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.
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:
- US Air
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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