Drive or Fly?

When it comes to regional business trips, can flying yourself there save money?

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||| |---|---| | | | Think driving is cheap? Think again. Runzheimer International, a management consulting firm, added up the costs for several trips of around 500 miles and found that driving, which obviously doesn't save any time on a trip of that length, doesn't save money either. Once all the costs were figured (fuel, oil, tires, maintenance and ownership, etc.), it actually came out cheaper to go by air (with advance ticket purchase). The roundtrip distance of 636 miles between Boston and Philadelphia, for example, wound up costing $298 by car, compared with $296 by air. Analyzing several other trips, including L.A. to San Francisco and Chicago to Saint Louis, Runzheimer came out with the same outcome: the airplane was slightly cheaper.

Flying a similar flight in a rented high-performance single, a Saratoga, for instance, at $150 an hour wet, would wind up costing about one-third more than driving or going by airline. But it would likely deliver you to your destination an entire working day ahead of someone driving. Especially given airport security delays, it would, in most cases, get you there well ahead of the airlines.