Airfares shoot up with I-70 closure
The rockfall damage that shut down Interstate 70 Monday and Tuesday sent some travelers scrambling to find alternatives to driving the state’s two lengthy detours.
The best advice for frugal travelers who want to head east or west across the state in the next couple days by bus, train or plane: Act quickly.
Flights from Grand Junction to Denver on any of eight daily United Express flights are sky high for the next few days. Prices on Tuesday night for travel to Denver today and returning Friday ranged from the high $700s to nearly $900 for nonstop travel.
One-way tickets on Amtrak from Grand Junction to Denver were $46 on Tuesday for today’s travel to Denver. Return trips from Denver on Friday were $73. The train trip is eight hours, seven minutes one way.
Both the airlines and Amtrak operate on a pricing system that increases ticket prices as fewer seats remain available. The higher price for Denver to Grand Junction travel by train means more people already have reserved seating. The maximum one-way train fare between the two cities is $91.
“That’s why people should plan accordingly,” said a representative at Grand Junction’s Amtrak station who did not want to be named.
There were more than the usual amount of walk-up fares on Tuesday for Grand Junction travelers heading to Denver, she said.
A number of people who were stranded west of the rockslide and unable to make flights in Eagle or Denver, were rebooked out of Grand Junction Regional Airport, Airport Manager, Rex Tippetts said.
And, he said, as planes fill up, the fares rise.
“The walk-up fare is the highest possible fare,” Tippetts said. “I don’t think it’s a matter of fares jumping. It’s a matter of no seats.”
Round-trip fares with flights Monday to Denver and return flights to Grand Junction today hovered around $500.
Tippetts said the round-trip fares have been about $400 if booked at least two weeks in advance of a flight.
United Express is the only airline that flies from Grand Junction to Denver.
Greyhound was alerting passengers on its Web site that travel to Glenwood Springs from Denver is canceled. Buses are being rerouted through the northwest portion of the state, which adds about two to four hours travel time. One, nonrefundable fare was left Tuesday night at $47.52 for travel today to Denver’s Union Station. A return, nonrefundable ticket for Friday was $51.92.
A representative who answered the phone at Colorado Mountain Express said the shuttle service’s drivers are not allowed to take passengers on either of the state’s reroutes. The journeys are longer than the eight hours per day its drivers are limited to. The service is offering two shuttles daily from Aspen to Grand Junction, at $76 a person each way.
Still, some travelers are renting cars and choosing to take the detours, she said.
The van service has taken several loads of tourists from Aspen to Grand Junction to rebook flights at the airport.
“I had a lady in tears because she had to pay more than $100 for each person in her whole family to change her flight,” the woman said. “It’s been pretty crazy here. I can’t wait until it’s done.”