JetBlue provides Vermont with boost in airlift

NEW YORK -- Vermont may look small on a map, but what the state lacks in width it more than makes up for in height.

It is one of the nation's top ski destinations, and, when measured in inches of snow, the Green Mountain State is one of the biggest in the country.

According to the Vermont Ski Areas Association, the state has some 5,800 skiable areas. And in the past few years, all those areas have been getting additional "lift," in more ways than one.

JetBlue's institution of $49 one-way fares twice a day, seven days a week, from New York (Kennedy) to Burlington makes the area much more accessible and affordable to the 35 million residents of the New York metropolitan area.

Fourteen-day, advance-purchase tickets for the route cost $49; a walk-up purchase costs $105. No Saturday-night stays are required.

The JetBlue routes provided a strong boost to tourism at the destination, according to a spokesman for the Stowe Area Association.

"The JetBlue flights changed the whole vacation equation radically," the spokesman said. "It used to be a six-hour drive [from the New York area]. Now it's a 55-minute flight."

Vermont's Green Mountains are among the most popular locations for skiing in the U.S.. The entrance of JetBlue also changed the economics of a Vermont vacation, he said.

"Before JetBlue came in, the average fare was $375," said the Stowe spokesman. "I often paid as much as $500. JetBlue cut the legs off the stranglehold the other airlines had on the area."

A Jetblue spokeswoman said the airline is pleased with its load factors for the route.

"It's all about stimulating markets," she said, "about going in and giving people reasons to fly. Since JetBlue went into Burlington with $49 fares, people who normally sit in cars now fly."

Besides JetBlue, US Airways also offers daily flights from New York; United and American Eagle offer direct service from Chicago; Delta from Boston; Northwest from Detroit; and Continental from Newark.

Once in Burlington, there are many ways to go. Burlington is like a base camp, with five major ski resorts within an hour's drive: Stowe Mountain Resort, Sugarbush Ski Resort, Jay Peak Resort, Smugglers' Notch Resort and the Mad River Glen Cooperative.

Daytime winter activities include downhill and cross-country skiing as well as snowboarding, snowshoeing and sleigh riding.

The city of Burlington itself is an attraction. Besides being a transportation hub, it also is a cultural hub.

The Flynn Theater is a 1930s vintage hall that features live theater, dance and music performances.

A major renovation, completed in 2001, created the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, incorporating the restored art deco theater in a new, intimate performance setting as well as education and dance studios and a visual arts gallery.

The Trapp Family Lodge is owned and managed by Johannes Trapp, the eldest son of Baron Von Trapp, whose family was made famous by "The Sound of Music." Other members of the family work at the lodge, and the family does singing performances regularly.

The Brass Lantern Inn is a 12-room property furnished with antiques. The property is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Vermont inns and resorts

Brass Lantern Inn
Phone: (800) 729-2980

Jay Peak Resort
Phone: (800) 451-4449

Mad River Glen Cooperative
Phone: (802) 496-3551

Smugglers' Notch Resort
Phone: (800) 451-8752

Stowe Mountain Resort
Phone: (800) 253-4754

Sugar Bush Ski Resort
Phone: (800) 53-SUGAR

Trapp Family Lodge
Phone: (800) 826-7000

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