Why Are Flights to Montana So Expensive?

Why are flights to Montana so expensive? It’s a question that has likely crossed your mind if you’ve ever considered visiting this picturesque state. Montana, known as “Big Sky Country,” offers stunning landscapes and a unique charm that draws millions of tourists each year. However, the price of getting there has become a major concern.

In this article, we’ll explore the factors driving up flight costs to Montana, from limited major airports and operational challenges to rising fuel prices and the state’s reputation as a popular tourist destination. We’ll also share tips on securing cheaper flights, so you can experience the Treasure State’s beauty without breaking the bank.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply someone intrigued by Montana’s allure, this article is your guide to understanding the economics behind the state’s expensive airfares.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why a ticket to the Big Sky State seems to cost more than other destinations, read on to uncover the reasons and discover how you can still make your Montana dreams a reality.

7 Key Takeaways on Why Flights to Montana Are Expensive

  1. Montana’s flights are up to 28% pricier than the national average, straining budgets.
  2. Missoula’s round-trip flights can exceed $1,500, pushing travelers towards cheaper options like Spokane or Bozeman ($600 to $700).
  3. Montana’s sparse population drives higher costs per traveler, hiking ticket prices.
  4. Fewer direct flights mean longer travel times and occasional price hikes due to limited airport options.
  5. During peaks, high tourist interest drives price adjustments and increased fares.
  6. Operational challenges in rural areas, like limited infrastructure and weather disruptions, impact ticket prices.
  7. Airlines, facing operational costs, might increase fares to cover expenses, affecting travelers’ budgets.

Montana’s Soaring Air Travel Costs

A plane is taking off from an airport in Montana.

Montana is popularly known as “Big Sky Country.” And it’s no surprise that this stunning state attracted 12.5 million non-resident tourists in 2021.

However, the cost of getting to Montana has become a cause for concern.

Flight prices to the state are an astonishing 28% higher than the national average.

This means that visitors seeking to experience Montana’s unique charm may be put off by the soaring costs.

Despite airport improvements and seasonal airlines, many people opt to drive to Spokane or Bozeman to catch a flight due to the exorbitant prices at Missoula’s airport.

Case in point: round-trip flights in and out of Missoula can exceed a hefty $1,500, while flights from Spokane or Bozeman typically range from $600 to $700.

These soaring airfare prices have made Missoula a less cost-effective option for travelers.

It’s bewildering how flight costs can vary so drastically within the same state.

But fear not, we’ll get to the bottom of Montana’s sky-high airfare prices and find the best way to experience this state without breaking the bank.

Why Are Flights to Montana So Expensive?

A white airplane on a runway in Montana.
source: flickr.com

Flights to Montana are often expensive due to the limited number of major airports in Montana, leading to higher demand and limited competition among airlines.

The rugged terrain and unpredictable weather in Montana can lead to higher operating costs for airlines, which in turn can drive up ticket prices.

Despite the high cost, the stunning natural beauty and outdoor adventures that await in Montana make it a worthwhile destination for those willing to splurge on airfare.

1. Montana’s Low Population Density

A man riding a horse in a field in Montana.

Montana’s low population density sets it apart from other states in the U.S.

Its vast, wide-open spaces and sparse population make for a distinct landscape that is both breathtaking and isolated.

When you think of Montana, you think of big skies and open land, and that’s exactly what you get. It’s a place where you can truly escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The low population density in the state plays a significant role in the overall expensive nature of flights to and from Montana.

With fewer people originating from Montana, airlines have fewer passengers to fill their planes.

This can lead to higher ticket prices, as the costs of operating the flights are spread across a smaller number of travelers.

It’s a simple matter of supply and demand – with fewer people flying in and out of Montana, the airlines may charge more to make up for the reduced number of passengers.

So, when you’re looking to book a flight to Montana, don’t be surprised if you find that the ticket prices are higher than you expected.

It’s a trade-off for the stunning, unspoiled beauty that the state has to offer.

2. Lack of Direct Flights to Montana

A fuel truck is approaching a plane parked on an airport runway.
source: commons.wikimedia.org

When it comes to air travel, most of us prefer the path of least resistance. Direct flights offer convenience, time savings, and a smoother journey overall.

But what if I told you that when it comes to Montana, the direct route isn’t always on the menu?

Montana’s major airports, like Bozeman Yellowstone International (BZN) and Missoula International (MSO), are well-connected to major hubs like Denver and Seattle.

However, if you’re flying from a non-major hub or a smaller city, direct flights to Montana can be as elusive as a mountain goat in winter.

The lack of direct flight options is primarily due to Montana’s limited major airports. This can result in a longer trips to reach Montana.

I’ve had my fair share of flights with multiple stops, and let me tell you, they can turn a simple journey into an odyssey.

Why the inconvenience? Well, airlines may charge higher fares for flights with multiple stops or connections.

It’s a simple case of supply and demand. Fewer direct flights mean more people vying for the same limited options, and airlines can sometimes capitalize on that.

3. Montana’s Reputation as a Popular Tourist Destination

A breathtaking view of a bustling city in Montana at night.

Montana’s allure as a tourist hotspot has certainly driven up airfare prices.

Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Montana, drawn to its breathtaking national parks, world-class fly-fishing rivers, and charming mountain towns.

As the summer months roll around, demand for flights to Montana skyrockets.

This causes airlines to adjust their pricing strategies to capitalize on travelers’ fervent desire to explore the state’s unique attractions.

Consequently, ticket prices soar, leaving many adventurers pondering if the splendor of Montana is worth the hefty cost.

4. Rising Fuel Costs

A white fuel tanker truck is parked in an airport in Montana.

Jet fuel, the lifeblood of aviation, is not cheap. And when you’re flying to a state as expansive as Montana, you’re in for a fuel bill that’s anything but pocket change.

Long-haul flights to this stunning state require a substantial amount of jet fuel, given the vast distances that need to be covered.

It’s quite mind-boggling. Fuel prices aren’t static; they fluctuate based on a multitude of factors.

Airlines, in turn, have to adjust their fares to accommodate these ever-changing costs.

I mean, I get it. Fuel is not cheap, and with the amount required for long-haul flights to Montana, it’s no wonder that airlines have to increase ticket prices to cover their costs.

But as a traveler, it can make you scratch your head and wonder if there’s any relief in sight.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially when you’re just yearning to explore the beauty of Montana. But hey, maybe there are some clever ways to mitigate these rising costs.

It might just be the ticket to making your Montana dreams a reality without breaking the bank.

5. Operational Challenges in Montana’s Rural Areas

A tornado taking form on a grassy field in Montana.

Operating airlines in Montana’s rural and remote areas presents a multitude of challenges.

Maintaining and servicing aircraft in these rural regions in the state can be more costly due to limited infrastructure and service access.

Inclement weather conditions, particularly in Montana’s mountainous terrain, can disrupt flight schedules and necessitate additional operational expenses.

As a result, airlines must consider these factors when setting ticket prices, ultimately increasing the overall cost of flights to the state.

These operational challenges make it difficult for airlines to provide consistent and affordable service in Montana’s rural areas.

6. Montana’s Limited Airports

A girl walking down an airport hallway in Montana.
source: flickr.com

The limited number of major airports in Montana is another key reason for expensive flights.

With only a handful of major airports in the state, there is a scarcity of options for travelers, leading to a lack of competition among airlines.

Popular airports in Montana include:

  • Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport
  • Helena Regional Airport
  • Missoula International Airport
  • Glacier Park International Airport
  • Billings Logan International Airport
  • Falls International Airport

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is the busiest airport in Montana, serving as a gateway to Yellowstone National Park.

It offers flights from various airlines such as Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and American Airlines.

Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell is also one of the busiest airports in the state and is important for travelers exploring popular destinations such as Glacier National Park.

This lack of competition allows airlines to maintain higher fares without the pressure of lower-priced alternatives.

Travelers often have limited options, and airlines take advantage of this situation by keeping ticket prices elevated.

As a result, flights to and from Montana can be more expensive compared to other states with more major airports and increased competition.

Tips to Secure Cheap Flights to Montana

A model airplane, passport, plane ticket, and credit card sit casually on top of a laptop.

Securing cheap flights to Montana can be a tricky task, but with a few savvy strategies, it’s entirely possible to snag a great deal.

Keep your expenses in check when flying to Big Sky Country with these tips:

  • Book in Advance – Save on airfare by booking your tickets well ahead of your travel dates.
  • Be Flexible with Dates – Use fare comparison websites to find the days for the cheapest flights, such as midweek and off-peak seasons.
  • Use Fare Comparison Websites – Utilize websites like Kayak, Skyscanner, Google Flights, and Expedia to compare prices from various airlines and booking platforms.
  • Consider Round-Trip Tickets – Round-trip tickets are often cheaper than two one-way flights, so consider this option.
  • Avoid Peak Travel Times – Steer clear of peak holiday seasons or major Montana events, as flight prices tend to be higher during these times.

By keeping these tips in mind and staying vigilant with your search on travel sites, you’ll be well on your way to securing cheap flights to the beautiful state of Montana.

The Cheapest Time to Fly to Montana

A snowy mountain range in Montana.
source: flickr.com

I’ve noticed that the cheapest month to fly to Montana is January. You can also find some great deals on flights in February.

However, during the holiday season, flight prices tend to soar, but they become minimal once the festivities are over.

The best time to find cheap flights in Montana is in January, just after the festive season, due to low demand.

If you’re hoping to snag some cheap flight tickets, it’s best to avoid the busy summer season, as many people travel to Montana to escape the heat, driving up flight prices.

Instead, I recommend traveling in October to avoid the Thanksgiving season. This is when you can find some decent flight times and deals.

So, if you’re a savvy traveler looking to save some extra cash, keep these tips in mind when planning your trip to Montana.

Montana’s Expensive Flights Final Thoughts

An airport waiting room in Montana with a scenic view of mountains.

Flights to Montana can be pricey, with some round-trip flights to Missoula surpassing $1,500.

Montana’s airfares rose 28% above the national average due to limited airports in remote areas, high fuel costs, and the state’s sparse population density.

The state’s allure as a tourist hotspot further drives up prices, compounded by the absence of direct flight options, culminating in these elevated travel expenses.

Despite the high prices, don’t let it discourage you from exploring Montana.

Consider booking in advance, opting for round-trip tickets, and avoiding peak travel times to snag cheaper flights.

January, after the festive season, is one of the most economical times to visit the state. So, plan your trip accordingly and save some cash.

With a little strategic planning, you can still experience the rugged beauty of Montana without breaking the bank.

Montana’s Expensive Flights FAQs

1. What Is an Affordable Airport to Fly Into in Montana?

Billings Logan International Airport stands as Montana’s largest and most efficient airport, making it one of the most cost-effective options for flying into the state.

Its size and operational efficiency contribute to comparatively lower airfare prices, providing travelers with an affordable gateway to Montana’s iconic attractions.

2. What Month Is It Cheapest to Fly to Montana?

The most economical month to fly to Montana is typically January, following the holiday season when travel demand subsides.

During this period, reduced demand often translates to lower airfare prices, offering budget-conscious travelers an opportunity to visit Montana at a more affordable cost.

3. Why Is It Cheaper to Fly Out of Certain Airports?

Flight costs can differ between airports due to several factors, including lower operational expenses, increased competition among airlines, and proximity to sought-after travel destinations.

Airports with lower operational costs or those in regions with more competitive airline markets tend to offer cheaper flight options compared to others.

4. Is It Expensive to Fly to Montana?

Yes, it is generally expensive to fly to Montana, with round-trip flights sometimes exceeding $1,500.

However, travelers can secure more affordable options by booking in advance, avoiding peak travel periods, and maintaining flexibility with travel dates.

5. What Are the Best Travel Months in Montana?

The prime travel months in Montana for tourists and vacationers are during the summer, typically June, July, and August.

This period offers excellent weather, especially in iconic spots like Glacier National Park, ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the state’s natural wonders.

Eager to learn more? Dive deeper into Montana with these recommended articles:

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Written by:

Ashley Smith
Hello there! I'm Ashley Smith, born on a chilly winter's day, Montana has been my playground since childhood. The first snowfall of the year always brings back memories of building snowmen and winter hikes. Co-founding PocketMontana.com was my way of sharing the magic of Montana's seasons with the world. While Chris dives deep into the landscapes, I'm obsessed with Montana's rich culture, from the local festivals to the tales passed down generations.

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