My Roundabout Routing From Jacksonville To Tampa

My Roundabout Routing From Jacksonville To Tampa

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Back in the day I’d take some pretty circuitous itineraries in order to earn more miles. Yesterday I took a very indirect routing because, well, it seemed like the best way to get between two places.

Why I flew from Jacksonville to Tampa via Charlotte

I was in the Jacksonville area yesterday without a car, and needed to get to Tampa. The two cities are about 180 miles apart, but there are no direct flights between them. It would have been about four hours door-to-door to drive. Ultimately that’s not that long of a drive, but:

  • For me the pain with renting a car isn’t the drive as such, but rather having to pick up and drop off the car, which can add quite a bit of travel time
  • Time spent driving is “wasted” time, in the sense that I can’t get any work done while I’m driving

So I decided to look at flights, despite the fact that there are no nonstop flights between the two cities. I figured airlines wouldn’t actually sell tickets between Jacksonville and Tampa via a third city, given how close they are to one another. Rather I figured this would consist of two separate one-way fares.

To my surprise, American sells fares from Jacksonville to Tampa via Charlotte, and it’s a single fare (other airlines don’t seem to sell these types of tickets — for example, Delta doesn’t sell tickets via Atlanta as a single fare, but rather you’d pay two separate one-way fares). These American fares start at just ~$74 one-way (based on current pricing). So while not very direct, it did seem like the less bad of the two options.

Yes, I’d fly 835 miles, which is over 450% of the direct distance between the two airports. And for that matter the total “block” time was five hours between the two flights, which is longer than driving. However, I’m good about staying productive at airports and on airplanes (I can easily work in the gate area, during boarding, and in the air), so it’s not really “lost” time.

The long(ish) way from Jacksonville to Tampa

Was I happy with my decision?

The flights were on-time (more or less), and I was able to stay pretty productive. I booked last minute, and both flights ended up having every seat occupied.

As an Executive Platinum member my upgrade cleared on the first flight (ironically operated by an A319, which is usually the toughest upgrade, given that there are just eight first class seats)…

I lucked out with the upgrade on the first flight…

I didn’t have the same luck on the second flight, operated by a 737-800 — I was number two on the upgrade list, and only the first person cleared.

My upgrade didn’t clear on the second flight

A few random thoughts based on my flight:

  • My gosh, Charlotte has to be my least favorite hub airport in the country — the airport is so heavily banked, so the terminals get so darn busy during peak times, the airport feels outdated, the quality of food & beverage outlets is lacking, and on top of that the lounges aren’t great
  • You’ve gotta love how nowadays the way American Airlines flight attendants say bye to passengers is by standing at the door, holding Barclays credit card applications in a “fan” shape, and saying “60,000 bonus miles, 60,000 bonus miles, 60,000 bonus miles”
  • I listened to a podcast interview with American Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja during my second flight on an “Oasis” 737, and I couldn’t help but notice how he kept talking about how American has such an amazing “product,” which he seems to define solely by having a good route network (which, again, he has a very specific definition for)

Bottom line

I flew from Jacksonville to Tampa via Charlotte yesterday, because that was the most practical option for me. I could either drive for four hours (not factoring in the time to pick-up and drop-off the car), or I could fly for five hours (not factoring in the time to get to & from the airport).

Flying seemed like the most efficient option, given that I can be productive while I fly, while I can’t when driving. I was pleasantly surprised that American sells this as a single itinerary, and fares are pretty attractive.

That’s about all I can say about the experience…

What would you have done in my shoes — would you have flown or driven?

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  1. BrAD BURRIS

    I use to work for TWA in Ft. Myers, FL. Our flights flew to our hub in St Louis. When My wife and I flew to Boston from Ft. Myers we traveled via St. Louis.

  2. Adam Guillette

    FWIW, we usually have flights from JAX to TPA but lost them temporarily during the pandemic.

  3. Travel Points 101

    I think that was the right choice. I rent cars often. My cars are never usually ready on time. Once they were so late, I had to stay in a hotel midway to my destination. I have eye disease & prefer not drive at night. My eye disease is a rare disease that people can start getting in their 20s. Renting cars is not very efficient, so this was the right choice.

  4. Nick

    Would have taken Amtrak Silver Line. Its about 3.5 hours direct

  5. ChuckMO

    Southwest offers some similar backtracking itineraries. I was contemplating a STL-MKE-STL 3 day trip for November and the nonstops didn't time right for me but WN offered a STL-DCA-MKE outbound and a MKE-BWI-STL return. I didn't book it as my plans changed, but I might have, just to spend the day in the air.

  6. Tom

    Lmao are you still asking people to donate to your tree planting thing

  7. Greg

    I would have taken Amtrack for $43.00 and 5 1/2 hours travel time.

  8. WW

    Oh poor Americans with no bullet train options...

  9. Ryan Williams

    Silver airways flies their new ATR42s on this route JAX-TPA and having flown it 6 times the past 4 months. Way better than driving or flying north to go south

  10. Luke

    Just randomly priced out UberX from the Jacksonville Marriott to Berns Steak House in Tampa. Shows to be around $143 for the approximately 3 hour ride. I guess the $74 fare on AA was basic economy and if there were costs with transfers to Jacksonville airport or from Tampa airport might be almost equalizing!

  11. AlanT98

    What about train or bus options? Why didnt u consider that?

    1. Timtamtrak

      Train is once daily and is coming from NYC. Unreliable timekeeping. Can’t speak to buses.

    2. Manuheit

      This is why the US needs a proper rail network ;-)
      Or maybe there are some buses?

  12. JR

    So curious why they were handing out Barclay's applications, when Citibank is the AA credit card owner? Have been for years?

    1. bc

      AA partners with both Citibank and Barclays for their cobranded cards.

  13. dee

    I always go to ATL to go anywhere from JAX... very few directs to any cities from JAX, via delta

  14. MIATraveler

    Jacksonville to Tampa is 2 hours & 59 minutes with current traffic conditions (according to google maps) so hardly 4 hours.

    It seems like a lot to go to CLT instead of driving but if your able to get work done and it was only $79, why not. Surprised AA didn't have routing thru MIA.

  15. Jorge Paez

    What did you thing Raja was going to say?
    Like, the truth: that AA is nothing but a glorified (in their minds) bus service with wings?
    AA sucks.....

  16. Mark P

    Amtrak leaves Jacksonville at 7 am and gets to Tampa at noon. Unless those times don't work for you, there's no reason you couldn't have just done that. Would have also been a lot more comfortable than Greyhound or even airline first class.

    1. Jorge Paez

      Love the train! Too bad their schedule is so limited. Austin to Laredo used to be a dream trip! And not much more costly than the Greyhound bus. Rocking that dining car was great!

  17. Scott

    Wholeheartedly agree with you about CLT. Every time I have been through there it seems like an overcrowded theme park. And heaven help you if you are making a regional to AA connection in a short amount of time.

  18. Gary Leff

    "I listened to a podcast interview with American Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja during my second flight on an “Oasis” 737, and I couldn’t help but notice how he kept talking about how American has such an amazing “product,” which he seems to define solely by having a good route network"

    I have a post queued on this point exactly.

    He *did* note that people were willing to go out of their way to fly...

    "I listened to a podcast interview with American Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja during my second flight on an “Oasis” 737, and I couldn’t help but notice how he kept talking about how American has such an amazing “product,” which he seems to define solely by having a good route network"

    I have a post queued on this point exactly.

    He *did* note that people were willing to go out of their way to fly the widebodies they scheduled in Miami, and pay for business class. So there was sort of a reference to product. But the lesson he drew? Upgauge to 737s and 321s in Miami! (Because Oasis is exactly like a flat bed, apparently.)

    1. Jorge Paez

      This would be Gary Leff from "View from the Wing", the best and most interesting travel site in history!

    2. Joe1293

      His blogs have been around longer than Ben’s
      He’s the OG Godfather for travel blogs

  19. Franklin

    Why no bullet pointed consideration of the environmental impact? I'm not a carbon warrior, but this does seem like one place where you could have really avoided a big carbon footprint while achieving all your goals. There are busses and trains between these two cities...why were they not considered?

    1. David

      What footprint? The plane was flying rather he was on it or not.

    2. Andrew B

      @David, This is a short-sided view on the issue. Because he is buying this ticket, this increases the demand for those flights, and marginally increases the likelihood of a larger aircraft or more frequent service in the future. Also, there is marginally more emissions from the aircraft because he is on it.

      Yes, we are talking about very small individual impacts, but if we aren’t at least conscious of the impact, the aggregate becomes a problem.

    3. Jorge Paez

      Industrial and vehicle carbon footprints are the big dogs in the sky.
      Let's not get off track.....

    4. Peter

      So David, which passenger is "responsible" for the footprint? The Crew? The first one who booked a ticket? He gets a 100% allocation and all others fly "CO2 free"? What if he/she cancels his/her ticket? Then it is number 2, who thought he/she would fly clean and suddently is the only polluter in the aircraft? I trust you get the point. Every passenger has his/her egal share of emission. Marginal accounting does not make sense...

      So David, which passenger is "responsible" for the footprint? The Crew? The first one who booked a ticket? He gets a 100% allocation and all others fly "CO2 free"? What if he/she cancels his/her ticket? Then it is number 2, who thought he/she would fly clean and suddently is the only polluter in the aircraft? I trust you get the point. Every passenger has his/her egal share of emission. Marginal accounting does not make sense as demand is driven by other factors. I get it it is difficult to realize our hobby is a desaster for the environment, yet time to wake up. Just my two cents..

    5. David

      Actually I don't get the point of so called man made climate change. It's just another example of liberals politicizing science. No wonder people than get skeptical of vaccines. Planes are a necessary tool which creates hundreds of thousands of jobs (including mine). It's not a hobby but a necessity in the twentieth century.

      I will tend to take climate change more seriously when politicians like John Kerry and other celebrities stop taking private jets...

      Actually I don't get the point of so called man made climate change. It's just another example of liberals politicizing science. No wonder people than get skeptical of vaccines. Planes are a necessary tool which creates hundreds of thousands of jobs (including mine). It's not a hobby but a necessity in the twentieth century.

      I will tend to take climate change more seriously when politicians like John Kerry and other celebrities stop taking private jets to climate conferences in Switzerland.

    6. flyinguy

      So, are you saying busses do not produce carbon footprint?

  20. AA

    That interview with Vasu was great but also more than a bit cringey. I doubt his neighbor ever came up to ask him to make the program simpler to qualify for!

  21. James S

    You know there are also busses right?

    1. James S

      Also Amtrak has a direct train between the two cities at 5 hours

  22. Jeff

    I was living just south of Tampa earlier this year and had an interview in Jacksonville. The company offered to fly me up or I could drive…I took the flights. I ended up on Southwest going up via ATL and Silver back via FLL. Given that I was interviewing, it was a lot less stressful sitting on a plane than dealing with the four hour drive.

  23. derek

    I've heard of rideshares but never looked into it.

    1. anon

      surely you've heard of greyhound??

    2. Jorge Paez

      It's Derek with the small d in da house!

  24. Adam

    Lucky, in the past I would have most likely chosen the same. But recently I have been much more cognizant of my sustainability. Any concerns with doing things like this in the future with the carbon footprint?

  25. Terence

    "other airlines don’t seem to sell these types of tickets"

    Did a quick search in Oct/Nov. $74 is def the baseline AWE has set; UA sells JAX-IAD-TPA and B6 does offer a BOS connection as well. Sounds like your next mini review is in the works ;)

  26. Doug

    Does Silver no longer operate JAX-TPA? I've done that flight a couple of times (all pre-pandemic). I agree that CLT is insanely crowded due to the massive banking, but it has both a Centurion Lounge and a Chick-fil-A, so in my opinion food-wise it is great.

    1. Jorge Paez

      Two ends of the food spectrum!

    2. Zip Silver

      I just checked it out, and it looks like Silver has a connection in FLL and would be about the same length as the AA trip since ATRs are much slower than jets.

      I'm a fan of Silver though. Used it a few times intra-Florida and to the Caribbean.

    3. Jimmy Gottfredson

      Only on Wednesdays and Fridays. Also about double the cost that AA was.

  27. Anthony

    You could have probably used Uber.

    1. pstm91

      Uber prices are insane. Even in smaller/cheaper markets. I'm from NYC where they are exceptionally high, but your comment made me curious so I plugged in Jacksonville airport to Tampa Airport. Cheapest option is $208, black is $630 (SUV's: $300 for XL and $833 for Black). I think Lucky made the right choice here.

    2. anon

      greyhound is $30-50 , no transfers, i would pay that much just to see a review of lucky taking greyhound

    3. Jorge Paez

      I imagine he would burn Greyhound to the ground in that review! Ever experienced their back killing seats?

  28. anon

    Greyhouse also goes direct from Jacksonville to Tampa and you can get work done as they have free wifi

  29. anon

    What you didn't factor into flying was the risk, especially with a connection, of delays and cancellations.

    sure, if you drive, you can get a flat tire, but that's why there's spares and tow trucks.

    Take uber to nearest Jacksonville rental car agency, then when you drive to Tampa rental car agency, take uber home. Not that terrible.

  30. FNT Delta Diamond

    Couldn’t you have flown to Miami and then Miami to Tampa?

    1. OliverBoliver

      You could have gotten a cabin with a bed on Amtrak and slept or worked on the way.

Featured Comments Load all 53 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Nick

Would have taken Amtrak Silver Line. Its about 3.5 hours direct

Jorge Paez

Industrial and vehicle carbon footprints are the big dogs in the sky. Let's not get off track.....

David

What footprint? The plane was flying rather he was on it or not.

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