Savvy U.S. skiers and riders can save money by booking domestic flights to get to Whistler Blackcomb. The drive to Whistler may be a bit longer, but you'll save enough money on the airfare to make up for the added miles.

Unless you live in the Northwest, getting to Whistler Blackcomb usually means flying in to Vancouver or Seattle. Both options require a drive to get to the ski resort. Driving from Vancouver takes 2-2.5 hours while the drive from Seattle takes about five hours.

For U.S. skiers, the cost can be higher to fly to Vancouver than to fly domestic to Seattle and do the drive, and it may be the better option all around for many travelers.

Why so? Let's check it out.

Start by looking at the number of flights into Seattle versus Vancouver. Seventy-two U.S. cities have nonstop flights into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), but only 21 U.S. cities have nonstop or direct flights that land at Vancouver International Airport (YVR). With the marketplace driving airfares, more competition between the airlines with the Seattle routes can lower the costs for consumers.

Second, several discount U.S. carriers fly direct to Seattle, but not Vancouver. Airlines such as Frontier, Southwest, and Virgin Airlines often advertise lower rates.

Take a quick comparison of flights. You can book a round-trip flight in January on Delta Airlines for about $368 per person from Minneapolis-St Paul to Seattle. But change your destination to Vancouver, and the rate goes up to $512. For a family of four, the savings ends up being $576 by flying in to Seattle.

Skiers flying from Phoenix can save almost $200 per person. A round trip flight in February on Continental Airlines costs about $314 to Seattle but $508 to Vancouver.

Check out the savings by flying from other U.S. cities to Seattle rather than Vancouver. From San Francisco, you can save up to $180; from Chicago, up to $204; from New York, up to $160. Rates will vary throughout the winter and between the airlines. But in general, U.S. skiers and snowboarders heading to Whistler can fly domestic cheaper.

From Seattle, you'll need to rent a car, hire a limo, or catch a shuttle bus to Whistler Blackcomb. Upon arrival at the ski resort, you can even drop off the rental car to reduce the cost to a one-day rental. Getting around Whistler by foot or shuttles is easy. Then, rent a car for the return trip.

Whistler Blackcomb Central Reservations can book flights in to Seattle as well as Vancouver. Flights can also be booked in packages with lodging, rental cars, lift tickets, equipment rentals, and activities.

More information. Or call 888-403-4727.

Whistler Blackcomb by Paul_Morrison_0612_0003

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola at Whistler Blackcomb. Credit: Paul Morrison.