Southwest Showing $75 Flights From ECP Starting May 23rd

by February 22, 2010 • 29 comments

As many anticipate the low cost fares and benefits of the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, the question remains as to whether the airport will still open on its projected date, which was already pushed back from its tentative date of May 18th to May 23rd.

In a recent Newsherald article, Airport Authority board Chairman Joe Tannehill admitted concerns with potential delays. But even as the big event nears the 12th hour, Mr. Tannehill endorsed that the airport, through everything, is still “on time and on budget.”

If the airport is still on schedule, what does that mean for people trying to book one of the much-talked about ECP flights? Southwest is already showing direct flights  into Orlando available for $75 and flights to Baltimore available for $109 starting on May 23rd. You could, theoretically, book a flight for May right now, supporting Tannehill’s belief on making the deadlines.

What will be interesting is what effect the flights will have on other airlines and nearby airports. If I can get a flight to Orlando for only $75 on Southwest, Delta might want to bring some better sauce if I am going to spend my money on them. And what about Tallahassee airport? What will all those business folks do when they realize that they can drive to Panama City Beach and save hundreds on a flight?

If you aren’t excited yet, now would be a good time.

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1 Al Chamberlain February 23, 2010 at 8:44 am

My wife and I are flying from Baltimore to ECP on the first flight down on 23 May at 08:20 AM arriving 09:40 AM. This is a non-stop flight and I hope ECP will be ready to receive us. We also have reservations for our two puppies to fly with us, it should be fun to finally fly directly to the Worlds Most Beautiful Beaches.


2 Carly Dee March 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Yes! Isnt it wonderful to finally be able to get here from Baltimore in just a few short hours and at a reasonable cost? Im so excited as is my family as will the entire panhandle be, to have these options, finally!


3 Rob March 29, 2010 at 7:38 am

The year was 2004, the last year we flew into PFN with Delta when the cost was 250 each. Booking with Delta or US Air costs had increased annually to PFN, we forced to make alternate plans, fly into and drive from Jax and Pensacola and even Atlanta, to PCB,
for our end of May trip.

Hopefully ECP ends all those long drives and the aggravation behind trying to keep the costs of travel down at least below $750 (car rental and air for 2) even before we do the tourist/timeshare thing, and put money into the local community.


4 Bob April 17, 2010 at 5:05 am

I have a place you can stay or buy when you go to the most beautiful beaches in the world.


5 Julio Paguada February 23, 2010 at 8:56 am

Already booked a flight for my mom to come visit us from orlando when our baby is born. Makes things much better, but i hope the airport don’t get push back anymore b/c my mom flys on the 23rd.


6 Howell Hooper February 23, 2010 at 9:31 am

What does ECP mean?


7 Lisa Egstad February 23, 2010 at 9:42 am

Every airport has a 3 letter airline code. My guess is our new airport code, ECP comes from Emerald Coast Panama City Beach


8 Mark98 February 24, 2010 at 12:32 am

Not true. Okaloosa County has a trademark on Emerald Coast. So we can’t use that. Since we are so high and mighty on Spring Break , it must mean Emergency Contraception Pills (ECP). Or, possibly even Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) since we are obviously so worried about the estuaries with the water run-off at our new “green” airport.


9 Ed Farris February 23, 2010 at 9:41 am

Would someone please explain to me the reasoning for making Orlando one of Southwest’s direct flight locations? My son lives in Orlando, and while he likes to visit PCB when I’m there, he and other Orlando residents can easily DRIVE and hour or so west and be on the white sand of the gulf or drive an hour to the FL eastern beaches with out paying any fare!
In the interest of both Southwest and the panhandle, I would’ve picked another market NOT in Florida to bring tourism to our beaches and business to Southwest.
They must have a reason — but I can’t figure it out and I’ve been run businesses for 30 yrs!


10 Lisa Egstad February 23, 2010 at 9:47 am

I think there are 2 reasons: (1) International travelers can easily fly into Orlando for a connection to our beaches which are much more pristine and the water much more beautiful and less crowded than the ones you mentioned. (2) They also look at who’s flying OUT. The only way we can get to Orlando now is to fly through Atlanta, so basically we could drive there faster. Also, the same plane will continue on to Ft. Lauderdale with easy access to Miami, the Keys, etc.


11 Mike February 24, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Yes, Disney, International passengers via Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, The Keys, …now an easier connection between South Florida and the Panhandle so I can fly home for a weekend and not drive 10 hours! Can’t wait!


12 john brown February 23, 2010 at 3:02 pm

disney, dummy!


13 Tye76 February 24, 2010 at 12:39 am

I agree, Ed. It makes no sense and I think Southwest will eliminate the flight due to lack of interest after about 8 months. No one is going to fly from here to Orlando as they will undoubtedly need a car once they get to Orlando to commute between the hotel and Goofy. And, not enough people are going to fly here from Orlando to make a difference.


14 Bryan Durta February 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm

COMPLIMENTARY airport transportation service, known as Disney’s Magical Express Transportation, is free roundtrip airport transportation and baggage delivery for Guests of Disney-owned onsite hotels.


15 The Dude February 23, 2010 at 9:47 am

Unfortunately a round trip from Louisville to PCB is $277. Still not bad but not as good as $75 each way.


16 Lisa Mabry February 23, 2010 at 10:29 am

Is this a teaser rate through August – I want to book a flight in late September to Orlando – how can I get the $75. ticket ????


17 Bearabull February 23, 2010 at 10:43 am

I decided to price a sat to sat starting May 29 from Chicago. On the way down I could get a direct flight through through Nashville (3 hr) Return no choice, you had to change planes (4hr,25min) $273.80 RT
I then priced out of the preferred OHare on Delta. Change in Atlanta. One trip 4hr,18min and the other 4hr,6min. RT $250.80. So much for SW being a bargain.
I don’t know about most people, but when they say direct flight, it might as well be a change of planes. You still have to land and take off an additional time which are the most dangerous parts of flights. uggh


18 Aperian February 23, 2010 at 12:06 pm

RE: Orlando. With SWA including Orlando (MCO), Orlando will effectively be our hub. No more ATL!! You can fly anywhere you want, cheaper, from Orlando. And as Lisa stated, MCO is where many international travelers fly in/out.

Smart move SWA.


19 Patrick K. February 23, 2010 at 7:50 pm

I just booked a flight from Chicago O’Hare into Fort Walton (VPS) for $204 round trip. So much for Southwest!


20 Carly Dee March 10, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Thats because they JUST lowered fares to rival…which was the whole point all along. It benefits everyone.


21 JessiSky February 24, 2010 at 12:00 am

What is it that this airport authority doesn’t get? They were instrumental in bringing in Southwest Airlines…well, never mind they didn’t do that, St Joe did. So, they got us the new site for the airport. Oh wait, St Joe did that too. Just what have these jokers done in the last 20 years besides give us a crap airport with high fares and one airline??? I can’t think of anything. They can’t even get us sod. Why do we continue to empower these losers? They couldn’t dump water from a boot when the instructions are on the heel. Southwest Airlines is going to be the dominant airline in our airport and we are going to lose them after three years due to incompetence. Tannehill and Cramer have got to go. Their time is up.


22 Tye76 February 24, 2010 at 1:05 am

Fort Walton has hubs in Charlotte, Dallas, and Houston that aren’t “Atlanta” That’s why I will continue to fly from their airport even though we have “Southwest.” My choice is easy.


23 Joe February 25, 2010 at 8:17 am

The gate is now open for international travelers to buy a 2nd home, er I mean condo, cheap
in FL and still get the “must have” Disney/Universal experience.The trick is marketing…at this stage in the game, it is everything. The TDC understands this and finally made a move to bring the “big boys” from NYC into the picture.Orlando makes that the perfect fit for us.One day development will make sense again and I think you’ll find NW FL will be the only place to build…cheap and beautiful just like my last girlfriend… you just can’t say no to that!


24 Carly Dee March 10, 2010 at 2:45 pm



25 neil johnson February 27, 2010 at 8:57 am

we live in the UK and come to PCB on a regular basis and were looking forward to flying into the new airport but I cannot believe that it costs us at least $100 more to fly into panama city, as opposed to fort walton beach—it just doesn’t make sense.
It is OK if you use South West to the four cheap destinations but otherwise we will not be using the new airport until prices drop A LOT !
Neil (from England)


26 Tye76 February 27, 2010 at 10:30 am

It will be cheaper for you to fly in to Fort Walton Beach and there is more to do with nicer beaches in Destin. You might want to reconsider where you stay…


27 neil johnson February 27, 2010 at 10:57 am

Hi Tye
Thanks but bought a home in PCB 6 years ago and love it (and we love Destin too)–it is just frustrating that we will have this international airport 10 mins from our home and have to fly to Fort Walton, one hour away.
Maybe it will improve when our economies improve.
If you have any influence could you try and get us a direct flight from Birmingham England to PCB—preferably a cheap one —and we will be over as often as possible.
It will save us 6-8 hours and better still we wont have to go to Atlanta !!!
Best wishes


28 Tye76 February 28, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Hi Neil:

Don’t get carried away with the “International Airport” moniker. They have always called themselves that and have never had international flights.




29 Carly Dee March 10, 2010 at 2:46 pm

All of this is just the start, Neil…other airlines are going to jump on the bandwagon so dont get to upset.

Have a great day; its beautiful here (well, except for the breakers)