EpicSki › Groups › 2013 EpicSki Gathering - Big Sky, Bridger Bowl, Moonlight Basin, Montana › Discussions › Getting to the Big Sky Gathering on American Airlines

Getting to the Big Sky Gathering on American Airlines

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I was trying to figure out how to get to the Gathering.  I have miles on American, so I'd rather not buy a ticket.  But unfortunately, AA doesn't go to Montana -- the closest appears to be Jackson Hole.

 

Now it turns out you can use AA miles on their "partner airlines" and Alaskan does fly to Boseman.  But I would have to fly Boston to Los Angeles to Las Vegas to Seatle to Boseman.  And the last two are on DH4's -- do skis even fit in the baggage compartment on those things?

 

So back to Plan A - fly to Jackson and drive up.  A couple of thoughts --

-- there are several threads on driving between Jackson and Big Sky.  Would the advise apply to Boseman, or are there other things to look out for?

-- if I'm going to be in Jackson, I ought to ski there.  But before or after the Gathering?  Has JHMR announced their operating dates for the upcoming season?

-- or maybe I ought to get a jump on the driving and hit Grand Targhee instead.  It looks like it isn't too much of a detour.

 

Any thoughts or advise?

post #2 of 17

If you don't ski at Jackson, have you considered flying to SLC and driving from there?  7 hours.  Targhee is on the way.  Perhaps you can hook up with someone else?

 

I have reasons to end up in SLC after the Gathering.  Plus I have a friend there so we plan to drive up together.

post #3 of 17

Fly to bozeman. 

 

The drive from jackson is pretty sketchy in a rental car. 

 

I don't think the flight to SLC is worth the trouble unless you have some specific hook up and access to a 4x4/awd  with winter tires and a good friend who is going to transport you to bozeman. 

post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post

Fly to bozeman. 

 

The drive from jackson is pretty sketchy in a rental car. 

 

I don't think the flight to SLC is worth the trouble unless you have some specific hook up and access to a 4x4/awd  with winter tires and a good friend who is going to transport you to bozeman. 

 

I'm with tromano. Couple years ago my family and I flew from New England to SLC. We were going to be doing a variety of things in Montana (primarily) and Wyoming. Flights to other candidate airports were way more expensive and hours longer, with more legs, so we settled reluctantly on Salt Lake. This was in the summer, when car travel is easier. It was okay (barely) because we had two weeks to play with, but man, distances are big out there. It takes a long time to get to places, even on the interstate ... where you won't be, mostly. Strongly advise NOT just eyeballing the map and saying "that looks doable." Instead, use Google Maps or whatever to help get you started with some realistic drive times. Then factor in extra time for bad weather, and especially don't forget the fatigue factor and its potential impact on your skiing.

post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

 but man, distances are big out there. 

 

qft

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post

Fly to bozeman. 

 

The drive from jackson is pretty sketchy in a rental car. 

 

I don't think the flight to SLC is worth the trouble unless you have some specific hook up and access to a 4x4/awd  with winter tires and a good friend who is going to transport you to bozeman. 

Is there something particularly bad about that route, or generic western mountains in the winter?

 

I guess it is a bit much -- google says 4 1/2 hours, which could easily turn into 6 or 8 with weather.

I have made drives that don't look too different, at least superficially -- Denver to Creseted Butte, Boulder to Wolf Creek, Albuquerque to Taos, Albuquerque to Wolf Creek, San Francisco to Tahoe -- some of them in heavy snowstorms.  I always rent an 4WD/AWD but you can't do anything about the lousy tires.

 

You haven't quite convinced me, but I am reconsidering.  4 to 6 hours of high-stakes driving can be pretty tiring.  Still, 18 hours to fly there is hard to swallow.

post #7 of 17

It is March 23-29 that we're talking about, so chances are the weather will be springlike. We live in Bozeman and often drive about the west in the wintertime for skiing. Oftentimes to SLC and Jackson, and we have made it back and forth without mishap so far. There are some skiers in Bozeman who consider Targhee a day trip. At one of our ESAs, Eric DesLauriers drove to Jackson after skiing Big Sky for his brother's birthday party and was back at Big Sky the next morning to meet his clinic group.

 

I'm flying to and from Chicago for $272 next week on Alaska Airlines. There also are some amazing fares on Allegiant to Bozeman from various cities. Another tip: check on Tuesdays for lowest fares.  

post #8 of 17

When I was booking my flight to Bozeman last fall, I noticed that the planes are all relatively small.  Not that many seats available on weekends.  One reason I flew in on a Friday and out on a Monday.  Also a bit cheaper I think.

 

The Friday flight to Bozeman on Delta via MSP was overbooked.  I was third in line.  Not too disappointed when the two guys in front of me got to stay behind.  The alternate connection got into Bozeman around 11pm.

post #9 of 17
If you fly to Jackson be sure to ski your way to big sky. Try at least one of the areas along the way.
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

Is there something particularly bad about that route, or generic western mountains in the winter?

 

I guess it is a bit much -- google says 4 1/2 hours, which could easily turn into 6 or 8 with weather.

I have made drives that don't look too different, at least superficially -- Denver to Creseted Butte, Boulder to Wolf Creek, Albuquerque to Taos, Albuquerque to Wolf Creek, San Francisco to Tahoe -- some of them in heavy snowstorms.  I always rent an 4WD/AWD but you can't do anything about the lousy tires.

 

You haven't quite convinced me, but I am reconsidering.  4 to 6 hours of high-stakes driving can be pretty tiring.  Still, 18 hours to fly there is hard to swallow.

 

Teton pass can be harrowing with just  a little weather. West yellowstone seems to have the snowiest weather of just about anywhere, I woulld expect snow and blowing snow even if the radar shows clear skies. It all depends on the weather which you won't have a clue about until the day before and won't know till its on your windshield. The roads may be shut, or much more treacherous than would be ideal.

 

Locals who know the roads, are used to winter driving, and have cars equiped with good tires, chains, shovels and thigns of that nature  are probabbly going to do things differently. 

 

If I were flying from the east coast, I would fly as direct as possible to Bozeman. 

 

I have done the drive from Wasatch to big sky before so I am going that route. But I also have the flexibility to leave a day early or late to avoid weather and my car is equipped for winter. Actually I plan to drive I15 through butte anyway then make a game time decision if the way through west yellowstone looks good.  

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

 

 

!)  Now it turns out you can use AA miles on their "partner airlines" and Alaskan does fly to Boseman.  But I would have to fly Boston to Los Angeles to Las Vegas to Seatle to Boseman. 

 

2)  And the last two are on DH4's -- do skis even fit in the baggage compartment on those things?

 

 

1)  Why Vegas?  Both LAX and Seattle are hubs for Alaska, and plenty of direct flights between each.

 

2)  Is that a real question or sarcasm?  That's a big airplane.

post #12 of 17

I just checked on Alaska Airlines website for you, mdf. You could fly this itinerary with one stop. Click on the image to enlarge.

 

post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by FujativeOCR View Post

 

1)  Why Vegas?  Both LAX and Seattle are hubs for Alaska, and plenty of direct flights between each.

When using AA frequent flyer miles, they don't exactly make it easy to do the more direct flights.  At least not if you want to use the minimum number of miles.

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

Nolo - thanks for looking.  I decided to go with the frequent flyer award.

 

I pulled the handle on the slot machine again a couple of days ago, and it came up with something slightly different, which I put on hold...

Boston - Chicago - Atlanta - Seatle - Bozeman going out,

Bozeman - Seatle - Chicago - Boston coming back.

 

The one bad thing wink.gif is I have to stay a couple of extra days.

 

I checked again today, and the available days were even furhter back, and no more direct.

So I pulled the trigger, and made the reservation for the one on hold.

 

Why not Jackson?  Frequent flyer seats were more available, but car rental prices are outrageous.  I have a small SUV reserved in Bozeman for over a week for $365.  The same thing, for two fewer days, would be $848 in Jackson!  Plus all the gas I would burn getting to Monanna.

 

THanks for the advise, everybody.  Looking forward to seeing you 6 1/2 months from now!

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FujativeOCR View Post

 

1)  Why Vegas?  Both LAX and Seattle are hubs for Alaska, and plenty of direct flights between each.

 

2)  Is that a real question or sarcasm?  That's a big airplane.

Well, so long as it is this DH4

http://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/fleet/q400.aspx

and not this DH4

 

But seriously, I hadn't looked it up.  Isn't there a really small one with a similar name?

post #16 of 17

Air travelers might want to have a look at this article: How to Get the Cheapest Price on Airfare The "magic window" to get the best price is a Tuesday 21-28 days out from your departure.

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

Well, so long as it is this DH4

http://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/fleet/q400.aspx

and not this DH4

 

But seriously, I hadn't looked it up.  Isn't there a really small one with a similar name?

 

When I checked Bozeman (BZN) flights last year there was only one real plane landing all day (B737 or A319 or larger)  NW from MSP.  The rest were all turboprops or

regional jets. 

This year is slightly better right now. -2 real planes. DL from MSP  and Frontier from DEN

http://www.flightstats.com/go/FlightStatus/flightStatusByAirport.do

 

Maybe others are added in ski season, maybe not.

EpicSki › Groups › 2013 EpicSki Gathering - Big Sky, Bridger Bowl, Moonlight Basin, Montana › Discussions › Getting to the Big Sky Gathering on American Airlines