A common misperception about air service in Springfield is that the airlines always charge higher fares at Springfield when compared to fares in Tulsa, Kansas City, St. Louis, and more recently, in Branson.
The misperception was driven home again, this morning, by Christopher Dixon, an opinion writer for the Springfield News-Leader. In his opinion piece today Mr. Dixon laments the loss of the Southwest Airlines (SWA) service at the Branson airport.
(Here’s the back story — AirTran Airlines began service to the Branson airport shortly after the airport opened in the spring of 2009. The service was subsidized — meaning that AirTran was paid to provide the service. In September of 2010 AirTran was bought out by SWA. SWA inherited the Branson route, along with every other AirTran route. The merged airline continued serving Branson, using AirTran branded airplanes, until January of 2013. After that it started using airplanes with the Southwest brand. It was also about this time that the subsidies for the route ended. Even without the subsidy Southwest gave it a go, but announced in December that it's dropping the service in June of 2014.)
His dismay over the loss of SWA service is understandable — Southwest is a good airline with great customer service. The loss of Southwest in the market is regrettable. What’s less understandable is the message the writer sends about the Springfield airport: fares are always higher. This simply isn’t the case —
In the past few weeks airlines offered the following fares from Springfield; all fares are roundtrip:
- Las Vegas: $211
- Los Angeles (LAX): $237
- Orlando: $136
- St. Petersburg: $135
- New York City (LGA): $218
- Chicago (ORD): $161
I could go on, but you get the idea: it doesn’t always cost more to fly from Springfield. Does it sometimes? Sure — especially if the customer books at the minute. But here’s the bottom line: please don’t assume that the airlines always charge more in Springfield. Shop around; compare. And remember — just because it’s more expensive one time you check, it doesn’t mean that’s it’s always more expensive.
And while it probably goes without saying, remember to take other costs into consideration. If you’re thinking about driving to another airport consider the cost of gasoline. The cost of meals on the road. The cost of your time. The cost of a possible hotel room near the airport. All those things add up.
All we ask is that you check us out; please don't assume.