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Waiting on the plane.

Full disclosure.  Roanoke Regional Airport is a client but my experience is the same any other consumer might have had in a similar situation.

I’m sitting in the newly remodeled Roanoke Regional Airport at 7:10 on a Saturday morning. I’m with my family and we’re all preparing for a nice little getaway in Mexico, but I’m not relaxed.  I’m never relaxed when I travel…it’s just not how I roll.  I’m convinced that at any moment TSA will hustle me into an interrogation room, mistaking me for Edward Snowden.  I have always traveled with ragged nerves…I’m a veritable long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

This is why I’m really happy to be flying out of Roanoke.  It was not the original plan.  While I like to fly out of the Star City every time I can, there are times the fare differential makes it impractical for me, personally.  For example, when I started planning the trip, flights out of Roanoke to Cancun were $400 per person more than from Charlotte. Quick math…when traveling as a party of four with my wife, my 14-year-old daughter, and my soon to be Virginia Tech-bound son, the difference…$1600 in all… made me consider driving to Charlotte and spending the night with a friend.

I didn’t book the trip when I first looked at it, so before actually clicking “Purchase,” I decided to check the fare once more.  This second time, the fare from Roanoke was cheaper by $200 per person than the fare from Charlotte.  It was also lower than our original ticket quote from the Queen City. Cha-ching, somebody’s got cash left over to buy a sweet velvet Elvis painting.  Even odder, on the recheck, the price to fly from Roanoke to Cancun via Charlotte was LESS than the cost to fly direct from Charlotte to Cancun. 

The moral of the story is that when you fly, you have to check rates constantly. Our airport doesn’t set the fares, the airlines do. The Magic 8 ball nature of fare pricing is of considerable frustration to the staff of Roanoke Regional Airport, the commissioners who volunteer on the board, and all of us who travel.  And it’s not changing anytime soon, so let’s embrace the positives for what they are.

Roanoke’s airport looks awesome after the recent renovations and my long-tailed nature embraces the convenience of flying out of town from an airport just a few miles from home instead of risking car trouble, encounters with a North Carolina state policeman, possible traffic jams, and faulty GPS directions driving to another city’s airport.  I am at a loss as to why a traveler might do that if the difference in fare is $250 or so…just the gas and inconvenience makes flying from Roanoke instead of Charlotte, Dulles or Greensboro a no-brainer.  

Now I’m off to vacation…and once the batteries are recharged I’m happy that my return journey back to Keithwood Drive will be a short trip.

Todd Marcum, President

Topics: Agency Life