Travel agents: Fares could fall

Frontier ushers in new era at YVRA

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— Travelers in Routt and Moffat counties would be wise to watch for airfare sales on Frontier airlines out of Denver International Airport this summer, then consider booking their flight out of Yampa Valley Regional Airport near Hayen. One local travel agent said that strategy may represent consumers' best opportunity to realize an advantage from commuter airline changes at YVRA.

Lianne Pyle of Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Steamboat Springs said Thursday that if Frontier begins discounting fares from its hub in Denver to cities like Los Angeles this summer, chances are good it won't cost any more money to begin the trip with Great Lakes Aviation at YVRA, then connect to a Frontier flight. There are no guarantees, Pyle said, but that's been Frontier's pattern in the past.

"If Frontier does an airfare sale, the Hayden fare could be included," Pyle predicted.

Great Lakes heralded a new era at YVRA in mid-February when it confirmed its plans to begin offering code sharing arrangements with both United and Frontier this summer. For consumers, that means the chance to book connecting fares to cities beyond Denver with either major carrier.

Currently, a roundtrip from Denver to L.A. on Frontier from Denver shows up on travel agent computers as a $318 trip (not including taxes and fees). Begining the flight in Hayden boosts the flight to $476.

Right now, the biggest disparity between fares on Frontier and United is for tickets purchased by travelers who walked up to the ticket counter at the airport the day they intend to fly. The Frontier flight to L.A. from Hayden is priced at the same $476 fare as is being offered to people who purchase 14 days in advance. The same trip on United can cost as much as $1,722, Pyle said her computer indicates.

United might adjust that unrestricted fare when it catches on to what Great Lakes/Frontier is offering, Pyle said.

Commercial airline service at the Hayden airport entered a new era late this winter when Air Wisconsin announced it would suspend its service as United Express out of YVRA until next ski season.

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