Travel notes: Grand Canyon flights? Frontier wants you to ditch the turnpike & fly to Pittsburgh; Spririt adds BWI- Cal service


During those times when Wilmington Airport or Avelo asks for suggested destinations, the responses can be interesting.

Suggestions have always included obscure locations around the country where family is located.

A while back, I suggested an upper Midwest destination (not from Wilmington) and did not hear back from Avelo, probably for good reason.

After all, filling up a Boeing 737 is a formidable task, even if the service comes a couple of times a week. Despite all the analytics out there, it is still something of a crap shoot.

Still, ultra-low-fare airlines like Avelo are on the lookout for destinations that might make sense.


As you might remember, Avelo rival Breeze announced it will offer flights this fall to Orlando despite American Airlines offering a bus to Philadelphia for travelers from the Amish capital.

Still, the Enilria route site recently received a suggestion with some merit – Avelo flying to the Grand Canyon. (See below)

We’re not talking about Wilmington flights here. The suggested flight would take off from Avelo’s new base in Santa Rosa, in California’s wine country.

As the post noted, Grand Canyon once had airline service, has a long runway, and comes with a terminal that would probably work out.

With Avelo slated to get additional jets this year and Breeze in the same place, the Arizona tourist mecca is not out of the question.

Still, the canyon is not a difficult drive from Phoenix or Las Vegas, cities with lots of airline service.

As noted earlier, Vegas is not a likely East Coast destination for Avelo. There are plenty of flights from Philadelphia, and fares are not high by transcontinental standards.

Frontier wants Pittsburgh travelers to ditch the turnpike

Frontier Airlines came with a novel way to promote its service to Pittsburgh, which gets underway next month.

Promotional round-trip fares start at $36.50. That’s half the cost of taking the increasingly expensive Pennsylvania Turnpike. (Many cut that cost by taking only a portion of the turnpike. Taxes, bag fees, and seat assignments are extra, and you will probably need to rent a vehicle to get around.

Frontier hopes that the once-a-day flights will encourage travelers to leave their vehicles. It also wants to attract business travelers and now offers upfront seats at extra cost with more legroom and no middle seat occupant.

American Airlines has responded by beefing up its Pittsburgh schedule.

“We know that virtually no one enjoys paying more than $70 to drive the turnpike round-trip between Philly and Pittsburgh,” said Frontier CEO Barry Biffle. “With Frontier’s ultra-low fares, consumers can sit back,
relax and save money on travel between the two cities.” 

During his career, Biffle formerly worked for US Airways in Philadelphia. That carrier ran off Southwest when it offered low-fare flights to Pittsburgh.

Biffle went as far as to do a Facebook video, complete with a mascot bear that pointed out the hazards of driving to Pittsburgh.

Will American try to squash Frontier’s ambitions?

Fares appear to have come down but still range from the $200s to $500s for a round trip.

Spirit targets north California from BWI

Discount carrier Spirit Airlines is taking on Southwest at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Multiple sites, including The Points Guy, reported that the yellow jet airline will fly nonstop to San Jose four days a week and Sacramento three times weekly, beginning in June. Southwest flies to both destinations from BWI, one of its “focus cities.”

Spirit has shifted flights out of Florida like other airlines due to stiff competition that brought fares down.

Spirit offers a nonst to the San Franciso Bay Area in Philadelphia through the Oakland airport.

American’s baggage moves

Finally, the Enilria site said one American Airlines decision to offer “dynamic” baggage fees is a sound move.

American used to charge the same bag fee whether the destination was Pittsburgh or San Francisco. It did raise the minimum charge.

American also made a long-overdue move that allows passengers to pay for their checked bags in advance. This should make check-ins easier for those who don’t stuff bags in the overhead bin.