Dear Alaska Airlines: Can You Please Fly To Miami?

Dear Alaska Airlines: Can You Please Fly To Miami?

33

As a Miami resident, I’ve been thrilled to see all the new competition that has been added at Miami International Airport (MIA) recently from JetBlue, Southwest, and Spirit. Historically all three airlines exclusively served the area via Fort Lauderdale (FLL), while they now offer flights to Miami.

And that brings me to the point of my post — could Alaska Airlines be next, please?

Alaska Airlines’ Fort Lauderdale presence

Alaska Airlines has quite a presence in Fort Lauderdale, operating flights to five destinations, in some cases with multiple daily frequencies. The airline flies year-round to Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle, and seasonally to San Diego and San Francisco.

Historically I get why the airline has operated to Fort Lauderdale rather than Miami:

  • The airport has been lower cost and easier to get gates at, so it’s a logical airport to fly to
  • While Alaska has had a partnership with American for years, for a long time it wasn’t a very close partnership, and not a reason to choose one airport over the other
  • Many consider Fort Lauderdale and Miami to be the same market; personally I strongly disagree, but…
  • While airline route planning folks have a lot of great data to go off, the data gets a bit murky when we’re talking about co-terminal airports, like Fort Lauderdale and Miami; for example, are most people flying to Fort Lauderdale actually intending to fly there, or are they just flying there because fares are cheaper than to Miami?
Alaska Airlines has historically flown to FLL

Why I’d love to see Alaska Airlines fly to Miami

With Alaska Airlines now being in oneworld, and in particular with Alaska and American having a close relationship that even includes reciprocal upgrades, it sure seems like there would be huge benefits to Alaska adding service to Miami.

That could come in the form of shifting Fort Lauderdale flying to Miami, or supplementing Fort Lauderdale flying with Miami flying (after all, airlines have added a lot of Florida service during the pandemic). Alaska flying to Miami would open up all kinds of one-stop routings between the Pacific Northwest and the Caribbean and South America, among other destinations.

Unfortunately at the moment, American’s service between Miami and the Pacific Northwest is terrible. American doesn’t fly between Miami and Portland, and the once-daily flight between Miami and Seattle couldn’t be more poorly timed for a morning person like me (though I recognize this is ideal for connections). The 2,724-mile flight operates with the following schedule:

AA305 Miami to Seattle departing 7:35 PM arriving 11:23 PM
AA1471 Seattle to Miami departing 12:44 AM arriving 9:22 AM

So yeah, maybe it’s just me, but I’d sure love to see Alaska start flying to Miami:

  • Alaska’s domestic first class product is better than American’s domestic first class product
  • I could use my Alaska companion vouchers, which are otherwise tough to use living in Florida
  • Ideally this would lead to some better timed flights between Miami and the Pacific Northwest
  • Yes, I could fly out of Fort Lauderdale, but personally at that point I’d rather just fly out of Miami and connect, because for many of us in Miami, MIA is just so convenient
  • I recognize the Pacific Northwest to Florida market isn’t huge, but if Fort Lauderdale works, I feel like Miami should work at least as well
Could Alaska Airlines fly to MIA?

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines has used Fort Lauderdale as its South Florida airport for years, and I can’t help but wonder if that could eventually change. Alaska now belongs to oneworld, and also has a close partnership with American, so it seems like there’s only upside to the airline offering at least some service out of Miami.

The current service between Miami and the Pacific Northwest is terrible, and there are lots more connection opportunities for customers in Miami. On top of that, many of us in Miami avoid flying out of Fort Lauderdale if at all possible — that’s something that JetBlue, Southwest, and Spirit have learned, so hopefully, Alaska realizes this as well.

What do OMAAT readers think — could Alaska Airlines start flying to Miami eventually, or is it simply not happening?

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  1. Martin

    They used to fly to Miami. I took that flight.

  2. BT_PNW

    I am late to the game but here is the response from AS Route and Market Dir to the Emp: (A. Hi ......, thanks for the question on MIA. Aside from NYC airports, MIA is the most expensive in the country to operate at. Cost per Enplanement (CPE) is the metric we use to compare. For 2019, MIA is ~$20, FLL is ~$7. FLL is nearly 1/3 that of MIA. When we switched from MIA...

    I am late to the game but here is the response from AS Route and Market Dir to the Emp: (A. Hi ......, thanks for the question on MIA. Aside from NYC airports, MIA is the most expensive in the country to operate at. Cost per Enplanement (CPE) is the metric we use to compare. For 2019, MIA is ~$20, FLL is ~$7. FLL is nearly 1/3 that of MIA. When we switched from MIA to FLL many moons ago, we were after the lower airport costs and better access to cruise traffic. Since then, the returns at FLL have been good, and our focus has been to grow our presence at FLL vs. adding a second access point to south Florida.

    We know though that FLL does not capture all the traffic for south FL, and MIA constantly pops up on our new market radar. Last I checked, it is one of our highest offline Mileage Plan redemption cities. On the AA and OW front, yes, AA has a large presence in MIA, and we could connect to that. However, most Latin America connections from the West Coast are already realized over DFW. You benefit from increased traffic, but also revenue from a connecting fare is generally lower for the segment than that of a local fare. Ultimately, the market has potential, and our AA partnership makes the market more attractive, but we have not settled on the right time if we were to re-enter.)

  3. John V

    As a Portland resident, I have been asking for this for years. I can’t think of any reason why I’d rather go to Fort Lauderdale than Miami. I really can’t stand decisions that are purely based on cost (although, unfortunately it seems like consumers are obsessed with cost over all else). Additionally, a Portland to Miami flight opens up all of the Caribbean and South America from a three leg destination to two. Given the...

    As a Portland resident, I have been asking for this for years. I can’t think of any reason why I’d rather go to Fort Lauderdale than Miami. I really can’t stand decisions that are purely based on cost (although, unfortunately it seems like consumers are obsessed with cost over all else). Additionally, a Portland to Miami flight opens up all of the Caribbean and South America from a three leg destination to two. Given the relationship with AA, this seems like a no-brainer.

  4. Michael Owen

    Where do more cruise ships leave from, Ft. Lauderdale or Miami?

  5. Tracey Kenney

    I recently had business in Miami...did not like having the time and expense to get there from Ft. Lauderdale airport. Would also like access to a lounge and I'm guessing there would be something available at miami

  6. Guillermo Rodriguez

    They used to fly to Miami and then they switched to Ft.Lauderdale because of airport fees.
    It is time for them to come back and get with the program.
    Miami is no longer the stepchild to Ft. Lauderdale thanks to Spirit, Jet Blue and Southwest. Even Emirates along with other International Airlines have realized that if you want to visit Miami you fly to Miami.

  7. JW

    Alaska truly needs a Midwest hub. In order to get to NYC to Florida on Alaska, it routes you through cities on the West coast. If anyone knows a better way on Alaska, please clue me in! (Also, flying to Omaha, it wants to do the same thing. It's so annoying!)

  8. Servo

    I question the market. What are people traveling from SEA to FLL doing with their time who don't live in South Florida?

    If it's cruises, then moving to MIA doesn't make sense.
    If it's connecting to flights to Europe - then they don't need MIA OR FLL to do that now with the oneworld connection.
    If it's visiting the Miami area, then it's not really a tremendous hassle for a tourist to...

    I question the market. What are people traveling from SEA to FLL doing with their time who don't live in South Florida?

    If it's cruises, then moving to MIA doesn't make sense.
    If it's connecting to flights to Europe - then they don't need MIA OR FLL to do that now with the oneworld connection.
    If it's visiting the Miami area, then it's not really a tremendous hassle for a tourist to commute.

    Where it only gets muddy is people living in South Florida who want to visit the PNW. I've seen a number of Florida plates in Seattle, so there appears to be some market for it. I'm not particularly clear on why, but with AA having MIA as a hub and being part of OW, then I wouldn't see why AS would enter the more expensive airport. Couldn't one take TriRail from Miami to FLL?

  9. Keith

    As James mentioned, they used to fly to Miami, but relocated to FLL because (as they said at the time) they found the majority of their customers were cruise passengers that were departing from there. I bet the gate fees are also a lot cheaper in FLL.

  10. Saint82

    Many of us South Floridians avoid flying out of Miami - if at all possible.

    1. Daniel

      Not true at all. Actually the other way around. Especially now.

  11. James

    Alaska airlines stopped flying to Miami in 2012 and moved their operations to Fort Lauderdale. They did not inherit Fort Lauderdale from Virgin america. They competed with them until their merger. If they were to enter the Miami market, Alaska would end up with whatever is left.

  12. MARTIN

    Points Guy - there are people who live north of FLL heading to the northwest. An Alaska move to Miami would make our situation even more miserable

  13. Nate

    Perhaps Alaska companion vouchers aren't a great investment for someone living in Florida.

  14. Tee

    I personally love Alaska airlines and the product it provides. I would definitely fly to Miami if they flew there.

  15. Zack

    Alaska flyer here. Sadly, right now Alaska is only doing one direct a day, from Seattle. Flying the return tonight. The timing is awful for folks coming from Miami, requires either a risky drive through rush hour or leaving unnecessarily early. Agree that flying to MIA is needed.

  16. Anonymous

    Alaska inherited FLL operation from Virgin. I flew to SFO once.

    PS: Login link stopped working for me, clicking on it does nothing for last few days

  17. Daniel

    I agree that Alaska should be at MIA. FLL doesn’t really offer much to them. Yes, it is cheaper to operate but MIA has since reduced their fees enough that they got Spirit.

    FLL (to me) is just a domestic airport. Never have I used them to fly internationally and quite frankly I try to avoid flying from there. FLL is lacking lounges, concessions, and airline that can take you somewhere nonstop (internationally).

    Alaska now...

    I agree that Alaska should be at MIA. FLL doesn’t really offer much to them. Yes, it is cheaper to operate but MIA has since reduced their fees enough that they got Spirit.

    FLL (to me) is just a domestic airport. Never have I used them to fly internationally and quite frankly I try to avoid flying from there. FLL is lacking lounges, concessions, and airline that can take you somewhere nonstop (internationally).

    Alaska now being in OneWorld makes MIA seem the better fit than FLL. MIA has more to offer than FLL by a mile as well.. And if we’re talking about cities, Miami is where you want to go. Fort Lauderdale is more of a local resident city while Miami is more of a global city. A number of people that I’ve met from Seattle that fly to FLL from Alaska say the always end up staying in Miami.

    Down the line, I’m sure we will see Alaska at MIA. The connections will certainly help. I expect SEA, LAX and PDX.

  18. Tortuga

    AS = WN * (good chat support + currently valuable mileage program)

  19. Nathaniel

    As a PNW resident, I think the main draw of FLL is the cruise connectivity. Otherwise, Miami is not a big draw. We have Mexico and Hawaii as someone else mentioned. When I've gone to South America, I've connected in LAX to Peru or DFW to Ecuador. No need to route through MIA.

    1. Daniel

      Miami is the cruise capital of the world. You want a cruise, you fly to Miami.

      There is certain routes you won’t find nonstop from LA or DFW. Just saying.

    2. 305

      Miami is the capital for certain cruise lines, which attract certain demographics. Those in the PNW lean historically more towards Holland American and Princess, both of which do not use Port Miami.

    3. Ben Schlappig

      @ Nathaniel -- As mentioned by Daniel, Miami is a bigger cruise port than Fort Lauderdale.

  20. Ghostrider5408

    Long time ago AS flew to Miami it never really worked out I flew it a couple of times. FLL has a much greater draw than MIA, I mean who really wants to fly there other than transfer to international flights?
    Am not sure how much of a market is really there and now that AS is in bed with AA that should default to AA.

    One point what's with the old very old picture of Alaska First Class seating ?

    1. Daniel

      Literally everyone that I’ve known to take the SEA-FLL Alaska flight says they wish they were flying to Miami instead because the majority stay in the Miami area.

    2. Patty

      Not the case. Working the flights to FLL consistently for years, my experience in talking with people is that it’s a huge mix with the majority leaving from Port Everglades on a cruise (pre-covid). The rest are scattered, many staying in Fort Lauderdale, some going north and some going somewhere south.

  21. Enrique Escobar

    FLL has no lounges in terminal 1
    i have paid $85 for an uber to FLL
    Miami is less than thirty
    you have to drive on I 95 to FLL which is very busy and not very safe.

  22. Outrageous fortune

    AS used to fly to Miami. I remember taking a red-eye SEA-MIA in December 2011. So they've tried before - must not have worked out how they'd like it.

  23. SMR

    Sounds like Alaska should start service for you, there is clearly not much demand SEA-MIA. American already flies it and they took away one of the two daily flights they had pre-covid. Fares are way too low at $200 each way last minute to make another flight even close to feasible unless it seasonal.

    1. Daniel

      No enough demand? That’s 100% false..

  24. Eskimo

    Am I the only one who thinks this Oneworld thing is part of a secret long term agreement in grooming AS to be merged with AA?

  25. Jason

    You mention that one of the reasons you think Alaska should start flying to Miami is for the connection potential to the Caribbean and parts of South America. American's Seattle-Miami flight does exactly that - connects very well to the Caribbean and Northern South America. Deep South America - Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Santiago - and Mexico - connect very well - and better with less circuity - over Dallas. Seems to me like the...

    You mention that one of the reasons you think Alaska should start flying to Miami is for the connection potential to the Caribbean and parts of South America. American's Seattle-Miami flight does exactly that - connects very well to the Caribbean and Northern South America. Deep South America - Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Santiago - and Mexico - connect very well - and better with less circuity - over Dallas. Seems to me like the connectivity is pretty well taken care of to the largest places. Also, people from the northwest go more to Hawaii and western Mexico for their beach vacations. There isnt quite as much demand to the Caribbean from the Pacific Northwest since Hawaii and Mexico are much closer. It's analogous to how there's some, but not much, service from the Northeast to Hawaii. Though there are a few flights from Boston, NYC, and DC to Hawaii, there's way more nonstop service to the Caribbean - it's just closer.
    Anyway, even though you dont think so, airline planners DO get demographic information and factor some of that into their planning. So the people at Alaska most likely have some indication as to where their customers are going/ coming from for their trips to southern Florida.
    Anyway, I dont think connectivity would be a driving force for Alaska to add the route. When you connect to another airline you are diluting your fare you receive. If it makes sense for them based on the local market - just going from the PNW to south Florida - to add the route because of demand, and if they see a need for Miami instead of or in addition to FLL - they could do so, assuming they have the aircraft available and they can get space at MIA. Otherwise, they wont. Any connections to AA would be just gravy on top.
    Will be interesting to see if AS makes any moves in South Florida especially since, as you point out, they are moving closer to AA and to oneworld in general.

Featured Comments Load all 33 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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BT_PNW

I am late to the game but here is the response from AS Route and Market Dir to the Emp: (A. Hi ......, thanks for the question on MIA. Aside from NYC airports, MIA is the most expensive in the country to operate at. Cost per Enplanement (CPE) is the metric we use to compare. For 2019, MIA is ~$20, FLL is ~$7. FLL is nearly 1/3 that of MIA. When we switched from MIA to FLL many moons ago, we were after the lower airport costs and better access to cruise traffic. Since then, the returns at FLL have been good, and our focus has been to grow our presence at FLL vs. adding a second access point to south Florida. We know though that FLL does not capture all the traffic for south FL, and MIA constantly pops up on our new market radar. Last I checked, it is one of our highest offline Mileage Plan redemption cities. On the AA and OW front, yes, AA has a large presence in MIA, and we could connect to that. However, most Latin America connections from the West Coast are already realized over DFW. You benefit from increased traffic, but also revenue from a connecting fare is generally lower for the segment than that of a local fare. Ultimately, the market has potential, and our AA partnership makes the market more attractive, but we have not settled on the right time if we were to re-enter.)

Martin

They used to fly to Miami. I took that flight.

John V

As a Portland resident, I have been asking for this for years. I can’t think of any reason why I’d rather go to Fort Lauderdale than Miami. I really can’t stand decisions that are purely based on cost (although, unfortunately it seems like consumers are obsessed with cost over all else). Additionally, a Portland to Miami flight opens up all of the Caribbean and South America from a three leg destination to two. Given the relationship with AA, this seems like a no-brainer.

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