We left on a 5:25am flight on Southwest Airlines out of Chicago Midway Airport(MDW). We arrived at 3:30am knowing that Southwest would want to check passports and documentation for our 5:25am flight. The lines were long – but moved quickly. The agent carefully weighed and checked our bags to confirm we were not exceeding weight limits. The airport web-site stated that TSA pre-check opened at 4:00am. But the long line prompted us to ask a TSA agent who confirmed that the actual opening time is 4:15am. This line moved quickly once the TSA stations opened and we were on our way to the gate at about 4:35.
Because we live near Chicago we fly out of both ORD and MDW frequently. The big difference between the airports is the concessions at this time in the morning. There was no coffee or breakfast locations open at 4:30 – it seemed that the staff was just arriving and preparing the stands to serve. With our flight boarding at 5am – we were happy that we had grabbed some cheese and veggies from our fridge before leaving to the airport. Don’t count on being able to grab a bite to eat – especially if you are on a Southwest flight.
We booked our travel on Southwest because we are currently holding a companion pass. The total cost for both of us to fly to Aruba was under $550. We had a small connection in Orlando – made it to Aruba 5 minutes early and the customs process in Aruba was very well organized as it took about 30 minutes to go through and get our bags. One piece of advice – visit the duty free shop near the baggage claim if you want to buy a bottle of wine or liquor for your room. Tito’s vodka was $22 a bottle – we did not buy it – and when we went to SuperFoods for some items and picked up a bottle it cost us $35. After gathering our bags we headed to the taxi stand, there was a line but it moved quickly. We were headed to the Renaissance Marina Hotel in Downtown Oranjestad for 2 nights so our fare was $20. Fares are set by the government – so it is easy to budget before you go. They will take American money – so no need to change to Aruban florin.
Our lady cab driver was very welcoming and friendly. She asked us if it was our first trip and shared some of her favorite local spots in the area. She even gave us a coupon book to help us find free drinks and dessert. The trip down was Quick , Easy and Fast – always a good thing when you are headed to the beach.