United Airlines
Walt Disney World

Is flying indirect with your family into Orlando worth it?

When planning your Walt Disney World holiday, or any holiday in fact which is a fair distance away from your destination, one option which can make the costs of your holiday much cheaper, is to fly indirect.  There are definite advantages to this, and having flown indirect quite a few times with our family, we can say that it is certainly a consideration of ours when trying to keep overall holiday costs down.  Some travellers to Orlando will vehemently disagree with the idea of flying indirect, there are clear advantages to flying direct, but here at Travel with the Tribe we suggest that you try flying indirect, particularly if you have older children who can cope better with the extra flying demands of catching two planes.  We have therefore done a bit of market research here at Tribe HQ, and also based on our own experiences (having also asked the kids!) here are some FAQ’s on the issue of flying indirect…..

United Airlines
View from 37,000 feet

“Is it really a lot less expensive to fly to Orlando indirect?” This can, and has often for us been the maker or breaker of booking a Walt Disney World holiday.  Since 2009, the cost of staying on site at Walt Disney World has significantly increased, and like most families we have felt the financial pinch of how to raise the funds for our holidays.  Flight prices therefore make a big difference to us, and if there is an opportunity to either fly indirect from an airport further away (we live in Bristol, so try to get flights out of London, but would look elsewhere if we got a good enough deal) if the price is right, then it can make the dream of your Orlando holiday a reality.  As much as we would love to always fly direct, there are times when saving those extra few hundred pounds has really made a difference.  Take our example in 2012.  As we have teenage and almost teenage children, we are absolutely fixed on when we can take our holidays, and of course this means going on holiday in either July or August.  Peak time, direct flights to Orlando have become more expensive, probably averaging out now at around £800 per person, even if you book early or have a travel agent who is pretty much in the know with the airlines.  For our 2012 holiday, we had resolved ourselves to paying around that much each, perhaps a bit cheaper, but not holding our breath. So imagine our good fortune when one late Monday evening we had a phonecall to say that Delta Airlines were having a bit of Glitch (error on the booking system) and if we were prepared to book that very instant, we could get indirect flights for £495 each!!!!  YES was our answer, and even though we had to change at Atlanta, the Delta Glitch (thank you so much for that Delta) meant that our Disney holiday was a definite go-er, and we had saved ourselves about £1400-1500 overall on our cost.  Now in those circumstances, flying indirect is a definite no brainer, and even with the inconvenience of changing planes – and we know for many families travelling this can be an inconvenience, we’re not looking at this with rose coloured glasses –   it made flying indirect completely worthwhile.  So look for the Glitches, many Orlando and specific Walt Disney World forum sites will devote specific pages to July/August flight price discussions, where people share useful information about flight prices, create alerts for apps which like Skyscanner and Netflights, who can have good deals on flight prices, and invest in a good travel agent who is on the ball and can give you that phonecall which can make all your dreams come true! It  may not always work however, and you have to be realistic about the fact that you might not get a good deal on flights, it isn’t always possible, and you may have to end paying full price for a flight if you really don’t want to miss out on a Disney holiday, but if you use the advice above at least you’ve got a starting point to go with which might help you and your families.

https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=1091144&page=4 (This is a link to the Dibb website, an excellent UK site full of information and advice of all things Disney!)

“Is flying indirect difficult with children?” It can be tricky to fly indirect with children, alongside the obvious logistical problems of changing plane, retrieving your luggage, having to check in for your next flight, go through security (again!), and find your gate in an unfamiliar airport, young children can also find the extra time added onto your journey both challenging and tiring.  We remember an instance where one of our children was so exhausted by the time we arrived at Atlanta, with another 1 hour 30 minutes flying still to do, they decided to literally lie down in the airport and fall asleep!  You’ve all probably not slept well the night before through excitement, we know we never do, been up early to get to the airport, and with your body trying to adjust to the time difference, it’s no wonder that children can get cranky, bored, tired and grumpy.  Our advice on this one is to go with your gut feeling, you know the limits of your children better than we do, and it’s important to take that into consideration when you decide, or not to fly indirect.  With us, as our children got older, we knew that our kids could and would adapt to the challenges of flying indirect, and that actually we could use it as an opportunity to stretch our legs, have a drink and something to eat (as teenagers usually want to do!), go and have a look around duty free, and just have some time out.  Yes, you know that you have to get onto another plane, but at the end of that journey you are going to be going to the most magical place on earth, so it’s a journey (although tiring) worth doing!  If you’re staying onsite too, it’s really worth considering flying indirect, as unlike visitors who will have to pick up their hire car at the airport and drive to their accommodation, Walt Disney World guests can of course make their way to the Magical Express, where no driving is required.

“Do I have to go through US Immigration twice if I fly indirect?” It may sound obvious, but this is a question which often comes up when people have not flown indirect before, and they wonder whether they have to go through immigration at their stopover airport, and then again at Orlando International or the airport of their destination.  The simple answer to this question is NO.  Once you have cleared US immigration at your stopover airport, you do not have to clear immigration again.  When we have flown either into Boston, Newark, Atlanta or JFK heading onto Orlando International, we have cleared US immigration there, which has meant that we have pretty much walked out of Orlando airport when we’ve arrived there.  Flying indirect can take longer because of stopovers, but this can sometimes be cancelled out by arriving at the your destination, and not having to get in a queue for immigration.  MCO (Orlando International) airport is notorious for having peak periods of time throughout the week when a number of international flights arrive at similar times, and visitors getting off a 9 hour flight from the UK will then automatically find themselves in a massive queue which can be many hours worth.  We don’t find them particularly quick at US airports for obvious security reasons, which is reassuring when you know they are doing a through job, but when you have children who are tired and grumpy, a 3 hour queue in immigration is no fun.  At all.  Flying indirect cancels out the issues which can sometimes arise with immigration, so it can be good for families to clear immigration early doors, and then you can feel happy in the knowledge you haven’t got to waste valuable holiday time queuing again.  We know us Brits love to queue, but even for us Brits there has got to be a limit to our patience!

“How much time do I need to leave for my airport stopover?” This is another question which is difficult to have a definitive answer, as every family or group travelling is different and have different and unique needs. Having flown indirect several times, and as a general rule of thumb, we would say an ideal amount of time to have in between flights would be around 3-4 hours.  For some, this may sound too long, for others it may not seem like long enough, but be guided by your family or travelling group to decide what you need to do in that time, and plan your indirect flights around that.  We have found that 3 hours gives you enough time to clear immigration and do all of the other things you need to do, alongside the toilet stops, drinking and feeding your tribe, with time still allowed to get to your next flight at a leisurely pace.  Anything less than this, and it becomes a little tight on time, and therefore a bit more stressful for you and your little ones, who after a long flight are not necessarily on board with moving fast to get to your next flight.  Sometimes flights are delayed, which can again have a direct impact on the amount of time you have for your stopover, or in our case flying back from Orlando in 2012, found that we had minutes to spare in Atlanta before our flight back to the UK began to taxi the airport – there had been storms in the Orlando area and we left MCO later than planned, with a 1 hour 30 minute stopover!!!!  Let’s just say it was tense for a moment, but luckily at Atlanta airport we were met by some friendly ground staff who took it upon themselves to escort us to the plane – a bit of a Home Alone moment!  So top tip, factor in extra time for delays, as we know that they can and invariable do happen, and the last thing you and your tribe want is to be stuck at an airport on standby for a flight either to Orlando, or even worse the UK.

“What are the risks of flying indirect?”

When flying indirect, you really do need to weigh up the pro’s and con’s very carefully beforehand, as making a decision on how you get to your holiday destination can have a positive or negative impact on your overall holiday experience.  It’s worth researching which airlines have frequent connecting flights into Orlando International Airport as this will give you additional options should your flight to the US be delayed. When we travelled in 2012 we found that United Airlines and Delta had the most scheduled flights into Orlando so we opted for them. Obviously, you want to start your holiday in the best possible way you can. We here at Travel with the Tribe want you to have the best holiday you can with your family, and our number one priority is to help you make the best decision for you and your tribe.  The flight/s there is where you and your little one’s can begin to get into your holiday mode, start to relax and forget about the stresses and strains of everyday life.  So it is an incredibly important decision. Do your research, have a look around at what’s out there on the internet for advice, ask questions and get involved in the dialogue about indirect flights, read what people have to say about it.  Ask us questions here at Travel with the Tribe, we’re here to help!  Once you’ve spent some time weighing it up, then decide upon your course of action and go with it.  Flying indirect is nothing to be scared of, even with younger children, but particularly if travelling with teens, if you keep them fed and watered, and allow plenty of Wi-Fi breaks, (definitely needed) they should be able to take it in their stride and keep calm and carry on!


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