Crowds hit Routt County’s Yampa Valley Regional Airport |

Crowds hit Routt County’s Yampa Valley Regional Airport

Eastern blizzard not a factor as YVRA sees 3,800 travelers in 2 days

Retired Moffat County school teachers and skycaps Ken Harjes and Don Riley help arriving passengers at Yampa Valley Regional Airport with their bags Monday.
Tom Ross

— The big snowstorm that walloped New York and Phila­­delphia on Monday app­eared to have little effect on post-holiday travel into Yampa Valley Regional Airport as more than 3,800 airline passengers made their way through the terminal in Hayden on Sunday and Monday combined.

“Things seemed to go very smoothly,” Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said Monday afternoon during a meeting with the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

The weekly Saturday flight from Newark, N.J., made it to the Yampa Valley and returned before the storm hit, but in an ironic twist, the daily flight from Atlanta was canceled Sunday because of ice on the ground there.

“Most of our flights have been unaffected,” skycap Don Riley, of Craig, said Monday. “Maybe a few passengers (from the New York area) missed their connection in Chicago today.”

On Sunday and Monday, the combined flights from Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Chicago were moderately overbooked, as 1,104 arrivals were expected Sunday and 1,085 on Monday.

Kristy Boog-Scott, whose family has been vacationing in Steamboat Springs for a dozen years, said Monday’s flight from Dallas was uneventful.

“The direct flights are great, especially when you travel with kids,” Boog-Scott said.

Her son Evan, 14, said he took it as a good omen that his Uncle Chad was not along on the trip this year.

“Whenever Chad comes, it seems like we don’t have good snow,” his mother confirmed.

Allen Hughes, of Tampa, Fla., said he felt fortunate that his party made it to Steamboat through Dallas without complications.

“We left Tampa an hour late because of a mechanical, but they made up a little time in the air and we caught our flight,” Hughes said.

He was returning to Steam­boat for a ski vacation for the first time in years. Friends and family influenced him, he said.

Jeff Mahlmann, of Fort Worth, Texas, was admiring the facilities at YVRA.

“I like these little airports,” he said. “We landed early. I don’t like the big airports.”

Mahlmann’s flight from Dallas wasn’t the only flight that arrived early under high clouds Monday. The Atlanta flight on Delta was seven minutes ahead of schedule, the 76-passenger Delta flight from Minneapolis beat the clock by five minutes, and the first arrival of the day from Denver on SkyWest/United Express was 17 minutes ahead of schedule.

Mahlmann was withholding judgment about the slopes of Steamboat Ski Area until he tested the product.

“We have a rule,” he said. “We never ski the same place twice. I want to see how this compares to Whistler.”

There’s hope for Mount Werner — Mahlmann said he liked the look of all the blue (intermediate) runs on the trail map.

Retired Moffat County High School algebra teacher Ken Harjes also was working as a skycap near the baggage terminals, where he was piling a stack of luggage onto a cart.

The carousels were crowded but not uncomfortably so, and a steady stream of arriving ski vacationers was filing out the doors to waiting Go Alpine and Storm Mountain Express people-mover vans.

Harjes, who grew up in the Chicago area, said he looks forward to meeting the daily American Airlines flight from the Windy City and yakking with passengers about the Chicago Bears.

“I meet so many good people here,” he said. “I met a guy who knows my uncle better than I do. This is a great way to kill the winter.”

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