Maybe you have always wanted to visit Walt Disney World and Disneyland on the same day. Perhaps take in the Festival of Fantasy Parade during the day at the Magic Kingdom, and follow it up with Disneyland’s new Wondrous Journeys nighttime spectacular a few hours later. Well pulling this off just got a lot easier with a new route, courtesy of budget carrier Breeze Airways. And due to some fortuitous timing, we got to try it out!
We recently reported on their new nonstop routes between Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Orange County’s John Wayne Airport (SNA), which would allow guests an easy and affordable way to travel between Walt Disney World and Disneyland for as little as $69 each way. Shortly after this announcement, we found ourselves needing to travel to Disneyland to cover the opening of the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival.
The new Breeze Airways itinerary appealed to us, because our first consideration when booking travel is whether or not a nonstop flight is available. The fewer times we have to switch aircraft, the better. Toss in a cheap fare, and we’re in! We’d gone to Disneyland on a personal vacation 2 weeks before, so we were familiar with most of the options. It likely goes without saying, but Breeze Airways didn’t give us any big-time blogger discounts or anything. We spent our company money on regular fares available to the public.
Flying nonstop to Southern California from Orlando has almost always meant you were limited to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The problem is, it’s more than twice as far from Disneyland as SNA, making it much more expensive to get to the Disneyland Resort once you land, and making the trip much more sensitive to LA traffic delays. A nonstop flight to SNA meant more time at the Disneyland Resort and more money to spend while we were there.
But a nonstop flight for under $100? Is this true? The answer is yes. Technically, anyway. A quick visit to the Breeze website revealed some flights as low as $69 and often $79 for what they call “Nice”. Nice is an 18″ wide economy seat with 30″ of pitch and one personal item. For just under $200 we could upgrade to “Nicer”, which is also 18″ wide, but allows 33″ of pitch, a checked bag and a carry-on. Finally, for $204 we ended up booking “Nicest”, which is a first class seat, that is 20.5″ wide with 39″ of pitch, and allows 2 checked bags and a carry-on with priority boarding. Our full round trip first class fare including all taxes and fees came out to $473. It was cheap enough that everyone’s favorite WDWNT personality, Jason Diffendal, decided to book a trip on the same flight to help out with coverage.
For this route, Breeze operates a fairly new Airbus A220-300 with a whopping 36 of the “Nicest” seats in a 2-2 arrangement. There are 10 additional legroom seats, which are in the “Nicer” category, in a 2-3 arrangement, and finally there are 80 “Nice” seats in a 2-3 configuration.
For those wondering about baggage fees, a carry-on will run you $35. Your first checked bag is $39, a second checked bag is $40 and a third checked bag is $50.
Whenever you fly a budget carrier, which Breeze Airways certainly is, there are inevitably some compromises. Breeze attempts to leave most of the customer service to their website and app. The website even brags that they don’t have a call center number. The app is simple and easy to navigate. As Breeze operates a relatively small fleet with few destinations, there is certainly a risk that a small ripple of problems upstream can cause waves of problems further down the line. The question is then left to the customer: “How much risk am I willing to tolerate?” That’s a question we can’t answer for you.
We can tell you that airlines across the spectrum of price points all have the potential to disrupt your plans. In the last year alone we’ve had Spirit lose bags, United provide a seat so uncomfortable that it should have been outlawed by the Geneva Convention, and a Southwest flight in December that turned into a lovely 36 hour drive from Orlando to Kansas City and back. Perhaps most cruel of all, Delta punishes most passengers originating in Florida with a mandatory visit to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. There’s always an element of the unknown when it comes to air travel.
Orlando to Santa Ana on Breeze Airways
After catching an afternoon performance of “Festival of Fantasy” at the Magic Kingdom, we headed to Orlando International Airport for our 4:55 p.m. flight. The check-in counter looks like an afterthought, against the windows, across from all the other counters in the main terminal. Since there is only one Breeze Airways plane leaving every day, crowds at the counter are not an issue. We quickly checked our bags and were on our way. It’s worth noting that there IS a flight from Orlando to Provo, Utah as well, but Provo passengers just stay on the plane after it drops everyone else off in Orange County. I suppose this is where it’s valuable to understand the difference between a “direct flight” and a “nonstop flight”.
Breeze leverages technology to keep you up to date, letting passengers know of flight delays and changes via text message. Boarding was delayed by about 20 minutes as we waited for our plane to arrive. It was an interesting moment when we realized our gate agents at Gate 30 were the same people who had checked us in at the main terminal earlier in the day. Guess that’s one area where Breeze Airways saves money, and it isn’t entirely uncommon on international flights either. At any rate, the shiny blue Airbus arrived, and we prepared to board, though by the time the wheels were up, we were about an hour late.
The “Nicest” seats were extremely large, with plenty of storage, USB charging ports of various sizes, and a number of places to put your electronic devices, including an adjustable shelf suitable for an iPad. Note: While the website provides instructions for using the WiFi, it was not operational for our trip to Orange County, nor was it available on our return flight. We advise downloading your favorite shows or movies for the trip.
We were even treated to a nice view of Walt Disney World from the sky on our way out of town.
The crew were very friendly and casual. It’s clear that Breeze Airways wants them to have fun on the job, and they did. They seemed to forgo the stuffy uniform, allowing them to wear their own clothing, supplementing it with a sweater or vest emblazoned with the Breeze logo. They are equipped with iPads to help sort out any misunderstandings during the boarding process, and then for food and drink orders. It was unclear what exactly which food and drink items were included in the fare. We were given a cocktail and snack item for free. We were given the option to buy a snack box for an additional $8.50.
The flight to SNA was pleasant, with few interruptions from the crew, save a few automated warnings to return to your seat or to fasten your safety belt at various times. Because John Wayne Airport is relatively small, baggage arrived quickly and efficiently, and we were on our way.
We landed around 8:15 p.m. PST, grabbed our luggage, and made our way to our hotel near the Disneyland Resort. After checking in to the hotel and dropping off our luggage, we headed directly to Disneyland and made it in time to see the 9:30 p.m. showing of a modified version of Wondrous Journeys.
Because Disneyland is open until 11 p.m. even on weekdays in the winter, we had time to hop on Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion before we called it a day.
Santa Ana to Orlando on Breeze Airways
We were informed the morning of our return flight that the flight to MCO was going to be slightly delayed. We actually received a few notices as the delay got longer and longer.
It turns out our return was delayed because the plane coming in from Provo was late due to crew hours. Once we were airborne, the flight was uneventful. We landed in Orlando at about 5:30 p.m., but we retrieved our luggage quickly, and were actually able to make it to the Magic Kingdom for a TRON Lightcycle Run preview at 7:00 p.m.
Overall, we wouldn’t hesitate to take another trip on Breeze Airways. The value for the price makes it a more comfortable experience than other low-cost carriers like Spirit or Frontier, and the luxury of the first-class seats is hard to beat on a cross-country flight. While Spirit has the Big Front Seat available for purchase, those seats are extremely limited, unlike Breeze Airways, where they have 36 of them available. But be warned! This is a small carrier, and they are unlikely to be able to tolerate even small disruptions without making you late, or even canceling your flight. If you have the correct expectations going in, you may have a great experience and even save some time and money.
Will you be taking advantage of this deal for the ultimate day of park hopping? Let us know how you feel about the flight or Breeze Airways in the comments below!