Don’t live near a major metropolis? No problem. Allegiant Airlines fills the void with cheap nonstop flights from small towns to leisure destinations throughout the U.S. The discount carrier has started to expand in larger markets as well, but there are a few things you should know before booking a flight with Allegiant.
Tips for Traveling on Allegiant Airlines
From understanding all of Allegiant’s extra fees to what you should expect when flying this ultra-low-cost carrier, here’s everything you need to know about Allegiant Airlines.
What to Know Before You Book with Allegiant Airlines
Allegiant Airlines operates with an ultra-low-cost model, which means the initial price you see for an Allegiant flight only includes basic transportation and a small personal item onboard. There are extra fees for everything else like carry-on bags, checked bags, choosing a specific seat, and drinks/snacks onboard. When flying Allegiant, it’s best to expect a simple flight without all of the bells and whistles.
Of course, it can be quite difficult to avoid baggage fees when flying Allegiant Airlines. The base ticket price only includes a small personal item up to 16” x 15” x 7”, which equates to a small backpack, large purse, or any item that can fit underneath the seat in front of you. Larger carry-on bags can be purchased for a fee, which varies according to the route you’re flying.
Unlike Spirit and Frontier, the two larger ultra-low-cost carriers in the U.S., Allegiant charges a lower fee for carry-on bags than it does for checked luggage. Carry-on bag fees start between $15-$25 each way and checked bag fees start at $20-$35 each way, when purchased during the initial booking. Bag fees are higher if purchased after booking or at the airport.
Most of the major U.S. carriers also charge extra seat selection fees for the lowest priced tickets, but since Allegiant’s baggage policy is more limited than the traditional carriers, it’s best to always compare the total costs to make sure you’re actually getting a deal by flying Allegiant Airlines.
When and Where Does Allegiant Airlines Fly?
Allegiant Airlines has a very erratic flight schedule. Most routes are seasonal and are only flown twice per week. This model makes it possible for Allegiant to fly nonstop from many smaller cities across the U.S. to leisure destinations such as Las Vegas (LAS), Nashville (BNA), Los Angeles (LAX), Austin (AUS), and Florida. In Florida, Allegiant flies to some secondary airports such as Orlando-Sanford (SFB), St. Petersburg (PIE), Punta Gorda (PGD), Ft. Walton Beach (VPS), and Ft. Lauderdale (FLL). Allegiant has begun to add flights from some larger markets in the north such as Boston (BOS), Chicago (MDW), and Newark (EWR), but still primarily flies from small market cities that otherwise don’t have nonstop service other than regional connections to the major airlines’ hub cities. For a complete look at its route network, check out the Allegiant Airlines route map.
Due to the fact that Allegiant’s flight schedule is very limited, it can be a risky endeavor for travelers with tight travel plans. In worst-case scenarios, when flights get canceled, it can sometimes be a few days before there is another available flight. This is still a rare occasion, but passengers should be aware of this possibility when booking a flight with Allegiant and have a backup plan in case things take a turn for the worst.
A few backup ideas are to book Southwest flights with points, which can be redeposited into your account should your Allegiant flight take off without any delays. If you don’t have points, Southwest flights paid with money can also be canceled for free up to 10 minutes prior to departure and a credit will be valid for one year from the date of purchase. Using Southwest as a backup is a great plan, but it also means keeping track of your reservations to make sure you don’t lose any funds and may require you to fly Southwest at some point within the year.
Rental cars can be a last-resort backup plan if the distance isn’t too far and checking to see if Allegiant may be able to re-route you to/from nearby airports could be the best option during irregular operations. Freebird is a unique service that offers a sort of flight disruption insurance that rebooks you on other airlines in case of long delays or cancellations, for a fee paid in advance. Unfortunately, Allegiant Airlines does not have interline agreements with other carriers and usually won’t rebook passengers on other carriers.
How to Book a Flight with Allegiant Airlines
Allegiant is one of the few airlines that actually charges a fee to book flights online. For this reason, you may be able to save money by booking your flight at the airport counter. This can be extremely inconvenient due to Allegiant’s limited flight schedules. Ticket counters at the airport may only be open for a few hours on a couple days each week.
Nevertheless, if the airport ticketing hours work with your schedule, you can save Allegiant’s $18 each way ($36 roundtrip) “Electronic Carrier Usage Charge” for every passenger. The savings add up with multiple passengers, but make sure to factor in the hassle of trekking to the airport and paying for parking when considering this option. Also, tickets booked at the airport will not receive Allegiant’s “roundtrip discount” it offers customers who purchase a roundtrip flight on its website and passengers will be subject to after booking bag fees, which are slightly higher than the fees charged during online booking.
When booking online, Allegiant flights are usually slightly cheaper on its own website than on third-party booking sites. This is especially true when purchasing roundtrip flights, since most flights will receive the “roundtrip discount” (usually between $10-$25) when booking a roundtrip flight on allegiantair.com.
After choosing from/to cities, the departure date and return date calendars will populate which days of the week Allegiant flies that particular route. On the following page, you can view fares on a flexible date calendar by clicking on the “Rate Calendar” button. This is the best way to find a cheap flight on Allegiant, because schedules can change each month.
Extra Fees on Allegiant Airlines During the Booking Process
The next step in the booking process is where Allegiant begins asking if you’d like to add extras for an additional cost. Bundles can be purchased if you’d like to purchase multiple extras at a discounted rate over purchasing individually. The “Bonus” bundle includes a full-size carry-on bag, seat selection, and Trip Flex, which allows one free itinerary change or cancellation without an extra change fee. The “Total” bundle includes everything from the Bonus bundle plus a checked bag and priority boarding. If you don’t want to pay any extra or just want to add something à la carte, simply choose the Basic option and click “Continue”.
Allegiant will then try to sell hotels, car rentals, and other travel products. You may find that it is sometimes worthwhile to bundle a hotel with your airfare if you find the hotel you’re looking for is offered, but you can usually find a cheaper option somewhere else when booking separately. To avoid any extra add-ons to your airfare purchase, simply scroll to the bottom and click the small text that reads “No thanks. I don’t need a hotel package deal for this trip.” Do the same for car rentals and then you’ll then be asked to enter traveler information.
After entering your information, you’ll be asked to choose seats for your flight. Allegiant does not make it clear on the seat map that there is a charge for choosing a specific seat so be careful if you don’t want to pay any extra. If you do click on a seat, a pop-up will appear with the price and star-rated comfort level. To avoid paying any extra fees, do not choose any seats and just click the “Continue” button on the bottom of this page. A pop-up will appear that will try to convince you to pay extra for seat selection, but if you just click “Yes, continue” on the pop-up, seats will be assigned for free during check-in.
The next step is an important one. Bag fees are much higher at the airport and are even more expensive if you decide to add them online at a later time. You’ll get the best price for bags if you add them during this step in the online booking process. Make sure to add any necessary carry-on or checked bags for your trip here. If you’re traveling with just the included personal item, just scroll to the bottom and click “Continue” without choosing any bags.
Finally, you’ll reach the payment screen, where it first asks if you’d like to purchase Trip Flex. This is a relatively cheap way to purchase a flexible ticket compared to major airlines, but if you’re looking to keep your flight as cheap as possible and don’t think you’ll be changing plans, just choose to decline, double-check all of the charges, and scroll down to enter your credit card information.
Check-In for an Allegiant Airlines Flight
Make sure to print your boarding pass at home or download the free mobile app for a paperless boarding pass in advance to avoid an extra boarding pass fee. Online check-in is available starting 24 hours before and up to 45 minutes prior to departure. If you wait to check-in with an agent at the airport, it’ll cost $5 per boarding pass for them to print it out at the airport check-in counter.
When checking in online, double-check that you have paid for all the bags you plan to take. If you need to add any more luggage, do it at this step to avoid higher fees at the airport. The system may also ask if you’d like to pay to choose a seat, but there will be an option to just take a random seat assignment for free.
The Allegiant Airlines Inflight Experience
Most of Allegiant’s aircraft have a meager 29 inches of seat pitch, which is similar to its budget airline counterparts and an inch or two less than the average pitch on the legacy carriers. It does offer some Legroom+ seats with up to 4 inches of extra legroom. Don’t expect to lean back on an Allegiant flight as none of its seats recline. Though, this can be a blessing given the tight seat pitch since no one will be able to invade your precious little space.
All in-flight beverages and snacks cost extra so bring a water bottle to fill up at the airport before boarding or be prepared to pay a fee for your favorite drink onboard. Allegiant Airlines no longer flies the old MD-80 aircraft, which once made up the majority of its fleet. It now flies an all-Airbus fleet and the newer aircraft have resulted in a more comfortable experience onboard.
While one shouldn’t have high expectations when flying this no-frills carrier, Allegiant Airlines is a great option to get a cheap nonstop flight that may not be offered by any other carrier. Even after adding some fees, you’ll often find Allegiant flights to be a cheaper option compared to other carriers flying from larger airports. Its limited schedule may be prohibitive in some cases, but for flexible travelers looking for a deal, make sure to compare Allegiant Airlines’ low fares in your flight search.