By Cara Pallone
Have time, will travel. That was the theme Wednesday at Telluride Regional Airport, where 16 lucky people got a free round-trip ride to Denver aboard a Dornier 328 jet.
The promotion was to hype the new first-ever daily commercial jet service into TEX. Last week, Colorado Flights Alliance invited members of the public to pack their bags and be at the Telluride Regional Airport by 11:30 sharp on May 15th for the chance to be selected for a last-minute spring getaway to Denver. Ten people would be chosen to leave that very afternoon and return within a week.
You didn’t have to tell Himay Palmer twice. When he learned almost simultaneously that they were giving away free jet rides to Denver and that Arapaho Basin Ski area was extending its season, Palmer packed a bag.
“My friend told me about it so I picked up one of the papers and it said be up here. There was only 16 of us so they took the whole bunch. I feel like a jet setter.”
While Palmer had specific plans to get in a few late-season spring skiing turns, there were those who didn’t know they’d be going on a trip at all, until they were actually going. Take friends Patrick Shehan and Marcus Smith, who went to the airport for the ribbon cutting ceremony welcoming the inaugural jet into TEX and found themselves about to board said jet.
As Palmer explained, there was room for more than 10 and so six additional passengers were invited to take the trip, even though they carried nothing but wallets and cell phones. Well, and champagne glasses, which seemed to be encouraging their spontaneity.
“We were coming to support the Telluride Tourism Board and hang out for the launch, and they said, you guys are on it if you want. So we’re going to Denver for the night.”
Colorado Flights Alliance rolled out the red runway carpet Wednesday in honor of daily commercial jet service coming to TEX. The service is through Denver Air Connection with United Airlines.
The first jet left DIA at around 11:45 a.m. and landed in Telluride less than an hour later.
Once the jet was safely parked on the tarmac, aviation, government and tourism officials all gathered in front of the aircraft to pose for pictures, offer speeches and cut a big giant ribbon, including Colorado Flights COO Matt Skinner, describing it as a milestone in air service for the Telluride region.
“It’s great to see a jet on the tarmac…”
But the real excitement was back in the airport, where the 16 passengers were now on their second or third glasses of champagne as they waited to board.
As for whether any of these folks would ever buy a ticket to ride, most said yes, under the right circumstances. A one-way ticket costs about $200 and a round-trip flight will run jet setters around $400 to $450, according to a search of dates on denverairconnection.com.
Take Dan Enright, who read about the promotion in the paper and decided to use his final couple days off during the off season. He has a cousin to stay with in Denver, was planning on seeing a show and was grateful to be on the flight.
But would it be worth the cost for him to purchase a ticket in the future?
“You know, in a special occasion, perhaps...”
The Dornier travels 400 to 450 miles per hour; total air time is 40 minutes. If you needed to get to Denver in a pinch, it would certainly be the quickest option.
The Denver-air connection flights will operate year round with the exception of two seasonal breaks in spring and fall. The introduction of Denver Air Connection means there’s competition at the airport now. This is the second commercial option; Boutique Air was introduced at TEX in late August 2018 after Great Lakes airlines, which previously offered commercial service, folded.
For more information, go to denverairconnection.com or united.com.