United offers Aspen travel waivers
September 27, 2011
ASPEN – United Airlines is now offering a waiver to travelers flying in and out of Aspen who might be affected by runway construction. Passengers may rebook their flights to different days or times to and from Aspen, or to alternate destinations, without paying an extra fee.
The waiver offer is in effect through Oct. 6, and is to be evaluated again after that date.
The waiver was instituted late last week, after a number of United flights, operated by SkyWest Airlines, were diverted or returned to Denver. At least 15 flights were affected between Sept. 19-21, according to SkyWest. For flights diverted to Eagle, the airline paid for buses to take passengers Aspen.
Construction to add 1,000 feet to the south end of the airport runway is under way. To create a safety zone for the work, the existing 7,000-foot runway has been reduced to 6,500 feet. Tailwinds, in combination with the shorter runway, have affected SkyWest’s ability to fly its commercial jets in and out of Aspen.
In addition, low visibility could hamper United flights, as a localizer that guides planes using an instrument approach is also off-line during the construction. So far, however, tailwinds have been a bigger issue than visibility, though morning and evening flights have been unaffected. The winds have picked up during the middle of the day.
On Oct. 4-6, the runway will shrink to 6,000 feet to accommodate construction. United isn’t scheduled to fly in or out of Aspen at all on those dates.
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The waivers allow passengers already in Aspen to make a change to their return trip if they would rather depart from Denver, Grand Junction or Eagle – an arrangement that means arranging for ground transportation. Their travel must be complete by Oct. 6. Anyone who has yet to travel, but has a flight booked in or out of Aspen through Oct. 6, also can make a change, using the alternate airports, at no charge.
A passenger whose flight is canceled is eligible for a full refund. Go to http://www.united.com/page/article/1,,53856,00.html for details about the waiver and refund policies.
Frontier Airlines, which offers turboprop service in and out of Aspen, has been unaffected by the runway project. It is currently operating one connection a day between Aspen and Denver, but added a second daily flight on Oct. 4-6, when United temporarily ceases local operations.
The runway project is due to wrap up in early November.