What do you think of smaller, regional airports? You know, the ones like Midway vs Chicago O’Hare or Beauvais vs Paris de Gaulle or Toronto Island vs Pearson International? The small airports DO have their benefits as do the larger ones. Here’s what to consider if you have the luxury of choosing between an international airport or a regional fringe airport.
Regional Fringe Airports
I recently experienced the convenience of a regional airport and now I’m hesitant to return to the hassle of a large international one. We chose a regional airport because it was the closest one offering an inexpensive Allegiant flight to Florida. It was one of the most relaxing flights I can remember, though we did fly on U.S. Black Friday so the airport was pleasantly sparse with travelers.
Many low-cost airlines like Allegiant, Frontier, Jet Blue, etc. fly in and out of regional airports. They can offer competitive pricing because the taxes and fees associated with small airports are lower.
Getting to fringe airports is often more convenient. They’re closer to home or in a small community which makes the drive to and from the airport easy to manoeuver.
Community-based airports also tend to support local businesses like ground transportation (taxi’s and drivers), local retail shops and local food kiosks that offer fresher choices.
With shorter security lines, we arrived at the airport a mere hour before our flight and, even then, had lots of extra time. The security staff we encountered were friendly and considerate. Could it be that they are less stressed, so pay it forward?
Our flight started loading right on time, if not early. And I’m not sure if this is because of small airport capabilities or because Allegiant is so efficient, but when the plane was loaded – 25 minutes early – we took off 25 minutes early arriving in Florida 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Who doesn’t love that?!
Many of these advantages also create an over-arching benefit of a smaller carbon footprint. A factor that can weigh heavily on people who travel.
This article by Smarter Travel offers good fringe airport alternatives to many of the large U.S. airports.
Major Hub Airports
We know it’s impossible to avoid large hub airports altogether and some prefer them.
Large airports are the place we catch international flights and they also offer the majority of convenient connecting flights.
Large airports offer more services such as additional car rental options. They also provide an array of airport activities while you wait.
Budget airlines flying from regional hubs typically don’t offer first class or business class flight service and you may not be able to collect loyalty points with the low-cost carriers.
All this said many people are giving up large commercial airlines and flying with smaller budget carriers if only to experience the convenience and relaxation of regional fringe airports. According to anna aero, in 2017, 19% of U.S. flight seats were booked to fly out of regional airports. I’m betting that figure increases in 2018/19 and, when possible, I’ll be one of the passengers adding to that increase.
Opptee’s Travel Search Advantage
Most of the big travel search engines like Expedia and Priceline don’t include discount airlines and small regional airports in their search results. Opptee does! However, if your favorite isn’t listed, please drop us a line with your request and we’ll be sure to give it a look!