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Are you willing to drive to another airport to save money on Delta ticket prices?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

my tweets with sbn airport about flying from sbn airport

I love my SBN or South Bend, now International, airport. I love my SBN “Delta” people (they are DGS or Delta Global Services not “real” Delta but I love them all as they take such great care of me). I even love the SBN twitter folks and PR folks as they are always great in responding to me. Bottom line, I am a huge fan of my home town airport.

SBN south Bend Airport delta points mileage run

But SBN is not perfect. The big problem is we only have 2 of the 3 major airlines flying into SBN. Delta is by far the largest footprint flying to MSP, DTW & ATL. We used to have tons of flights to CVG as well back in the day before the NWA & Delta merger. With United you have flights to Chicago ORD (plus one pet project to NYC that I doubt will last). Years ago American pulled out as well as US Air. Think about that, we had:

  • Delta
  • NWA
  • US Air
  • American
  • United
  • Continental
  • Plus others minor airlines

But that was before all the mergers got going and have created the current airline environment we have to enjoy! Consolidation has meant less choice and not just for me in SBN.

rene delta points first woodford reserve delta crj700 sbn airport

Thus, the result for me in SBN is prices are normally WAY more than airports close by, that is, within a few hours drive of SBN. Now the airport points out to me on twitter (and their web site) that it can be worth paying more to save on gas, tolls and parking etc. But that is not always the case in today’s environment and the numbers they use are really way over the top as it costs me no where near what they estimate.

NEW Security exit at South Bend Indiana SBN Airport RenesPoints blog

For example, gas is WAY down and SBN is a 45 minutes drive for me while all the others listed in my tweet above are 1-2 hours to get to. Plus, for me, there are a number of airports that I can get to with either no tolls or few tolls. Parking at many of my other choices are about the same as SBN. I will say security is always quick and easy at SBN vs some other airports but with TSA PreCheck even that is rarely an issue even at big airports.

last row of CRJ200 Delta Points blog

Thus the biggest issue really is the airfare makes a huge difference to me and my final choice. I don’t mind paying a bit more to fly out of SBN, but not twice as much, or even more if you are talking 1st class tickets. Many times I can fly 1st class out of Chicago’s Midway MDW airport for close to the same price as a coach seat out of SBN.Rene in SBN after mainline delta jet flight from DTW

However, I do want to fly out of my home town airport as much as I can! I like the idea that my flying supports my local Delta folks, and the airport, and more flying into and out of SBN has an impact on the local economy. I sure don’t want the Delta mothership to think about reducing flights to SBN and I know my choice of airport could impact that. Then again, if I act like Delta does, then all that should matter in regards to loyalty is $$$ and my personal $$$ is what should come first no matter what? Right?

old delta crj200 delta points blog

Lastly we have, again thinking money, the CRJ200 issue. Delta has been slow following up on the pledge / promise to park more of these jets. They have not just been slow, but reports from pilots web boards are they are actually UN-parking some in the dessert and will be flying MORE of them in 2016. I can tell you I don’t mind a 29 minute CRJ200 ride but have made the choice to drive to other airports to avoid the 1-2 hour ride from SBN to Atlanta or SBN to Minneapolis. I would rather spend an extra one hour ride in my comfortable car than a torturous and evil CRJ200 that has no business on long routes in 2016!

midway mdw chicago airport from air delta points blog

So I would love to get some feedback from you loyal Delta flyers. Are you willing to drive to another airport to save a few bucks on airfare? What is your limit, if you do so, that is, how far and how much of a savings must you see before you drive to another airport? Do you think about the impact of your choice of where you fly to your local economy? – René

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. GSO is my local airport and a 30 minute drive but I almost always drive to CLT (1 hr 15 min) or RDU (1hr 30 min) to save over a hundred bucks. Parking is actually cheaper at the bigger airports but I do have to time things well to avoid the bigger city traffic. Out of CLT I am much more likely to get upgraded so that’s a bonus!

  2. May work for the smaller cities. I am in ATL and although not cheap, it is always cheaper than CHA or BHM.

  3. Living in Cincinnati I am about 35 minutes from CVG which always is more expensive. BTW thanks for publishing CVG runs which I hope to utilize in 2016. DAY is only about 1 1/2 hr away and always is cheaper. Just testing the waters I have found flights to LAX for just a hair under $400, like $399.75 which I would love to use flex points for that I have been diligently collecting, but not yet using. Keep up the good work with expanded mileage runs coverage. Pls more from CVG & DAY. Thanks and happy new year!

  4. I used to avoid high CVG prices by flying out of DAY/SDF/LEX. Prices have come down though, so I now exclusively fly into CVG. In the DC area, the airports are close enough together that I use them interchangeably, although BWI is still a bit of a drive for me. The nice thing about Baltimore is that I’ve seen people clear as FOs or GMs on BWI-ATL, so it is certainly not a medallion-heavy airport. I will generally only use BWI though if the ticket is ~$100 less than DCA/IAD.

  5. I am in BOS, but I can get to Manchester or Providence in an hour. I have, in he past, been able to find significant savings flying out of one or the other. I flew to London, business, out of Providence for much less then BOS. It has no been the case this last year though, so maybe those days are over.


  6. My closest airport is TOL. But the only major flying into Toledo is American. It is 30 minutes from my home to toledo express plus a buck in tolls for the turnpike. It takes 45 minutes to drive to dtw from my home. I always fly out of Detroit.

  7. It takes me 30 minutes to drive to CLT, my current hometown airport. At times I will drive up to an additional 90 minutes to get to other airports (GSO, CAE, GSP, or RDU) to save a few hundred dollars on delta flights. A former employer based in Cincinnat, paid employees $50 or $100, depending on the amount of savings, for flying out of other airports. At the time CVG had really high prices so it was easy to collect those bonuses by flying out of DAY, LEX, SDF and even IND or CMH.

    An interesting side effect of revenue-based ff prorams is that employees have no incentive to take flights that cost less. In fact, its just the opposite. The higher the price, the more miles the employee gets.

    Even those who pay for their own tickets should not “complain” about high ticket prices and instead we should thank delta for the opportunity to earn more miles when tickets cost more. Cough.

  8. Kent Morrow Reply

    ATL is home. Columbus GA is two hours away and Birmingham AL is three. I have never explored other options but maybe I should.

  9. I am lucky (?) in that I am equidistant between 3 airports in New England (BOS, PVD, BDL) so I always check between airports. The majority of my flights are for work so the online booking program we use will flag flights that are not within a certain amount of the lowest fare offered, so checking the different airports a lot of times allows me to fly Delta (not the company preferred carrier). Personally I would prefer not having to drive over an hour to the airport, especially with Winter preparing to descend upon us, but options are good…..

  10. I travel to SBN 10-12 times a year for pleasure. We are UA Platinum members. This is the biggest conversation (other than notre dame) Is if you drive or fly to SBN?. I feel it’s a waste of time to drive. I would rather fly! I really don’t understand why most people would rather drive? But if we could get more people that would be great! I completely understand your way of thinking! SBN airport is great! Wish more people would take a chance and find out.

  11. Unless airfare is a couple hundred bucks different, I’m not driving to another airport. GRR is my hometown airport, and about a half hr drive. A couple times a year I’ll drive to LAN (appx 50 miles for me) and maybe once a yr, I’ll drive to DTW (appx 185 miles) but it’s almost always out of GRR. As a PM, I’m still going via Delta, had 2 flights in 2015 on Southwest bc the cost and times worked. SBN looks like a nice airport too, have not had the pleasure of flying out or in yet. Appreciate the blog, keep up the great info, thanks again…all the best in 2016!

  12. Rene, I am very forename in that I’ve got three regional airports within a 1 hour drive and a reasonably large airport 2:15 away (MSY) and I drive through Atlanta 12-18 times per year traveling to South Carolina. So, my standard practice is to check MOB-PNS-GPT in that order. Depending on where I’m going and the pricing at the airports above I’ll check MSY and depending on timing ATL.

  13. I am a DM living in MEM. There are few options. LIT has sw service, but not a lot of that & other service is also limited. BNA is a 3.5 hr drive & we have done that on family vacation trips to save $, but when I fly most of the time I just have to pay Delta some of the most expensive fares in the country. I have been on the packed MD88 6:00am to ATL countless times. Often there will be almost 40 on the upgrade list at that time of the morning.
    Oh for the days when NWA, which was a great airline, had a hub here with ~250 departures daily. I avoided ATL like the plague back then.

  14. I too am an SBN man, Rene. However, with most of my travel being concentrated in the first three months of the year, I’ve all but given up on SBN even though it is only 30 minutes away. It seems that without a 3+ hour layover in MSP or DTW, I always wind up missing the connection due to inclement weather, so for the time being, it’s Southwest out of MDW for me! Keep up the good work. Good to read from a local!

  15. I often fly from FAR that is one hour away, but sometimes go to MSP that is three hours away due to the cost of the fare.

    • @ALL – Thanks for all the great feedback everyone. I think what the airlines need to learn is they CAN charge more but not TOO much more more to keep us at airports closes to home!

  16. How much of the fare differences are the result of landing fees and gate fees charged by airports?

    • @Nick – Humm… no idea but I doubt it is much if that is the case inside the USA. Outside, sure there are stacks of fee’s

  17. ATL is our home airport, but it is an hour away. Columbus is 45 min. away and Birmingham is 2 hours away. I used to find lower prices at those 2 airport and drove to them, but that was years ago. Since SW is now in Atlanta I don’t find Birmingham saves money and Delta has pulled all the lower prices away from Columbus.

  18. ERI is our home airport. We live 5 minutes away, but often fly out of BUF (a 90 minute drive) due to ticket prices. We have family that live about 15 minutes from BUF, therefore we do not pay for parking. Also, PIT is a 2 hour drive and we have occasionally used that airport too. My husband and I are both PM and fly on average about 8 times a year.

  19. Grew up in New Buffalo- we would fly out of SBN occasionally – but only when price dictated (back then on NW was sometimes cheaper). Could hop the south shore there or to Chicago and connect to mdw or ord via CTA. I loved having the choices. Now we live 30 mins from PBI and FLL and I find myself still liking PBI’s small feel better, but often way more choices out of lauderdale,and even a few directs.
    Miami is a meer hour, but such a pain we only use when on mileage runs or to South America.

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