Airfares out of Tulsa may not be the cheapest way to fly
Here’s a little secret. You can save a lot of money by flying out of another airport instead of Tulsa International.
Not only can you save money but you can get a direct, nonstop flight with a minimum of inconvenience.
Our family has flown out of Bentonville, Arkansas (XNA – Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport) and Branson, Missouri. Each time, we have purchased discounted fares that save us more than 50 percent.
Bentonville is about 100 miles east of Tulsa. That airport has flights from Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines (American Eagle), Delta, US Airways Express and United.
They have flights to Las Vegas and Orlando (Allegiant), Chicago, Dallas and New York (American); Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis and Minneapolis/St. Paul (Delta); Charlotte and Washington, D.C. (US Airways); and Houston, Newark, Chicago and Denver (United).
There are some limitations. You can’t book a flight to every location every day. There are extra charges for bags, food, etc.
And of course the biggest disadvantage is that you have to drive to another city to catch your flight.
But here’s an example of how you can save.
From Bentonville, you can book a nonstop flight to Orlando (Sanford Airport – SFB) and leave on Monday, August 26 at 10:20 a.m. You get to Florida at 1:40 p.m. That two-hour flight costs $49.00 plus tax.
To return on Monday, Sept. 2, the fare would be $65.49. Your bill would be about $125.00 for a roundtrip to Orlando (about 20 miles from Sanford).
If you flew to Orlando out of Tulsa International on the same schedule, here is what you might get:
$411 plus tax – American Airlines (5.5 hours)
$455 plus tax – Delta Airlines (5.5 hours)
$468 plus tax – Southwest (6 hours)
$500 plus tax – United Airlines (5 hours)
$521 plus tax – US Airways (7 hours)
All these flights have at least one stop.
So, Allegiant beats all of them on price. Even if you factor in tolls ($8) and gas $40, you still come out way ahead – especially if more than one person is in the car with you. You can park at the Bentonville airport for $5 a day which would add $35 to this trip. That brings the total to about $210 versus the cheapest Tulsa ticket at $411.
And in terms of time, it takes two hours to drive to Bentonville. So with the drive time and flight time, Allegiant is still 90 minutes quicker than every other flight.
Last Christmas, my wife and I and two of our children flew Allegiant to Sanford to see Grandma and Grandpa and it was a delightful trip. We rented a car in Sanford (home of George Zimmerman, by the way) for a week for about half the price of a car at the Orlando Airport.
We had a similar experience at the Branson Airport (BKG), home of Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines.
Some friends from church recently drove to Branson to get a cheap flight to Chicago. Here’s an example:
Still flying on Monday, August 26 and returning on Sept. 2, the 1 hour and 30 minute flight would cost $81 on a “getaway” fare. The return flight – also 90 minutes – would cost $97 plus tax.
So that is $178 plus tax roundtrip.
From Tulsa, a similar flight would cost $111 to Chicago and $197 on the way back. That is $308 plus tax. The first flight takes only one hour and 45 minutes but the return flight takes three hours and 45 minutes.
It takes three hours to drive to Branson and the cost for gas plus tolls would be about $100. I am guessing that parking in Branson would be about $35, so it is a wash for one person on Southwest. However, it would save more than $100 if two were flying.
Here is how other airlines stack up from Tulsa to Chicago:
$222 plus tax – United Airlines (1 hour, 45 minutes)
$222 plus tax – American Airlines (two hours)
$239 plus tax – Delta Airlines (4 hours and 20 minutes – one stop)
Of course, all of these figures change constantly. I have tried to compare the cheapest fares available.
The other advantage of driving to Branson and flying is that you can go a day early and take in a show.
I bet you could save yourself some money by driving to Oklahoma City and getting a direct flight and I have known people who drove to Dallas/Fort Worth and saved a bunch on international flights.
And guess what? The Bentonville Airport is never crowded. The security people are actually friendly. And flying into Sanford is so much nicer than Orlando – which is a madhouse even late at night.
You can’t save money flying from some other airport if you are making a short trip (like Saint Louis or San Antonio). In that case, you might as well drive all the way.
We flew Delta to Gulfport, Mississippi in 2012 and we had a stop in Memphis. Our plane got delayed and we spent hours waiting in an airport. We had about 10 hours of travel time. We could have driven to Gulfport in 10 hours and saved a boatload of money.
It pays to shop the Internet for bargains on flights. Flying from somewhere other than Tulsa can save a bunch of money.
• A teacher is fed up with the lack of effort from her students. She tells the class “stand up if you’re stupid” hoping to prove a point. Suddenly Billy stands up. The teacher asks “Billy, are you stupid?” He replies “No, I just didn’t want you standing up there by yourself!”
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• First student: I failed all my subjects except for Algebra.
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• Father-in-law: Young man, can you support a family?
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