While Crescent City’s daily The Triplicate had previously announced Sept. 15 as the day PenAir would begin direct service from Del Norte Regional Airport (CEC) to Portland International Airport (PDX), the price of these glorious flights had thus far been a mystery. We here at LoCO, at least, were especially interested in how much a hipster safari would run us.
Well, this morning a reader emailed us and directed us to PenAir’s website promising an answer. We plugged in Sept. 15 as our desired departure date, hit “Search” and got it: $79. Because humans know that the price of air travel makes not one damn bit of sense we also tried Google Flights and, lo and behold, got a $5 discount.
$74 for a direct 1 hour 20 minute flight. $147 round trip. That ain’t bad.
(Note: As a commenter points out, the low price of flights between CEC and PDX is the introductory rate. After an initial period of getting you hooked, PenAir will slightly jack up their price up to just over $100 each way. Fine print. Again, airlines and their pricing schemery should not be trusted.)
By comparison, a round trip from ACV to PDX — by way of SFO — leaving the same day is listed at $422 with an estimated travel time of almost 5 hours. Sure, if you live in Humboldt’s population hub and want to depart from CEC you have to tack on the hour-and-a-half drive north. But it’s significantly less than a 7 hour drive each way.
Just for simplicity sake, let’s lay this out adding in the cost of gas your vehicle would consume over the roughly 85 miles up the coast. Recent estimates put average gas mileage for American cars at 24 miles per gallon. So, 3.5 gallons at $4 per adds about $14 each way to this price tag.
OK, so, if you’re starting Humboldt, and want to head to Stumptown after Sept. 15 (for this search and others in this post, we used a return date of 9/20):
CEC to PDX: $175 ($237 post intro rate), 1:20 flight time, 1:30 driving time
ACV to PDX: $422, 4:39 airport/flight time, 0:00 driving time
Wowie, that looks nice. This got us thinking: Does this open up a cheaper air route from Humboldt to San Francisco?Let’s use the Internet again, shall we?
Google Flights offers a round trip from ACV to SFO for $371. OK, now let’s do a multi-city Google Flights search for a single-day Crescent City > Portland > San Francisco voyage … aaand we get $315. Now, of course, you have added time this way — In addition to the drive time, the 1 hour 20 minute layover in Portland brings the total trip time to about six hours, compared to the 1 hour 24 minute direct flight from ACV to SFO. We’ll add in gas again.
So here’s LoCO‘s break down of your SF air travel options, starting Sept. 15:
CEC to SFO: $343 ($386 post intro rate), 4:33 airport/flight time, 1:30 driving time
ACV to SFO: $371, 1:17 flight time, 0:00 driving time
Of course, driving to San Francisco is still the most economical way to get there, but Humboldt jet setters know that SF is also a gateway to the rest of the world. So let’s try this: How about a round trip to New York City (JFK)? Let’s compare your post-Sept. 15 all-things-equivalent options (we’ll even throw increasingly popular travel hub Medford in there).
ACV to JFK: $723, 7:07 airport/flight time, 0:00 driving time
CEC to JFK: $676, 13:15 airport/flight time, 1:30 driving time
MFR to JFK: $521, 7:25 airport/flight time, 3:45 driving time
SFO to JFK: $393, 5:39 airport/flight time, 5:15 driving time
The cost of longterm parking comes into play too, obviously (parking at CEC is free). But, man, those layover times (though they’d surely fluctuate) when you try to go anywhere past Portland on PenAir kinda kill the joy of saving 50 bucks. Still seems like a drive to SFO is the most cost-effective way to take any significant trips. How much is your time worth?