Advice Needed: Flying to Seaside, FL

Aug 9th, 2009, 11:19 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 320
Advice Needed: Flying to Seaside, FL

DH and I are visiting friends who live near Seaside in October and are looking into flights from the Washington, DC, area. We're going to rent a car, so we have options on which airport to use. I prefer nonstop flights and larger aircraft, but I don't see any nonstops available. From our research, we see we could fly into any of five airports and drive there in under three hours--any advice from regular travelers to the Panhandle on which airport to use?

Panama City = less than an hour drive time
Fort Walton Beach = less than an hour
Pensacola = 1.5 hours
Mobile, AL = 2.5 hours
Tallahassee = 2.5 hours

Are we missing any options? Thanks so much!
marysmommy is offline  
Oct 14th, 2009, 06:00 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 58
We live in area - the lowest rates are in Pensacola, but I think it is more convenient to fly to Ft. Walton Beach.
Our area is working hard to get a major discount carrier - so stay tuned. It should be easier and cheaper soon!
nicenancy is offline  
Nov 29th, 2009, 04:22 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 320
Wonderful! The whole panhandle seems to need a Southwest or JetBlue, doesn't it?
marysmommy is offline  
Nov 29th, 2009, 06:21 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,535
Yes, you are missing a few pieces of the puzzle:

The new airport in Panama City is supposed to open May 18 with Southwest as one of the carriers. Flights to Panama City do not yet show up on the SW website (as of 11/29 they are selling flights through 5/7/10). So it might be a while before October flights on SW are available.

AirTran flies to Pensacola, but they are not booking October flights yet, either (only through July 2010 right now).

What effect the opening of the new Panama City airport will have on fares to Pensacola (PNS) and to Fort Walton Beach (the airport actually is in Valparaiso, hence its code VPS) remains to be seen. I would guess there will be more of an effect on fares to VPS than to PNS, as fares to PNS usually (but not always) are lowest among the three.

But the future competition from SW certainly isn't having any effect on fares to Panama CIty yet! For example, looking at Delta's website, for dates of October 6-13, 2010, the cheapest fare is from DCA to PNS ($198 + tax; I hate that Delta does not add the tax in at first!). DCA-VPS on those same dates is $312 + tax and DCA-PFN is a whopping $480 + tax!

Flying from BWI or IAD to PNS is considerably more expensive, and to VPS or PFN is in the same ballpark. But flights to PFN are ALWAYS more expensive than to PNS or VPS, at least in the scenario I described here.

I'm guessing all that will change once SW starts taking reservations to PFN.

Of course, you also have to factor in rental car cost, and it probably is too soon to evaluate those as well. Decide how much you are willing to trade off between cost savings and more time on the road (and depending on what time of day and day of the week you are driving, it could take more than 1.5 hours to get to PNS from Seaside or vice-versa).

I would not bother with MOB or TLH for this trip - I would think you are unlikely to get a deal that is so good that it makes up for their greater distance from Seaside, especially MOB.
Cranachin is offline  
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