Locals are being offered a special deal with United Airlines, operated by SkyWest, that allows them to travel from Aspen to Denver at a set rate through the end of August.
Residents of the Roaring Fork Valley — from Aspen to Glenwood — can buy a one-way fare from Sardy Field for $109.80, or a round-trip ticket for $161.60.
Passengers must prove they are a resident of the valley with valid identification that has a local address at the time of purchase, according to a “ticketing guide” issued by United on Thursday. Tickets can only be purchased at the United ticket counter at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport.
Travel must originate in Aspen, and one-day advance purchase is required. For the round-trip fares, there is a 30-day maximum stay.
According to SkyWest, however, the “applicable fare class” must be available at the time of booking for the local’s special pricing. Fares will be available for travel through Aug. 29 but are subject to change at any time, according to SkyWest officials.
“Fare classes” are terms that mean more to travel agents, but they can restrict travelers based on availability, said Bill Tomcich, president of central reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass and the local liaison to the airline industry.
He said at particular times of the day, certain flights might not be available at the local’s rate but there should be plenty others to choose from.
United offered local’s special pricing years ago, mostly during off-seasons. But when Frontier entered the market, prices dropped as a result of competition and eliminated United’s need to offer discounted rates.
But now that Frontier has departed from the Aspen market, Tomcich predicted that local travelers would likely be the ones most impacted by higher prices.
“I’m very pleased to see that they are brining the local’s specials back,” Tomcich said. “I’m glad United is doing something for the locals.”
With off-season nearing an end, local airline carriers will beef up their service within the coming weeks. United has added new daily nonstops from both Chicago and Houston beginning June 7, although it has reduced the frequency of its Denver service from an average of 11 flights daily to 10, according to Tomcich.
United will continue to offer daily nonstops from Los Angeles as well, this year extending them through the entire month of September — until Oct. 2.
Until June 6, United will generally continue to operate five times daily; four times daily most Tuesdays and Wednesdays, according to Tomcich.
Beginning Sept. 1, United is scheduled to start tapering down its summer schedules to an average of between seven and eight daily flights in September and five times daily in October and November.
Frontier Airlines discontinued service to Aspen at the end of this past winter season, but American Airlines, which began service here in December, returns this summer season by offering new nonstop flights from both Dallas-Forth Worth and Los Angeles beginning June 14 and ending Aug. 20.
All told, Sardy Field’s peak summer schedule will consist of an average of 15 daily flights in and out of Aspen compared with 16 last year, according to Tomcich.
“While we’ve lost some connecting flights from Denver, along with some of the low fares offered by Frontier, we now have more summer nonstops from out-of-state hubs and more global connections than ever before ..., which are now possible because of the runway extension completed last fall,” Tomcich wrote in an email last month updating community members on the local airline travel situation.
Pitkin County officials earlier this week sent out a public service announcement, urging travelers to arrive two hours before scheduled flights to allow time for security screening. With summer flight schedules going into effect, there will be five departures between 7 a.m. and 7:45 a.m., according to county officials. To help accommodate passengers, the airport terminal building will open at 5 a.m.