Lots of news stories still tout the idea that alternate airports (especially those served by Southwest) are always cheaper than their big airport counterparts. This isn’t true on 2 levels: Southwest flies to lots of primary airports nowadays, and those secondary airports (for various reasons) aren’t necessarily the great deal they once were.
Today I bring the Top 5 Airports that Aren’t the Bargain They Once Were:
1) Chicago Midway. Midway used to be a lowfare paradise, with Southwest and ATA fighting it out, bringing low fares to a great swath of business and leisure cities. Plus, Midway was a much more pleasant experience than the behemoth at O’Hare. Midwest is still relatively inexpensive, but the airport has grown considerably, taking away the small-town feel. Plus, as Chicagoans are learning, Milwaukee is Chicago’s new lowfare airport, with AirTran, Midwest and, soon, Southwest dropping fares to levels about 30% below national average.
2) Providence. For years, Providence was touting as the much lower fare alternative to high-priced and traffic-addled Boston Logan. Not anymore. JetBlue has a huge presence at Boston, while Southwest and Virgin America have helped bring fares down. Plus, it’s just a quick hop into the city. Why drag your butt all the way to Providence when Boston offers similar fares without the 75 minute drive?
3) Fort Lauderdale. Sure, there are still low fares to FLL from just about everywhere. And I’m not going to pretend that Miami is any sort of prize. But more and more, Miami offers similar fares to those found at FLL. And if you’ve ever been to FLL during the holiday season, the experience is uniquely miserable.
4) Oakland. Once a much better alternative to the high fares and lack of public transportation at SFO, Oakland has seen a 30% decline in passengers, as Southwest has pulled back flights, ATA has disappeared, and Aloha has gone out of business. Meanwhile at SFO, there’s train connections into the city, Southwest is growing, and Virgin America offers low fares along the Pacific coast and back east.
5) Baltimore. I can’t argue with JetBlue’s $9 fares from Boston to BWI. But Southwest now flies to Dulles, Spirit is at Reagan, AirTran is at Dulles and Reagan, while JetBlue & Virgin America fly to Dulles. For many, that 45-60 minute drive out to Baltimore is no longer worth it when low fares are available in their backyard.