Flying into Ithaca in February from the west coast. Is it best to go to Syracuse or to Ithaca? Through Philly or Detroit?
Syracuse to Ithaca is about a 90 minute drive in good weather. Don't rule out Rochester if you can get a better deal, that's only an extra 20 minutes on the drive. Both areas can see heavy, localized lake effect snow that time of year, and that's very hard to predict. Should you wind up landing in the middle of a snow event, keep in mind they generally only last a day (we're under a 24 hour warning right now, in fact). But, since we're geared up for this type of thing, roads are pretty well maintained, relatively speaking. Of the two cities, the drive from Syracuse is mostly interstate, but more hills. The drive from Rochester is down a fairly busy state route (NY96, for the most part) that's mostly flat but more interesting, IMO.
I'm only half kidding when I express surprise that Ithaca has an airport - can you get a flight from Philly or Detroit directly into Ithaca?
The real issue is whether your flight to Ithaca will be cancelled due to weather. The flights to Ithaca, and many to Syracuse, are puddle jumpers, so they are the first ones cancelled if any whether (rain, wind or snow) is happening in either Philly or Detroit. Of course they can also be cancelled if there is bad weather happening in Ithaca or Syracuse. Syracuse is more likely to have lake effect snows (more cancellation risk) but it also has more jets (less cancellation risk).
You should consider flying to either Philly or Newark and renting a car. They are 4 and 4.5 hours from Ithaca respectively.
Don't discount the Ithaca airport for good rates. Best to check----I've been flying a fair amount and find that Ithaca rates can be considerably less. The other thing is that it's great in "iffy" weather to be just a few minutes away from the airport or home when you return.
Parking is so easy and everyone there is so pleasant----even for the very early 5:40AM flights!
I choose to fly out of the Ithaca airport if the cost of the ticket is within $100. With checked luggage, you only need to get to the Ithaca airport an hour before take off, and no luggage, 20-30 minutes is fine. Syracuse has more regular early requirements. There is also a lot more convenience flying through Ithaca. Lastly, i think Ithaca offers much better customer service.
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