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I read this article today on Boston.com about the how the airports in Providence and Manchester are suffering since Southwest and other low-cost carriers have come to Boston’s Logan Airport. The article says price is the main determinant when people consider flying out Logan versus one of the regional airports. I disagree.

I Love Manchester Boston Regional Airport, a.k.a MHT and given airfares that are even close to each other, I’ll pick MHT even if it is higher.

The airport itself is right off the highway and parking is easily accessible. If I want to keep my car out of the elements, parking is $17 per day for the garage. If I’m feeling thrifty (and usually I am) the outside lots are $10 per day (compare that to Logan’s $24 per day garage or open lot). Shuttle service to the terminals is frequent and the drivers are usually friendly. Plus I typically have no trouble finding a spot close to a shuttle stop.

If I’m traveling with my kids I especially prefer flying from MHT. Manchester is significantly smaller than Logan and while I don’t want to insinuate in any way that the security is lax, it is just a difference vibe. I think because the volume of travelers is lower, the pace is just a little less frenetic allowing the staff time to smile and interact with passengers. They take the task at hand is no less seriously, but the pace even on a busy day is just a smidge more relaxed and to me that makes all the difference in the world.

The terminals at Manchester are also newer. They are airier and easily incorporate plants and skylights and they were designed with security in mind. Most of Logan’s terminals were built when everyone could just walk down the concourse and wait at the gate boarding pass or not. Thus, they’ve had to retro fit to squeeze a lot of checkpoints into a minimal amount of space. The compression of many bodies in a small space contributes to the tension in the air at Logan.

As with any regional airport, the downside is the lack of direct flights. If you are flying out of Manchester, chances are very good, you are going to have to change planes before you arrive at your final destination. And, I don’t know about you, but it drives me NUTS to fly West to Detroit to get from Manchester to Charlotte, NC but, that is the trade of you make.

The Boston.com touts lower fares as the main reason most people choose to fly out of Logan. To my way of thinking there has to be a SIGNIFICANT fare difference for me to trek to Logan. In my experience, flights to many locations have been between $15 and $100 more expensive out of Manchester. When you factor in the additional expense of parking at Logan or the cost of a round trip bus ticket, from Concord to Logan, I have found the cost difference drops to closer to $10-$20 per ticket. Factor in the additional hassle of getting to and negotiating Logan, and thanks, I’ll fly out of Manchester.

I’m not saying I NEVER fly out of Logan. For example, last June, I flew solo with both kids out of Logan to Charlotte. It was close half the price per ticket to fly direct from Boston to Charlotte, but, that is definitely the exception, not the rule.

Some quick stats about Manchester Boston Regional Airport (via http://www.flymanchester.com/)

  • MHT employs 1,900 people on the airport property with an annual payroll of $75.8 million and 1,920 employees of property (businesses related to airport activity) with a payroll of $77.1 million.
  • MHT is served by 6 airlines including, Air Canada, Continental, Delta, Southwest, US Airways and United, and has launched a grass roots campaign to bring Jet Blue Airways to Manchester. http://www.flymanchester.com/about/news.php (third release down on the list).
  • 19 cities are served by direct flights, with endless possibilities after that. Direct flight cities go as far west as Las Vegas as far South as Fort Lauderdale and as far North as Toronto Canada.
  • The airport’s best travel year ever was 2005 when more than 4 million travels were served. 2008 (the last year for which statistics are available), was the lowest travel year in 5 years with just over 3,700,000 travelers.
  • Sometime in 2006, MHT launched a pilot program to offer shuttle service between the airport, Northern Massachusetts and Boston. By 2008, the program was servicing between 500 and 900 passengers a week and the service was taken over by Flightline, Inc. http://www.flightlineinc.com/
  • You can follow Manchester Boston Regional Airport on Twitter

I wanted to snap some pictures on a recent trip, but I thought I’d most likely give some TSA person fits, so go visit their web site www.flymanchester.com for great views.

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