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Flying into Beautiful Fort Lauderdale

When looking for cheap flights into Ft. Lauderdale, you need to take two main elements into consideration: the airport and the airline. Florida has several large-scale airports, including two major International hubs in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area, and it’s up to you to choose which one is the most convenient and cheapest to fly into. This choice largely depends on the airline you choose. Other factors include ground transportation methods and the season. We will go over all of these factors in this guide, preparing you to book a smart (and cheap) flight to Ft. Lauderdale. 
Hotels in Fort Lauderdale
Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort
$164 avg/night
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
$169 avg/night
B Ocean Resort Fort Lauderdale
$83 avg/night
Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina
$107 avg/night
Other Top Flight Destinations
More About Flights to Fort Lauderdale

The Difference Between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami

Ask anyone outside of Florida, and they’ll say Ft. Lauderdale and Miami are right next to each other. Ask anyone living in South Florida, and they’ll be shocked that you don’t know the differences.  

When comparing the two, Ft. Lauderdale is a smaller city, has less-crowded beaches, and focuses on nature. Miami is larger, with a greater focus on night life, and is also more expensive. Areas in between include Hollywood, Miami Gardens, and Hialeah, which all vary in price, culture, and safety. When booking your hotel, make sure it is actually located in Ft. Lauderdale, and not one of these surrounding areas.

When planning your Ft. Lauderdale vacation, you will definitely want to rent a car. Miami and its nightlife is only 30 minutes away, and it’s cheaper to drive yourself instead of taking a cab. Furthermore, Ft. Lauderdale isn’t very pedestrian-friendly, and taking cab rides to stores, attractions, and night life can add up throughout your visit.

Now that you know the difference between the two – including how to book your hotel and whether or not to rent a car – let’s focus on actually getting there. 

The Top Three Airports to Fly Into

1. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

More than 23 million passengers traveled through the Fort Lauderdale airport in 2013. The top four airlines operating out of FLL are Spirit, JetBlue, Southwest, and Delta. These four make up 63% of flights to and from Fort Lauderdale airport. Three out of those four are low-cost airlines, which is perfect for travelers on a budget. 

When You Arrive:

If you plan to rely on taxis instead of renting a car, flying into Ft. Lauderdale is your best option. The airport is located less than 10 miles from the beach, and getting there will cost about $25 by taxi. Some hotels offer shuttles to and from the airport, so check and see if that’s a cheaper option. 

2. Miami International Airport (MIA)

If you can’t fly directly into Fort Lauderdale, consider looking into rates and flights into Miami. In 2012, 39.5 million passengers went through MIA, and the airport saw an average of 750,000 passengers a week. At the end of 2013, there were 89 carriers operating out of this airport and 139 non-stop destinations (including 90 international). It’s worth looking into Miami International for direct flights – and cheaper flights –from your location.  

When You Arrive:

When you land at the Miami airport, you have a few options to get to Ft. Lauderdale. You can take a shuttle to the Ft. Lauderdale airport for $37 and rent a car from there, or take a shuttle downtown for $48 and then take a taxi to your hotel. The shuttle is cheaper than a taxi, which will cost you $70-100 depending on where you’re going. Rental cars usually average $50 a day and offer more convenience, which is why it’s worth it if you plan on leaving your hotel, hostel, or home while you’re visiting. 

3. Orlando International Airport (MCO)

As of 2011, Orlando International has 67 carriers with non-stop service to 84 cities (including 33 international destinations). 35 million passengers fly through Orlando each year and it’s a popular choice for travelers who want to spend a day or two at Disney before driving to the beach. MCO is 178 miles from Ft. Lauderdale, which makes it a 40 minute flight or a 3-4 hour drive.

When You Arrive:

If you land in Orlando, you can rent a car there or rely on the bus system. If you rent a car, ask if you can return vehicles in a different city, that way you can fly out of a different airport if the fares are cheaper into one and out of another. For the shuttle, expect to pay between $30 - $55 depending on when you pay and leave. Keep in mind that you may still have to take a cab to the pick-up location or hotel, or pay an extra fee for door service. Here are a few options to look into:


There are other major airports in Florida, like Palm Beach (50 miles, 1 hour), Ft. Myers (140 miles or 2 hours), and Tampa (263 miles or 3-4 hours) to choose from. Remember, the potential money you save on a flight could cost you in gas costs and driving frustration to your main destination. 

Top Five Airlines to Fly With

1. Spirit Airlines

When looking for cheap flights, Spirit Airlines is your best bet. A self-proclaimed “ultra” low-cost carrier, Spirit’s main hub is Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Looking at the Spirit airlines flight map, you can see how Ft. Lauderdale has exponentially more flights to other destinations than any other city. If you want to fly directly into Ft. Lauderdale on the cheap, check to see if there is Spirit route near you. 

2. JetBlue

JetBlue’s main hub is JFK in New York, but it has plans to expand into Ft. Lauderdale to put pressure on Spirit. Both of these airlines brag about their low prices, and a turf war benefits travelers. JetBlue is the second largest operator out of Ft. Lauderdale and plans to add more flights and direct destinations this year. 

3. Southwest

Depending on what part of the country you’re flying from, Southwest could either have the cheapest route or most direct route. Sometimes it’s better to pay more for the convenience of not running through an airport to make a last-minute connection. Southwest is based in Dallas, which is an optimal airport if you do need to have a layover and are visiting Ft. Lauderdale from the west. It is also the last of the budget airlines on our list. 

4. American Airlines

If you’re flying into Miami, you should have plenty of cheap options to choose from through American Airlines. Miami is its main hub, and 75% of all flights at MIA are via American. Aviation consultants expect to see growth in the number of flights and destinations thanks to the US Airways merger. US Airways is the third largest carrier at MIA, which will add to the American Airlines arsenal. If you’re looking to fly direct and drive to Ft. Lauderdale, your best bet is American. 

5. Delta

Delta doesn’t have a major presence in Miami or Ft. Lauderdale; however, its major hub is Atlanta, one of the world’s busiest airports and a mere hour flight from Florida. When you find a cheap flight to Atlanta, you can almost definitely find a low-cost connection into Ft. Lauderdale and surrounding areas.

When choosing flights that have multiple stops, your best bet is to fly with the same airline. This way if you miss a connecting flight due to a delay, the airline takes responsibility and rebooks you. The Delta flight map is covered in red with routes, making it a smart choice when forming connecting flight routes. 

Watch the Seasons

When booking flights to Florida, keep the seasons in mind. Snowbirds start heading down in November, and other northerners visit during the winter holidays to flee the cold. Once March hits, flights are flooded with spring breakers. Finally, summer draws families who want to take a vacation while the kids are out of school.

The cheapest (and least crowded) time to visit Ft. Lauderdale is between August and November. The kids are in school and it’s not cold up north yet. Demand drops considerably during these months, making airfare and hotel stays a steal. Not only is it still warm in Florida, but the beaches are emptier, giving visitors more room to spread out. Keep this in mind if you want to fly in or out of Orlando to have a Disney day. Lines will be shorter and you’ll be less hot if you wait and visit on a Wednesday in October as opposed to a Saturday in June. 

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to fly into Ft. Lauderdale for your vacation. Flying is considerably easier than driving and it’s possible to land close to your destination on the cheap – while flying direct. If you feel overwhelmed by the research required to find a deal, don’t sweat it, let Hipmunk  do the work for you by sorting flights by price and number of stops. Before you know it, you’ll be lying on a beach in Ft. Lauderdale with plenty of money saved to enjoy your vacation.