Aspen’s friendly skies are not so friendly
When I was 10, my parents purchased their Aspen home in the late ‘60s. In 1989, my wife and I built ours in East Owl Creek. I only reference this to establish my credibility as a grizzled road warrior, commuting from Orange County for nearly 60 years. Back in the day, we braved an airline we dubbed “Aspen Scare-ways.” With 10 to 12 seats, the flight attendants would start a chain reaction hurling into the “barf bags” within minutes after taking off.
This year my family was thrilled to hear that United added a direct flight from Orange County to Aspen for the first time. My wife called it a “game changer.” Having purchased a dozen LA roundtrips, we immediately rebooked with the more convenient Orange County option. Since mid-December, every flight has been delayed two to five hours with many more abruptly canceled for no reason. This last Friday (Feb. 18), the flight was canceled because the Aspen tower couldn’t find a landing slot. A completely full flight was sent home from the Orange County airport on the eve of the ski week vacation.
Every day the private planes arrive by the hundreds with three to five people aboard …and the commercial flights with 70 passengers are canceled because there is no space to land. My United flight last Thursday was delayed 2 1/2 hours, but when we arrived at 7:15 p.m., we sat on the tarmac for 45 minutes waiting for a gate. Women were hyperventilating, kids were crying, and the pilot was radio silent.
Between the airlines and the city, the FAA and the airport, there has to be a more humane solution to making our travel experience to Aspen less egregious. I contend that if it doesn’t improve quickly, it’s going to ruin more than a couple hundred family vacations.