Flying Cheaper Than Driving?

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Vacationers heading for the open road this summer might want to pick a route to their local airport. With gas prices topping $3 a gallon, airfare on some routes might be cheaper than driving or close enough in cost that the speed and convenience will tip the balance. "With the price of gas, you have to evaluate closely whether you're saving much by not flying," Stan Gadek, chief financial officer of AirTran Airways, told Knight Ridder Newspapers. Although fuel prices have driven up airfares, there's still fierce competition on well-traveled routes. But checking airfares shouldn't be your only mathematical exercise. It could be that flying yourself will be comparable to driving. An AVweb staffer did the math -- for fuel only -- after filling his sporty car with $3.45-a-gallon premium (the cheapest in the area) and figured there would be about a $7 (and two hour) difference in cost between flying 180 miles and driving that far. Now, your mileage will vary (his speedy homebuilt will cover that distance in an hour, burning eight gallons, and your car may fare better on the highway) but the fuel-cost comparisons have likely never looked more favorable, regardless of what you fly and drive. And, honestly, what would you rather do?