Flying to the Destin Airport (VPS) – Complete Guide

Direct Flights to Destin Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS)

Direct flights to the Destin Fort Walton Beach Airport are more available than ever, thanks largely in part to Allegiant Air. Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of different airlines flying in and out of VPS as a result of increased demand, which means lower prices and more options.

Some of the most popular airports that fly direct to VPS year-round are Dallas, Atlanta, Charlotte and other major hubs for airlines like American Airlines and Delta. These options typically mean you’ll need to connect through these hubs unless you’re lucky enough to live near one of those airports. You should also check out Allegiant Air’s website to find all their routes that they fly direct in and out of Destin Fort Walton Beach.

Allegiant Airlines routes typically don’t run year-round. For instance, there’s a direct flight offered to Asheville, North Carolina which is just seasonal. But for those of you living in or around the Carolinas or Tennessee, this is an extremely attractive way to get down to the beach with a short flight that often ends up being less than 60 minutes, vs an 8 hour car journey.

Other direct flights Allegiant offers to Destin include major airports like Boston (BOS), New York City (EWR), and Las Vegas (LAS).

Another huge benefit of having Allegiant Airlines at the VPS Airport is the connections to smaller airports around the country that have been opened, bringing visitors like yourself to the beach for weekend getaways or when time is limited that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

Some of the smaller destinations that are now connected to VPS with direct, non-stop flights include Indianapolis (IND), Knoxville / Great Smoky Mountains National Park (TYS), and Bentonville (XNA). 

What airport is closest to Destin, Florida?

Perhaps somewhat confusingly, there is an airport in the city of Destin proper, but this is a purely private airport. Unless you’re one of the lucky few with a private jet to get yourself there, you’ll will be flying into the airport called Destin Fort Walton Beach Airport and its airport code is VPS. 

This airport is technically not in Destin or Fort Walton Beach, funny enough, but it serves the entirety of Okaloosa County and the surrounding areas. 

This airport is undergoing rapid expansion due to increased demand and an investment from Allegiant Air, so the airport being a little further away from the main cities you’re interested in is not exactly a bad thing.

A fun fact is that VPS is one of the few airports to share runways with a military base in the US as the airport is technically on the property of Eglin Air Force Base. As your plane is taxiing before takeoff or after landing, you can often see military jets out the window parked under their hangers. 

Getting To and From VPS to Destin

With the VPS Airport being about a 25 minute drive (~16 miles) to Destin, depending on traffic, you’ll need to know your options for getting to and from the airport.

Although the airport is relatively small, there are plenty of options in terms of rental cars. Uber and Lyft run with a decent frequency because the flights in and out of the airport don’t typically run very late into the night.

For those of you with early morning flights, it is wise to schedule your Uber or Lyft ahead of time, but you shouldn’t have a problem as those car services are reasonably popular in the area.

It’s not uncommon to see high surge pricing with Uber and Lyft due to a lack of drivers, so you might be in for a steeper fee and a longer wait time, but you should at least be able to get a ride. 

The only exception to this would be in off-season times such as fall and winter, you might have a little bit more difficulty with ride-sharing apps. It’s not impossible, but again you’ll probably encounter a higher cost and longer wait time.

Alternatively, there are numerous airport shuttle companies that run year round and offer private transportation. As you can probably imagine, these services are going to typically be more expensive but they are much more reliable and you have the peace of mind knowing you won’t miss your flight. 

Some of the local airport and shuttle companies that have been around a long time are:

Cheap Flights to Destin Airport

The market for flights into and out of the Destin Fort Walton Beach airport has been completely shaken up by Allegiant Air. Their frequency and price is still unmatched by the larger Airlines such as Delta and American Airlines.

Although as you’ve already read in this guide, Allegiant Air routes are often seasonal, they do connect to places that are completely unserved by the larger Airlines.

 With that in mind, looking for cheap flights to and from Destin is pretty much exclusively down to Allegiant Air, or the recent offerings at VPS from Southwest.

If you’re booking your travels on Google Flights (which we recommend!), you’ll see Allegiant Air, but not Southwest. To find the prices for those flights, you must go to the actual Southwest website. 

Purely from the perspective of price, Allegiant Air is often the best. Like with any budget airline though, you need to ensure that you’re packing lightly as they will charge you high fees for checked bags and picking your own seat. 

If your goal is to get to the beach as quickly as possible and at the lowest cost, Allegiant Air pretty much cannot be beat.

Car Rental Services Available

It goes without saying that the Destin area is difficult to navigate without a car, although it can be done for those little bit more adventurous.

With that in mind, there are a number of national brands when it comes to car rental services available at the Destin Fort Walton Beach Airport.

These brands include: Enterprise, Alamo, Hertz, Avis, and Budget.

It is extremely common for these companies to completely sell out of their availability at the VPS airport in the summertime, so if you’re booking a trip you need to make sure to secure the car as early as possible.

Once you pick up your rental, you’ll be venturing through either Fort Walton Beach or Niceville to get to Destin, depending on where your final destination is. 

When to Show Up at The Airport?

For years, it has been extremely easy to show up at the VPS Airport with very little time to spare. In contrast to other larger airports where you need to to arrive multiple hours early, VPS has often had the reputation of show up, spend very little time and security, and walk right on the plane.

Now with the increased quantity of flights and operators out of the airport, this isn’t always true. The thing to do is check the other outbound flights around your departure time.

If you find there are 2 or 3 flights, it’s realsatic that you could arrive as little 30-35 minutes early.

If you find there are more than 3-5 flights, you should consider arriving at least an hour before and expect to have little to no seating options available. 

Allegiant Air has built an entirely new terminal at the VPS Airport, but the airport is still small overall and was never intended to serve the quantity of people that it does now. Allegiant Air and the management team behind VPS Airport are working to fix some of these problems oh, but it doesn’t change the ease and flexibility of flying in and out of VPS.

So with that in mind, it’s not uncommon to hear locals who show up at the airport only 30 minutes to an hour early, depending on the date and time of the flight. Early mornings tend to be much more busy than flights around 10 a.m. or early afternoon.

Other Airport Options when Visiting Destin

If you’re struggling to find a viable flight option in to VPS, there are two other airports you can consider when trying to fly to Destin. Both of these airports are about 40 to 50 miles away from Destin, so you’ll need to rent a car or hire a dedicated shuttle service.

 The first option is Pensacola International Airport (PNS) which is located in Pensacola, Florida. This airport is considerably larger than VPS, but It’s not an international airport, despite the name. 

There are other routes into the Pensacola Airport that don’t exist at the Destin FWB Airport, such as flights direct to Denver via Frontier Airlines, or direct flights to Philadelphia via American Airlines.

One thing to consider with the Pensacola Airport is that you don’t have to make it all the way to Destin because the beautiful beaches are also just south of Pensacola as well. You could technically fly into Pensacola and go to Pensacola Beach or even Navarre, which would be a far shorter journey than venturing all the way to Destin. (Although we still recommend Destin!).

The other worthwhile airport to consider is located just north of Panama City, Florida which is known as Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP).

Similarly to the Pensacola Airport, ECP is about 50 miles away from Destin, so getting to and from can be a bit of a challenge. Southwest has more availability in to ECP than it does at VPS, but that is likely to change in the near future.

 At the risk of sounding like a broken record, when flying into the Panama City airport you also don’t necessarily need to venture all the way into Destin. There are still beautiful beaches in Panama City Beach and the main city itself, but Panama City in recent years has gotten a reputation for being far less family-friendly than Destin.

If the goal is to simply get to the beach, any one of these three airports is going to serve you well, but VPS is still our number one choice.