Steamboat Springs Travelers originating their trip at Yampa Valley Regional Airport near Hayden this summer will have an option they've never enjoyed before. But it's early to gauge the full impact of Great Lakes commuter airline's new code sharing arrangement with discount carrier, Frontier, according to one local travel agent.
For the first time, this summer and fall, the traveling public will have the option of booking a commuter flight out of YVRA on Great Lakes to Denver International Airport, and continuing on to another city on either of two airlines. Whether the traveler chooses United or Frontier, they would enjoy the benefits of a code sharing arrangement with Great Lakes.
However, Nancy Barnes, a partner in Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Steamboat Springs said Great Lakes' arrangement with Frontier hasn't yet been loaded into travel agents' computers, so it's impossible to comparison-shop a trip on Great Lakes/United to one on Great Lakes/Frontier, for example.
Yampa Valley Regional Airport is just one of seven among Great Lakes 52 destinations that will enjoy code sharing with Frontier effective July 9. Technical glitches have prevented adding all of the destinations at once.
"What it should do is lower the fare from Hayden to anywhere Frontier flies," Barnes said.
There should be times, Barnes said, when flying from Hayden to Los Angeles, won't be any more expensive than flying from Denver to Los Angeles.
But don't count on it being the case all of the time, she added.
And the local commercial aviation scene is due to shift again this winter when Air Wisconsin returns to YVRA as United Express for ski season. United Express served YVRA year-round in 2000, but announced in February that it would leave the northwest Colorado market to Great Lakes during the spring, summer and fall.
A Great Lakes executive said his airline would drop its code sharing arrangement with United when Air Wisconsin returns in November or December. So, the ability to code share on two major carriers appears destined to be short-lived, or at least won't be available during ski season.
"That is a problem for next year," Great Lakes Senior Vice President of Marketing Dick Fontaine told Steamboat Today in February.
Barnes said it's too early to guess at what the mix of commuter airline availability will be next winter. But there's the potential that Great Lakes' inability to code share with United during ski season, could affect travel out of YVRA.
One significant difference between flying to L.A. on Great Lakes/Frontier and Wisconsin/United is the frequency of flights.
Frontier might typically fly to L.A. from Denver three times a day compared to more than 20 flights on United, Barnes said.