When we moved to Phoenix, we did so with the intent of being near a large, international hub airport. Knowing how much we love to travel, it just makes sense to be where the action is, airlines wise. But there is something to be said about the joy of traveling through smaller regional airports.
Served by smaller regional jets like our CRJ900, regional airports like Rapid City Regional Airport offer most of the amenities like the larger airports, but without all the hassle. The rental cars (and rental car return), are just a stone’s throw from the terminal entrance … no shuttles or people movers here! When we checked our bags for the flight home, we were the first to be served in the priority line.
The woman tending bar outside security was pleasant and talkative and graciously served up a hamburger patty with no bun for Enzo. There’s a rooftop garden where you can eat your lunch and view the action on the tarmac. We were the only travelers in the TSA PreCheck line, and there were only a handful of customers in the regular line. The security lines are very short, allowing you to get to the airport MUCH later.
There may have been only seven gates, but you still board the aircraft via a jetway. With less than a dozen departures on any given day, taxi times are blessedly short, unlike at the larger airports where the captain might say, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re 10th in line for departure. Flight attendants, please take your seats.”
At one of our favorite “regional” airport destinations – Key West – the vibe is even more laid back. People still board and deplane by air stairs. When you step off the plane, you’re greeted by the heat and humidity of the Keys, transforming you instantly into that “down island” mentality.
If that welcome to the Conch Republic isn’t enough, the bar inside the small baggage claim hall will serve you an appropriate tropical alcoholic concoction to get you in the mood while you wait for your bags. Coming home, you wish the old “Last Flight Out” approach to life rang true today!
What’s missing from small airports? Airline clubs, for one. But who needs a free drink and avocado toast when you can get to the airport one hour later? Crowds, for another. Baggage claim is usually quicker. Taxi lines are shorter, and if Uber or Lyft is your thing, you’re not competing with 100 other travelers.
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Get off the beaten track and go someplace where the airports are a bit smaller, and the people a bit nicer!
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1 thought on “Day 241 – A Year of Gratitude and Joy – Small Airports”
Elko, NV, airport code EKO, is another small airport. Security is provided by the county Sheriff’s Dept which sends two deputies on a part-time basis when planes depart. Just north of Elko is one of the largest gold mines in North America. It is operated by Barrick Gold Corp. (No free samples given.)