The Florida Keys, as the southernmost point of the US, have long been a popular escape from winter in the Northern hemisphere for those seeking a more bohemian alternative to the crowds and overt self-confidence of Miami Beach. And it has better sunsets.
You can of course drive there, but there is also the option of flying. Many US airlines, through their regional affiliates, fly to Key West International Airport with varying degrees of frequency from their respective hubs. American Airlines from Dallas Fort Worth and Miami; Delta from Atlanta; and United from Chicago O’Hare and Newark.
You’ll also see a number of private plans on the airfield at Key West. Other than that it’s largely Silver Airways flights to the Florida region, an airline we don’t know enough about to comment on – though online reviews don’t instil confidence.
It’s flying between Miami and Key West over the Florida Keys on American Eagle that we’ll cover as it is the most likely route for visitors to Florida.
American serves the route many times a day, typically using Embraer E175 aircraft operated by Republic Airlines under the American Eagle livery.
If you’re a member of the BA Executive Club these flights, like many short-haul flights on BA’s partner airlines, are a good use of Avios. You can book economy one-way for 7,500 Avios and First Class one-way for 15,000 Avios and a nominal charge of £4.30.
This can yield a substantial saving over adding this flight to an existing itinerary. The one downside is that if you are self-connecting on separate tickets at Miami, following a Oneworld alliance policy change, American Airlines will no longer through check your bags to your onward flight. Obviously if you miss your connection, you are also reliant on goodwill to reaccommodate you.
If you’re booking revenue flights directly on aa.com you may need to call American Airlines to add your BA Executive Club member to your booking. If you’re a Silver or Gold member of the Executive Club you’ll need to do this to secure a free seat assignment and checked luggage allowance. Also be aware these flights seem very prone to schedule changes.
Flying from Miami
At Miami, these flights always depart from, and arrive at, Gate D60 of the North Terminal, which is at the very far end of Concourse D. (Airport Map)
When departing, once you’ve passed through the gate, you will go through a covered external walkway on to a very noisy airfield (and it really is very noisy) before boarding the steps to your aircraft.
Flying from Key West
As to be expected for an airport of this size, it’s a painless journey through check-in and security.
There’s no dedicated lounge facility and relatively limited food and beverage outlets. Gate areas can be a little crowded. When arriving there’s a very small arrivals area. Baggage reclaim does seem slow given how small the airport is.
In Flight Service
As this is a short flight, typically around 30 minutes, there is just a beverage service with snacks in both First Class and economy.
The Embraer is a very pleasant aircraft to fly on. First Class is four rows of seats in 1 – 2 configuration. It is very comfortable, obviously nicer than economy, but not really worth it.
For a route like this, the main thing is securing a window seat for the views of the crystal clear blue ocean, the Keys and Miami Beach:
Here’s a hyperlapse film we made of one flight from Key West to Miami: