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Florida Guide > Travelling

Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport

We recently visited this airport on our way to pick up a cruise. It is one of the fastest growing airports in the United States. It is an alternative route for accessing the Miami area, or as gateway to Orlando. It is important, too, as the closest airport to Port Everglades, one of the worlds leading cruise ports, which is just 2 miles away. Many people who are picking up one of the numerous cruise liners which depart from Port Everglades fly into this hub.

It has actually been in existence since May, 1929, when it opened on an abandoned nine-hole golf course. At this time it was a small private airfield with unpaved runways, known as Merle Fogg Field. During the Second World War it was purchased by the American Navy, who redesigned the airfield so that they could train pilots of aircraft carrier based ‘torpedo-attack’ planes. Following the war, Broward County acquired the airfield and it began its life as an important airport. Interestingly enough, George Bush began his training at the Naval Air Station at Fort Lauderdale. By December 1969 passenger traffic exceeded 1 million, and by 2005 this was a staggering 2. 4 million passengers per month.

There are now 4 passenger terminals, offering non-stop services to more than 55 US cities. It has recently undergone a $695 million airport expansion programme, which has transformed garage areas into spacious modern facilities, which provide plenty of parking spaces, just a short distance from the terminals, as well as making its terminals and local roadways more attractive and user-friendly.

Numerous airlines now fly from here, although Air Canada was the largest international carrier during February 2007, with 56, 822 passengers, due to the rapid growth of the Canadian market. Among the airlines using Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport are US, United, North West, South West, Delta, and Comair, their Delta Connection, plus American Airlines, and Continental. The smaller commuter airlines, Ted and Spirit also use this facility, as well as Jetblue, Gulfstream and American Eagle. If you want to access the Caribbean then the airport is served by Air Jamaica, Bahamas Air, Cayman Airways, and Aero Mexico. Two British Airlines, Thomsonfly and Thomas Cook also fly into Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport can be accessed from several major highways, including the Interstate 95, Interstate 75, Interstate 595 and the Florida Turnpike, as well as the Dixie Highway, or US 1 which runs all the way down to Miami and beyond. There is a new rental car facility which had brought all the major car hire companies under one roof, so that cars can be collected and returned onsite.

Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport is a very busy airport and it is served by a veritable spaghetti-junction of roads. These tend to be very busy, so you need to be careful to watch the signs when approaching the main terminal buildings. There is good ground transportation, which is very well organised. If you need a taxi you just exit Terminal 1 and here you will find areas where you will be directed to a waiting taxi. These are well martialled and you should not wait long. There are also shuttle buses for the various hotels, and these will be found in a separate area at the furthest end of Terminal 1. Again, you can wait here until your particular shuttle arrives. Inside Terminal 1 is a bank of telephones which are connected directly to the many hotels in the area. Just pick up the phone, tell them you have arrived, and a shuttle bus will soon be on its way. As you would expect, there are also shuttle buses to Port Everglades.

Although Fort Lauderdale Hollywood Airport is rapidly expanding it still does not have all the facilities afforded by such airports as Orlando International. When we were there in March of this year there was only one lift working and no escalator going up to the check-in floor. There were large queues of people with loaded luggage carts waiting to access the higher levels. There is also very little food available until you get beyond security, and there are few shops. It certainly doesn’t yet have the glitz and glamour of the newer airports such as Orlando International. It is rather grey and dingy, and unprepossessing. In our opinion it is not the most enjoyable airport we have used. However, it is certainly an option if you are flying in to pick up a cruise, or if you plan to explore the Atlantic coast down to Miami, and beyond, to the Florida Keys.

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Page added on: 31 March 2007
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