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Fighting for a Flight

Fighting for a Flight

Story by Julia Volzke, Photo by Christian Bachrodt

Monday, December 09, 2013 | Number of views (6217)

Durango is known for its small town charm, but when it comes to getting a flight home for the holidays, there can be few and far between. Frontier Airlines is no longer stopping in the Durango- La Plata County Airport.

Kate O’Malley, manager of corporate communications for Frontier Airlines, said that since May of 2008, Frontier Airlines flew out of Durango on a fairly regular basis.

Frontier Airlines is a Denver - based Colorado airline, with the main hub being Denver International Airport.

As of Oct. 28, Frontier Airlines switched to a seasonal service to the Durango-La Plata County Airport. The only direct flight to Denver, which is a popular flight for students before and after breaks, will be through United Airlines, O’Malley said.

United Airlines has the greatest number of flights to Denver daily, but finding a flight is still proving difficult for students.

“Its been a pain to find a flight home for Christmas,” said Lane Wright, a sophomore at Fort Lewis College. “I waited until the last minute and now there are hardly any seats available.”

“The bookings of flights did not justify maintaining year round service,” O’Malley said.

Without Frontier at Durango-La Plata COunty Airport, the airlines remaining are United, US Airways and American Airlines.

According to the Durango Government website at www.durangogov.org, United Airlines has nonstop service to Denver, US Airways has nonstop service to Phoenix, and American Airlines has nonstop service to Dallas/ Fort Worth. Even with all of these options, customers are noticing the change.

“This is the first time I’ve flown on United,” said Maria Mandt, a visitor of the Durango- La Plata County Airport. “It’s always been Frontier whenever I have flown down here.”

With the cancellation of flights, Durango travelers are still feeling the heat when trying to find a flight home.

There are steps that a person can take to make flying during the holiday season a bit easier.

“Make sure to check your flight before you leave for the airport and allow plenty of time at the airport,” O’Malley said.

Booking early is also ideal, and depending on how far the trip is, one may want to opt out of flying and drive, Mandt said.

Students have other ways of getting around the limitations of flights.

Haylee Smith, an FLC sophomore, said that if a flight home is not an option, she will drive.

“It's always cheaper to drive if you can, or, the train out of Gallup, New Mexico is a great inexpensive option,” Smith said. “It usually departs at night and you will be at your destination the following morning.”

Some passengers are feeling helpless when it comes to booking flights for the holiday season, with six flights to Denver on Friday and five on Saturday, according to United’s website. A total of six flights will be available to those traveling to Phoenix throughout the weekend, and a total of six will be available to those travelling to Dallas/Fort Worth.

“There are just not enough flights to get all of us home finals week,” said Wright. “I may have to drive all the way home and if the type of weather that hit last year at finals hits again this year, it could be dangerous.”

Mandt also feels the pressure that airlines will be experiencing over the holiday season.

“The problem is that your only option is to book early because we just don’t have a voice as passengers,” Mandt said.

O’Malley said that Frontier Airlines has no flights scheduled during the holiday season through the Durango-La Plata County Airport, but there’s still hope in sight. Frontier Airlines is planning on resuming service to the Durango La Plata County airport on May 16, 2014.

“As a person who travels a lot over the holiday season, it will be a complete cluster,” Mandt said.


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