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Portland to get back direct flights to Orlando, New Mexico and Caribbean connections

southwestBy Seth Koenig From Bangor Daily News

Labor Day Weekend is over and the kids are going back to school. The 80-degree days still aren’t quite over yet, and you’re looking forward to maybe sneaking in one or two more Saturdays at the beach before reluctantly starting to browse through Halloween costumes… and BAM: You get hit with reminders that crappy weather is coming, so you should start thinking about getting the heck out of here when the snow piles up.

(I know you’ve all seen the Farmer’s Almanac forecasts flying around on Facebook and other social media, telling us we’re in for another long, cold and snow-filled winter. You can close your eyes and plug your ears and sing “la la la” all you want, but you’ve seen the forecasts and they’re haunting you.)

So here’s the “getting the heck out of here” part: The Portland International Jetport this morning announced the return of its direct flights to Orlando, restarting the seasonal run with two daily departures — 8:15 a.m. and 11:20 a.m. — on March 7 of next year.sea-dog-brewingThat’ll be after we’ve been decked by weekly snowstorms for about two months and we’ll all be going batty.

Need to evacuate earlier? Go running as soon as the first snowflake hits the ground? Like December or January?

Southwest Airlines, which will offer the Orlando flights, is boasting a series of quick bounces that aim to get passengers from Portland to a number of warmer sites starting this month.

On Sept. 16, the airline will start offering daily flights from Portland, by way of a timed connection in Baltimore, to Cancun, Mexico, and Montego Bay, Jamaica. At the same time, Southwest will start Saturday flights to Oranjestad, Aruba (again through Baltimore), which will transition to daily flights in November.

On Nov. 2, Portland passengers will get access to these daily Baltimore bouncers to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and to-be-scheduled are regular flights that end up in Nassau, Bahamas.

paul-bradburyYou may remember that Southwest offered seasonal direct flights before to Orlando from Portland, and although it’s unlikely this time around they’ll keep the service going year-round, it still offers a little boost to the jetport, according to Airport Director Paul Bradbury.

“In 2013, Orlando was our fourth largest destination with 79,550 passengers,” said Bradbury in a statement Tuesday. “We’re glad to have it back on the schedule with round trip, non-stop service and additional options during that peak time in the spring.”

It’s been a good stretch for the Portland International Jetport, which announced last month it was ranked among the country’s most affordable airports with average airfares of $308, and earlier in the year trumpeted its first increase in passenger numbers since the recession began driving them down four years earlier.


A Southwest passenger jet sits at a terminal at Portland International Jetport. (BDN file photo by Seth Koenig)

Love Maine beer, but hate Maine winter shoveling? Southwest Airlines announced the return of direct flights to Orlando, where Sea Dog Brewing Co. opened a pub last year. This one’s the Sea Dog in Clearwater, Florida. disney(Courtesy of Robert Cochran Photography/Sea Dog Brewing Co.)

Paul Bradbury (BDN photo by Seth Koenig)

Fireworks and confetti fly over Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom near Orlando, Florida. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)

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