Fall flight bookings down at Eagle airport
VAIL, Colorado ” As passenger numbers drop at the Eagle airport, Vail Resorts has created a new program to offset baggage fees.
The Baggage Bailout program will give a $50 credit to skiers at Vail Resorts’ mountains this year if they stay for four nights.
The baggage fees aren’t deterring skiers from coming to Vail, said Kelly Ladyga, a spokeswoman for Vail Resorts. The promotion is just a way to stand out to customers, she said.
“We’re trying to be very topical and relevant and breakthrough the clutter,” she said.
But Ladyga added that recently announced promotions are a response to the uncertainty in the economy.
The Eagle airport is already seeing fewer people on flights. This fall, the only jumbo jet commercial route ” a daily flight to and from Dallas ” has seen 38 percent fewer bookings on its inbound flights, according to Kent Myers, a consultant for governments and businesses who helps bring flights to Eagle County.
In September, the inbound flights were just 41 percent full. Those numbers do not include shuttle flights from Denver.
“A lot of people are focusing on a lot of other things than looking at the fall foliage and going and playing golf and enjoying the outdoors in Colorado,” Myers said.
Myers said he doesn’t know whether those distractions will continue through the ski season.
“That’s to be determined,” he said.
Kelli McDonald, town of Vail economic development manager, said Vail Resorts announced last week in a meeting of the EGE Air Alliance, a group that puts up money to guarantee flights into Eagle County, that winter bookings were down.
“It’s actually pacing a little bit behind where it was last year,” McDonald said.
Ladyga said she couldn’t confirm those statistics.
The additional baggage fees didn’t seem to deter passengers coming to Vail over the summer, Myers said.
“We didn’t see anything like that in the summer as far as golf clubs are concerned,” he said.
Ralf Garrison, a resort analyst with the Denver-based Advisory Group, said baggage fees can be up to $370 for a round trip with just one normal-sized bag and one oversized bag, such as skis. That makes the $50 more symbolic than anything, Garrison said.
“The Vail effort, I think, will be seen as an effort of the host destination understanding and being empathetic and understanding and helping us out a little,” he said.
Mark Cervantes, a partner in vailskivacations.com, which books vacation rentals, said his bookings are down this year, citing the nation’s financial troubles, particularly their effect on East Coast residents. But he was doubtful that a $50 baggage voucher will mean much to someone who is spending $10,000 to $15,000 for a vacation.
“I highly doubt that’s going to convince them to come if they weren’t coming,” he said.
Farrow Hitt, general manager of the Simba Run Condominiums and a member of the Vail Town Council, said bookings at Simba Run are looking solid during the holidays but otherwise a bit “soft.” It seems people are waiting longer to book vacations, he said.
He said he’s doubtful whether baggage fees deter anyone from coming here. But, if it has a shot of bringing more people here, it’s a good thing, he said.
“Anything that will help people get here this winter is worth a try,” he said.
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Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or email@example.com.
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