Winter in Florida – Intro & Allegiant Air

Outside is So Much More Fun, When It’s Not Frozen

Every year I’m amazed at how many families make the trek from Bangor area to Orlando. I guess it’s not that surprising since Allegiant Air started running non-stop flights from Bangor International Airport (BGR) to Sanford Airport (SFB). Key piece of information if you’ve never flown to Sanford; it’s billed as “Orlando”, it’s not. It’s a solid 50 minute ride to Orlando, Kissimmee & Lake Buena Vista which are the usual destinations for theme parks. This is fine by me as the non-stop flight is well worth the drive.

Note that GPS, Google and everyone else will route you down 417, don’t do it, head straight across to I4 and save on Tolls.  It adds about 2 minutes, but subtracts $10 in tolls.

If you know my family, you know that we spend each February in Florida, over the past decade or so I’ve accumulated gaggles of travel tips for the Orlando area. I’d be remiss to take all the credit, as my Brother Tony has lived in Orlando for over 20 years, and he’s passed on his knowledge to me.

Maine has the best summer, hopefully you aren’t busy that weekend.

Maine has the best summer, hopefully you aren’t busy that weekend. That’s a running joke told by everyone that lives here full time. You know, it’s partially true, the summers here are short and winters are long. Our winters remind me of a meme I saw:

Picture explaining winter is awesome before Christmas and how it sucks after

This is so true, once New Years and Christmas go by there’s still 4 months of winter left. We decided in our early years of marriage that it wasn’t good for our mental health to be indoors freezing for that many months. That’s when we started going to Florida yearly, at first back in 2009 we came for a week. That was a mistake, I was so exhausted at the end of the week I looked forward to the calm of work. In 2010 we booked two weeks, this was a major improvement and probably a sweet spot. My boss (who’s awesome) let’s me do my job remotely so I upped it to 3 weeks and never looked back. Now I have time to enjoy the parks and the amenities at our home resort. Much more relaxing, but I realize not everyone has that luxury.

So if you’ve decided to head to Florida yearly like us or even just once you need to get there somehow, my recommendation is the Allegiant Air flight from BGR to SFB. If you happen to be from Augusta south, I heard Southwest is the best deal, but you live in southern Maine (aka North Boston) you’re different anyway.

Bangor International Airport (BGR) & Sanford Airport (SFB)

Look How Much Stuff

Here’s a few tips you might not know about flying with Allegiant

The Allegiant Air flights to Orlando/Sanford Florida are the fastest way to exit the frozen tundra, especially if you have kids. It’s a nonstop flight, that can be as short as 2 hours and 30 minutes, depending on the wind. That’s pretty convenient. Remember, the faster you get there, the more value you get on your trip.

  • Book your flight Black Friday or Cyber Monday For the best price
  • My average price is $250 round trip all in per person (I know Portland’s cheaper, but I’m not driving all the way down there, that subtracts at least 4-8 hours from vacation). Not worth it.
  • Car Seats Fly Free – as many as you want. For goodness sake don’t rent a car seat from a car rental outfit. Buy a car seat bag, if you don’t it might end up all wet from the flight. I use the Jeep Car Seat Travel Bag, It’s $16 and well worth it for the two flights per year it gets used on.
  • Strollers Fly Free – when you go through the line to check your luggage, tell them you want to “Gate Check” your stroller. This means you can use your stroller to carry your kids and carry-on bags right up to the jet. Then upon stepping off the jet they will bring your stroller to the door. Super convenient.
  • Gate Checking your stroller gets you one more benefit. You are called to board at the same time as priority seating. Free upgrade!
  • When picking your Departure airport, the call letters for Bangor International are BGR and Sanford/Orlando is SFB. Using those call signs will make booking quicker and easier.
  • Install the Allegiant Air App, because you can check in through it and get your boarding pass digitally and save $5 instead of printing it.
  • Book your Checked Bags online, it’s much cheaper than at the gate.  Keep in mind it’s 40lbs per bag, any more and your overage will be around $40-$50!  That’s a lot for an extra pair of sandals.
  • Rental Car – I’ll talk about this in a different post, but for now, my recommendation is to avoid Alamo at SFB, not for any reason other than it’s a long walk, and when you are carrying 3 car seats, 3 suitcases and carry-ons, strollers and like 74 kids it’s too far.  Check this map, it doesn’t show my blood pressure while walking to it, but picture a thermometer busting.

Getting Cheaper Allegiant Air Plane Tickets Hack #1

If you are a cheap-mo like me, or you just need to get to Florida on the cheap. This tip is for you. It has some risk, but it’s acceptable. This is the method I personally use for purchasing tickets for my family. If you break your party up into two smaller parties you can get a cheaper rate.  Because the smaller the group, the more likely the cost drops. 

Try this experiment the next time you go to book.  If you are a family of 4 choose 1 adult and 1 child and search for flights, get to the point where you see the costs of the tickets.  Now go back to the beginning and create the itinerary as you normally would, with 2 adults and 2 children.  The price most likely went up.  Splitting your party into two itineraries is easy, this is the trick we use most often to secure the lowest prices.  Keep in mind, if the flight is full, and you booked your first itinerary, you are getting a lecture about being cheap from your wife or husband.  Months in advance this most likely won’t be a problem, but I make no guarantees.

Getting Cheapest Allegiant Air Plane Tickets Hack # 2

This one requires some planning and has risk. You have to pull this trick months in advance. Allegedly the FAA requires all children’s fares to be the same as the adults, even when booked at a different time. So, if you search Allegiant for your date of travel for your ENTIRE party at once you will get a higher price.  Take Hack #1 a step further by booking adults on separate orders for the cheapest price possible, because you are only booking a single flyer, then calling Allegiant (1 (702) 505-8888) and add on the kids. Keep in mind, if the flight sells out and you already bought your adult tickets, you are in for a scolding from your wife/husband about how your cheapness just cost a ton more money. So there is risk and humiliation here if you fail.

This should be enough info to get you to Orlando, be sure to read the follow up articles for tips on how to get a great price on a car rental, what to do, and favorite places to visit!