Speer: Trip proves SkyWest the right choice

I’ve been a proponent of SkyWest’s selection as the air carrier for Alpena right from the start.

I was excited when it was selected, and thrilled when the community learned service also would be extended to Minneapolis as well as Detroit. At the time, I thought Minneapolis might be a destination Diane and I would pursue at some point. At the very least, I figured it would be a good gateway for destinations heading west, since two recent trips – one to San Francisco and the other to Phoenix – laid over in Minneapolis for us anyway. Those trips originated out of other airports, but now could just as easily have originated from Alpena.

Today, after have flown from Minneapolis to Alpena Tuesday, I’m even more thrilled by the selection.

Little did I know last year that in less than 12 months I would have a member of my family living in Minneapolis. Recently Diane and I began a journey to move Andrew, Sarah and their dog from Mt. Pleasant to Minneapolis in a job move. Twelve hours of adventure, swarms of black flies and torrential rain later, I was hauling boxes up three flights of stairs and trying my best to be an amateur carpenter.

While Diane and I really didn’t experience all that Minneapolis has to offer, we managed to fit in some quality time beginning to learn the city, its neighborhoods and recreational opportunities.

Suffice to say, I think Andrew and Sarah are going to love it there. I think Diane and I will as well. And that is where SkyWest becomes even more important from my perspective.

The flight from Minneapolis was fast, comfortable and convenient. What was scheduled to be an hour and a half flight actually took 75 minutes. The plane was two-thirds full on a Tuesday and from the looks of those waiting to board it in Alpena for Detroit, I would imagine the second leg of the flight would have resulted in a full plane.

Landing in the early afternoon like that, I still had time to make it to the office and spend several hours there.

When Alpena officials were negotiating for a new airline carrier last year I did a lot of research on available carriers servicing the Midwest. Time after time I kept thinking that of all the potential carriers servicing airports our size, and who relied on federal financial assistance, SkyWest seemed head and shoulders above the rest.

I was thrilled to eventually see them selected, and I have been excited to watch the public’s response here in support of that selection. Certainly SkyWest officials have to be pleased with the response and support they’ve received since beginning service. It also must be exciting for local officials to see the kinds of record numbers month after month at the airport by those flying.

In Minneapolis last weekend, the price of gas for a gallon of regular unleaded was $4.44. The cheapest I experienced between Mt. Pleasant and there was $3.69 a gallon in Escanaba a week ago Friday.

At just under 700 miles for our journey, by the time you factor in fuel, food and lodging, not to mention the time involved, the cost of a plane ticket was far and away the best choice.

I knew SkyWest’s selection was the right one for Alpena.

Today, I have even more reason to celebrate that choice.

Bill Speer can be reached via email at bspeer@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13. Read his blog, More BS?(Bill Speer) at www.thealpenanews.com.