Advance Eagle airfares can be competitive |

Advance Eagle airfares can be competitive

Glenwood Springs, CO ColoradoScott N. Miller Vail Correspondent

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – It’s going to cost you more to fly out of Eagle to go just about anywhere. How much more depends on how far in advance you buy tickets.A quick search of for flights this week showed tickets from Eagle to be more expensive than flights from either Denver or Aspen. A flight to Chicago from Eagle was $100 more than a similar flight out of Aspen and almost $400 more expensive than a flight out of Denver. Flying from Eagle to New York was $300 more expensive than from Aspen, and $550 more expensive than flying from Denver.The relative affordability of flights from Aspen may be because two airlines, United Express and Frontier Airlines’ Lynx shuttle service, use that airport. Lynx is flying to Aspen, and, later this year, to Steamboat, but service to Eagle hasn’t been announced.”We’re trying, but the decision hasn’t been left up to us,” said Chris Anderson, terminal manager at the Eagle County Regional Airport. “But Frontier is bringing that competitive element to Aspen.”If Frontier did bring its Lynx service to Eagle, Anderson said there’s probably enough passenger demand to support it. “But we’ll just have to see what shakes out over the next year or so,” he said. But with United Express the only game in town on a year-round basis, are people willing to pay that much more for the convenience of not going to Denver?”There’s a limit to what people will pay for convenience,” said Jan Strauch of Overland Express Travel in Edwards. “My guess is that limit is about $150 for a round trip.”The good news, is, some careful planning can make flights from Eagle far more competitive with flights out of Denver, Strauch said.With a 30-day advance purchase, a round-trip flight to San Francisco is $120 more from Eagle than Denver. A flight to Atlanta, with a 30-day advance purchase, can be as little as $324 over Thanksgiving week. The same ticket is $410 with just a 10-day advance purchase.”In some cases, and I don’t know how that could be, a flight from Eagle can actually be cheaper than a flight from Denver,” Strauch said.Anderson said other deals are available for people who sign up for frequent-flyer e-mails from the airlines. American and United send their weekend deals every Tuesday, and Frontier’s deals are released on Wednesdays.”There are great fares out there, but you have to look for them,” Anderson said.While online travel sites are increasingly popular, Strauch and Anderson said a travel agency can take a lot of the guesswork out of finding good fares.”The airlines’ fare structures are very complicated,” Anderson said. “We’re working with the travel agents every day.”Strauch, who’s spent a career in the travel business, is naturally biased toward travel agencies. The disparity in airfares out of Eagle is just an example of why travelers should call an agency, he said.”You’re flying blind on the Internet,” Strauch said. “Sometimes just a matter of a day or two can make a big difference.”

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