“Fly to Orlando, Tampa, or Fort Lauderdale for $79!”
The headlines were hard to ignore. When Allegiant Airlines came to my hometown, they touted direct flights to popular vacation destinations for cheap prices. Since we were planning a trip to Disney World, Allegiant was my first choice for research.
I found that Allegiant was founded in 1997 with the intention of offering low fares and nonstop flights. This sounded good!
I did find that Allegiant’s fares were the lowest I could find when looking online. An additional benefit was that they flew out of the relatively small Fort Wayne airport, helping me avoid a 2-hour drive to the major Indianapolis airport. The price listed on Allegiant’s website for the dates we planned to fly were $99 per segment, so I decided to purchase our tickets. Immediately, I began to discover that almost everything with Allegiant cost more than first expected from the headlines.
For instance, if I booked my tickets online (rather than at an Allegiant Air counter), each ticket would cost an additional $9.50. I am unsure why this is, since I would think that online transactions would be very easy and cheap for companies to conduct. If I wanted to buy my ticket over the phone, I would be charged the extra $9.50 PLUS $10 per segment. I would be buying six tickets, so needless to say I made the trip to the Allegiant Air counter to purchase.
I checked online to see when the ticket counter would be open, and planned my trip to the counter for those hours. When I arrived, no one was at the counter. I walked down to another carrier’s counter, but they had not seen anyone at the Allegiant counter. After another company’s helpful employee made a few calls, I was assured that someone from Allegiant would be arriving shortly. I waited about 20 minutes (by this time joined by two other potential customers) when an Allegiant supervisor arrived and helped me. He expressed uncertainty as to why no one had been at the desk. Hopefully this was an isolated incident; however, it did not do a lot to hike my impression on Allegiant. The counter agent asked how many bags I wanted to check (a bit difficult to know, since the flight was six months away). I was informed that each checked bag cost an extra $10 and that it would cost more if I added them the day of the flight. Additionally, if I had a seat preference I would need to pay extra for that also.
About two months before my flight, I received an e-mail from Allegiant changing the flight times of both my flights by about 90 minutes. I appreciated the knowledge and the fact that Allegiant notified me of this.
On the day of our flight, the check-in at Allegiant went smoothly. We arrived two hours pre-flight as suggested. About 30 minutes before our flight was scheduled to leave, we got the message that our flight would be delayed. We were never told the reason, but our flight ended up leaving one hour late. It arrived in Orlando 45 minutes late, so a bit of the time was made up. The flight attendants did their jobs adequately – fine, but nothing special. Drinks and snacks were available for a fee.
The plane itself was fine also – 5 seats across (two on one side, three on the other). There were not foot rests, and I missed these. The seats, bathroom, and in-flight materials appeared to be standard.
For our return flight, the check-in line was quite long. We saw that two Allegiant flights were leaving that morning; the other flight left 30 minutes prior to ours and so most employees were working check-in for that flight, necessitating the long line for our flight with just one employee. We did eventually check in and waited for our flight, which left about 30 minutes late due to a passenger “injured on flight” during the incoming flight prior to ours. We were able to still land within 10 minutes of our scheduled time.
So, my overall opinion of Allegiant is average to good. Rates and nonstop flights are what would keep me coming back. Many add-on fees, unpredictable take-off and landing times, unpredictable presence of ticket counter personnel, and average flight amenities keep me from recommending Allegiant whole-heartedly.