New Haven may be known for its pizza, but what it really deserves a superlative for is its airport. Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport, just three miles from campus, is the best airport in the country, hands down — and yet few Yalies even know it exists. As Tweed sits on the precipice of a runway expansion, now is the perfect time to support New Haven’s hometown airport.
If you’re already in on the secret, you know why Tweed is so great. Because Tweed is so small, you can get from your Uber through the (single-lane) security checkpoint to your gate in a matter of a couple minutes. As you wait to board, enjoy a self-serve coffee from the Keurig machine at the gate for a few quarters. And when it’s time to go, you can walk directly from the gate to the tarmac, boarding the regional aircraft on its little built-in staircase. Flying from Tweed is not just exceptionally adorable; it’s exceptionally convenient, too. American Airlines, the only airline currently serving the airport, flies 50-seat jets three times a day to Philadelphia — where you can make a connection to just about anywhere else — and once weekly to Charlotte.
Most important, though, is the role Tweed plays in New Haven’s economy. Regional airports like Tweed are critical economic generators for cities like ours: Reliable, convenient air service incentivizes business startups to headquarter here, creating hundreds of jobs and generating millions in tax revenue. That’s why the proposal to extend Tweed’s runway from 5,600 to 6,600 feet, which is currently awaiting a vote in Connecticut’s House and Senate, is such a big deal. Tweed’s present runway is relatively short, meaning that only small aircraft of a restricted weight are able to takeoff safely. By extending the runway just 1,000 feet, bigger planes can fly more people farther distances. In fact, if the proposal is approved, Allegiant Air, an ultra-low-cost carrier, has all but committed to commencing nonstop service from Tweed to Florida and out west, meaning that New Haveners would have more ways to travel faster and that American Airlines would be forced to drive down its fares in the face of competition. All of this has real, measurable fiscal impact: Officials estimate that if Tweed’s runway expansion brought in new nonstops to Washington, D.C., and Chicago, about 1,000 jobs would be created and over $120 million would be pumped into the city’s economy.
Of course, most of us aren’t job creators or entrepreneurs in New Haven. Instead, we just fly to and from Yale a couple times per year. And the choices available to us, other than Tweed, aren’t great. One option is to fly from Hartford — an $80, one-hour Uber ride away. Another option is to fly from New York City, involving, again, an hourslong, expensive ride in a shuttle or on the train. Even if flying from Tweed means you would have to make a connection rather than flying direct from one of those other airports, Tweed still often comes out ahead in terms of time and overall cost.
In a sense, though, the minutiae are secondary to the broader principle. If you truly care about supporting New Haven in ways that go beyond the typical performative protests and short-lived volunteer stints, invest in its airport by voting with your dollar. Flying from Tweed instead of Bradley or New York means that Tweed — and New Haven — collect taxes on your airfare, not another city or state. It also sends an important signal of demand to airlines eager to expand their route networks. Most airlines make their scheduling decisions based on a metric called “enplanement” — the number of passengers flying in and out of an airport per year. By bringing your business to our hometown airport, you send a message to airlines that New Haven deserves more frequent, more expansive service, enriching our city financially and otherwise.
So, as you book your travel from Yale back home next month, consider flying out of Tweed. Consider making the tradeoff of taking a layover in Philadelphia or paying a slightly higher upfront fare to help show legislators and airlines alike that, yes, New Haven deserves a bigger, better airport to employ more New Haveners, attract more businesses and generate more revenue for the city. Politics often seem stagnant and poverty seems stubborn in New Haven, but choosing Tweed is a real, meaningful decision you can make to help our home in a small way.
Emil Friedman is a junior in Silliman College. His column runs monthly. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .