Wednesday, November 24, 2010

LVIA vs. EWR, PHL and MDT - Go local when traveling!

Transplants in particular do a lot of traveling, or hosting out-of-town guests, especially around the holidays. In my research on restaurants near the airport, I came across a useful tool on the Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA or ABE) web site.

If you're pricing flights out of the area, you can easily calculate the actual costs to fly out of our local airport compared to other regional airports (Newark/EWR, Philadelphia/PHL, or Harrisburg/MDT). I'll admit that I favor flying out of Newark for west coast flights, mostly because there are lots of direct flights in and out of the larger airport, and there's less likelihood that I'll miss my scheduled departure because I'm stuck in traffic (ahem - PHL). But if I want to fly anywhere else, particularly the midwest, south, or Canada, our local airport is where I look first. Almost any day of the week, you can hop on a direct flight out of LVIA to Toronto, Washington/Dulles, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, and multiple Florida locations.

Right now, round-trips to Orlando/Sanford, Orlando, and Ft. Lauderdale all average less than $150. I was surprised to learn that round trip flights out of the Lehigh Valley to Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix, and Seattle were all less than $200 (*before taxes and fees, Saturday night stay). This is competitive with other regional airports, not to mention the time and cost for driving and parking (or car service) to the airport.

In addition, parking at LVIA is closer, cheaper and doesn't require a shuttle - or you can have someone drop you off. Our local airport is easy to navigate, is less crowded and a lot quieter. There are rarely lines for check-in and security, and baggage claim is a breeze. Wi-Fi is free. The planes are smaller, so boarding times are shorter. I've never been "bumped" from a flight out of Lehigh Valley - they're rarely oversold. However, you won't have the same shopping or dining experience that you might enjoy at a larger airport (if that matters to you), or as many options: you're less likely to be able to fly standby, and if your carrier cancels your flight, you might be driving to Philly or Newark anyway.

(A note to anyone who is considering taking a trip on Continental Airlines out of LVIA: many "flights" actually begin with a shuttle bus trip from Lehigh Valley to Newark, which is included in your ticket price.)

Happy Thanksgiving, to all you locals and transplants - and remember, as much as possible this holiday season, go local!


  1. Christine11/24/2010

    Thanks for sharing this comparison tool; it's pretty cool! It might be nice for them to include non-stop/layovers or total hours of travel in their comparison, since they're using driving time/cost as a factor. My trial run says that I'd save $70-$90 by choosing ABE over PHL or EWR, but the PHL and EWR flights had no layovers, making those flights more appealing.

  2. Megan -agreed! The definition of a transplant, I visit my parents & brother in FL a lot. Flying out of LVIA is so convenient, it's 10 minutes from my house so I can always get a ride or park there much cheaper than EWR or PHL. Over the summer I took direct flight from LVIA to St Pete, 15mins from my parents, that left Fri AM and came back Mon AM. Perfect weekend getaway. I took my bf one weekend and roomie another for $39 and $49 one way flights. Cannot beat it. For holiday travel, the dates/times are less convenient with so few flights to my destination but the convenience and speed of a smaller airport is worth it.