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Aviation Blog - Jay Ratliff

Sorry...Air fares at CVG Are Going Down!


Anyone who visits this blog can see it is sponsored by the CVG Airport, so anytime I come out on my radio segment or in this blog with anything that is positive on the airport…I am often times called a paid spokesman, a homer, and sometimes things that I cannot quite place into print. I am okay with that, because as long as there is dialogue there is a chance for me to present my side of the facts and the facts are clear: It is getting cheaper to fly from CVG.

This week the Department of Transportation released their quarterly report on air fares and Cincinnati was listed as the most expensive, with an average round trip fare of $514 per person. We are all familiar with this position because for years CVG has been listed as one of the most expensive cities to fly from and sadly, as a result, many people do not even consider CVG when they are planning their business or vacation trip.

A few weeks ago a Facebook friend went on a rant about how much it was to fly to New York City and was complaining about the high air fares. He confirmed a seat from Dayton and when I entered the charged discussion under his post by asking if he had looked at flying from CVG the floodgates opened. People I had never heard of were coming after me complaining about the fares from CVG and how it was Delta’s fault or the airport management team that was responsible for travelers getting raked over the coals. Some 76 comments later I asked my friend for the dates he was traveling and discovered that had he flown from CVG on the same dates he would have saved $127 per person.

So many times the roaring headlines about how much it costs to fly from CVG prevents people from even considering the airport and, many times, they end up spending far too much money to fly.

If it is cheaper to fly from Dayton or Columbus, then by all means do so. However, make sure you check fares from CVG to make sure you are not paying too much. Many times a week I assist a member of our radio audience in locating the cheapest air fare for their next trip and many times (to their absolute surprise) CVG is the cheaper airport.

You can help yourself by planning your next trip well in advance, by at least three months. I recognize that is not always possible so I took a quick look at fares six weeks from now, comparing Dayton and Cincinnati:

Boston: Dayton ($303) Cincinnati ($235)
Miami: Dayton ($368) Cincinnati ($280)
Los Angeles: Dayton ($386) Cincinnati ($350)
New York City: Dayton ($332) Cincinnati ($331)

But the lower fares from CVG are not just with advanced purchase fares, but also with some of the last minute, typically business travel, reservations. I checked fares for the next two days, comparing the two airports:

Orlando: Dayton ($354) Cincinnati ($351)
New York City: Dayton ($543) Cincinnati ($548)
Houston: Dayton ($996) Cincinnati ($596)

The one above that really jumps out at me is the last-minute trip to Houston, where CVG is $400 cheaper. The service from Dayton is a connecting flight, where the service from CVG is nonstop. So it is cheaper to fly from CVG by $400 and you get the added benefit of a time-saving nonstop flight, instead of a connecting flight that takes much longer and could possible create a misconnect problem if the originating flight is late. Not a bad deal.

So if all of the above is accurate (it is and you can look it up), then why are we seeing CVG at the top of the Department of Transportation list quarter after quarter, year after year?

There are two reasons which jump out at me as I study this situation in great detail. The first is the time frame from which we have had low cost carriers such as Frontier and Allegiant flying from CVG. Both carriers have been operating from CVG for a short time and as the next 6-9 months roll by, we will be able to more accurately see their increasing service, and corresponding low fares, factored into the DOT numbers. I suspect by this time next year CVG will even drop out of the top 5. (Gee, what will we have to complain about then?)

The other reason I believe we are seeing the top DOT ranking is because in the markets that are not covered by Frontier or Allegiant, the lack of low cost competition is allowing other airlines to keep their fares at extremely high levels. Unfortunately there are many markets where there is no low cost competition and when those are factored in, it elevates our average air fare considerably – to the point where CVG lands, with a loud thump, in the top spot.

The good news is we are expecting to see the low cost service at CVG to continue and even expand. As a result the average round trip airfare will decrease and the ranking for CVG will reflect it.

High air fares is an easy target for the media to use for headlines, but just make sure that their posturing does not prevent you from doing your due diligence as you search for the lowest air fare. If you need my help, simply contact me and I will certainly assist and together we will find the lowest air fare and don’t be too surprised if that fare resides at CVG.

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