Nathanvg

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
Oct 29, 2016
Posts
330
For years I have avoided most regional airports. While regional airports can work great, when things go wrong it's a pretty horrible experience with long delays, major extra costs and sometimes canceled trips altogether.

Recently, I became aware of government data on exactly how bad each airport is. (thanks @mdf for pointing out https://www.transtats.bts.gov/OT_Delay/ot_delaycause1.asp?type=1&pn=1) To make this data useful for skiers, I limited to only Dec-March and limited to airports commonly used for skiing. I ran the stats for the full 12 winters. I focused on cancellations and diversions since these events result in major inconvenience. The full data set is attached as well as a summary below. Overall conclusions:

1. Major airports all have low major inconvenience rates.
2. Regional airports vary greatly. Some are as good as major airports, others cancels flights nearly 10 times as often.
3. Rates for regional airports are probably worse that the stats would lead you to conclude. e.g. if your flight to Denver is canceled, there is likely another flight a few hours later. If your flight to sun valley is canceled, it might be a day or even a week until there is another flight.

upload_2019-9-22_14-57-35.png

<i'm getting errors when trying to upload the spreadsheet as a zip probably due to size: 10MB>
 
Last edited:

dbostedo

Asst. Gathermeister-- Aspen 2021
Moderator
Joined
Feb 9, 2016
Posts
7,513
Location
Northern Virginia, USA
Thanks! That's great... MTJ (Telluride), FCA (Whitefish), and RDM (Mount Bachelor) would be a good ones to add, if you're so inclined.
 
Thread Starter
TS
Nathanvg

Nathanvg

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
Oct 29, 2016
Posts
330
Thanks! That's great... MTJ (Telluride), FCA (Whitefish), and RDM (Mount Bachelor) would be a good ones to add, if you're so inclined.
RDM and FCA are already there. I fixed Montrose/Telluride and updated above.
 

cosmoliu

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Dec 6, 2015
Posts
963
Location
Central CA Coast
I live almost exactly halfway between LAX and SFO. And really too far to conveniently drive to either. I avoid SFO if at all possible because any precipitation greater than a drizzle brings the airport almost to a standstill. Sometimes connecting through SFO is unavoidable, but I've spent way too many nights in an airport hotel, or gotten to Utah/Colorado way later than planned. Any time there is even a reasonable choice, LAX gets the nod.
 

Bad Bob

old n' slow
Skier
Joined
Dec 2, 2015
Posts
2,922
Location
Quarantined in Spokane
Spokane (GEG) has really been a pretty good airport to fly in and out of over the last 40+/- years I have been using it. Fog used to be a regular issue but with the better flight control systems not so much anymore. Boise the same story.

The issue with regionals is most of the flights are stops on a route; when there is a delay in front of you everybody down the line gets hung up.
 

mdf

entering the Big Couloir
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
4,399
Location
Boston Suburbs
When I looked at Apen a few years ago, the inconvenience rate from Denver was much higher than from DFW. My cynical interpretation is that there are several Denver flights a day, and the carrier is glad to cancel a half-full flight for "weather" reasons and put everyone on one full flight. There was only one or two from DFW, so the carrier was not eager to cancel.

Sure, there is an underlying rate of flights that really should be cancelled, but there are marginal cases that utilization rates affect.

I've found that Mesa (operating as American Eagle) hates to cancel flights. One time I was flying into ABQ (for work, in the summer) and there were widespread weather-related delays and cancellations. When our flight was a couple hours delayed I went and asked the gate agent if the flight was really going or if I should find a room. "Oh, no, we are going." They just waited out the weather and ran the flight after it passed -- something like 5 hours late. Now some people would be annoyed, but the alternative for me was to miss my meeting the next day.

I think the monetary incentives are different for the big airlines and the regionals that subcontract for them.
 

Pequenita

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Aug 5, 2017
Posts
796
A problem as a passenger with a lot of the smaller airports is that they don’t have any services. I had to call a Himalayan restaurant to get lunch delivered when my flight out of Montrose was cancelled, and I was the only person automatically (and miraculously) rebooked to the evening flight. And I had called several restaurants before finding one that would drive out in the weather.
 

mdf

entering the Big Couloir
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
4,399
Location
Boston Suburbs
A problem as a passenger with a lot of the smaller airports is that they don’t have any services. I had to call a Himalayan restaurant to get lunch delivered when my flight out of Montrose was cancelled, and I was the only person automatically (and miraculously) rebooked to the evening flight. And I had called several restaurants before finding one that would drive out in the weather.
Reminds me of a time long ago when I was flying home on, I think, Pan Am. The flight was very delayed. They brought out a case of the strange single-serve miniature juice cups they used to serve on board and put them on the counter. The gate agent said, "Ordinarily we would hand out meal vouchers [shows how long ago that was] but since we are bankrupt, the restaurant won't take them!"
 

John Webb

mdskier
Skier
Joined
Nov 14, 2015
Posts
2,433
Location
Nevada City CA
When I looked at Aspen a few years ago, the inconvenience rate from Denver was much higher than from DFW.
My friend was always booking flights thru Denver to Aspen even though he knew weather would delay/cancel them a third of the time in winter. Once they cancelled and told him to go to a hotel at his expense and they would call him when he could fly (never called).

Instead he pulled a Tom Hanks act and slept overnight in seats at the UA Express departure area. At 6am he heard them page his name to get on the plane. Plane flew to ASE, circled, returned to DEN then flew to ASE and landed !
 

Sibhusky

Whitefish, MT
Skier
Joined
Oct 26, 2016
Posts
3,095
Location
Whitefish, MT
A problem as a passenger with a lot of the smaller airports is that they don’t have any services. I had to call a Himalayan restaurant to get lunch delivered when my flight out of Montrose was cancelled, and I was the only person automatically (and miraculously) rebooked to the evening flight. And I had called several restaurants before finding one that would drive out in the weather.
There's food at FCA. https://iflyglacier.com/travelers/amenities/

Before we moved here (pre-TSA), we missed a flight early in the AM and it was just us and a guy sweeping floors. No coffee, let alone breakfast. They'd close up the plane and all the counters were shut down and the place was empty. We'd stupidly tossed our car rental keys in the key box trying to catch the flight and now the Hertz place wouldn't be open for two hours. Things have picked up a bit since then.
 

John Webb

mdskier
Skier
Joined
Nov 14, 2015
Posts
2,433
Location
Nevada City CA
I almost had a cow when work put me on a Air Florida flight to Providence RI. Piles of good food at the gate.

More food -even better stuff on arrival in PVD and the RI governor was making a speech ! Inaugural flight for a new route.
A month later - canceled.
6 months later Air Florida -bankrupt

(history note the airline lasted about a year after their plane iced up at DCA and crashed on takeoff
into the 14th st bridge killing everyone)
 

New2

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
May 3, 2017
Posts
510
Location
Spokane
That's a LOT of cancellations/diversions for Mammoth, Aspen, and Sun Valley. As mentioned above, it makes sense that Aspen just gets cancelled a lot, particularly those frequent DEN-ASE hops. Mammoth similarly is dominated by relatively short hops within California--probably also a high cancellation rate. But what happens if either of those need to divert? Do they land in Eagle/Vail, Grand Junction, Fresno, or Reno and the travelers just stuck trying to get the rest of the way?
Sun Valley gets longer flights... seems like it would be more disruptive to cancel those. So do they tend to divert to Twin Falls or Idaho Falls? Those aren't too bad as alternatives.
 

John Webb

mdskier
Skier
Joined
Nov 14, 2015
Posts
2,433
Location
Nevada City CA
So you pay extra to fly into Aspen from DEN but often their alternate transportation is by ground on long bus rides ! (UA rarely diverts to EGE)
 

TonyPlush

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Posts
292
Location
Minnesota
Fascinating info, thanks @Nathanvg.

I still cannot believe those Mammoth cancellations. Throws a real wrench in my 2020 ski trip plans. Looks like I might be flying into Vegas!
 

x10003q

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Nov 19, 2015
Posts
540
Location
NYC Metro
That's a LOT of cancellations/diversions for Mammoth, Aspen, and Sun Valley. As mentioned above, it makes sense that Aspen just gets cancelled a lot, particularly those frequent DEN-ASE hops. Mammoth similarly is dominated by relatively short hops within California--probably also a high cancellation rate. But what happens if either of those need to divert? Do they land in Eagle/Vail, Grand Junction, Fresno, or Reno and the travelers just stuck trying to get the rest of the way?
Sun Valley gets longer flights... seems like it would be more disruptive to cancel those. So do they tend to divert to Twin Falls or Idaho Falls? Those aren't too bad as alternatives.
We got cancelled in Sun Valley/ Hailey. They put us on a bus and we got to Twin Falls in about an hour. The bus was flying. The flight on a RJ from Twin Falls to Salt Lake was about 17 minutes.
 
Thread Starter
TS
Nathanvg

Nathanvg

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
Oct 29, 2016
Posts
330
So you pay extra to fly into Aspen from DEN but often their alternate transportation is by ground on long bus rides ! (UA rarely diverts to EGE)
Aspen flights that get off the ground typically divert to DEN or Rifle (near Grand Junction). From Rifle they typically bus you. From DEN they typically tell you to wait for an open flight. I've talked to many people who bused from Aspen to Riffle only to wait for hours there before getting canceled there too.
 

KevinF

Gathermeister-New England
Team Gathermeister
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
2,292
Location
New England
I have determined that the link in the original post is a fancy random number generator. It shows that 74.47% of flights into Chicago O'Hare are "on time" with only 4.5% cancelled. :roflmao:

Either their definition of "on time" is different from mine or their flight scheduling algorithm takes my presence into account (i.e., "Kevin is within 1,000 miles of Chicago! Mess up everything!").

:micdrop:
 

Bad Bob

old n' slow
Skier
Joined
Dec 2, 2015
Posts
2,922
Location
Quarantined in Spokane
Anything moving up or down The Front Range or the short hops in the Colorado Rockies have always been some of the toughest flying in the country. There are so many micro climates and and wind patterns through there it is always a tough call, if a front is moving through all bets are off. Same things that make it good for the gliders make it rough on the airlines.

DIA to CO Springs is only flight I have seen the flight attendants barf on. Never a good sign of smooth flying.
 
Top