Chris in NH
, I agree that people choose airports based on convenience as well as fares. MHT
has grown rapidly on the basis of Southwest's service, but it had service from several carriers before WN
began flying there. Those airlines obviously saw the location of Manchester Airport as a convenience factor for passengers and fostered its initial terminal construction and growth.
As Manchester continues to grow, it will likely lose a bit of its convenience factor. The widened access road from the highway has improved traffic flow, but only up to a point, and the satellite parking lots have continued to get further from the terminal; more garage parking would result in higher parking rates. Terminal expansions adding more gates will increase walking distances, and the three-belt baggage claim will need expansion. Nevertheless, it will still be cheaper to park at MHT
, the tolls on the Everett Turnpike will be lower than those on the Boston Harbor tunnels, etc.
Boston Logan is both cursed and blessed by its proximity to downtown Boston. By being just across the Inner Harbor from downtown, it has a tiny land area for an international airport and no room to expand. Most people traveling to or from the airport have to pass through downtown Boston, which has had notorious traffic. That traffic is being significantly improved at the core by the Big Dig project, and is already terrific outside rush hour, but the roads outside downtown will still be congested at rush hour.
However, Logan vies with San Diego's Lindbergh Field for the nearest airport to a downtown, and a 15 minute cab ride between Logan and the Financial District isn't record-breaking. Logan also has easy access from the subway from downtown. Those make it very convenient for business travelers to pop in for the day, and contribute to Boston's flight frequencies and range of nonstop destinations. In particular, I've found that being able to take a nonstop flight to the west coast after work to be terribly useful both for business and for pleasure; the difference between 6 hours with no connection versus 8 hours with makes a big difference to my wakefulness the next day. I believe Manchester has a long enough runway for transcontinental flights, but has not attracted such service yet.
Boston also has more population in its catchment area than Manchester does, partly because of the distance between them and partly because of the radial nature of the roads leading to and from downtown Boston. People in Worcester, Newburyport or Manchester-by-the-sea will have to go significantly out of their way to get to Manchester Airport, and I have a co-worker who lives near Dover, NH
who uses Logan instead of Manchester for business travel because he finds the drive easier and the flight schedule better.
I live a short distance from a subway station, and have a car; without traffic, it's about an hour, from my front door to the terminal, for me to drive to MHT
or take transit to BOS
. Given that travel time on transit is much more predictable than traffic between Boston and New Hampshire during commute times, and given that BOS
has a larger schedule of flights than MHT
, I find BOS
significantly more convenient. Having LCCs there makes it easier for me to justify using BOS
for leisure travel, but I'm betting my business travel would be out of BOS
ERJ170, I'm sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with Big Dig related traffic on your last trip to Boston. I'm guessing that there was a construction-related change that was backing up traffic from the tunnel; I got stuck in one last October while leading a friend back from picking up his rental car during rush hour. The particular bottleneck I ran into has been ameliorated through an added lane on the Southeast Expressway, and the final ramp arrangement will be much less kinky than the one that the backed-up traffic had to go through. I hope the next time you travel via BOS
you have a better experience.