Believe it or not, I do not recall hearing about Silver Airways before I saw that they had been added as an airline that offered TSA Precheck. I remember looking them up as I had not been familiar with them before that. However, on a recent trip, I actually had a reason to fly with them – twice – and both experiences left me pleasantly surprised with this little regional airline.
Review of Silver Airways
Information about Silver Airways
Silver Airways is a regional airline based out of Fort Lauderdale, FL. They service many Florida airports as well as offering flights to the Bahamas and other states. If you need to get from one Florida city to another, chances are that Silver Airways will have a direct option for you, especially from Orlando or Fort Lauderdale.
Silver Airways has a partnership with the following airlines with interline agreements:
- American Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Bahamas Air
Earning Frequent Flyer Miles with Partners of Silver Airways
They also have a frequent flyer partnership with both JetBlue and United so you can earn miles with those programs when flying Silver Airways. Here is the mileage earning with United for Silver Airways if you do not buy it through United:
With JetBlue, it is even easier. You will earn 250 TrueBlue points on every Silver Airways flight. Simple!
With United Airlines, you can also redeem miles for Silver Airways flights – though, definitely check the prices first as they can be quite a bit lower than the value of the miles you would use with United!
The Aircraft and Baggage
When I first saw that Silver Airways flies SAAB airplanes (though they will soon move to ATR-600 for the fleet), I was imagining that it was a very small plane (I am not all that familiar with flying on SAABs). But, it is actually a 34 seat airplane with a 1-2 seating configuration. However, as you would imagine, the overhead bins are small so they are pretty strict with the size of what you can bring onboard.
If you have a personal item and carryon, you will need to have your carryon gate checked. Any bag too large for the overhead bin will also have to be gate checked so it is a good idea to plan on bringing something small like a backpack for the plane with anything in it that you don’t want under the plane.
These are turbo-prop airplanes so there will be some noise! In fact, not only will you have noise but you will also have some vibrations – kind of like your own massage chair. I have had this in international business class cabins but never would have thought I would get it in on an airline like Silver Airways! 🙂
All of that being said, if you have noise-cancelling headphones, you will want to use them for these flights. It will be a bit noisy!
If you buy a fare class that does not include baggage (ie, all the cheap fares), you will need to pay $30 for the first bag (up to 50lbs) and $40 for the second. Having elite status with United will not get you anything free here. In addition, if you are flying to an international destination, you will need to up those fees by $9 each.
What It Is Like Flying with Silver Airways
So, I booked two tickets with Silver Airways, one directly with them and another through Orbitz (see below why you may not want to do that). I also booked one that went from Orlando to Ft. Walton Beach, FL (VPS) and another that flew from Pensacola, FL (PNS) to Orlando.
I had not luggage to check so I went straight through security. Yes, they are a TSA PreCheck airline so if you have it, that will be a huge help when departing from an airport like Orlando (since you won’t be able to rely on your United Airlines status).
Wait, what? 🙂 Actually, in the terminal that Silver Airways uses at Orlando, there is a The Club lounge. If you have Priority Pass (through something like the Chase Sapphire Reserve), you can use that for free. It was really crowded when I was there but I was able to grab some snacks and drinks while waiting for my flight. So, if you are flying out of Orlando, check it out!
It does not take long at all to board these airplanes and you will be boarding from the tarmac since a jet bridge does not connect to it. In Orlando, that means taking the jet bridge down to the tarmac and then walking to the plane. If you had to gate check a bag, you will leave it plane side before boarding. Another note on boarding – it goes very fast!
With just 34 passengers (max), these planes do not take long to board at all. This is good news as well since they blocked quite a bit of time for this flight and we beat it by almost 50 minutes (they are probably building in for the MCO traffic but my flight was on a Saturday evening and it was quick for take-off).
Onboard the Plane
If you are taller (I am 6’1″), you will want to duck a little bit as the ceiling does feel a bit low. Their new ATR airplanes boast a clearance for a 6’3″ passenger so you will be ok there.
The seats were quite a bit more comfortable than I had expected, which is one of the reasons that was l pleasantly surprised. The leg space was also quite generous, two things that really made the flight more enjoyable that I was expecting. I took 4A, a seat on the single side of the plane and near the prop (in hindsight, I would not do that again). If you want the most legroom, the last row has 4 seats so it is more cramped but seat “C” has nothing in front of it. Also, row 7 is the exit row so you could pick that also.
The flight attendant came through the cabin with water cups for all the passengers but that was really it. Silver Airways does fly to Boston and Maine so I would imagine they could have at least pretzels on those routes!
When we landed, it was back to the tarmac by the stairs and off to the terminal. Both flights totally disembarked all passengers in just a few moments, an upside to having small overhead bins and few passengers.
Admittedly, I only flew two times with Silver Airways but I would imagine that most people are not flying with them more than that anyway! Since this is a Florida airline and the airplanes are small, weather disturbances could come up that would delay or even possibly cancel your flight. This isn’t the fault of Silver Airways, however.
I noticed that the planes I took both times were returning from the airport I was about to fly to. This is helpful since the flights were quick enough that if there were weather issues, it would have slowed the departure/arrival of the incoming plane in my destination city.
On my flight from Pensacola, FL to Orlando, we did have a small delay for just that reason. Since Orlando is a maintenance hub for Silver Airways, I wasn’t too worried about a major delay due to mechanical issues and weather was the only thing that slowed it down. That being said, we still managed to arrive in Orlando not long after we were due to arrive – even though we took off about 40 minutes late.
Where to Buy Silver Airways Tickets
I had no problem with my tickets at all but you will want to consider buying directly from Silver Airways for one key reason. I had purchased through Orbitz because it gives a few more hours on the 24 hour cancellation terms than airlines do (and I needed that extra time) but if Silver Airways suspends a route, you will have to deal directly with the OTA that sold you the ticket. If purchased from Silver Airways, it will be easier getting your flight changed or refunded.
I noticed all of this when I just saw that Silver Airways suspended the flight that I had taken, Orlando to Ft. Walton Beach (VPS) for the rest of the season. Of course, Orbitz will have to refund that if something like this happens but, in my experience, it is always easier dealing directly with the airline on things like this.
My ticket cost $59 for the cheapest fare from Orlando to VPS and $80 for Pensecola to Orlando for the next fare class (the cheapest were no longer available).
Summary – Review of Silver Airways
I had no issues with Silver Airways. Being a regional airline with pretty much one kind of aircraft and small passenger loads, there is not a whole lot that would go terribly wrong. From the boarding process to landing, the whole experience kind of shook up my expectations of the trip – and that was a good thing!
While some prices on certain routes may seem a bit higher than one would expect, remember that you are going to be able to fly point-to-point instead of transiting some large hub and spending even more time onboard planes. In my case, if I had taken the other options I was looking at with AA, for example, it would have taken almost as long as it would have if I just drove the distance!
Not only did I get where I needed to go quickly and at a fair price, but I also picked up about 300 United miles along the way! Not a bad first round with Silver Airways!