Why some airports always seem to cost more

We recently took a trip to Kansas City and of course one of our friends asked how cheap was our ticket. They seemed disappointed when I told them it was $123 round-trip. After all, we are the couple that flew across three time zones for $14. Then I explained why it’s harder to find those deals in some parts of the country.

We booked our ticket to Kansas City on Frontier for $65 with a lengthy connection in Denver. I would have loved to fly non-stop, but we needed to arrive before noon so our options were limited. Coming home, we took Spirit’s non-stop to Los Angeles for $58.

Kansas City boasts a sizable Southwest presence, but like many midsize, midwestern cities, is just coming into its own with Ultra Low Cost Carriers.

Spirit and Frontier traditionally stick to big markets where they can compete for a small slice of a large population base. On the other side of the spectrum, Allegiant’s bread and butter is flying people from small towns to leisure destinations, mostly in Florida and Las Vegas. For all three, the well is starting to get tapped out, so they started expanding into midsize cities like Kansas City over the last few years.
A Frontier Airlines plane
in Kansas City

You can really see this trend with WOW air, which announced service in the last year to Cleveland and St. Louis where it provides the only non-stop service to Europe.

ULCCs are essential to bringing down the average airfare, but the pressure is really felt on routes where there is a lot of competition. We once paid $20 to fly from San Diego to Las Vegas on Spirit where three airlines go head-to-head more than 15 times a day.

Of course, serving some of these cities is a bit of a gamble since the number of budget passengers needing to fly non-stop between these cities might not be enough to fill a plane. This often results in deep discounting. The $14 ticket I mentioned before was from Los Angeles to Cleveland. Spirit didn’t make any money on me since I didn’t pay for baggage, but other passengers more than made up for it.

The point is, expect to pay a premium for service to some airports. There’s just not enough competition or passengers to justify deep discounts.

Steak and eggs at Denver's
Timberline Steaks & Grille
It’s easier for me to fly out of San Diego than Los Angeles, so I’ll pay a few dollars more for the convenience. In the case of our recent trip, Alaska was offering a non-stop to Kansas City for $199. Not only was the price more than the entire round-trip cost, but the schedule didn’t work as well.

Plus for all the surprise at the $123 cost of this trip, we did make back some of the money with a nice steakhouse breakfast in Denver, which came at the cost of just a tip thanks to our Priority Pass membership.
Why some airports always seem to cost more Why some airports always seem to cost more Reviewed by Brandon on April 25, 2018 Rating: 5

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