Flying from Wisconsin: Where are the best deals? - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Flying from Wisconsin: Where are the best deals?


The holiday travel season is getting closer, and for a lot of people that means flying.

Central Wisconsin is in a unique spot. People here have many different airports to choose from. But which airports consistently feature the best deals?

Nine airports are within several hours of central Wisconsin: Central Wisconsin Airport (CWA) in Mosinee, Rhinelander, Appleton, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis, Chicago-Midway and Chicago-O'Hare, as well as La Crosse and Eau Claire.

"We're fortunate that we have all these small airports," said Barb Jennison, owner of Jennison Travel Agency in Weston.

But which airport offers the best deal? Local travel agents say it depends on the trip. But there are studies that paint a pretty good picture.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics from the first quarter of 2012, Chicago-Midway had the cheapest average domestic round-trip fares at $298.23. Milwaukee was next at $313.35, the cheapest among Wisconsin airports.

Chicago-O'Hare came in third at $379.33.

"Absolutely, Milwaukee's been the best price-wise of anything we've found," said Scott Hunger, who owns travel leaders in Weston. He says there's a reason Milwaukee is so inexpensive.

"It's primarily because of all the low-fare air carriers in the market. Air Tran, Frontier, Southwest," said Hunger. "They're all low fare carriers that drive air fares down."

In the middle of the pack for average domestic fares were Madison ($454.09), Minneapolis ($454.39), and Appleton ($494.79). Since Minneapolis is so large, these numbers were surprising.

"Delta probably controls 75 to 80 percent of capacity in the market," said Hunger. "Therefore, they can name their price, and other airlines will tend to match."

The most expensive airports on the list were Green Bay ($549.59), Rhinelander ($564.82), and CWA ($574.47).

"Air fares are getting higher," said Jennison, who often books clients out of Minneapolis. CWA, she says, can be a challenge.

"A lot of times there's connections, a double connection," she said. "Not everybody wants to do a double connection. Or there's flight cancellations, schedule changes that really interrupt the whole travel."

But Jennison says the Mosinee airport does offer one big thing: convenience.

"Some people will pay extra to leave out of here," she said. "It's worth it."

For example, Newsline 9's Emily Neubauer was looking to book a flight home to her home state of Rhode Island. She checked a lot of airports.

The cheapest price, by far, was Milwaukee at $225. The most expensive was Minneapolis at $441.

In the end, Emily bought a ticket from CWA for $389 dollars—for one reason.

"I'd rather just pay a little bit extra for the convenience of getting home sooner, spending more time," she said.

Emily's experience underscores the point that local travel agents make.

"Each situation is different," said Faye Delosh, owner of Travel Adventures.

"That's true, every situation is different. But there are some definite conclusions that can help you when you book a flight.

Outside of Chicago, Milwaukee is usually cheapest, if you're willing to drive there. Central Wisconsin Airport is often the most expensive, but it's convenient, as many of the smaller airports are.

"You'd be surprised some of the good prices from some of the airports that aren't quite as far away," said Delosh.

It's important to remember, these prices aren't set by the airports. The airlines do that. But experts say there are plenty of good deals at each airport. You just have to be willing to play with dates, places, and times to find them.

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