Disney World is not one of those exotic destinations we usually write about, where you can reap huge savings on airfare by using frequent flyer miles to get there. The tickets to Orlando don’t cost an arm and a leg, and most airlines serve the destination so it’s not difficult to get to.
Even if you find a bargain airfare, flying a family to and from Orlando can still carry a hefty price tag. If your vacation budget is limited, offset the cost of hotels, the park admission and meals by using miles to get there.
There are two main considerations for a flight to Florida: convenience and cost. A nonstop flight is the most convenient, and it can actually save you miles as well especially if you are using a distance-based program like British Airways Avios.
Frequent flyer programs for most major domestic carriers have a flat rate for travel between two points in the United States. Whether you fly to Orlando from Fort Lauderdale or Seattle, it will still cost 25,000 miles roundtrip at the lowest level.
Some programs that are region-based have lower redemption rates so be sure to do your research. For example, both United and Frontier fly to Orlando out of Cleveland, but the Frontier redemption is only 20,000 miles for a roundtrip, 5,000 miles less than United. If you have miles in both programs it would be wiser to use the Frontier miles as that would be 5,000 miles saved for each family member.
Revenue vs. Distance
There are also carriers like Southwest and JetBlue that have revenue-based frequent flyer reward programs where the price of the ticket in miles is tied to the cost of the ticket at the time of booking at a rate of a mile per dollar. Those can represent a good value too if airfares are cheap and you have miles in one of these programs.
But the best value is using British Avios, especially now that US Airways has joined oneworld. While British Airways is not a domestic airline, you can use its miles on other carriers in the oneworld alliance including American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines.
That means your Avios are good for nonstop flights between Orlando and these cities: San Diego and Seattle with Alaska Airlines; Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York on American Airlines; and Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington, DC with US Airways.
As long as the distance between Orlando and your city does not exceed 2,000 miles, you will get a great deal using Avios. Avoid flying from Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle using Avios because it will cost more than 10,000 because they are more than 2,000 miles. The savings using Avios though will only apply to nonstop flights because its a distance-based program. If there are layovers, it will cost more Avios reducing the value of the deal.
Here’s a rundown of the airlines that offer direct flights to Orlando. Now you just have to match them to your mileage program or one of its alliance partners.
Alaska Airlines flies from San Diego, and Seattle-Tacoma.
American Airlines flies from Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York.
Delta flies from Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York, Salt Lake City, Hartford, Raleigh-Durham, and seasonally from Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Austin, Birmingham, Columbus, Grand Rapids, Louisville, Nashville, New Orleans, Norfolk, Omaha, Pittsburgh, Richmond, San Antonio, and White Plains.
Frontier flies from Cleveland , Denver, Harrisburg, Trenton-Princeton, Wilmington (Philadelphia), and seasonally from Bloomington-Normal, Madison, and Omaha.
JetBlue flies from Austin, Boston, Buffalo, Hartford, New York, Newburgh, Providence, Richmond, Syracuse, Washington, White Plains, and Worcester.
Southwest and Airtran fly from Akron-Canton, Atlanta, Columbus, Dayton, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, Albany, Austin, Birmingham, Branson, Buffalo, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Flint, Grand Rapids, Hartford, Key West, Las Vegas, Islip, Louisville, Manchester, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Norfolk, Phoenix, Providence, Richmond, Rochester , St. Louis, San Antonio, and San Diego. Due to the merger between Southwest and Airtran, there will be changes starting June 2014.
Spirit flies from Atlantic City, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Latrobe, and seasonally from Minneapolis-St. Paul.
United flies from Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York-Newark, San Francisco, and Washington.
US Airways flies from Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington.
Virgin America flies from Los Angeles.