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10:52 AM Mon, Nov. 19th

Cleared for takeoff: Booking is underway for United Express flights from Prescott to Denver, L.A.

Prescott Municipal Airport runway 21L is shown at dusk in this undated photo. (Courtesy)

Prescott Municipal Airport runway 21L is shown at dusk in this undated photo. (Courtesy)

On most days of the week beginning Aug. 29, one hundred dollars will get Prescott passengers to Los Angeles and back. And for $160, local passengers can make the round-trip to Denver and back.

Those fares, which are now available for booking through United Airlines (united.com), are competitive with the airline’s similar flights from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where the cost runs about $160 for a roundtrip to Los Angeles, and $163 to Denver.

The Prescott flights will begin later this month as a part of a recently approved contract with SkyWest Airlines, operating as United Express, through the City of Prescott’s Essential Air Service (EAS) subsidy program.

Booking for the coming flights began on about July 20, and Prescott Airport Director Robin Sobotta said about a third of the August seats had been booked by late last week, and about 10 percent of the seats to Denver for September had been booked.

EXTENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS

Meanwhile, a host of improvements are in the works to prepare for the arrival of the airline on Aug. 29.

For instance, the city’s dated terminal building is being spruced up and reconfigured to meet the passenger, security, and technology needs of the airline and its larger 50-seat regional jets.

To accommodate the expected increased demand for parking, Sobotta said the city plans to move a fence to convert a portion of its “air side” of the airport to the “land side.” That will add 50 to 60 parking spots — bringing the total parking near the terminal to about 150 spaces.

Those spaces will be available free of charge for the first 10 days. For trips of 11 days or more, parking is also free, but passengers are required to notify airport administration about long-term needs.

“We don’t want vehicles abandoned,” Sobotta said of the notification requirement. Travelers should call the airport at 928-777-1114 to arrange for the long-term parking.

Along with the parking that will be available just outside the terminal, the city will have long-term parking spaces near the airport administration office a short distance away. During the expected busy holiday season, Sobotta said plans are in the works to have a shuttle to carry passengers from those spaces to the terminal.

Inside the terminal, Sobotta pointed out that the check-in counter is being moved to the right, and new back-to-back seating will be installed in the main lobby area.

A new baggage-claim area is also being constructed just outside the terminal, and new carpeting is being installed.

The work is being done by city workers when possible, Sobotta said.

While the city has $150,000 budgeted for its terminal improvements, she said only about $6,000 of that had been spent by late last week.

Ultimately, she expects the city’s costs to total $80,000.

AIRLINE INVESTMENTS

The airline is also making improvements at the airport, which Sobotta said would amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Among those investments will be new passenger-facing kiosks that will allow self-serve check-in.

About 12 to 14 staff members are being hired by the airline to handle the new commercial service. Some of those workers are already in training, Sobotta said, while others will be hired in the coming weeks.

Along with its service to Denver and Los Angeles, the United Express service will offer access to flights all over the world.

And for passengers who purchase a single ticket completely on United Airlines from Prescott to their ultimate destination, Sobotta said, “Bags should transfer seamlessly.”

Prescott Airport’s new commercial carrier — need to know

• United Express, operated by SkyWest, will begin service from the Prescott Municipal Airport to Los Angeles and Denver on Aug. 29.

• Daily Denver flights will depart Prescott Municipal Airport at 9:03 a.m.

• Los Angeles flights will depart six days a week, Sunday through Friday, at 1:50 p.m.

• One-way fares to Denver are currently as low at $80 for “basic economy” (with one personal item included and an extra charge for carry-ons and checked bags)

• One-way fares to Los Angeles are as low as $50 for “basic economy.”

• “Economy” fares are currently available for about $5 more, which will allow for one personal item and a carry-on piece of luggage, as well as a complimentary seat assignment.

• No food will be served on the flights to Denver and Los Angeles; Susie’s Skyway Restaurant at the Prescott Airport will offer “grab and go” items for purchase to take on the flights.

• Complimentary beverage service, as well as alcohol for purchase, will be available on the regional jets flying to and from Prescott.

• Parking will be free at the Prescott Airport for up to 10 days. After 10 days, passengers must notify airport management to get approval for long-term parking, which is also free.

• “TSA Pre” and Global Entry passengers will undergo reduced security at the Prescott Airport, but there will be no separate queue line.

• A restroom will be available on the United Express regional jets, as well as in the airport’s secure waiting area.

• The regional jets will not have Wi-Fi or on-board entertainment available.

• An ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible ramp will be used with the regional jet service.

• A Hertz rental car service is located at the Prescott Airport.

• Passengers can check in online at United.com or on the United app up to 24 hours prior to departure, or two hours prior to departure at the terminal via a staffed ticket counter or a self-serve passenger kiosk.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2034, or cbarks@prescottaz.com.