By Bill Sniffin
Three cheers for that direct daily flight from Cheyenne to Dallas.
We took it for the second time over New Year’s and it is just so doggone handy. It is almost a miracle to me.
We live in Lander, some 250 miles from Cheyenne, so why am I am so psyched about this service? Because, to me, it is personal.
Driving to Cheyenne works fine because we go through the capital city and head to Denver to see my 95-year old mother in a nursing home there. We also have two brothers, a granddaughter, and a nephew living in the Denver area. It is fun to reconnect with them during the holiday season.
Our youngest daughter lives in north Dallas, just 45 miles from the DFW airport, so they can come pick us up after we land. We enjoyed the New Year’s holiday and spent five days basking in 60-degree weather, while Wyoming was blowing and shivering.
Another reason for liking the flight is because it is a direct flight. However, we talked with two other Wyomingites who used the flight as part of more complicated trips.
Deb Hughes lives at Esterbrook near Douglas. Most recently her husband took a one-year assignment in Guernsey where they live right now. She liked the service being so local. It was a springboard for her to visit relatives in Florida and Virginia.
Amber Rucker, a social worker at the Cheyenne Veterans Hospital, used the flight as a way to ultimately get to Mississippi. She flew out on New Year’s Day and came back Jan. 6. “Whew those winds were high in Cheyenne,” she said. She was impressed that the pilots handled the planes so well during the takeoffs and landings.
She said Interstate 25 was closed on the day she left, so had she booked her flight through Denver, she would have been unable to go.
A little over a year ago, when I first heard about Cheyenne offering daily airline service to and from Dallas, I was skeptical.
With local, state, and federal help, a brand new terminal had been built in Cheyenne for what appeared to be non-existent airlines. It was seemingly a Wyoming version of the famous Alaska bridge to nowhere.
It was the airline terminal with no airline service.
Then some hard-working folks came up with the idea of non-stop daily service to Dallas, subsidized by local, state, and federal funds.
When I told my Lander friends that we were going to fly that route over New Year’s, they thought we were crazy.
In recent years we have started a holiday tradition of celebrating an early holiday with our Lander-based daughter Shelli Johnson and her family. Then we plan our flight to Dallas over New Year’s, trying to be in two places at once over the holidays.
We chose to fly on New Year’s Eve day this year with two round trip tickets costing about $580. It might have been cheaper flying from Denver but if you add in highway tolls, parking fees, and the hassle associated with DIA, well, it made going out of Cheyenne seem like a good choice. No regrets.
American Airlines uses 50-passenger jets. On our trip out of Cheyenne, they upgraded to a 70-seat plane for some reason. Lots of extra seats available, which made the trip super comfortable.
The trip home from Dallas to Cheyenne was on the smaller 50-passenger jet with 47 passengers. Just two hours. Super convenient. The folks working the Cheyenne airport are great, too. Never seen TSA folks smile as much as that crew.
Overall, I would say this is a great experience.
It seems to me that Colorado’s Front Range folks might drive to Cheyenne to save money and avoid the big airport hassle. Folks from all over Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado are potential travelers out of this airport.
I’ve been told the next effort should be daily flights from Cheyenne to Salt Lake City and even Denver. I wonder if they have made a pitch to Allegiant? Now that would be quite a coup. The airline future will be bright for Cheyenne with proper regional promotion.
Cheyenne’s airline past is storied. United Airlines originally had its main maintenance facility here in Wyoming. The very first flight attendant school started in Cheyenne in 1930 by Boeing Air Transport.
For over a decade, Cheyenne was headquarters for the large regional airline, Great Lakes Airlines.
Yes, there is a fantastic history of commercial aviation in Cheyenne. With flights like the one we took and future flights on the drawing board, it will be fun to see Cheyenne’s airline experience soar into the future.
Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books. His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.