Flying to Destin – Which Airport Works Best for You?
Destin, Fl. is truly a travel hotspot. Millions of people have visited for their first time ever over the last year. Airports are packed and rental cars are scarce. We’ve put together a list of the 3 closest airports to Destin. The list is complete with distance to Destin, airlines that service, rental car agencies at each airport and so much more. We hope you find this list useful.
Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS)
The closest airport to Destin is the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS). It is located on the Eglin Airforce Base in Valparaiso, FL., 16 ½ miles from Destin.
VPS is a small airport. In non-peak times, it is very easy to get through. Upon entering the airport, travelers will find ticketing to the far right. The baggage area is to the far left and security is immediately front and center.
Five major airlines fly out of VPS and they are:
Delta, Allegiant, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines. There is only one terminal here. Once passengers get through TSA, they will proceed upstairs to gates A-E.
Travelers will find the Emerald Coast Bar & Grill downstairs (before security). This is a full-service restaurant and bar. They serve breakfast, sandwiches, salads, chicken strips, and more. Find their menu here and their Facebook page here.
One of the amenities travelers will find at this airport is Mamava Lactation Pod. Outside of the entrance, there is a pet relieving area. Others include curbside assistance and shuttle service from the airport to the parking lot are also available. There is free WiFi, two ATMs (baggage area and Level 2), clean family restrooms, and changing stations.
VPS has two parking lots (A&B) and a free cell phone lot. Click here to see an airport map and parking rates.
Travelers in need of car rentals will find Alamo, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Avis, Budget, Dollar & Destin Jeep on the lower level – across from baggage claim. Outside there is a designated area for Uber and Lyft pick-ups. If using Turo, make sure to find out which parking lot your car will be parked in. Click here to see the list of limo and taxi services that service VPS to Destin. Please note, these may need to be booked as much as a month or more ahead of time.
VPS Trivia – Airplane taxi times may feel a little longer. VPS uses 2 of Eglin’s Airforce Base’s runways and they have to taxi out to them.
VPS is open every morning at 4 a.m.
For more information about the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport:
Phone: (850) 651-7160
Lost and Found: (850) 651-7166
Address: 1701 FL-85, Eglin AFB, FL 32542
Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP)
The second closest airport to Destin is 51 miles away. It is the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City. The airport code is ECP. It is located 18 miles northwest of Panama City proper.
The airport has 1 terminal with 7 gates. 2 of the 7 gates are for regional aircraft carriers only. Airlines that service ECP are: AA, Delta, United, Southwest, Air Eagle, and United Express. It has 1 runway.
Airport amenities include free WiFi, mailing services, computer workstations, a Mother’s Room, and a pet relief area. The airport also offers a Military Welcome Center where the active military can wait on their flights or rides home. It includes snacks, drinks, comfortable seating, and a children’s play area.
Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport has a few dining options.
Level 1 – Travelers will find the Emerald Coast Pub that serves food and beverages.
Level 2 – Beach Time Grill, Grayton Beer Landing Strip, and Expressology are located here.
Avis, Alamo, National, Hertz, Dollar, Budget, and Enterprise car rentals are available at the airport. Uber and Lyft will run $75 – $100+ to Destin. Click here to find a list of other modes/information of ground transportation from ECP. The city and airport are warning passengers to make ground transportation reservations, far in advance. They are experiencing a huge influx of passengers this summer season.
If you are driving to and from the airport, there is both short, long, and covered parking. Parking is patrolled by the airport police department. Passenger pick-ups and drop-offs (only) are allowed curbside.
ECP Trivia – This airport opened on May 23, 2010, to commercial flights. It was the first international airport in the United States designed and built after September 11th.
For more information about the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport:
Phone: (850) 636-8950
Lost & Found: (850) 769-6033
Address: 6300 W Bay Pkwy, Panama City, FL 32409
Pensacola International Airport (PNS)
Pensacola International Airport is located 61 miles from Destin. It is the largest of the three Destin area airports. It has 2 runways.
PNS is a 2 story terminal with 12 gates. There are 8 commercial airlines that service PNS. These airlines are AA, Boutique Air, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Silver Airways, and United Airlines.
Passengers at Pensacola International Airport will find convenient amenities such as water bottle refill stations, charging stations, and free WiFi. In 2016, PNS launched “Pup Patrol”. You can read about it here. And, last but not least, PNS will soon be launching the Sunflower Initiative, to help travelers with hidden disabilities.
Hungry travelers will find food options before and after security. Einstein Bagels has a store before and after security. Chick Fil A, Freshens Fresh Studio & Pensacola Beach House are all after security. Pensacola Beach House was recognized by Travel + Leisure in their article “Airport Restaurants That Make Going Through Security Way More Rewarding”. Also, please check links for menus, opening and closing times.
PNS travelers also have a chance to pick up souvenirs before boarding their flights. Before security, there is a Paradies Lagardère where you can get snacks, drinks, magazines, etc. After security, passengers can find t-shirts, travel accessories, and other novelties in the CNBC store.
There is plenty of parking at PNS. With 2 economy lots, a parking garage, and a surface parking lot, there are over 2,600 spaces available. Click here for PNS parking maps, rates, and other important information regarding parking and proximity to the terminal.
Lastly, travelers who need car rentals have the option between 7 companies: One site – Avis, Alamo, National, Hertz, Dollar, Budget, and off-site Enterprise. Please make sure to book your car early.
PNS Trivia – Although it is an “international” airport, PNS does not have international arrivals or departures.
For more information on Pensacola International Airport:
Phone: (850) 436-5000
Address: 2430 Airport Blvd, Pensacola, FL 32504
We hope this list was useful and was full of the information you were looking for in your search for the best way to Destin. Whichever you choose, please hear the warnings about rental cars. They are scarce and they are expensive. Please book as far in advance as possible. Have your transportation sorted before you even leave home. Save all your confirmations and correspondence. Book only through reputable websites, directly. Confirm and reconfirm. Don’t leave anything to chance. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Have a fantastic trip!