Start checking those air fares

17 years ago

Many people like the convenience of flying out of the Northern Maine Regional Airport (PQI) in Presque Isle. There isn’t a 3 hour drive before and after the flight. If there are significant delays like during major snow storms, home is close by. No driving five hours only to find out your flight has been canceled and the next one is days away. You’ll never be delayed in a security screening line at PQI only to watch your flight leaving the gate. At PQI, it is recommended that you arrive at the airport 1 hour before departure. At larger airports, the recommended time is 2 hours. The aircraft is a comfortable 34-seat turboprop with cabin class service. An alternative airport is going back to 19-seat turboprops with no bathroom facilities.
    The major factor for County residents is the price difference between PQI and alternative airports such as Bangor. The perception is PQI is just too expensive. Looking at the latest statistics compiled by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), the price difference per mile flown has been reduced drastically. For 2006, the price difference between PQI and Bangor was cut by 75%. We all have our stories of fares that we feel are too expensive. Pricing is very dependant on time of travel and how far in advance a ticket is purchased. The USDOT data, however, shows that some people are finding some very good prices out of Presque Isle.
It has never been easier to find competitive fares at PQI. This past winter, on average the business fares were $10 cheaper out of PQI. For leisure travel, Presque Isle is still more expensive but in many cases it is only $60. As a reminder if you are traveling with a group, you should look for group rates from US Airways. This past winter, a church group chose to leave out of PQI. The small price difference just wasn’t worth the hassle of driving to a larger airport.
The key thing to remember is when you fly PQI there is no long drive at either end of a long business trip or a restful vacation. Upon arrival at PQI, you are the nearest to home that you can possibly be.
   Scott Wardwell is director of the city of Presque Isle’s Northern Maine Regional Airport. He can be reached at 764-2550.