Ben Epps Intergalactic Airport

...who says service in the airline industry is dead? I actually got a Christmas card from the U.S. Airways Express operation here in Athens, which, trust you me, is far better than the "Baggage Irregularity Report" I usually get from other U.S. Airways stations at various times during the year.

But, to make this a "slice of life" type post, I'm really quite surprised at how many people around here don't realize that Athens truly does have commerical air service. And while it doesn't thrill me that Ben Epps Airport is named for someone who went to the North Avenue Trade School (at least he had the good sense to drop out), it absolutely delights me that I can save about 90 miles each way plus time, effort, hassle, frustration, traffic and parking costs by flying in and out of our own little field.

In the last six to nine months or so, I've noticed that the rates from Athens to most major east coast and mid-west destinations to which I've flown have harmonized with the fares out of Atlanta (at least on 14-21 day adavance fares). But even if Atlanta is pricing out less, once you factor $.42/mile for your car, $9/day for parking plus the time driving to and from the south side of Atlanta (and leave enough time to go through security and ride the train to your gate), the bottom line starts to even out pretty quickly.

One caveat: you need to be able to walk out onto the tarmac and board a Beechcraft 1900-D "airliner." Think of it like the Krystal of airplanes...it's a bit on the small side. But once they let you off in Charlotte an hour later, you get on a real plane and end up where you need to be.

So, SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! This is just between you, me and corn. Don't tell anyone else about one of the Classic City's best kept secrets.


Unknown said...

I've flown out of Athens before on this plane. It should be noted that there are only two flights per day (one on weekends), and it only goes to Charlotte, which is the US Airways hub. The weirdest part about it is only two seats per row. Otherwise, it is not especially loud or anything.

In general, however, I've still found it cheaper and easier to fly out of ATL. Rather than driving and parking, you can take AAA Airport Express for $40 each way (apparently there is an extra $5 surcharge now, probably fuel-related), which is in a 12-passenger van.

Of course if you're going to Charlotte, then US Airways from Athens is probably the hot ticket. I wish we had at least one other carrier in Athens, one that flew to ATL.

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ with the OP. The convenience of Ben-Epps starts and ends with the fact that it is so close-by and you can by-pass the drive to ATL and long lines. Oh, the people at Ben-Epps are really nice too. But that's it. I have had a few very dissatisfying experiences that involved USAIR and the Ben Epps airport, with lost baggage, and having to wait a whole HOUR when I went to the desk and use a voucher to buy a tickeet. I have never seen this kind of inefficiency before. Not cool.

huitzilin said...

Hmm. To be honest, I had never even thought about flying out of Athens before. I think I'll start to look into this possibility. (This said after driving back to Athens from Hartsfield-Jackson just last night.)