The news of three airline carriers (Allegiant, Spirit and Frontier) at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, while seemingly exciting to the community, did not really cause much of a ripple in my thoughts when recently reported by the local media. After all, the airport “is so far away” and “only goes to off-beat locations,” right? Well, I recently found out that those perceptions were innaccurate.
My wife and I recently decided to fly to Dallas, a trip that either involves making a stop on the way if we are using the low cost carrier, Southwest Airlines, or a more expensive fare (plus bag charges) if we are using the other carriers. It turned out those fares, without consideration of the bag charges, were just too expensive to contemplate. But since we really wanted to go to Dallas, we decided to check out the carriers at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
We were surprised to find that the Spirit Airlines non-stop directly to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (even with the charges to reserve a seat and check a bag) cost us one-third (1/3) of what the ticket prices were on the other carriers. This deeply discounted price just floored us. At first we felt it was too good to be true, but we proceeded figuring that there must be something really wrong with the flight, the airplane, the commute to the airport or just something. Well, the flights were late at night, but that actually was an advantage in many ways because there was no traffic getting to the airport; there was parking in a lot adjoining the airport; and going through security took about 30 seconds. It doesn’t take long when there are very few airlines and flights at an airport.
The commute there was 26 miles instead of the 15 miles to Sky Harbor, but frankly the time from the garage door going down to standing at the ticket counter checking bags was much less than if we went to Sky Harbor. The airplane was clean, new and had comfortable leather seats. Best of all, the flight left early and arrived early. I guess it is easy to be timely when you are always first on the runway for take-off.
This airport and its carriers are a hidden gem for the East Valley and frankly for most of the Valley of the Sun. I encourage everyone to check it out, try it and make it a part of their selection process. With continued patronage, the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport will be an important part of air travel for our residents and will likely save them a lot of money.