City Government

Boise Airport Flying Low In 2006

Aviation Week and J. D. Powers have ranked the local airfield at the bottom of the customer satisfaction list for facilities with fewer than 10 million passengers. Last year Boise ranked #4.
Boeing 737.jpg

We find it interesting to note all the fanfare and publicity when a new airline comes to town or some made up survey ranks Boise at the upper end of the scale. It looks like reality is trumping perception this year.

First it was the Supreme Court decision denying a parking garage. They spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to go around the voters to build a parking garage they claim was needed for all the new business.

Then the Feds said they were going to close the local radar facility and operate it remotely from Salt Lake. There is a temporary reprieve on that move due to a lot of heavy political intervention.

We noticed a little note buried in a recent Mayor Hotline posted on the GUARDIAN which said Delta was canceling its direct flight to Atlanta in September.

Now Continental has just announced they are pulling out of Boise (again) and will curtail the direct flight to Houston.

Regardless of the numbers that may be offered, several facts cannot be argued:
–Flying is stressful and it is NOT fun anymore.
–More people are opting to drive if there are 2 or more passengers up to 500 miles.
–Despite some good deals, prices are climbing.
–Planes to Boise are getting smaller and less comfortable.
–Airlines offer few amenities and even charge extra for leg room.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I fly upwards of 100K miles a year to many airports both international and domestic and can assure you that with the exception of the parking situation, the Boise airport is excellent in most regards. While they have not released the metrics by which this measurement took place, I would have to assume that things like length of wait for luggage etc., had a big impact on this (many of the Boise airlines share ground crew and thus wait times can be longer than at other airports).

    Regarding the Atlanta flight, it was originally announced as a seasonal flight and it was never a sure thing that it would be made year round. As as far as the Continental flight (BTW, it is to Houston and not Dallas…fact check Guardian), the reasons are a bit more complex than what the spokesperson let on. From what I have heard, the type of 50 seat regional jet that they are using for this and other routes is off lease and is not being replaced in their fleet. Since they couldn’t justify a full 737 due to load and schedule planning, they decided to stop service.

    As far as some of the other things you have said, they are very true. Since 2001 and due to the economics of the industry, many carriers are using regional jets on secondary routes like Boise. We may eventually see the return of more big planes to Boise but I wouldn’t count on it. The airlines will probably just up the frequency of the smaller planes and leave the big planes on hub routes. Many other mid size airports are having the same issues. The last few times I have flown into Austin it has been on a regional jet.

    As for flying being fun, I don’t know of too many people that ever found it “fun”. When flying business or first it can at least be bearable on intl flights. If you fly a lot, elite status means more now than ever, as at least you do get a few creature comforts.

    EDITOR–We fixed the destination. Hard to believe a “spokesperson” would not tell the whole truth!!

  2. BOI would have a CAT III landing system if only someone had built a hanger a little farther from the runway about 7 years ago. (only six feet I think) This would have permited airline operations at visibilities less than half that which is now permited. If you recall…..a really big problem at BOI is morning fog in the winter. Placing the hanger building in a better place would have required the interaction of several government types….this was too much to ask I guess.

  3. Sadly, we’ll be moving because of the airport situation. The lack of flights in and out of BOI wasn’t part of the decision, it is the deciding factor. My husband’s job requires that he fly to various customer sites. Because of his job we have the freedom to live anywhere we want – as long as we’re near an airport. When we first came to the Treasure Valley, the flights were at decent times and even cheaper than the other areas in the western USA that we considered.

    Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Not only does his job require more international flights but the flight times to even ‘local’ destination (PDX, SEATAC, SJC, SLC, or DEN) have gotten worse – think mid-day with lousy connections. Frankly, I’d like to see my husband more and have him sitting in an airport less.

    I’ve heard people ask how new residents to the Treasure Valley can afford those McMansions that we see popping up. Part of the answer is because those new residents aren’t employed in the Treasure Valley. Until we moved here we didn’t realize how many people – and it is a lot – commute via airplane or telecommute. We survive because we’re not paid Idaho ‘right-to-work’ wages (although we DO pay Idaho income taxes.) A quality airport has direct impact on that kind of employment situation; which is probably a positive or a drawback, depending on your point of view.

    In short, an international airport is vital to a city’s commerce, especially a city that isn’t supported by railroad.

  4. Jon Q Publique
    Jul 29, 2006, 9:55 am

    In regard to the Delta Atlanta direct flight being cancelled, the comment from the Mayor’s Office also noted this was a seasonal cancellation. It seems Boise will have Atlanta service four days a week rather than five. This may not be anything new.

    If I recall correctly, back in the late 70s and early 80s United cancelled one of its Chicago direct flights each fall then resumed it in the spring. Apparently traffic on that route grew enough to justify year round service. With a real airplane no less!

    EDITOR NOTE–JQP, we were not looking for a POSITIVE thought on that one! You need to check out the United Chicago-Boise flights today which are often as not small commuter planes. Miserable for over 3 hrs.

  5. Guardian, you can correct me if I am wrong, but I think that the Chicago flights that are on the 50 seaters are new flights and that the two original Chicago flights are still 737’s. One intersting thing to note, much of the United regional fleet is being changed to a new seating configuration that includes Economy Plus and First Class…these planes are much more comfortable.

    EDITOR NOTE–Jon, you are correct and I think that extra leg room is worth $75.

  6. Jon Q Publique
    Jul 29, 2006, 2:29 pm

    I’m with Jon. I was referring to the “original” Chicago non-stop United flights which used 727s and now use 737s. Last time I looked a 737 was a full size aircraft. Just like the one in the picture above. Flew a United 737 just last year to Chicago and back. Just depends what time you want to leave and/or return. The direct flight to/from Chicago is a real pain on some body parts even in a full size aircraft. I used to fly it on a fairly regular basis. Don’t even want to think what it must be like on an RJ.

    The RJ is an even bigger pain. At first I thought they were “cute” but I’ve flown enough of them now to understand why HP execs were so troubled when United substituted them on the SFO flights a few years ago. But they’re here to stay.

    Gosh, Economy Plus and First Class on an RJ? Wow!

    Guardian, me thinks you have become too accustomed to Business Class and First Class on all those international trips you take :).

    It’s all about load management. AMTRAK anyone?


  7. I think the Boise Airport is one of the easiest airports to fly in and out of. Have you ever tried flying in and out of the Atlanta airport? It’s awful!

    At the Boise Airport, I have never had to wait more than about 10 minutes to get from the check-in counter, through security, and then to my gate. The only problem I’ve encountered is with Alaska and Horizon airline flights being delayed or cancelled, normally to Seattle or Portland.

    I think J.D. Powers needs to re-evaluate their data. Maybe they have Boise mixed up with L.A.

    EDITOR NOTE–J.D. may indeed have mixed up Boise with L.A. based on the sprawl factor. They told the Airport folks it would cost $25,000 to look at the survey. So much for surveys–good or bad.

  8. When are they going to get rid of the awful “McDonald’s” look at the airport? The red-yellow-blue motif has always been hideous and embarrassing, and with the renovation/expansion now looks even more out-of-place and childish. Even just repainting it would make a huge difference! Paint is easy – it’s time to show Boise has some style!

  9. The Boise airport’s always been perfectly fine with me… the best I’ve flown into or out of, in fact. I fly regionally (Southwest, Alaska/Horizon) primarily, so take that with a grain of salt… I understand connections can be strange, but I also probably save an hour due to easy access/parking & ridiculously short lines in Boise, especially in the early mornings.

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