Locals can leave town cheap | AspenTimes.com

Locals can leave town cheap

Janet Urquhart

Locals looking to escape one last time before ski season can get out of town cheap.The addition of another airline serving Aspen during the offseason has resulted in deals for travelers, according to Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass and the resort’s liaison to the airline industry.Area residents are accustomed to getting in a car when they want to fly somewhere – seeking out the cheaper flights to be had out of Denver, Eagle or Grand Junction – but the fares Delta and United are offering during the lull before the ski season have put flying directly in and out of Aspen within reach. Delta joined the local market last June.Both airlines are currently offering $238 roundtrip fares ($119 one way) to a host of West Coast destinations, such as San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Seattle and Portland.”It’s absolutely staggering. I’ve never seen such cheap fares,” Tomcich said. Those looking for a Florida beach can fly roundtrip between Aspen and Fort Lauderdale on United for $298, Tomcich added.To get the deal on Delta, travelers have to fly on Mondays, Tuesdays or Saturdays and book their flight at least seven days in advance.Also serving Aspen through the offseason is US Airways, with one daily connection to Phoenix, six days a week.Come ski season, the addition of Delta service to the Aspen market doesn’t mean visitors will enjoy an airfare war, but there are some deals. United’s new weekend Chicago/Aspen and San Francisco/Aspen routes, in particular, offer some bargains for savvy travelers willing to be flexible with their travel dates.For example, someone flying in from San Francisco on Dec. 25 and departing Aspen on Jan. 1 would pay $1,039 roundtrip for the one remaining seat Tomcich could find on a United flight late last week. The price is part of a package – the airfare would be coupled with a local lodging reservation.But, jiggle the travel dates a bit and come in on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and return to San Francisco on Dec. 29, and a United seat is available for $350 roundtrip, if it’s purchased in conjunction with lodging, Tomcich said.”By shifting their dates by one day, I can get it down to 350 bucks,” he said. “The availability bounces a lot from one day to another.”Although the deals are out there, travelers aren’t likely to find them on the Internet or by calling up the airline, Tomcich added. His advice: Call a travel professional.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com