held-up by the US Authorities you  will be fine.  But you should definitely use the express disembarkation process (where you carry all your own luggage off the vessel) and grab a taxi (or Uber/Lyft) to the airport.   The potential problem is when the US Authorities hold up clearing the ship which means nobody can disembark.  In nearly 100 cruises from Florida ports this has only happened to us twice, once at Port Everglades and once at the Port of Miami.  In both those cases the CBP folks had some "issues" (both times it was related to the crew) and refused to let anyone go ashore.  The chance of this happening is very low, but it can happen!  The latest we were held on a ship was about 9:30.  That was an awful experience and we hope it is never repeated.

 

When we have used Express disembarkation we have actually been over to FLL by 7:15....and we were not rushing. It does help that we have Global Entry but the lack of this status should only add another 10-20 min if you are among the first off the ship.

 

Hank

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On 8/15/2019 at 11:34 AM, spammie said:

Do self disembarkation and you will be fine.  We have made an 8:30am and 9am flight.  Just be in line by 6:30am and you will have plenty of time.  

Oh really? Are you sure?  We've had two cruises, one out of Lauderdale, where due to Customs issues didembarkation started at 9:30.   Will they probably make it?  Yes. But no guarantees.

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We have an 11:55AM flight out of FLL.  Would this be considered early?

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I no longer book a flight before noon even when sailing and flying out of Fort Lauderdale.  We experienced one of those hold ups by CBP on a Friday morning disembarkation and no one exited the cruise terminal until after 10AM.  CBP claimed they had received word of a “credible threat” and inspected closely.  They finally made one line just for US passengers with passports, but even that line moved more slowly than normal.  

 

People around us were complaining left and right about missing flights.  We were glad all we did was miss a couple of hours of beach time (we had a 7pm flight and rental car waiting for us).  

 

If you choose to do an early flight, make sure to have travel insurance that covers you.

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51 minutes ago, Laura61 said:

We have an 11:55AM flight out of FLL.  Would this be considered early?

That’s the perfect time for a flight

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2 hours ago, Laura61 said:

We have an 11:55AM flight out of FLL.  Would this be considered early?

No, it would be very rare indeed that you couldn't make that flight

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We cruised from FLL back in March and I did the same exact thing, booked the early flight because the next non-stop wasn’t until hours later. Quickly regretted it as all I did was fret over if we would make the flight and I didn’t want that stress the last few days of our vacation.

We were on Southwest so changing was simple.  I checked out flights from West Palm Beach and was able to switch to a 2pm non stop back home.  It’s less then an hours drive to WP and being a smaller airport so much more convienent. We hired a car service to pick us up at the cruise port and it was well worth it!

If this is an option that might work for you, I would definitely check it out.  Also would look into flights from Miami.

I know I would rather spend a few extra bucks to have peace of mind knowing that I won’t miss my flight home and also not have it take me hours to get home with stop-overs for a 3 hr non stop trip.

 

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1 hour ago, CruisersTimesThree said:

We cruised from FLL back in March and I did the same exact thing, booked the early flight because the next non-stop wasn’t until hours later. Quickly regretted it as all I did was fret over if we would make the flight and I didn’t want that stress the last few days of our vacation.

Exactly. We'd always prefer to be the stress-free last passengers getting off the ship instead of being the anxious first passengers to disembark.

 

Two questions for the OP to consider:

1. Should you not make it to the airport on time, what are the potential consequences and how serious are they?

2. Do you have a viable contingency plan?

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On 8/15/2019 at 3:42 PM, JanineM said:

Walk off the ship and the chances are very good you won't have any issues. More than once we've been at gate before 8 am.  Having TSA Precheck helps.  

Pre check helps, if they are open.. They  sometimes start a bit late so everyone is waiting on the same lines at least initially,  They are fairly efficient and it usually moves well but just a heads up!

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Realize that early fights such as 1000 can be made the majority of time, but my personal view is very much as hcat.....why add stress on a vacation. Think about the day prior, worrying about all the ‘what if’s’ of getting in late / not being cleared normally / hang up on getting off / etc. All of them out of your control.

 

So yes, most are right that if you do the walk off then you’ll probably be OK. But there is a reason why SW and other airlines won’t allow luggage valet that early - they know it might not get the luggage there in time which should tell everyone something about making those flights. 

 

This is the same thing I add when talking about flying in the day of the cruise.......you’ll ‘probably’ make....but I’d rather decrease the ‘probably ’ by taking more control of what I have control over. Had friends fly in the day of a TransAtlantic.....they barely made it walking (well running) on 10min prior to departure.....and if they’d missed the ship, the next port was in Europe!!

 

Den

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On 8/15/2019 at 11:29 AM, Igggy said:

I've booked a Monday 10 AM flight out of FLL after our Reflection cruise in January. This is the first time we've gotten an early light versus staying a night and leaving in the morning, Any helpful suggestions? Also, is a luggage valet service for SWA still available? Thanks.

As long as disembarkation begins at the normal time, you shouldn't have a problem as long as you self disembark.  Just grab a taxi over to the airport as it's super close to Port Everglades.  We live in Fort Myers and when we self disembark we can be home by 10:30 - 11:00 going across the state. 

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