Thursday, October 20, 2005

RM News:Southwest Airlines plans DIA stop for 2006 RM News:Southwest Airlines plans DIA stop for 2006

Great news. It looks like Southwest Airlines is finally coming to Colorado. I love that airline. In particular, I love that they don't gouge. Even Frontier does a little, and the big airlines, notably United out of Denver, do it a lot. For example, Southwest gives discounts for reservations up until three days before departure. And, the fares don't go up that much as you get closer.

Importantly to me, they only charge you the difference between the fare in effect when you change a reservation and what you had paid before. Thus, if you decide that you want to stay an extra day because you are having so much fun, you will only pay the difference between their full fares (almost as low as most carriers' discount fares) and what you actually paid. No rebooking charges. None.

What this means is that an average price for a ticket between Phoenix (PHX) and Salt Lake City (SLC) is maybe $200 on most airlines if you book at least two weeks in advance. Southwest may charge $150 that far out. But then, they might charge $100 each way for last minute reservations. Thus, if you stay over an extra day, it would cost you $25, which is $100-$75 (half of the $150). United would charge you the difference in fares (on much higher last minute fares), plus a $100 rebooking fee, which probably translates into $300 or so.

One interesting point in the article is that: "Also working in DIA's favor: the airport ranked No. 1 in the nation in on-time performance last year — an important factor for the nation's No. 1 on-time airline." DIA's on-time record is no accident. It is arguably the best designed and laid out airport in the world. It is set up currently with six runways radiating out in the four cardinal directions, with the ability to expand to twelve (three in each direction). As a result, it almost never has traffic jams on the ground, and you almost never have to taxi down to the other end of a runway to take off or land. Rather, when you land, you just come right off the runway and head straight to the terminals. Arguably, for $5.5 billion, Denver got the best airport in the world - at least from the point of view of the airlines.

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