Takes Those Fares And

Article excerpt

HOW ABOUT THIS ITINERARY FROM Denver to San Francisco: computer executive John Palley ignores Denver's sparkling new airport just 20 minutes away and zips his Honda 72 miles down the highway to Colorado Springs. There he hops on a United Airlines plane that flies him ... Yup. Back to Denver? Thirty minutes later Palley is on a jet to San Francisco. Savings: about $650 by starting his roundtrip flight in Colorado Springs.

Denver International has won praise for its high-tech efficiency since it opened last February, but also a baggageload of criticism for its hefty airfares. Life has been rough for the new airport. It opened more than a year late and $5 billion over budget. But this time, United Airlines is catching blame. The giant carrier enjoys a monopoly over many routes at DIA since Continental Airlines all but pulled out a year ago--and is clearly taking advantage of it. "There's no competition so United can charge a ton," says travel agent Lyn Daniel. Businesses grumble about 40 percent increases, some of which are due to DIA's expensive price tag. More than a dozen customers have written to Denver's mayor. A state college banned employees from flying into DIA. Denverites, like Palley, have been forced to try more creative stuff. One tactic, called "hidden city," involves purchasing a cheaper ticket from, let's say, Aspen to Toronto, via Denver. …