Are travelers flying out of Minot and Bismarck treated fairly when it comes to fares?
Some people who book a lot of flights say the answer is no.
Jim Olson reports.
Ashley Seykora was given a death sentence by doctors who’d been treating her for cancer – a year to live, they said…three years ago.
Today she’s cancer free.
The Rugby High English teacher and her husband logged lots of air miles – going to Houston for treatment, experimental treatment that made the difference. They were flying four times a year to Texas but not out of Minot an hour away – but from Bismarck that’s twice the drive.
“We will save any pennies we can. My husband is a math teacher so he figures in the cost of gas and everything. We figure we save about $200 a trip flying out of Bismarck,” Seykora said.
The Seykoras aren’t the only ones who say flying out of Minot requires some extra cash.
Bruce Christianson is a frequent flyer who says – though it’s not every time – many times he finds he’s paying one or two hundred dollars more per ticket by flying Minot.
“And when you have a couple hundred dollar airfare difference and a family of four or group of four, that all of a sudden amounts to a lot of money and for a hundred mile drive, it’s well worth it and Minot loses the business, ” Christianson said.
He says the price differences likely play a role in boarding numbers – they’re dropping consistently in Minot, while Bismarck’s figures have been growing.
“Does this contribute? Absolutely. The fares absolutely contribute to it,” says Christianson.
“The fares are set by the airlines themselves. While we monitor those fares and have a lot of communication with the airlines about what we see in terms of fares, ultimately they’re going to decide what their business model is and how much they’re going to charge for a seat,” says Rick Feltner the Minot Airport Manager.
Feltner says the Minot doesn’t charge airlines any more than average in airport fees. He says it often comes down to competition, and Bismarck has two more major airlines providing regular service.
“If you’ve got more airlines serving a particular market, those airlines will compete with each other and a lot of times you’ll see fares go down,” says Feltner.
We compared prices for several flights – departing from Minot and Bismarck and found some differences – sometimes more than 100 dollars per ticket, but there were also some that were close to equal – and even a few where a Minot departure was cheaper.
Bottom line…Make sure you do your research on flight costs before you book.