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Obscene Airfares Into/out Of Charleston SC  
User currently offlineKchs29418 From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 14 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 3429 times:

Forgive me if I seem to be rambling and whining but I don't really have a factual reason why this is so I thought I'd go to the experts, you guys.

I live in Charleston SC (CHS). We have Fortune 500 companies in the area (Bosch, Boeing, Blackbaud, etc), a new Boeing 787 aircraft manufacturing plant, numerous institutes of higher learning including a medical school and The Citadel, very nearby world-class resorts, a terrific quality of life for us residents and a busting-at-the-seams tourism/retail industry. You name it, it's probably here. If you've ever visited or lived here you know how nice it is. It is growing by leaps and bounds.

Our two past experiments with low-cost air carriers (Air South and Independence Air) ended badly for the companies involved. We know the reasons why. Most folks ended up using the major carriers when they matched the prices Independence and Air South had advertised. I recently flew from SAV to SFO ($600 pp roundtrip) for a family funeral. Had I exercised the privilege and convenience of using CHS (I live 3 miles from there) the fare I was quoted by all the carriers was $1200 pp RT. Going from MYR to SFO the same day was $445 walk-up!

I was at our airport one weekday morning to drop off a friend and at an hour that at any other airport with some serious competition would be bustling, our hometown airport was just like a ghost town. Very little vehicular traffic and I saw even less people. Only 11% of the traffic at our airport is commercial carriers, 2/3 more of that percentage is air taxi service and private jets, the remainder being military traffic, according to a recent newspaper article. In the space of a few weeks, I used the airports at both SAV and MYR and they were the exact opposites of what is the norm here.

I have done internet searches to compare published Charleston airfares with those found in SAV and MYR on farecast.com and FlightStats.com The results were startling. CHS airfares are at least $200 and sometimes a lot higher than similar routes from SAV or MYR. Airlines that service CHS charge those prices because they can since we don't have a low-cost carrier in the mix. In short, Charleston is a monopoly of sorts. We pay through the nose and no one, and I mean no one in a position to do anything about it like exert pressure on the airlines (aviation board, Chamber of Commerce, business leaders, etc), don't seem to give a damn.

Our local aviation authority seems to be happy with the status-quo. To my knowledge, there are ZERO efforts to attract any other carriers than the ones currently here. Our brand-new storied mega-million dollar parking facility sits almost 1/2 full most times. Everyone talks about how high the airfares into/out of here are but no one, and I mean no one, is bringing any pressure on the aviation board to do anything about it. Those of us without unlimited monetary resources (most residents that live in the area are in that boat) go to SAV or MYR to save a few bucks when we have no options but to fly somewhere. I am not a travel agent, not an economist, not even a frequent-flyer but I feel that we are missing the mark in not pursuing a reduction in the airfares here which if occurred, would bring additional economic benefits to residents like me almost immediately. Plus the tens of thousands of businesses, employees, business and lesisure travelers, etc that are forced to use CHS rather than the alternate 2-hour drive to nearby cities. I have had relatives who've had to fly into SAV, MYR or even (gulp) CAE only to have to rent a car and drive here for the event. This has been going on for years!

Should I just let this go and forget about it? I was going to write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper but really now, what good would that do? I suspect that any new entries to the CHS market would be met with enforced excessively high landing and franchise fees? Make it so difficult to do business here that any new entrants would be discouraged from the get-go. Maybe it's just me but something doesn't smell right here in CHS.

Air Tran serves MLI, a decent-sized nice little town that sits on the Illinois prarie. It also serves MYR and SAV, both within 100 miles of this fair city CHS. But not CHS. Spirit serves MYR, with not a real-good schedule, but a low-cost carrier nonetheless to give people a choice. C'mon, what's the real reason(s) those 2 carriers or others aren't here in CHS? Am I wrong in thinking there might be some sort of c-o-l-l-u-s-i-o-n going on here?

Any other comparable in size cities like Charleston in the same boat? I can't think of any.

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineVref5 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 3401 times:

Quoting Kchs29418 (Thread starter):
Any other comparable in size cities like Charleston in the same boat? I can't think of any.

Rochester, New York. Sandwiched about a hour between both Buffalo and Syracuse. Comparable city and metro area population. Similar issues.

ROC now has JetBlue, which helped... but getting most anywhere that JB doesn't serve, via a major airline, is not a fun financial proposition for the customer. Only reason why JB came was because they extracted firm promises from the major employers in Rochester (Kodak, Xerox, etc) to guarantee a minimum level of ticket purchases per year to make it worthwhile for JB.

So some people will drive one hour west to BUF, which has much more competitive fares thanks to Southwest's presence. Fares are usually at least 20% lower, and sometimes much greater than that.


User currently offlineSWABFA From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 3401 times:

I agree: Southwest, Airtran, Jetblue, Allegiant, Spirit or Frontier need to start flying to CHS, the problem is that once they start, Delta and US are going to start playing their predatory games and offering thousands worthless miles and upgrades to make 'em go away. I think that we need to educate the flying public to support LCC's and not fall for this tactics.

User currently offlineATLFlyer323 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 622 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 3343 times:

Quoting SWABFA (Reply 3):
I agree: Southwest, Airtran, Jetblue, Allegiant, Spirit or Frontier need to start flying to CHS, the problem is that once they start, Delta and US are going to start playing their predatory games

I do not personally think that Delta and US could scare off Southwest or Airtran, so I would not blame them. Yes they will do what you say, but I dont think it will run Southwest or airtran out of town.

What are the costs of flying into Charleston, maybe the fees are just to high and the LCC's arent willing to pay the price?

~Brandon



Everyday, the fluffy temptation of wheat!
User currently offlineERJ170 From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 6791 posts, RR: 17
Reply 4, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 3322 times:

how many passengers flew through CHS last year? Is there enough demand in the metro?

I believe CHS probably could use some more service.. but probably the aircraft of choice would be the E70/E90. But since E70 are currently only used by the majors and most of the LCC use aircraft probably too large for CHS (save B6 adnthe E90 which will probably be at CHS before the next two years, I would guess), it's kinda hard.

The US isn't very conducive to new airlines because our big 7 are WAY too big (NW, US, AA, DL, CO, UA, WN). I think an airline using the E-jets as their primary aircrafts could probably do very well (Allegiant-esque) using scheduled service and could probably do reasonable (not necessary LOW o/w $39 or even LOW $79, but more like $100 - 150) fares.

Just my thought... and I have been thinking about it alot. Anyone got a spare $70 Mil I can use?



Aiming High and going far..
User currently offlineSupa7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 3317 times:

B6 would do excellent at CHS.

You are wise to post a thread like this here. People like B6 salivate uncontrollably when you talk about $1200 RT prices out of good size cities like CHS. They will go down there just to uncork some of the demand you talk about from your personal story.

Independence Air died for many reasons, but CHS was not one of them.


User currently offlineDCA-ROCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 4528 posts, RR: 34
Reply 6, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 3219 times:

Rochester, New York. Sandwiched about a hour between both Buffalo and Syracuse. Comparable city and metro area population. Similar issues.
ROC now has JetBlue, which helped... but getting most anywhere that JB doesn't serve, via a major airline, is not a fun financial proposition for the customer. Only reason why JB came was because they extracted firm promises from the major employers in Rochester (Kodak, Xerox, etc) to guarantee a minimum level of ticket purchases per year to make it worthwhile for JB.


There are some inaccuracies in this post.

First, Rochester MSA (1,043,000) is much larger than Charleston MSA, (563,000) according to the Census Bureau.

Second, Rochester has AirTran as well as JetBlue. AirTran flies to Atlanta, Baltimore/ Washington, Boston, Tampa, and Orlando from Rochester and has been extremely successful with both leisure and business pax. From ATL and BWI one can connect to lots of places for reasonable fares.

JetBlue originally came to Rochester because serving Upstate cities (BUF, ROC, SYR) was the price for our senators' support for their slot exemptions from JFK. JetBlue has been extremely successful in Rochester, and I don't remember them "extracting promises" from businesses; it was AirTran that asked Kodak, et. al. for traffic guarantees. AirTran has been so successful that they went from 4 dailies to 9-to-11 dailies, depending upon the season. B6 now has about 60 percent of the ROC-NYC Area market with high loads and good yields.

There's probably still some leakage to BUF for WN destinations that B6 and FL don't cover. But there is also leakage from SYR to ROC now for AirTran. But according to the local paper, leakage from ROC to BUF has dropped off a lot since B6 and FL both entered. And ROC's pax totals have shot up--from 2.3-2.4 million in the late 90's, to 2.95 million in 2005.

Jim



Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
User currently offlineSkyvanMan From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 224 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 3144 times:

Wow,that is expensive, no explanation but I do know that I paid over 600 bucks one way BDL-CID via ORD, complete and absolute rip off!


The 3 best planes of all time: Shorts Skyvan, 330 and 360
User currently offlineSupa7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 3096 times:

Quoting SkyvanMan (Reply 8):
Wow,that is expensive, no explanation but I do know that I paid over 600 bucks one way BDL-CID via ORD, complete and absolute rip off!

A rip-off compared to what? An cheaper flight to someplace you didn't want to go?


User currently offlineGeorgiaAME From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 1001 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 3033 times:

Did you pay the fare, or did you drive?

That should give you your answer.



"Trust, but verify!" An old Russian proverb, quoted often by a modern American hero
User currently offlineBHMNONREV From Australia, joined Aug 2003, 1383 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 2973 times:

Quoting Kchs29418 (Thread starter):
I live in Charleston SC (CHS). We have Fortune 500 companies in the area (Bosch, Boeing, Blackbaud, etc), a new Boeing 787 aircraft manufacturing plant, numerous institutes of higher learning including a medical school and The Citadel, very nearby world-class resorts, a terrific quality of life for us residents and a busting-at-the-seams tourism/retail industry. You name it, it's probably here. If you've ever visited or lived here you know how nice it is. It is growing by leaps and bounds.

I hear what you are saying. I lived in the Charleston area for four and a half years in the early-to-mid 90's and thouroughly enjoyed my life there.

Quoting Kchs29418 (Thread starter):
I was at our airport one weekday morning to drop off a friend and at an hour that at any other airport with some serious competition would be bustling, our hometown airport was just like a ghost town. Very little vehicular traffic and I saw even less people. Only 11% of the traffic at our airport is commercial carriers, 2/3 more of that percentage is air taxi service and private jets, the remainder being military traffic, according to a recent newspaper article. In the space of a few weeks, I used the airports at both SAV and MYR and they were the exact opposites of what is the norm here.

I really don't ever recall CHS to be a bustling facility, even when DL used to run 3-4 757's a day and most carriers were still running mostly mainline aircraft, although with fewer frequencies. It seems to me that right now that the traffic pretty much meets the demand. Keep in mind, that CHS is a very seasonal/tourist type destination with a heavy emphasis in the summer, tapering off dramatically in the winter.

Quoting Kchs29418 (Thread starter):
Air Tran serves MLI, a decent-sized nice little town that sits on the Illinois prarie. It also serves MYR and SAV, both within 100 miles of this fair city CHS. But not CHS. Spirit serves MYR, with not a real-good schedule, but a low-cost carrier nonetheless to give people a choice. C'mon, what's the real reason(s) those 2 carriers or others aren't here in CHS? Am I wrong in thinking there might be some sort of c-o-l-l-u-s-i-o-n going on here?

I'm certainly not "in the know" at Air Tran, but it looks to me that CHS would be a perfect market for them to run 2-3 717's a day to ATL and possibly one to BWI. They seem to have quite a bit of success going up against DL just down the coast at SAV, so there is no reason that they should not be able to make it work at CHS. I don't believe the market is large enough to support any type of operation with WN, as they like to jump into a city with 10+ flights to multiple destinations. And in regards to B6, who knows?

However, there is absolutely no question that CHS would be a prime candidate for some sort of LCC service...


User currently offlineAADC10 From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 2103 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 2854 times:

Quoting SkyvanMan (Reply 7):
Wow,that is expensive, no explanation but I do know that I paid over 600 bucks one way BDL-CID via ORD, complete and absolute rip off!

It is not necessarily a rip-off, it is mostly the cost of deregulation. Right now, many transcon fares between major cities are unsustainably low. It was an expected result of deregulation that fares to smaller cities would not decline as much as those to large cities. Regulation tended to subsidize smaller cities at the expense of larger cities.

The costal deep south has quite a bit of LCC service compared to cities of similar size in the midwest and west, so passengers in Charleston may end up like passengers in Milwaukee and drive to another city (Chicago) to get the low fares. The major businesses in Charleston probably have contracts and do not pay $1,200 for flights anyway.


User currently offlineBistro1200 From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 337 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 2687 times:

Quoting Kchs29418 (Thread starter):
We have Fortune 500 companies in the area (Bosch, Boeing, Blackbaud, etc), a new Boeing 787 aircraft manufacturing plant, numerous institutes of higher learning including a medical school and The Citadel, very nearby world-class resorts, a terrific quality of life for us residents and a busting-at-the-seams tourism/retail industry. You name it, it's probably here. If you've ever visited or lived here you know how nice it is.



Quoting Kchs29418 (Thread starter):
Plus the tens of thousands of businesses, employees, business and lesisure travelers, etc that are forced to use CHS rather than the alternate 2-hour drive to nearby cities.

Perhaps it's all the business and well-heeled travelers that CHS attracts that supports high airfares. You just made a case for why CHS as a destination should command higher airfares, not lower.

There is nothing wrong with charging high airfares. The customer either pays it, or does not. No one is "forced" to do anything! Did Delta send a black van to your house and hold your family hostage until they swiped your card?

An airline (yes, all airlines) has only one goal for a route: generate the maximum amouont of revenue on those flights as possible. Much like someone selling a house, they are also trying to get as much as possible for their investment. It never ceases to amaze me that in all the industries that have multi-tiered pricing, airlines get the bad rap that they are "screwing" people or "overcharging". Try getting your head around pricing for cable television, medical care, or WiFi internet service.



Measure to the millimeter, mark with a crayon, cut with an axe.
User currently offlineKchs29418 From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 14 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 2495 times:

Thanks for the mostly positive replies about the need for a LCC here in Charleston SC (CHS). Do you guys really think the powers-that-be at airlines/LCC's really pay attention to what is posted on this site? If so, there is really good money to be made in CHS, c'mon down if you can get past the shadowy-like system that me thinks has been designed to try and keep you out, permanently. The Charleston area will continue to grow with or without a new air carrier entry into our market. But if you want to make some money, this would be the place to be.

Man, what timing. Yesterday I read in our local newspaper (Post and Courier) that overall passenger traffic at CHS has plummeted 14.3% this year through September 2006. I wonder how that compares to other similar-sized cities that don't have a LCC in the mix either. There could be a number of reasons for that pretty steep decline but I feel the PREMIUM PRICING STRUCTURE that travelers encounter when using our airport is the MAJOR REASON for the drop-off. Slowly but surely, people who now might not know no better or are not aware of choices they may have, are catching onto the fact that flying into or out of CHS holds no real value for they're money. They can go elsewhere for half the cost and still come here to do business or enjoy themselves. I wonder if the local airport officials are still standing around wringing they're hands over this latest bit of dismal news, if they are paying attention at all? Stats that are a glaring dichotomy for sure amid the explosive growth and continuing financial well-being of our little corner of the world.


Quoting Bistro1200 (Reply 12):
There is nothing wrong with charging high airfares. The customer either pays it, or does not. No one is "forced" to do anything! Did Delta send a black van to your house and hold your family hostage until they swiped your card

Okay, so a poor choice of words on my part. Well, based on the latest stats, us locals and the thousands of price-conscious biz/leisure travelers who come here, we have been and will continue to go to SAV/MYR to get a decent air fare. Anyone thinking of coming here for business or pleasure, unless you extract some kind of sadistic pleasure in being grossly overcharged, go to SAV or MYR, and you will still be very welcome here. Do it on a LCC if possible.

Quoting Bistro1200 (Reply 12):
Perhaps it's all the business and well-heeled travelers that CHS attracts that supports high airfares. You just made a case for why CHS as a destination should command higher airfares, not lower.

Rubbish! CHS has extremely high airfares because there is no LCC presence here to temper or eliminate the price-gouging that is going on. The airlines here charge what they do because they can, everyone is on the same page. There is ZERO competition. This reminds me of people who will sell batteries and ice for 500% or more of their value after a major storm or hurricane. Those are usually short-lived phenomena. Our airfares speak for themselves on an everyday basis and now the latest stats seem to confirm this.

We'll keep voting with our feet, for years, if that's what it takes.


User currently offlineRichierich From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 4298 posts, RR: 6
Reply 14, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 2407 times:

Quoting Supa7E7 (Reply 5):
You are wise to post a thread like this here. People like B6 salivate uncontrollably when you talk about $1200 RT prices out of good size cities like CHS

Unfortunately, CHS is not a "good sized city" compared to other cities JetBlue flies to/from. CHS is a lot smaller than JAX, CMH, PIT, CLT, etc....

Quoting Kchs29418 (Reply 13):
If so, there is really good money to be made in CHS,

Believe me, I'd be happy if JetBlue, AirTran, Southwest, heck even Spirit made their way to CHS. But it really is not a big market. I flew into CAE a few years back because there were actually more flights to/from there at the time I wanted to be there, even though North Charleston was my final destination. Luckily, I-26 is a decently fast road and was not really a problem for me (I like alone time in the car every now and again!)

The exorbatant fees you pay at CHS are a prime example of what happens when your city is hog-tied by the legacy majors. Sure, they only fly RJs there, but whereever you want to go will cost you dearly. They have you by the jewels. As brutally honest as Bistro was, he was right. You don't have to pay and you do have low fare choices within a 90-minute drive (MYR). If saving $600 per ticket is worth the three hours of road time to you, you'd have made your way to MYR.



None shall pass!!!!
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