On a rainy Sunday night a couple of weeks ago, my flight from San Francisco to Fresno got canceled.
So I wrote about it.
The reader response was huge. I received dozens of phone calls, emails, Facebook comments and blog responses. I hit a nerve, and I wasn’t surprised. Canceled and delayed flights are common when you fly out of Fresno regularly. And with the recent shift by Skywest Airlines – which services many of the flights from Fresno – to all-jet service, the result has been bigger and faster planes but fewer daily flights. Which means fewer options on a later flight for getting home if your flight doesn’t go.
Here’s a sampling of reaction. For extended responses – some of them quite detailed – check out my blog post on fresnobeehive.com.
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A very bad day: Austin Brown learned of his father’s death on a morning last May and booked a 1 p.m. flight from Fresno to Oklahoma via Dallas. “Our plane was delayed by 30-45 minutes ... That wait turned into an additional hour. Every hour after that we were notified that it would be another hour.” A back-up plane finally arrived at 8 p.m. but didn’t take off until 10 p.m. “The last thing I wanted to do was sit in Fresno’s awful airport after just receiving the worst news anyone could receive,” he writes.
A day late to Paris: Jane L. Kuhn writes she was flying United out of Fresno to SFO to catch a connecting flight to France with a friend from Santa Rosa who was meeting up with her in SFO. “My Fresno flight kept being delayed ad nauseam, hour by hour,” she writes. “It was excruciating and nerve-racking sending texts to my friend that I’d be there later. My Fresno flight was delayed 6-8 hours – I could have driven or taken the train to SFO if I had known or been informed. I missed my connecting flight with my friend to Paris, had to fly another airline United put me on, arrived a day later than my friend and United lost my luggage for five days.”
Giving up: Susan Coggins doesn’t even try anymore. “I used to try to fly out of FAT but I’ve pretty much given up,” she writes. “If I need to go somewhere in California, it is more time and expense effective to drive. If I need to connect to another flight at LAX or SFO, I take the bus or the train or a combination. Sometimes I drive to Bakersfield and take the shuttle. Sometimes I rent a car and leave it at LAX.”
Too expensive: Larry Medcalf’s family is flying to Calgary in June for a vacation. “Flying out of Fresno on Alaska (transfer in Seattle) will cost us $2,714. Flying out of SFO with the same connection in Seattle will cost us $1,620. Driving to San Francisco may be annoying, but for $1,100 I can handle it – especially knowing when we land in SFO I don’t have to wonder if my flight home is still on the schedule!”
Not always too expensive: Marilyn Riggs writes that she gets annoyed when anyone tells her they pay extra to fly from Fresno. “I have checked many times just to prove myself right and the only time I have found a difference is if someone used a travel agent or something and they put you on several different airlines on the same flight. If you fly to your destination on one airline or the airline’s partners, it is same price from Fresno as from SFO or LAX. There certainly may be exceptions but this is generally the case.”
Some advice: Joe S. Mauk writes: “Here’s the secret for flying, I will share with you. Avoid these airports: SFO, DEN and ORD. These are all airports that handle weather badly.”
Connect through San Diego: “Easy connections and Alaska’s fares are often cheaper to Hawaii, Mexico, and the East Coast,” Ed Beckman writes. “50-foot walk for a connection to Boston. You really want to run from gate to gate at SFO? If it’s exercise you want, go to a gym.” Also: Portland (on Alaska Airlines) connects to a bank of flights East.
Connect through Salt Lake City: “It’s slick to use Delta Skywest to SLC and direct flight to Paris,” writes Adele C. Easton-Graves.
Vicious circle: “Better service to and from Fresno is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy,” writes commenter Eric on www.fresnobeehive.com. “I understand that Fresno does not have a huge number of travelers, and that it is about numbers (profits) for the airlines. However better transport would be better for business and encourage more people to fly. It would seem that the mayor, the city council and the county supervisors could do a great deal more to lobby for better service to Fresno.”
Take Amtrak to Richmond or drive to Pleasanton, then take BART to SFO: “The train runs no matter what,” Ken Wagner writes. “No need to worry about rain, snow or fog.”