March 21, 2006 in City

Zags game fills flights to Bay Area

By The Spokesman-Review

More Zags inside

No defense: Gonzaga skeptics say the Bulldogs’ defense won’t be able to handle UCLA.

Notebook: Health update.

Stories, C1


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Flying to California this week? Good luck if you want to get there Wednesday or Thursday and didn’t book early.

Getting from Spokane to the Bay Area either day by a direct flight has become much more complicated, thanks to Gonzaga University playing its next NCAA basketball tournament game Thursday evening in the Oakland Arena.

Dave Curry, chief executive officer of Spokane Valley-based World Wide Packets, had to return two game tickets a business associate gave him. His schedule allowed him to travel only on Thursday, but Curry had no luck finding an open flight that would get him there by game time.

As others have found, he could reach Oakland on Wednesday night through connecting flights in Portland or Seattle.

“I’ll have to wait for the next time I get tickets,” Curry said.

The same problem, to a lesser degree, has sent travelers scrambling to buy affordable tickets for spring break travel.

“It’s a little worse than usual this year because nearly every airline has cut back on total seats they sell,” said Buzz Baldwin, owner of Buzz Baldwin Travel, in Spokane.

Nearly all U.S. airlines have reduced the number of flights they offer as they struggle to cut costs and combat rising fuel prices.

Baldwin said it’s almost impossible to find good tickets for flights leaving early on April 1 and 2, the first weekend of spring break for most area families.

“People are able to get out on April 3 and April 4, but they’re paying top dollar” because the airlines aren’t discounting those tickets and because they come with higher weekday rates, said Baldwin.

The tickets selling fastest are always early morning flights, since most Spokane passengers need to connect somewhere before reaching their final destination, he said.

“People can find later flights out, but it doesn’t help because they’re not able to connect in time,” he said.

Some spring-break fliers who waited too long this year won’t be able to get to the favorite destinations of Hawaii, the Caribbean or Mexico, Baldwin said.

“I get some people who call saying, ‘I need to get us somewhere warm. Even Phoenix. If I don’t get something, my wife will kill me.’ ”

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