Flying Allegiant Air --is it a bargain, or PITA?
April 3, 2014 10:10 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I are considering flying Allegiant Air from Tennessee to Ft. Myers, FL in a few weeks (prices are about 50% of other airlines). Has anyone had any experiences (good or bad) with this airline? Thanks,
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs to Travel & Transportation around Fort Myers, FL (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've used Allegient a few times, but on a different route (OAK -> BLI). I've chosen them because they are much cheaper than other airlines and they fly out of Oakland, which is easier for me to get to. The seats are adequate and comparable to major airlines.
The big difference is that you will probably need to pay extra for a specific seat and, although personal items are free, you will need to pay for carry on luggage

You definitely want to pay for that in advance and not at the airport, where the price goes up much more.
posted by mulligan at 10:17 PM on April 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's hard to argue with Allegiant's prices, but know what to expect: the ticket price pretty much just gets you on the plane. Everything else has a fee associated, including water and coffee (something I wish I'd planned for before flying Honolulu to Bellingham.)

As for the flight itself, it's unremarkable. On the cramped side, but no more than usual for flights on the tiny 1-aisle planes. The service seemed friendly and competent enough, everything was clean, etc. I'm guessing TN to FL is maybe ~3 hours? I'd go for it. Just bring water.
posted by kagredon at 10:21 PM on April 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also note - their (paid) luggage allowance is a measly 40 lbs. For a regular suitcase, this means packing it to 3/4 full. Of course, you could bring a 50 lb suitcase but you'll pay even more for that as well. Carry-on was also an additional charge.

I flew with them last summer, but I don't think we'll rush to do it again. With all the nickel and diming the total cost was close to a "real" airline. I'd rather pay a few extra bucks and not feel like a sucker.
posted by kaefer at 10:25 PM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I flew on them last year from CA to Honolulu and it was fine!

It seems like most airlines charge for everything anyway. I always BYO my snacks, do check baggage limits.
posted by jrobin276 at 10:26 PM on April 3, 2014

I flew on Allegiant a while back and it was fine, pretty much the same as a major carrier except as noted that everything has a price. Since I didn't buy anything, it was half the price of a name brand flight with no additional hassles or discomforts. (And, as you might have noticed, the major carriers have started doing the same nickel and dime approach, so even that difference has mostly disappeared.) As long as you aren't expecting luxury, it will be fine -- the flight I was on was full but no more cramped than any commuter flight.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:43 PM on April 3, 2014

I fly Allegiant several times a year because they offer direct flights to my hometown. They have had some growing pains, but the quality is still fine for the price you pay. Over dozens of flights I've had some inconveniences, but never an experience I'd describe as a travel nightmare. The good thing is the travel experience is generally quick if everything is running smoothly, the planes just go back and forth between small airports and your flight in Minnesota isn't cancelled because there's a storm gumming up the system in New York. The bad thing is that if there's a mechanical problem they can't fix immediately, they may not have a spare plane to put you on until the next day.
posted by TungstenChef at 10:56 PM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm tall (6'2") and I found my Allegiant flight truly horrible, thanks almost entirely due to the lack of legroom, which was considerably less than the usual. On most airlines I'm a bit cramped, but this was... hellish. Not a huge issue for most people, and I don't know if that plane was typical. But if you or your husband are on the tall side, beware.

Other than that... it sounds like you know what you're getting yourself in for. It won't be the most luxurious flight of your life, but you can't beat the price (as long as they don't find some fee to nail you with).
posted by captainawesome at 11:20 PM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding that tall people beware. Also beware that the "seat back pocket" is not so much a pocket as it is a molded sleeve in the back of the seat, with room for exactly their one catalog and a vomit bag. This is by way of saying that if you're on a longer haul and happen to put, say, your tablet in there temporarily or your own magazine, you can expect this will not be a friendly experience.

The luggage rules are also asinine, but that's strictly in line with their pricing, and to be expected. They'll let you bring a small backpack for free, but anything that would be a traditional carry-on will not make it without a significant fee, and as others have noted, you'll want to do that ahead of time.
posted by disillusioned at 12:03 AM on April 4, 2014

I fly from knoxville to clearwater, FL several times a year on Allegiant. I pay the extra fees to ensure I get a window seat. I usually only bring carry ons. The airports I use don't seem too strict about carry ons.i usually bring a backpack to put under the seat and a small duffle bag type thing to put overhead. . Never had any issues with any of the flights. TYS and PIE are both small airports so security is a breeze for me. Short flight so you really need a whole lot, IMO.
posted by KogeLiz at 12:36 AM on April 4, 2014

I've basically only ever flown on discount airlines, and I'm a small person. That said, I flew Allegiant from Plattsburgh to Clearwater in January, and it was pretty much par for the course. We were well informed about all the extra fees going in. Even with the extra fees for baggage as well as week-long parking at the airport, the entire cost was considerably cheaper than our other options, so well worth it.
posted by ohmy at 5:08 AM on April 4, 2014

I've flown Allegiant several times and apart from some delays due to snow (not their fault!) I have found them to be absolutely fine.

Be prepared to pay for everything on board. This is easily remedied by buying water, snacks etc at the airport.

Also, not sure if this applies to all routes, but Allegiant tends to "flip" planes. i.e. the plane lands in Las Vegas, everyone gets off, the plane is cleaned in 5 minutes and then people start boarding again to go somewhere else.

This means, if there is a problem or a delay on one end, this will bugger up all consecutive flights.
posted by JenThePro at 7:18 AM on April 4, 2014

Seconding that tall people beware.

I guess that depends on what you are comparing it to. I'm tall and found it no worse than standard commuter flights, though definitely worse than premium seating on long haul flights.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:37 AM on April 4, 2014

I wanted to reiterate that their luggage weight limit is 40 pounds- NOT 50 pounds. That was a shocker to me. So, if you're checking luggage, make sure it does not exceed 40 pounds unless you want to pay even more for checked luggage (there is already a fee, but if the bag is overweight, it is even more). Also - carry-ons (except a small purse/bag/backpack) cost. You need to be prepared to pay for everything - water, carry-ons, snacks, EVERYTHING. But if you go in knowing that you can be better prepared and not shocked.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:56 AM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I frequently fly Allegiant, or Ally-giant as we call them in my family. I love them. Small airports that are easy to get in and out of and great prices.

Everyone loves to complain about the carry on charges, but they are great, prior they allowed free cabin baggage and every cheap asshole on earth tried to jam their roller case into the overhead compartment. Boarding was a nightmare, there was never any storage space unless you were first on the plane. Levying a nominal fee has rendered the strategy obsolete, so yay for cabin bag charge.

And for the record, they don't charge you for a reasonable sized carry on, only those that can't bear being separated from their dirty undergarments for any time get dinged. Small bag with book, ipod, headphones, toiletries water and snacks is always fine.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:30 AM on April 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've found discount airlines surprisingly more enjoyable than their online reviews, and I have no horror stories or warnings to share. I simply recognize that flying discount airlines requires a bit more planning, so I plan accordingly.
posted by lstanley at 9:24 AM on April 4, 2014

If you're concerned about legroom you can check to find out the seat pitch for the flight you'll be on and compare it to an alternative. It looks like they do pack their MD88's just a little bit tight (30" vs 31-33" range for my carrier), but I'm a shorty so I would't let that stop me.
posted by ftm at 9:38 AM on April 4, 2014

I've flown Allegiant twice, and my in-laws use it to visit us. No complaints, no frills, but their schedule can be quite limited; it's not like Southwest where if you miss your flight to Oakland, there'll be another one in an hour.
posted by mogget at 9:52 AM on April 4, 2014

Seconding that tall people beware.

I guess that depends on what you are comparing it to. I'm tall and found it no worse than standard commuter flights, though definitely worse than premium seating on long haul flights.

About being tall, I'm 6'3" so I'm acutely aware of this issue. It really depends on what kind of plane they put you on, I've had Delta put me on tiny planes more often than Allegiant flying to the same destination. One notable thing about Allegiant, I don't think the seats recline on any of their planes so you don't have to deal with the 5'1" foot person in front of you crushing your knees because they feel like a snooze.
posted by TungstenChef at 2:09 PM on April 4, 2014

They put a bad taste in my mouth after causing my elderly grandmother to almost cry over the carry on baggage fee. I get they have a nickle-and-dime business model, but you don't need to be rude to people about it. Of course, this was just one employee, but...doesn't incline me to give them business when my experience with other airlines has been that they take a little extra care to look out for the elderly and make sure the flying experience is going okay.
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:44 PM on April 4, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone for your feedback. I went ahead and booked the flights & declared the luggage. Looks like we will end up paying around 50% of what it would cost us with another airline. And it is a direct flight, so that's nice.

Water, beef jerky, string cheese and oreo cookies are on standby. :-)
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 6:11 PM on April 4, 2014

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