The New Branson Airport

I'm sitting in Atlanta airport right now on a five-hour layover. So while I have some time, let me tell you briefly about the new Branson airport...

First, the good news... Functionally, the airport itself is excellent. Check-in and security went extremely quickly. The terminal offers a Famous Dave's BBQ and Bass Pro Shop while you're waiting for your departure. The decor is straight out of the Ozarks. I'm quite sure Branson has the only commercial airport in the country that looks like a log cabin. Everyone in the airport was very friendly and, in fact, the entire AirTran staff lined the tarmac to wave goodbye to us as the plane was taxiing to the runway. How many airports do you see that?

The bad news... The road to the airport is absolutely ridiculous. It is a winding 5-6 mile drive through the middle of a golf course and adjacent neighborhoods. At times you think you're in the middle of a subdivision, and there's no possible way you could be on the right road to a commercial airport. The best word to describe the approach to the airport is simply "odd." You almost feel like you're using some rich guy's private airport, and in a sense I guess you are, since it is fully funded with private monies. If Branson airport is going to survive long-term, it's going to have to get better access to Hwy 65.

One final note... When I heard Springfield airport officials saying they're not threatened by Branson Airport, that it caters to a different kind of customer, I scoffed. Now I see why they said that. The size, location, and feel of Branson airport will never draw much more than Branson tourists. The great majority of business travel coming into the region will continue to use the Springfield airport, and when introductory fares end, the casual flier will use Springfield too. By the way, Springfield has an impressive new facility as well.