SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The Santa Maria airport announced three new destinations at the beginning of the year, but now some people say prices are too expensive.
Flights to Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles won't be available until June, however, tickets can be booked online in advance. On social media, some say they would rather fly out of San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara airports to save more.
“We can't guarantee that specific flights will be cheaper or exactly the same as San Luis or Santa Barbara, because as flights start to sell, those [discounted] fares go away," said Chris Hastert, general manager at the Santa Maria Airport.
On United Airlines' website on Friday, one of the cheapest round-trip flights to Denver from Santa Maria in mid-June is $432. If you fly out of Santa Barbara, though, the price tag goes down to $368.
For some, the difference is not significant.
“I think the prices are reasonable," said Santa Maria resident Ray Quiet. "It's about the same as if you flew out of Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo.”
Others, like resident Raul Blanco, say they would pay a little extra to have the convenience of flying from their hometown.
But the Santa Maria airport says those numbers don't tell the whole story. Hastert says they've done studies to determine fare prices.
“One of the things we look at to be competitive, is how our fares compare to neighboring airports.”
He adds that flight prices can vary based on the route and just how booked any individual flight is.
“I've looked at other flights direct to Denver, or even making connections, and some of our fares are less expensive than San Luis or Santa Barbara.”
For example, a June roundtrip flight from Santa Maria to Los Angeles is $219 as of Friday. From San Luis Obispo, it would cost $257.
Hastert encourages people to give their feedback to the airport if they're not finding competitive prices. The airport will be meeting with United Airlines to make sure they're aware of any anomalies.