Mammoth Lakes is a top ski and outdoor destination in the US. This winter, two US airlines will be offering services to the area via Eastern Sierra Regional Airport (BIH) in Bishop, California, or Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH). Though it is a bit of a drive from Mammoth Lakes, the services to BIH are designed to offer more reliability to wintertime travelers heading to the city and will be vital to growing tourism from outside of California to Mammoth Lakes.
United Airlines flying three new routes this winter
This winter, United Airlines will be offering three brand new connections to Mammoth Lakes via BIH. Starting on December 19th, United will connect BIH to three of its hubs: Denver International Airport (DEN), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
All three flights will run as regional flights under the United Express banner. All flights are scheduled onboard CRJ700 aircraft. The CRJ700s flying for United have room for 70 passengers onboard. This includes six recliner-style first class seats, 16 extra-legroom economy seats, and 48 standard economy seats. First class is in a 1-2 configuration, while economy is in a 2-2 configuration.
Ankit Gupta, United’s Vice President of Domestic Network Planning, stated the following on the new routes:
“As customers begin to plan their winter and ski vacations, United is proud to offer the most departures to ski destinations across the country. Our service to Bishop, Calif. will help travelers from Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and far beyond enjoy the beautiful ski season in Mammoth this winter.”
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Public charters from Advanced Air
This winter, Los Angeles-based Advanced Air will be flying to Mammoth Lakes as well. However, Advanced will serve MMH, the closest airport to Mammoth Mountain. Advanced Air’s flights are slated to start on November 24th.
Flights will onboard 30-passenger Dornier 328 jets. MMH will be connected to Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR), McClellan-Palomar Airport (CLD) in Carlsbad, and Hawthorne Municipal Airport (HHR). BUR and HHR are Los Angeles-area airports, while CLD is near San Diego.
Flights on Advanced Air are private charters. This means a more convenient travel experience with benefits like a private terminal. This means not having to deal with traditional airport security.
Bringing consistency to Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes has a lot of appeal to travelers, but that does not mean it has always been easy to get to. MMH has typically been the gateway into Mammoth Lakes, but things have not always been super smooth there.
First off, the airport is in a prime position to suffer from some pretty poor weather. A report in The Sheet, a local publication, discussed how high-speed crosswinds have led to disrupted flight operations. Bishop is in a much better position to handle more consistent, reliable operations, in part because it is about 4,000 feet lower than MMH. There will be shuttle and rental services to get people from an arriving flight at BIH to Mammoth Lakes to make up for the distance.
The ultimate goal is to bring more travelers to the Mammoth Lakes region. Offering flights from Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego means new connecting opportunities. United is in a prime position to fill up planes with the connections it can provide through DEN, SFO, and LAX.
There is also hope that adding these flights will be the precursor to more growth out of the airport in the future. Aside from United and Advanced, no other airline has plans to fly to Bishop or MMH. If Bishop can prove its reliability this winter, and if there are the right economic conditions, it could coax other airlines that have a history with regional flying to secondary destinations in California, like Alaska or American or Delta, to bring their planes in on a seasonal service.