Earliest airline flight home


Jun 29, 2000
Please excuse the repeat - I know this has been asked millions of times, but since I can't search, I can't find the answer.

What is the earliest time that it is safe to book a flight home after the cruise? I have found some fairly good rates, but the return flight is at 11:45am. I remember I played it safe and we had something like a 2pm flight after our last cruise, but waited around in the airport for quite a while. I'd like to get going sooner, but don't want to be in a panic about missing the flight either.

At the moment, we are planning to use the Disney transfers to get back to the airport. We have late dinner seating, so that means late breakfast if we want to go to the restaurant and see our servers one last time. I know we could get up and out earlier and just eat at Topsiders if need be.

Any answers, opinions, advice will be appreciated!
We were booked on a 3:00 pm flight home last year, but got lucky and got seats on the 10:40 am flight instead. This year, I booked the 10:40 flight home, but that was before Sept. 11. I can't change my flights now, and am really not sure if I even would if I could. They really rush you off the boat early, so in my opinion, you'll be safe with the earlier flight. I'd like to hear from some people who have cruised since Sept. 11 to see if the debarkation takes longer now.
We were on 7 day cruise 11 days after 9/11. Our debarkation took less time then when we sailed on the Wonder last January. We have an early flight too and will use DCL bus to get to the airport because it's so fast. I'm a little nervous about getting such an early flight back too but the price was great! We got round trip airfare from BWI (baltimore) to Orlando for $92. a person!!
We cruised Christmas week in December. No problem getting off early and to the airport. We had early seating and had a leisurely breakfast in Lumiere's.

We were in the parking lot to meet our limo at 7:50 AM. We were to the airport before 9, and checked in, through security, and at our rather remote gate by 9:30 AM. Our flight was at 11:45.

In case the boat is late in arriving, might be good to have a later flight in mind, but you are just as likely to be held up by a snowstorm in Orlando as by a late boat. Deal with it if and when it happens.
We had a one hour wait in line before we could get through security at Orlando. The lines were backed up all the way to the airline check-in desks. We also stood in about a 20 minute line waiting to check in our baggage.

Keep in mind you are going to have to get to Orlando early. There are no measures to get you through security if you are running late. I was standing in line at 11:20 with a woman that had a 12:30 flight. I doubt she made it!

I never would've realized that we needed to get to the airport so early, if I hadn't seen the long lines the day I arrived at the airport. It was really shocking to see how long the lines were.

Just something to keep in mind.
I sailed on the 7/7 cruise and due to delays caused by a medical emergency at CC, passengers did not leave the Magic until about 10:30am. The DCL bus we were on left the terminal at exactly 11:15am & we made it to the airport by Noon. Anybody who had a flight earlier than 12:30 that day was SOL. If I sail again I won't book a flight earlier than Noon. Hope this helps!!

After last year's cruise we had an 11:30 flight and made it with time to spare (even had time to buy a new snowglobe in the Disney shop). However, after 9/11 we changed our return flight for this year's cruise to 1 PM.
We flew out to LAX over the Christmas holidays and the lines in Boston and Los Angeles were long. Effective today, the new rules are in place where all luggage must be screened. It sounds like most airports do not have enough of these x-ray machines so many will have to be done either manually or with dogs - only slowing things up.
We had late seating last year as well as this year so we plan to just relax over our last breakfast and then we'll have more time to browse the shops back at the airport.

I guess until some people return now that the new luggage rules are in - it is hard to judge how much time is really needed. Hope this helps you.
Thanks for all the helpful info! It sounds like we could have a problem with the early flight, especially given the unknowns of security at the airports these days. I haven't booked anything yet. I often find the best deals with Southwest, and they haven't opened up our travel dates yet. We'll be flying out of BWI, so maybe I can luck in to Sandee's $92 bargain!!! I would prefer not to spend all day in transit, but I prefer it over panicking about getting home at all!
I am going in August and just booked Delta at 10:45 a.m. I spoke with Delta and they said if I miss the flight I can get on a later one as a standby. I am taking the chance (because of the rate). Last May I booked a flight at 1 p.m. and sat at the terminal for a very long time. I had wished I had booked the earlier flight. But anyway I am taking the chance. If I miss the 10:45 flight I will be hanging around the airport. It might even take longer now at the airports now that they implemented the new policy of looking at all checked in luggage.
We went to the late seating for breakfast, used the Disney transportation and was able to get bumped up to a 11:15 flight instead of 3:00 which we were origianlly scheduled for. They had to scan our luggage seperately because it was too late to go with the rest. I would say around noon would be a good time to depart....IMO
We just missed the new luggage rqmts effective today...we got back yesterday from the Wonder. We had late seating, but chose to do a buffet breakfast...I let the kids sleep a little late and we were still off the boat by 8 am. We checked our luggage w/ NW at the cruise terminal and were easily at the airport gate by 10 am...this is w/ 2 kids in tow and a pair of slower grandparents. I would do an 11 am flight.




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