By Sally Voth
Northern Shenandoah Valley residents headed to the Magic Kingdom - or any of the Orlando-area theme parks - now have an alternative to the D.C. airports.
Frontier Airlines' inaugural flight from Shenandoah Valley Airport in Weyers Cave to Orlando took off Tuesday morning.
The service to and from the Florida tourist destination will be available three times a week, according to Heather Ream, marketing and communications coordinator for the airport. The flights initially will be on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and move to Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays in January, she said.
"They really are trying to focus on what will be good for leisure travelers to the Orlando area and also to this area, too," Ream said. "We're looking to get a lot of reverse tourism from this."
In fact, 70 passengers arrived in Augusta County on the first flight on Tuesday, she said. Going to Orlando, there were 105 passengers on the Airbus A319, which seats 138 passengers.
"Seventy passengers for the first flight is pretty darn good," Ream said. "Orlando's one of our top markets as far as travel is concerned. It was really nice for us to be able to have a direct flight. It's been very well received by the community. We have had a lot of support."
While flight prices will vary, between now and mid-February, there is a special of $66 each way -- minus some holiday blackout dates, Ream said.
Frontier isn't the first commercial airlines to use Shenandoah Valley Airport. United Express has thrice-daily services to Washington Dulles, Ream said. Most of those fliers use Dulles as just a layover.
"We have free parking, lot easier to get through security lines," Ream explained. "A lot of times our prices are very competitive, if not less expensive than flying directly from a larger airport.
"This is a huge milestone for our area to have direct service from a regional airport to a Florida market. We're the first airport in this area to be able to offer that."
According to a news release from Frontier Airlines, each seat on the plane will have 30 DIRECTV channels, and five rows with extra legroom. Based in Denver, Frontier flies to more than 80 destinations in the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org