April 30 2009 12:00 AM

Can you really fly from Lansing to New York or Washington?

If you’ve driven along Interstate 496 near downtown Lansing recently, you might have noticed an electronic billboard advertising cheap flights from Lansing to Washington or New York City.

According to the billboard, for as little as $59 one way, you could fly from the Capital Region International Airport to our country’s capital and bask in the enormity of the federal government, or to New York for the neon lights of Times Square.

But, in reality, the destinations aren’t that glamorous.

If you take the $59 flights on Air Azul, which begins flying from Lansing in June, you’re actually flying into two less glamorous cities: Newark, N.J., and Baltimore.

St. Petersburg, Fla.,-based Air Azul did not respond to several requests for comment regarding their advertisements and why they’re marketing them as slightly less than truthful. Nicole Noll-Williams, the Lansing airport’s marketing director, didn’t respond either. On the airport’s Web site, it lists the same destinations as the Air Azul billboard.

there’s no doubt that Newark is close to New York and Baltimore is
close to Washington. But if you flew into these two airports, you’d be
faced with some tricky transportation options.

First, if you
flew into Baltimore- Washington International Airport, just outside
Baltimore’s city limits (or, Bulletmore, Murderland, as the infamous
graffiti dubbed the city), you’d have to either rent a car (or hop in a
cab) and drive about an hour south into Washington, or take public

Let’s say you take public transportation: You
would have to walk to the airport’s bus stop and take the 701 bus to
the BWI train station (an estimated 10-minute ride), then get on the
301 train, which would take you to Union Station (an estimated
39-minute ride). From there, it’s a 30-minute walk to the Washington
Monument. This scenario, of course, is under perfect conditions.

car ride from Baltimore to Washington takes an estimated 43 minutes and
more than an hour if there’s traffic.

For Newark, it’s a bit trickier.
You’d have to locate the No. 62 bus in the airport’s terminal B and
take it to downtown Newark (about a 21 minute ride — and, remember, New
Jersey Transit accepts exact change only). From there, you’d have to
take the lovely PATH train to the closest station in Manhattan (an
estimated 22-minute ride), which happens to be located in a concrete
pit that was once the World Trade Center. By car, you’re
looking at least a 45-minute ride along toll roads.

Another option is a
bus from Newark’s airport to the New York Port Authority building in
Manhattan — agains a 45-minute ride. And if it’s rush hour,

Air Azul’s flights to Newark and Baltimore would take
about an hour and a half and two hours, respectively.

riding from Baltimore or Newark, these options aren’t insurmountable.
But they are inconvenient, and the advertisements being put out by Air
Azul — and echoed on the Web site of the Capital Region International
Airport — seem to say that you would be flying directly into one of
these cities.

Not to mention, you could still take a Northwest
Airlines flight from Detroit to either of New York City’s airports —
LaGuardia, which is considerably more convenient than Newark, and JFK,
which isn’t — for $116 roundtrip ($2 less roundtrip than Air Azul’s
best fare). Or you can keep an eye out for a bargain flight from
Detroit to Washington’s Ronald Reagan airport, which is an easy trip by
taxi or even public transit to the heart of D.C.