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I would write a review of my Southwest flight to South Florida for the cruise, but since it’s so similar to other flights I’ve written about, I wanted to point out some of my favorite aspects of the easy trip instead. Let’s call this a half review of my flight from Washington Regan (DCA) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL).
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It was early morning. Departures at six in the morning are rarely fun, but at least it wasn’t terribly painful. I got the train back from Charlottesville last night, so after a quick wash and change, it was a lovely 4:30 a.m. wake up Friday morning.
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In an Uber to the airport at 5:00 and no need to check our bags, we were at the gate by 5:30 (thanks to CLEAR and TSA Precheck, as security surprisingly had a line).
Boarding started within 5 minutes of reaching the gate. Having lost our A-List status, we decided to use our A1-15 boarding pass to grab four seats as it was a sold out flight. The rest of us had boarding group B, which wasn’t terrible, and we managed to get all the seats together.
The flight was full and it was very uneventful considering that almost everyone was asleep. Shortly after leaving DCA, the crew arrived with the typical beverage service (but not their new – very sweetened – coffee) and some pretzels as well.
I listened to music and slept most of the flight and before long we were landing in South Florida in less than 2.5 hours. Fort Lauderdale is great because it’s easy to get from the plane to the curb. Early morning flights are always a pain, but it’s great to get somewhere before 9am.
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I’ve said it before, but if there’s one thing about Southwest, it’s consistency (minus the unfortunate issues of last holiday season). You know very well what to expect and this level of simplicity is exactly what I needed on that Friday morning.
It’s always easy to check in (not that we need it this time) with two free checked bags, meaning we rarely have problems accessing the overhead bin. We were able to carry all our luggage on board without any problems despite being one of the last boarding groups.
Drinks, service, fun crew. Keep it simple and do the job. Nothing was exaggerated and there were no disappointments. I had to check in exactly 24 hours in advance, but the Southwest app makes that easy too.
Once we locked down the cruise from Fort Lauderdale, I knew the next step would be flights. Since it was a holiday weekend, I thought it would be expensive. A quick check of Google Flights, as always with a reference point (southwest not shown), my theory was correct.
Flight Deals Using Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
Fortunately, we had some flexibility in routing because we could fly out of any of the D.C. airports that fly to many airports in South Florida. Ideally DCA to FLL but we were flexible. However, we were not flexible with our time, we needed to fly down on the Friday morning before the cruise and return on the Monday afternoon after disembarkation.
Southwest was surprisingly reasonably priced. I think the price was $329 per person round trip from our preferred airport. Nothing crazy, but not overpriced considering the holiday.
But that’s still more than $1,300 for a family of four, which is hardly a steal. Although that’s where things get fun. We had two companion passes for the months of January and February thanks to a Southwest promotion that ran in October. After flying the required two segments to a wedding they had already attended, both mom and dad had newly stamped IDs.
This cut the cost in half as we only had to pay $5.60 each way for each of the companions, bringing the total cost to about $680. We would have used Southwest points to cover this balance, which can be redeemed for flat value, but we had LUV vouchers that were expiring soon. These passes were provided as an apology for a delayed Southwest flight last year and were $400.
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The total cost for a family of four for a round trip to Florida was $280, which isn’t too bad, and not on ultra-low-cost shipping. We were very satisfied with this option.
It was early in the morning, but nothing beats getting out of bed and into South Florida in four hours. From booking, to adding companions, to the actual flight, it was easy. And at around $70 per person WITHOUT using points, I am very happy with the experience and would love to do it again.
Payton Turner is a University of Virginia student whose passion for all things travel has taken him and his family to the far corners of the earth. As much as he loves the luxurious life of first class, his AvGeek heart is just as happy in the back of a plane heading off on his next adventure.
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