MISSOULA — Even with airport improvements and seasonal airlines coming to the valley, many people still drive hours away to fly out of Spokane or Bozeman due to Missoula's higher costs.
“$1,500 is a solid like week and a half of works wages,” said Britt Holewinski, Missoula resident and traveler.
For Holewinski, traveling home is proving to be more difficult than ever before. She has been trying to plan a trip back home to Michigan but is having to look elsewhere due to flight prices out of Missoula.
“Flight prices for in and out of Missoula are like easily over $1,500 roundtrip and out of Spokane or Bozeman, they are between like six to $700,” Holewinski told MTN News.
And Holewinski isn’t alone. Missoula resident Sara Herrmann had to book a flight out of Spokane because prices out of Missoula were upwards of $1,500.
"It was just like outrageous," said Herrman. "Like even if I looked at it to fly one way and then fly another way back it just added up to be the same amount."
To fly out of Missoula is nearly double the price than Bozeman or Spokane, which forces many Missoualians to get creative with their travel plans.
“Over this past week... we had about three dozen cars from Missoula County that we could actually say, okay, there's your leakage from Missoula,” said Scott Humphrey, Bozeman airport director.
Holewinski and Herrmann say after crunching some numbers and taking in high gas prices, hotel costs and time, driving looks to be the cheaper option.
"It's gonna be super inconvenient but I think overall I'll be saving like way more money," Herrmann told MTN News.
But budgeting can be especially hard with inflation driving prices for everything from gas to those road trip snacks higher. It's also impacting airports.
“Airports here in Montana or just trying to do their best to keep her head above water is with the loads that we expect to see this summer," Humphrey told MTN News.
And frustration among travelers is only growing.
“And so it's frustrating, because like, I just want to see my family," said Holewinski.
Along with high fuel prices, pilot and staff shortages, it’s one of the many reasons why flights are so expensive.
As for an end in sight… we’ll have to wait and see if airlines add more flights coming into Montana come the fall, which could force prices down.
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