Dearth of Direct Flights to Ski Regions
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
October 17, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Since 9-11, I have noticed a surprising drop in the number of direct flights from Washington's three airports to ski areas in the West and Europe. I know this has more to do with the general decline in air travel since the attack than with a lack of interest by skiers, but it's getting more and more frustrating by the year.

CASE IN POINT: For those contemplating a trip to Europe this year, be advised that Swiss International cancelled their wonderful direct flight from IAD to ZHR airport, and has no plans to re-introduce the flight this winter despite a personal appeal made by the Swiss ambassador in DC to the airline. This flight was the most popular flight for DC travelers heading to the major French, Swiss, and Austrian resorts.

Currently, the best direct flight to Europe for skiers is Lufthansa's daily non-stop to Munich from IAD. Most of the major Austrian resorts are less than 3 hours from Munich. Munich is also not too far from some of Swiss Resorts (Davos, and St. Moritz).

For those considering Austrian resorts near Salzburg, Austrian Air still offers direct service to Vienna. There's also an easy connection via Tyrolean to Innsbruck--the gateway to the big Western Austrian resorts.

Those looking to go to Trois Vallees in France will have to fly to Geneva via New York or Paris. For those going through NY, be advised that some of the commuter planes do not take skis. Yes, that's right, some of the puddle jumpers do not take skis. Before booking connecting flight through a commuter airline, call and make sure they take skis. I had to call American Eagle twice to be sure EMB-135 flights take skis.

Also, Amtrack demands that skiers check skis on most Amtrack trains, including Acela. This can be a real hassle if you plan to use Amtrack to get to BWI or Newark. Call Amtrack ahead if you plan on taking skis on one of their trains.

Has anyone investigated the situation for Western resorts? Salt Lake City and Denver still look easy to get to but what about places like Vancouver, Jackson Hole, or Kalispell?

[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 10-17-2003).]

Roy
October 19, 2003
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
From what I've been able to tell, most of the airlines are opening thier services up to the smaller resorts as normal. (Most don't ramp up to the normal winter schedule until Mid-December).

Continental is promoting added service to Telluride (Gunnison?) but I think it's just a byproduct of them now offering Delta flights.

I've been looking at Jackson Hole and from DC (and Raleigh, Atlanta, and Ft. Lauderdal) the price is from $450 to $600 and has been for about 3 months. I'm still waiting for those to come down.

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
October 19, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Frontier offers non-stop service to Denver from BWI and DCA. For $2,999, that airline will also sell you unlimited round-trip flights from one U.S. city to Denver and a season passs good at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly. Blackout dates and other restrictions apply. For more:

http://www.frontierairlines.com/vail/

This is really not a bad deal for the DC based skier or rider. If you figure that lift tickets and airfare for your average 3 day trip to Vail would cost about $700 give or take, you would be skiing and flying for free after the fourth trip.

As expected, the blackout dates fall on major holiday weekends. But if you can ski other times and arrange for a cheap crash pad in the are, this could be a wonderful deal.

snowcone
October 20, 2003
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
If you like to ski Utah you might want to check out Southwest. It $150 r/t non-stop from BWI most days of the week. You arrive Salt Lake City at 11:25 am.

NEAT PERK: Wear your ski gear and head for the lifts. I understand that if you show your flight ticket stub you get a free lift pass for the rest of that same day.
We have already booked our flight for February and from what I understand the bookings are filling quickly.

Chad
October 21, 2003
Member since 12/12/2000
270 posts
"Wear your ski gear and head for the lifts. I understand that if you show your flight ticket stub you get a free lift pass for the rest of that same day."

which resort offers this deal? where did you find out about it? thanks...

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
October 21, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Catch a morning flight from almost anywhere and you can be on our slopes the same afternoon. The Park City Quick Ski Today and Ride Today (START) Vacation lets you convert your airline boarding pass into a free same-day lift ticket to one of the Park City resorts of your choice.

http://www.parkcityshuttle.com/skifree.htm

BE SURE TO READ THE FINE PRINT. There are some blackout dates and other restrictions.

snowcone
October 21, 2003
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
My sister told me about the free lift ticket. They have a condo in Park City near the Town Lift and have taken advantage of the deal. I guess since they don't usually go there during the blackout periods she didn't know about the limitations. Thanks to -johnfmh-for the clarification.

gatkinso
October 22, 2003
Member since 01/25/2002
316 posts
Yes - Utah is the best deal going.

Airfare isn't bad, it is a moderate flight (about 5ish hours), and with the times zones you save two of those hours.

Certainly, it makes more sense than Europe for the budget minded.

It can even be cheaper and/or easier or quicker than Vermont from this area.

(Anonymous)
October 25, 2003
Roy -- late to the discussion!

For Telluride, from DC, probably you will fly to Denver and connect using twin turbo into Gunnison. From there take the shuttle in -- about 1hr ride perhaps (or rent a car but why?) Telluride town and resort are connected via Gondola. There is a telluride airport but i believe it is serviced by mainly charters. About the size of a large table top. :-)
Crested Butte has a similiar setup but the name of the town you fly into escapes me at the moment.
To Jackson Hole, you fly into Jackson the town, about 30 miles away. There is a bus service between, the airport, the town and the resort. You can also rent a car at the town. The town is a tourist trap for yellowstone in the summer. It has restaurants, shops, bars, etc... Jackson Hole has skiing and the Mangy Moose Pub!
Costs for flights -- I recall reasonable rates. I recommend going through Expedia -- try varying search between the 3 airports we have, or select them all and try that. I have found sometimes that yields a discount for some reason. Last year we flew out of National to Jackson -- originally Northwest, then re-badged to continental. We stopped in Houston on the way. It was exceptionally inexpensive and we booked months in advance. We got lucky and also side effect of crappy economy and travel jitters. FLexibility is the key. we had to stay one plus night over to get the great rate, and stayed at the Hostel X!

(Anonymous)
October 30, 2003
I'd just like to correct my OWN comments --
When flying to Telluride, you go into MONTROSE. When flying to Crested Butte, you go into Gunnison...

Anyway, resort web pages have all the skinny on that...

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