Thinking of flying away this Memorial Day holiday weekend? It could be cheaper out of Long Beach. Recent rankings from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) show the Long Beach Airport has the second lowest average domestic airfares in the country.
The USDOT ranked 100 airports by average round-trip fares in the 4th quarter of 2012. But one-way fares were included in some instances.
The average domestic airfare at Long Beach was $234, far below the national average at $374. Only Atlantic City’s airport offered a lower average fare of $157.
“This is a very important number for us, because it actually translates into customer service,” said Long Beach Airport Director Mario Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said the customers breakdown into two groups: air travelers and the airlines that operate at the Long Beach Airport.
“An airline pays less here than in most other airports in California and in the United States,” Rodriguez said. “They pay less for gate space, for ramp space, landing fees. We’re a very efficient operation.”
JetBlue offers the most destinations from the Long Beach Airport (LGB), including Boston, New York and Austin. US Airways, Delta, and Alaska/Horizon also offer flights to Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Seattle.
For travelers, the airport offers a new concourse designed like a high-end resort, complete with wine bars, fire pits, and local restaurant vendors that charge street prices “so you don’t get gouged because you’re a captive audience,” said Rodriguez. He adds a traveler can get from curb to gate in 20 minutes.
The airport website features a video animation and pictures of the terminal modernization project.
Iris Himert, executive vice president of the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the airport’s low fares are a powerful marketing tool as the city tries to land more more conventions.
“It’s a huge selling feature for the planners that are coming into our city that are taking a look at us,” said Himert.
She acknowledges competition from Los Angeles International Airport ( LAX) and other airports in the L.A. region. Himert said convention planners often use those airports to reach Long Beach. But when they do, she’s quick to tell them about the Long Beach Airport and the lower fares.
How did the rest of the region’s airports fare in the rankings?
Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport has the country’s sixth lowest average domestic airfare at $282. Ontario ranked 23rd with an average domestic airfare of $338. San Diego International Airport is 37th with an average domestic air fare $362. LAX had the 78th lowest average domestic airfare: $409.