It has been highly common for people in Greensboro and the surrounding area to drive to Raleigh-Durham International Airport or Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, and start their round trip from there – and, when the trip is over, fly back to that airport and drive the hour and a half or so back to Greensboro.
The reason has been dead simple: Ticket prices at those airports have been consistently lower than the prices at Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA). There was usually a pretty hefty premium for flying out of PTIA.
But, nowadays, with more airlines serving PTIA, passengers can find some great deals out of the local airport. However, that’s not the main talking point in PTIA’s recent attempt to lure passengers from competing airports in the state.
In 2023, there are a lot of new considerations to factor in, and members of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority and other airport leaders are actively making the case that it’s just easier, simpler, better – and yes, often cheaper, to fly from PTIA once all the costs are factored in.
This month, airport officials released an interesting stat: “46 percent of possible traffic out of PTIA is lost to larger airports in North Carolina.”
This, PTIA advocates maintain, means that PTIA misses out on the opportunity to offer flyers “increased service and convenience.”
While it’s true that lower fares from airports an hour and a half away in both directions can often be found, one highly relevant question is this: Are those tickets cheaper when everything is factored in?
It’s true that parking rates went up this year for the premium parking deck right next to the terminal at PTIA, which is now $15 a day.
When the parking rates at PTIA went up, PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker said that it’s still a great deal when compared to other airports around the country.
In fact, similar “premier parking” close to the terminal at RDU is $30 a day – twice as much as PTIA’s parking.
Also, if flying from Greensboro, those who live nearby might pay zero dollars for parking because flying from close to home means it’s likely a friend or family member can just drive you to PTIA and drop you off.
If it’s a weeklong trip, that could mean saving $210 on parking alone.
Then there’s gas. The distance from downtown Greensboro to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, for instance, is 95 miles, which means a round trip is 190 miles. With regular gas at over $3.60 a gallon, that means that most who drive there in back will spend over $100 on gas.
But, for many, the deciding factor is convenience. The airport’s recent campaigns on flying have focused on “friendly customer service and a stress-free travel experience.”
This is more than just peace of mind and less commotion. Fewer airplanes taking off and landing mean fewer snafus and less waiting in line at ticket counters and TSA checkpoints. It also means less chance of missing flights.
PTIA also has many very helpful volunteer “ambassadors” in the airports who constantly help travelers with questions.
Plus, fare comparison studies these days often show that when you book a flight with PTIA 7 to 21 days in advance of your departure date, deals can be better than those at other airports.
Another selling point for PTIA is that using the airport helps out the local economy and will mean improved service from PTIA in the future.
“Air service is the lifeblood of commercial service airports,” a recent statement form PTIA reads. “Increasing service at an airport not only increases revenue generated for the airport, but also increases business ties between communities along with economic development in the region that the airport serves. Air service development efforts have the goal of expanding the level of sustainable air service that meets the community’s needs. Some of the ways air service development efforts can enhance travel options include attracting new destinations or airlines, improving the schedule, and engaging passengers in the airport’s region that are using airports other than their home airport.”
Airport officials are therefore asking community residents to help in in the campaign to support PTIA.
“Community stakeholders can help air service development efforts by letting the airport know of travel needs, both existing and upcoming,” it states. “For example, a business might have a new partner or subsidiary in a city with nonstop service. That information can help strengthen the business’s case for new service and is often something that airlines are unaware of. Another way that the community can support air service development is by flying local. Unmet demand and strong demand for current flights are essential for attracting new service.”