Comparing travel costs: Which airport is cheapest this holiday season?

Monday, December 9, 2019
News 12 at 11 O'clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- With the holidays right around the corner, you might be looking to book some flights. Lucky for you, the Augusta Regional Airport is launching its non-stop Washington D.C. flight in January, and a second non-stop flight to Dallas Forth-Worth in March.

"The more service we can provide, the better we can be a partner for our community, so we know it's important," Augusta Airport Executive Director Herbert Judon said.

But even though Augusta Regional has been adding to its catalog of flights, people still make the trips to Columbia or Atlanta for their air travel.

"It really makes sense to use our airport," Judon said. "I mean, why drive two or three hours and deal with the traffic and the hustle and the bustle? This is a lot easier and a lot more efficient for local customers."

We looked into which airport makes the most sense if you're trying to save some money.

We used an American Airlines direct flight to Washington D.C. for our example. It takes off Jan. 31 and returns Feb. 2.

Tickets from Augusta are $237 for those dates. It'll cost $24 to park for three days at $8 per day. That brings you to a total of $261.

From Atlanta, tickets are $197. Plus, you'd have to add $30 for parking in the Park-and-Ride lot at $10 per day and around $15 for gas according to FuelEconomy.gov. That's a total of $242, which is about $20 cheaper than traveling from Augusta.

"You know, sometimes there may be a ticket that may be $20 or $30 differential, and then again, when you factor in driving and TSA lines and all those things, it may not be worth it," said Judon.

Let's factor Columbia into the mix. Tickets from there are $189. That's cheaper than both Atlanta and Augusta tickets. Parking will cost $24 at $8 a day and gas will be about $6. That gives a grand total of $219.

These calculations show that traveling from Columbia on this specific flight would be $40 cheaper than travelling from Augusta.

Of course, this example only accounts for one set of dates, and we can't quantify the frustration that comes with Atlanta traffic or long TSA lines. The moral of the story is to always do research to find the cheapest options, and account for all factors when deciding where to fly from.

But, if we want more direct flights and more airlines to come to our closest airport, Judon says people need to continue to travel from Augusta.

"As we do this work, it's important for the community to use the airport. The more demand that we have here, the more likely that the airlines are to give us more flights," he said.

And when more flights and competition come to the airport, Judon says tickets will likely be cheaper.

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