Cheap flights, skinny seats: welcome to Allegiant without the frills
On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I decided to get adventurous when booking my return trip to Seattle, Washington. Allegiant Air does not serve the Seattle area, but I have always wanted to try their product. After some creative work on Google Flights, I found a solution that would take me from Los Angeles to Eugene, Oregon with Allegiant before returning home to Seattle on Delta.
It didn’t hurt that the base rate was an outrageously low $10. Add the mandatory fees and taxes and the price for a single ticket was still a very low $44. Even with the connecting Delta flight back to Seattle, I’d save $50-60 on a nonstop flight, plus the thrill of a new adventure. I was sold!
As an Ultra Low Cost Carrier (ULCC), Allegiant has a price for everything from seat selection to checked baggage, cokes to carry-on baggage and everything in between, which can make booking on the website a chore.
Allegiant offers you a variety of growing bundle options. Slow down and do the math on what you need versus what you want versus something you could live without, because the bundle might not always be your best value.
For example, I needed to check in a bag on this trip. The cheapest package that included one checked bag added an additional $100 to the base fare. But the package included a lot of things that I didn’t need either: priority boarding, the most expensive seat choice on the plane, and the ability to change the ticket.
Instead I built my own package à la carte$9 for seat selection, $29 for carry-on (yes, Allegiant charges for anything that doesn’t fit under the seat) and $28 for checked baggage. This saved me $34, with an “all-in” final cost of $110.
It should also be noted that the airline’s pricing model becomes more expensive after booking. The same combo of seat and bag choices would have jumped 57% if I had added them literally five minutes after booking the ticket. If I had completely forgotten about them and added them at the airport, the cost would have jumped 75%. Ouch.
The flight itself was uneventful. Check-in can only be done free of charge on the airline’s application or via its website. I chose the latter and printed my ticket at the hotel. If you prefer a printed plane ticket, Allegiant wants $5 for pleasure.
Baggage drop-off has begun inside the newly renovated Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport. The queue was short and once my ticket was scanned, my checked bag was gone through the bowels of the terminal.
While Allegiant’s head office is in Terminal 1, its gates are at multiple terminals in the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at the other end of the airport.
Getting to the satellite terminal is not possible on foot, requiring a bus ride past security to make the connection and then another 10 minute walk to the end of the pier.
The airside views of the bus and the gleaming new terminal are excellent. But the adventure was very difficult with a time of 30 minutes from the sidewalk to the door. If I had pushed my luck with a last-minute roll-up like I usually do, or faced a line at the TSA checkpoint, I would have been in trouble.
Boarding started on time with a seemingly endless list of various pre-boarding groups: military, parents with children under two, frequent flyers, travelers who use and carry the Allegiant credit card (hard cheese if not, I guess), and on and off you go.
I boarded in area two and settled into seat 24A in the rear of the Airbus A319 jet.
The all-economical 3-3 layout isn’t much to look at. A sea of blue leather covering slim fixed rear seats greets you as you enter the cabin. The back-to-front view is no longer inspiring: dull gray thermoplastic seatbacks that taper into an unattractive bucket shape at the bottom.
Personally, I didn’t find the seat particularly comfortable, but at least the 30-inch pitch is better than competing ULCC cabs.
A table top folds into the seat back and a small literature pocket above the table holds the airline magazine (a nice surprise!), security card and credit card brochure. There was no room for anything else, although I guess I could jam my cell phone in there, which is more than I can say of many major carriers.
The flight took off on time, scaling the stereotypical sunny and warm beaches of Los Angeles and heading for cloudy, wet and cool central Oregon. Flight attendants arrived thirty minutes into the flight and offered food and drink for purchase. The airline offers several onboard purchase options, ranging from $4 for a pack of Cheeze-Its to $11 for cocktail/snack combos and even $20 wine for two options.
Allegiant’s liquor selection is extensive. Several pages were devoted to options and their combinations in the in-flight magazine. It’s not surprising, I guess, given the airline’s Vegas-centric model, but still.
I decided to pass the food or drink, and instead took a nap instead of lots of other things to do. The airline doesn’t have in-flight entertainment, Wi-Fi, or in-seat power, and I badly planned for forgetting my charge bank at home.
The flight landed ninety minutes later in Eugene with a sporty approach. My bag appeared 24 minutes later on the carousel.
Allegiant may not be the most comfortable option, but it is often much cheaper than its competitors. And that’s what he hopes you’ll remember when you book your next ticket. I know I will, at least after my back relaxes.
All images credited to author, Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren