Porter Airlines now offers flights direct from Windsor to Melbourne, Florida. The airport code for Melbourne International Airport is MLB, aka Major League Beaches, and Windsor is YQG, also known as Your Quick Gateway, hence it’s like taking Your Quick Gateway to Major League Beaches.
Okay, so right now you may be thinking, cute, whatever, but where the heck is Melbourne Florida, and why would I want to fly there? (Hint: There’s a reason the airport code nickname is “Major League Beaches”!)
Melbourne Florida is located just outside of Orlando — in fact, it’s often referred to as “Melbourne, Orlando”.
When you fly into Melbourne, it’s about a 20 minute ride from the airport to the beach ( or your oceanfront hotel). From that oceanfront hotel, it’s a little over an hour to Orlando (say about 1 hour 15 minutes to Universal or Walt Disney World).
Flying into Melbourne is cheaper.
Flying into Melbourne is quicker.
Flying into Melbourne is SIMPLER.
I’ve flown into Orlando International Airport with my family twice in the past two years. The first time we flew out of Windsor airport, which means we flew from Windsor to Toronto, transferred to a different plane, and then from Toronto on to Orlando.
I remember thinking that a two-hour layover in Toronto was going to be a pain in the butt with both kids in tow. The truth was we needed every minute of that layover to get from one end of the airport to the other and to make our way through customs.
(If you haven’t flown via Pearson before here’s an interesting fact, you go through US customs BEFORE boarding the plane in Toronto. Which means when you land in the States you are treated as a domestic flight, you just walk off and go collect your luggage. All of that sounds go in theory, but it can make for a tight layover.)
Total cost via Toronto:
Cab to Windsor airport: $20
Round trip airfare: $2192.84
Total time via Toronto:
We needed to check in 1 hour prior to our departure in Windsor.
We left our home at 4pm. Flew from Windsor to Toronto, had a two-hour layover in Toronto, and arrived in Orlando at 11:45pm. (Total: 7 hours 45 minutes) Then by the time we trekked our way through the massive Orlando International Airport, found our luggage, and hailed a cab, drove to Universal and checked into the hotel, we were putting the kids to bed at 1am.
The next year we instead flew out of Detroit. At first glance, I thought this was going to be both cheaper and quicker — a direct flight from Detroit instead of flying from Windsor to Toronto and then onto Florida — had to be better, right?
Except, we were flying out of a bigger, more bewildering, airport. Our domestic flight from Michigan to Florida required that we be there two hours before departure. (I thought a US domestic flight would only need us to be there an hour beforehand, but we received an email the day before our flight warning us that it was “a busy season” and that we needed to be there two hours prior.)
We had lined up a local independent private driver to take us from our house to the Detroit Metro Airport. $100 each way. (We could have taken the Robert Q shuttle bus from Windsor to the Detroit airport, but that would work out to a total of $302.48 for my family of four. It was either that or drive ourselves over and pay to park the van at the Detroit airport. Which is also pricey, I think it’s something like $23 USD per day, so roughly $161 USD for 7 days).
Going through US customs at the tunnel was quick but traffic on the interstate was backed up. The traffic that day was awful. There was construction. We were rerouted. I was so glad that we had someone at the wheel who was very familiar with the area. What was supposed to be a 45-minute ride took almost an hour and a half. (And as we were sitting there, gridlocked in traffic, I was freaking out, panicking that we would miss our flight.)
Total cost via Detroit:
Private car to Detroit Airport: $200
Round trip airfare: $1428.70
Total time via Detroit:
We left our home in Windsor at 5pm and arrived in Orlando at 11:04pm. (Total: 6 hours 4 minutes) Again, by the time we collected our bags and made our way to the hotel, we were tucking the kids into bed well past midnight.
Money saved vs flying via Toronto: $584.14
Time saved vs flying via Toronto: 1 hour 41 minutes
So while flying out of Detroit did save us both time and money, the actual difference wasn’t as much as I thought it would be (plus freaking out and worrying we would miss the flight was no fun).
Next time I’m going to explore option number three, flying direct with Porter, nonstop from Windsor to MLB Melbourne International Airport.
Total projected cost via Windsor:
I just used the Porter website to price out a flight for this January for my family of four, and the total, all taxes and fees included, comes to $1692.20
Add $20 for the cab to the Windsor airport and you get a grand total of $1692.20 (Far cheaper than what I paid to fly via Toronto and only $63.50 more than I paid last time we flew out of Detroit)
Total estimated time via Windsor:
It’s about twenty minutes from my house to the Windsor airport. Porter suggests that you arrive a minimum of 90 minutes before for an international flight, so I would plan to leave at 9:45 for our 11:45am flight. The total flight time is 2 hours and 55 minutes, and we should arrive in Melbourne at 2:40pm. Total: 4 hours, 55 minutes (That’s a little over an hour less time spent in transit, vs the time spent to fly out of Detroit)
There is also the comfort and convenience factor to consider. Flying out of our small local airport is no big deal. It’s tiny and easy to navigate.
Flying in and out of Pearson can be bewildering. The Detroit Metro Airport is also a giant confusing mess. The same can be said for Orlando International Airport. It’s massive. You need to ride a monorail from one part of the airport to another, go up a flight of stairs and then down another, just to get to baggage.
When you fly with Porter into Melbourne you’re landing in a smaller airport. (It’s also a pretty cool view, as you’re flying in along the Atlantic coast — it’s actually rated as one of the world’s most scenic airport approaches)
When you fly from Windsor to Melbourne you are coming in as an international flight, and go directly to US customs upon landing.
The Melbourne International Airport just completed a $9-million renovation, including completely updating the customs area. It’s all top of the line, super high tech, and is supposed to streamline the process of going through customs after you land (The new customs area is now the most high tech entry point in the USA. They are set up to process 400 people an hour!)
Between the smaller airport, and that lovely string of oceanfront hotels being about 10 to 15 minutes closer than the distance from Orlando airport to the place we stayed at Universal last time, I’m pretty certain the whole from the airport to the moment you step into your hotel room thing would be considerably shorter as well.
Of course, what I need to do is pack the kids up and head out on a trip from Windsor to Melbourne — for testing purposes, right?
Other things you’ll want to know:
Melbourne is also the closest airport if you’re heading to Cape Canaveral to board a cruise ship, visit NASA, or check out the Space-X excitement.
Porter is only flying to (and from) Windsor once a week, on Saturdays, so you’ll need to plan your trip for 7 days (or 14, woot!).
Porter also offers direct flights to Melbourne from Toronto and Ottawa.
It’s a seasonal thing. They are only flying into Melbourne from December 16th until March 31st (I wish it were longer. I am seriously rooting for year round flights with Porter to Florida to become a thing at some point in the future. Fingers and toes crossed.)
What about you folks? Have you flown direct with Porter to Florida? or thinking of booking a trip? I’d love to hear all about it!
Note about the numbers: All of the prices I mentioned above are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted. The numbers are based on my personal experience and on what I actually paid to fly my family to Orlando in August of 2017 and September of 2016. You may be able to find better deals. This is the best I managed to come up with at the time (and yes, I hunted around).
Disclosure: Back in October, Porter flew me down to Melbourne, Orlando for an overnight visit. As always my words and opinions are my own.