More and more Vail bound travelers are choosing to fly into Eagle Regional Airport (EGE) over the traditional choice of Denver International every year. It’s not hard to understand why – Eagle Airport is only a short 40 minute drive away from Vail village which makes the commute so much easier and more pleasant. After all, the last thing most people want to do following a long flight into Colorado is to spend another two and a half hours (assuming the weather and traffic are cooperative that day) sitting in a car, no matter how pretty the view out the window. It’s true that until quite recently, the biggest obstacle to flying into Eagle was the lack of flights and carriers servicing the airport, but that barrier is quickly dissolving.
Eagle Regional Airport Expansion
Recently (Dec 2019) American Airlines started operating a non-stop flight from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) to Eagle Regional. Other airlines have expanded the number of cities from which they fly direct into Eagle, as well as the number of weekly flights they operate. Year round service is only available from Denver and Dallas/Fort Worth, however more services are becoming available during the summer season which also continues to grow in popularity each year. In total there are now 3 major domestic carriers (United, Delta, American) flying in from 13 cities during the busy Winter season, making access to Vail and the Valley’s other resort destinations easier and more convenient than ever before.
2021/2022 Direct Service to EGE
- Denver – DIA, Colorado
- Dallas /Fort Worth – DFW, TX
- Chicago – O’Hare – ORD, IL
- Atlanta – ATL, GA
- Miami – MIA, FL
- Houston – AH, TX
- Newark – LGA, NJ
- New York – JFK, NY
- New York – EWR, NY
- Los Angeles – LAX, CA
- San Francisco – SFO, CA
- Phoenix -PHX, AZ
- Philadelphia – PHL, PA
With so many options from major cities across the U.S. it’s a wonder why most people are still choosing to fly into DIA vs Eagle when going to Vail? Well, some considerable challenges still remain to be addressed before Eagle Airport can become the #1 port of entry into the Vail Valley.
Issues with Flying into Eagle
First, there is the issue lack of daily flights from most of the connecting airports. With the exception of Denver (DIA) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) which operate several flights each day, and Chicago (ORD) as well as Los Angeles (LAX) which have daily flights in Winter, the other connecting cities still only operate a few flights each month, and sometimes that just doesn’t coincide with people’s travel itinerary. Guests from abroad especially would feel understandably hesitant to book international flights relying on connecting to a very limited service. This issue is currently being exacerbated by the lack of pilots and flight personnel that continues to plague the airline industry in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with flights being cancelled from time to time.
Second, for domestic travelers, there is still a problem of perception and seeing Eagle as a small regional airport that might be “dangerous” to fly into. Being ranked #8 on The History Channel’s “Most Extreme Airports” list doesn’t help much. In truth, the only thing “extreme” about flying into Eagle is it’s high elevation, and at the time the documentary was released, Eagle airport had a much smaller runway, which made it more of a challenge, but recent Airport expansions increased the runway substantially, so flying in and out of Eagle is much the same as any other airport in the world.
It is true that weather related issues can cause substantial delays or cancelled flights, but the fact is, if the weather is so bad that a plane cannot land, you’ll probably be stuck on the other side of the Eisenhower tunnel not able to drive in from Denver anyway.
All in all, flying into Eagle is becoming more accessible every year, and more and more travelers are discovering the benefits of landing so much closer to Vail (and after all, you still need to fly back eventually, and that’s another 2.5 hour trip going back the other way)
Going From Eagle Airport to Vail
Once you land in Eagle Regional (which is technically in Gypsum, but people assume it’s in Eagle all the same), the next challenge, is of course, transportation from Eagle to Vail. There are several options to consider. Each with its own problems and benefits. The right solution will depend on budget, time and flexibility considerations.
I. Taking a Private Car Service from Eagle Regional to Vail
By far the easiest and most convenient way to travel from Eagle to Vail is by using a private car service. There are several very reputable providers operating from Eagle Regional Airport, with Blue Sky Limo being the latest company to set up shop in close proximity to EGE to be able to better accommodate the rising demand for transportation to and from the airport. The major benefits of utilizing a private car service are primarily comfort and reliability.
Having a booked reservation means your car and driver will be waiting for you at the airport when you arrive, ready to assist you with all luggage and sporting equipment. The vehicles most often utilized by private car companies are large 4WD SUV’s which have room for up to 7 passengers, as well as rooftop boxes for extra cargo. These are usually the latest model SUV’s decked out in luxury finishes such as leather interiors, onboard WIFI, charging stations, in-seat entertainment, complimentary waters, etc. Everything to make for a smooth relaxing journey from Eagle to Vail.
The drivers are typically Eagle County locals, well trained, and very familiar with the local roads and traffic patterns. Using a private service means that there is no need to wait for anyone else (nor share a small enclosed space with total strangers.
The downside is cost. The fares each way start at about $260, with additional charges for fuel, and high season travel. An important factor to consider however, is that the cost is per vehicle, not per person – so if you’re traveling with several others, the private car might actually be cheaper or not substantially more costly than other options, but certainly much more convenient.
II. Taking a Shared Shuttle Service from Eagle Regional to Vail
Shared shuttle operators have taken a beating due to Covid. Many routes have been cancelled, but they are sure to be operating again very soon. The advantage of using a shared shuttle are the cost savings. If you’re flying into Eagle solo or as a couple, it might be substantially cheaper to use a shared shuttle, however it’s important to keep in mind the downside.
You will be forced to wait for the scheduled shuttle’s departure time, which might be quite a while. You will be cramped in with many other people. You will have very limited quota for bags allowed per person and might have to pay extra for additional bags or equipment. You will also have to wait for the shuttle to make many other stops as other passengers disembark, which will add to your transit time.
Budget conscious travelers and young people who have the energy to spare might find this a welcome option, but there are definitely more comfortable means of transportation from Eagle Airport to Vail
III. Renting a Car to Go From Eagle Airport to Vail
Renting a car at Eagle Regional Airport is definitely an option worth considering. A few of the major national car rental companies operate out of Eagle Airport, and this might be a good option for those who intend to do a fair amount of traveling between Vail and other surrounding resorts. Some important considerations to keep in mind are 1)cost 2)parking 3)driving though hazardous Winter road conditions.
As far as cost goes, car rental in Eagle is going to be more expensive that most other parts of the country. Renting an economy sedan is not advisable at all during the Winter season. To drive safely through the Rocky Mountains you really need a 4WD SUV and studded Winter tires. If traveling with skiing/snowboarding equipment please be aware of the limitations of space in a small vehicle. A rooftop box is highly advised.
Parking is also both very limited and very expensive in Vail during the Winter months. Most hotels only offer valet parking which starts at $25/day + the expected gratuity, and parking at the mountain lots also goes for about the same sum – if you can find a spot!
The only time renting a car might be a good idea is during the Summer, when roads are easy to navigate and the in-town parking lots are free to use.
IV. Using a Ride Share Service From Eagle to Vail
After not allowing ride-share companies to pick up passengers from Eagle Airport for many years, the airport has recently reversed its policy and now Lyft drivers are able to make pickups and drop-offs at a designated area (which is a good walking distance away from the terminal building). While using a ride share might seem like a good, budget conscious decision to make, there are of course some caveats and limitations to consider.
Mostly, the type of car the driver is operating, how well it has been maintained and how reliable this individual is. While of course you can see driver rankings ahead of time and there is some functionality for booking a driver ahead of time, always remember that these are not professional drivers. Many are younger individuals looking for a flexible income and are living in the Vail Valley to enjoy the snow. And while a snow storm that caused your flight to be delayed for a few hours and now you just want to get to your lodgings and rest, that same storm is the perfect “pow” day for the driver you thought was going to meet you and drive you to Vail.
Unlike professional car service operators, there is no regulated maintenance schedule the ride share drivers have to follow – so who knows the last time those breaks were checked. And again, just how many skis and bags do you think will fir into that Toyota Corolla?
Ride shares might be a good idea in the summer, but when safety and reliability are in question, it’s probably best to look at some of the other options for going from Eagle to Vail, especially if traveling with more than two people.
Eagle to Vail: Your Best Option
In conclusion, if going to Vail this Winter through Eagle Regional Airport, be sure to have your travel arrangements from the airport to Vail made well in advance. The Winter season is very busy, and many services get sold out quick. The last thing you want is to be stranded at the airport in the middle of some bad weather, with no means to get to your lodgings. Car rental and ride share services are probably best utilized in the summer moths when road conditions are perfect and there is little chance for major issues to arise.
Driving through the Rocky Mountains in the Winter can be a hazardous undertaking for even the most experienced drivers and your mode of transport should be decked out for Winter or you might find yourself in some serious trouble.
If it’s just you and maybe one or two others, a shared shuttle service from EGE to Vail might be a good option that won’t break the bank. But if you want the most piece of mind and reliability, the extra cost of booking a private car service with a professional driver to take you to and from the airport might be your very best bet!
Either way, enjoy all Vail has to offer this Winter, and be safe out there!