Though I live within 30 minutes of our state’s “international” airport I find myself traveling out of state to catch a flight more and more often. Fewer flights out of my local airport means that costs are up rather significantly and, often, it costs less to drive, stay in a hotel and catch my flight elsewhere. Especially when taking the family.
Since the airports I fly out of are two to three hours away I have a few criteria that must be met to make the drive worth my time- and money.
1) How much am I saving per ticket? If I am shopping for four or more tickets the price per ticket must be at least $150 less per ticket. This translates to $600- more than enough to cover a night or two in an hotel, gas and food. If I am shopping for a single ticket the difference needs to be about $250.
2) How much will I pay for airport parking? Is it significantly more than I would pay at my airport? Sometimes the cost of parking will completely negate any flight savings; be sure to know your airport parking options.
3) What are the flight times? When would I have to leave my house? And when would I return? If you don't choose to stay in a hotel this is a big question. Do you really want to drive 2 hours or more at 2 am?
4) Do any hotels offer airport parking if I stay the night before my flight? Is it secure? What are the requirements?
5) How will I get to the airport? If I stay at a hotel do they charge for an airport shuttle or is it complimentary? If I use a parking service do they offer complimentary shuttle?
Always do the math before you buy those cheap flights from a distant airport- it may not be the bargain you think it is!