I drove out of the Keeneland racecourse last week, which put me across the street from Lexington?s Blue Grass Airport. I thought how quiet and serene it looked, sitting there next to Calumet Farm and the rolling parklands of Keeneland. Then I chuckled, thinking what the place would be like in a few months? time.
Then I heard a roar. As my car sat at the light on Versailles Road, I looked up. It sounded like a big plane, and most of the flights into Lexington are smaller "regional" jets. And it was a big plane. But it didn't say Delta, US Air, American or any of the usual carriers who serve Lexington.
It was a big Air Tran plane. Air Tran in Lexington? A budget airline flies to Lexington? Now that's news?
You can be sure I was quick to look up Boston to Lexington flights on Air Tran?s website when I was back in the office but, alas, it came up ?service not available?. But what was available was a series of flights from Orlando or Fort Lauderdale in Florida into Lexington?the current fares start at $92 each way. Unfortunately they don't offer advance booking for the fall yet.
If Air Tran serves that market now, perhaps it will be expanding to more cities as WEG approaches. Wouldn?t that be great!
Air Tran isn?t the only one with Lexington on its map. Yesterday Blue Grass Airport announced that Delta Air Lines will offer new non-stop service between Lexington and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Two daily flights will be offered beginning September 7, 2010. That should make it much easier for travelers from the west coast to reach Lexington.
Brian Ellestad of Blue Grass Airport also told me today that Delta plans to add more than 3,500 seats to the Lexington market during the Games. Delta will do this by replacing the small jets that now service Lexington with MD-88s and DC-9s. Delta will also increase the number of flights to Lexington from New York?s LaGuardia Airport and Washington?s Reagan National, both of which should be helpful for international travelers.
Lexington is not worried about handling horses; the high volume of horse sales, racing at Keeneland and comings and goings of breeding stock and sport horses have made the field's staff old pros at that. Brian said that while most international horses will be staged through quarantine facilities at Cincinnati?s airport and then vanned to the Kentucky Horse Park, other horse-heavy flights will use Blue Grass Airport. These flights include planes carrying the South American horses that will clear customs in Miami and planes from Los Angeles carrying cleared horses from Pacific Rim countries.
Beautiful cloud photo by Patrice Panis. Thanks!