The smallest commercial airplane flying out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will soon be ferrying passengers to new destinations in Iowa.
Air Choice One, a relatively obscure commuter airline with hubs in St. Louis and Chicago, is doubling its Midwest destinations available to Twin Cities passengers with new routes to Fort Dodge and Mason City, Iowa, that begin Nov. 7. The small carrier currently operates round-trip flights from MSP to Burlington, Iowa, and Ironwood, Mich.
Each of the new nonstop routes will be flown 12 times a week. Air Choice One first launched service at MSP on June 1.
The airline flies its routes using a Cessna Grand Caravan airplane, which is the smallest commercial plane at MSP in length and wingspan. Both Air Choice One's Cessna and Boutique Airlines' Pilatus PC-12NG — which is also flown at MSP — can carry nine passengers, although the Grand Caravan can be reconfigured to seat up to 13.
While the airline is offering low introductory rates of $34 and $39 one-way, the prices between Air Choice One's more established markets are relatively low. A flight in November between Decatur, Ill., and St. Louis is $54 and one from Ironwood, Mich., to Chicago is $69.
"The new service offers Iowa residents broad opportunities for connecting flights at MSP," Shane Storz, chief executive of Air Choice One, said in a statement. He also hopes the service will drive tourism traffic in the cities of northern Iowa, the statement said.
Small airplanes can feel like a private flight, but since this airline operates commercially, its customers access the plane through the same security checkpoints as those catching flights on much larger aircraft. Air Choice One uses a gate in Terminal 1 on the B concourse and passengers load the plane using stairs on the tarmac.