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Fly Local, Fly Easy this Holiday Season

October 25, 2021

Photo Credit: Kevin Rangel

While it may seem too soon to talk about Christmas, people are already finalizing their holiday trips. The QC region is unique in that there are several airports within driving distance. But the cost of getting to an airport outside the Quad Cities can add up.

One thing we hear is that airfare is cheaper out of Chicago. That’s because the size of O’Hare or Midway forces airlines to be more competitive and it drives airfare down. But airfare isn’t the only cost to consider.

Gas is the highest it’s been in years and parking at a Chicago airport will cost an average $18 per day in their economy lots compared to $7 per day at MLI’s economy lot – and the 6th and 7th days are free making a full week just $35.

Unpredictable winter weather could also mean a much longer drive navigating through ice and snow. People are trying to maximize their time at home getting ready or time spent with family during the holidays. Leaving 5+ hours before a flight is no way to start the holiday season.

Larger airports across the U.S. are already warning passengers to be prepared for closed parking lots and long lines. At the QC Airport, there are just two lots to choose from and both are a short walk to the terminal. The premium lot closest to the terminal also has NEW covered parking at no additional cost so vehicles will be protected from the elements and tired passengers don’t have to come home to a car buried in snow or ice.

Small airports also have a big advantage over larger airports when it comes to taking COVID-19 precautions. Studies show that flying is one of the safest forms of travel, with the biggest risks occurring at select locations in an airport where people have to queue for an extended period of time – like checking in and the security checkpoint. Thanks to MLI’s size, check in is fast, TSA lines are short and the terminal is big enough for you to spread out.

Needless to say, the complete journey and the added stress that comes with it must be factored into travel plans. offers a free trip calculator that totals airfare, mileage, parking rates and time spent traveling to the airport. The revamped website also has SkySkanner, an airfare search tool. Both are available on the Travel Resources page of

We did a sample search of airfare from the QC Airport to Denver compared to Chicago O’Hare to Denver for the same week. The results showed O’Hare had the seemingly cheaper airfare by a couple hundred dollars. But when mileage, parking and time were totaled, MLI came out on top as the more economical option. We know that it may not always work out that way but in those instances there is still value in convenience.

The Quad Cities International Airport is served by four airlines that fly to 10 destinations and major hubs:

It’s important fly local especially during the busy holiday travel season because it can impact air service in the future. Airlines pay close attention to bookings so the more you fly from your hometown airport, the more likely airlines will consider adding frequency or new destinations.

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