Frontier Airlines announces a direct flight connecting San Antonio to Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
Frontier Airlines announces new direct flights connecting San Antonio to six U.S. cities. Credit: Courtesy / Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines announced Tuesday it will offer a nonstop destination from San Antonio International Airport (SAT) to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) starting April 23.

This isn’t the only nonstop flight to Chicago available from San Antonio: Currently, United Airlines and American Airlines provide nonstop service to O’Hare and Southwest Airlines has a flight connecting to Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW).

“We are excited to see Frontier adding Chicago as their fifth nonstop location from San Antonio,” Mayor Ivy Taylor stated in a press release. “We see this as further demonstration of Frontier’s confidence in the growing San Antonio market.”

Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S., has a population of nearly 3 million people. According to the city’s website, 40 million people visit Chicago annually.

Frontier’s additional nonstop option to O’Hare will depart from San Antonio at 7:45 a.m. and arrive in Chicago at 10:37 a.m. The departing flight from Chicago to San Antonio will leave at 7:15 p.m. and arrive at 10 p.m. The flight, via Airbus A320, will be available three times per week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

As of Tuesday, Frontier is offering a special introductory fare on this new route at The airline currently offers nonstop flights from San Antonio to Denver, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia.

“[The flight] provides another option to Chicago and it happens to be on a low cost carrier,” SAT Air Service Administrator Brian Pratte said. “What we’ve heard from the community is there’s not enough frequency or options to chose from, so this helps address that and put more pressure on incumbent carriers to discount their fares to maintain market share.”

The announcement of an additional flight to Chicago is good news for San Antonio. Getting San Antonians to consider the city’s airport as their top choice for domestic and nonstop destinations has been a major challenge, as many travelers opt to use other airports like Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) to catch flights that are less expensive or not available in San Antonio.

Nelson Wolff (left) greets Mayor Ivy Taylor and Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (District 3). Photo by Scott Ball.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff (left) greets Mayor Ivy Taylor and Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3). Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Local officials have been working on ways to increase nonstop flights to various cities around the country and other international locations to attract more tourism and business to the city. Taylor recently announced that she and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff are teaming up to form a task force to research and investigate aviation challenges.

In December, airline and City officials announced that starting on May 1, 2017, Air Canada will launch daily nonstop air service between San Antonio and Toronto. Around the same time, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Russell “Russ” J. Handy was hired as the City’s new aviation director.

The airport ended 2016 with a record 8.62 million total passengers, a 1.3% increase over 2015’s previous record, according to the December and Year-Ending 2016 Statistics Reports. December passenger traffic also represented a record with 730,551 total passengers, the most on record for any given December, a 0.7% increase.

While air traffic appears to be on the rise, former mayor Henry Cisneros and others have dubbed the airport “the achilles heel of our future,” so officials are still working hard to convince other airlines to expand flights in order to bolster the city’s economic development.

One specific nonstop flight, a connection between San Antonio and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), is among local officials and business leaders’ top priorities on the agenda for the “S.A. to D.C.” lobbying trip, led by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Feb. 13-16.

San Antonio needs congressional approval for the flight due to “slot” and “perimeter” rules designed to limit the number of aircrafts that fly into the Reagan. The rules were put in place in the 1960s to reduce congestion and noise in the D.C. area and support the expansion of Dulles International Airport.

According to Jeff Coyle, the City’s Government and Public Affairs director, officials are seeking a slot exemption. A nonstop flight to Reagan would benefit both parties, Coyle said, due to San Antonio’s strong military presence and the city’s expected population growth.

Starting in May, the San Antonio International Airport will offer 129 daily flights to 38 nonstop destinations. For more information, click here.

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Rocío Guenther

Rocío Guenther worked as a bilingual reporter and editorial assistant for the Rivard Report from June 2016 to October 2017. She is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and holds a bachelor's in English...