Despite the pandemic, the U.S. now has two new airlines in 2021. Breeze Airways launched new service over Memorial Day Weekend and, one month earlier, Avelo Airlines was the first new U.S. carrier in over a decade when it launched service on April 28, 2021. Before that, the last time a new U.S. airline took off from the U.S. was in 2007 when Richard Branson expanded his wings with Virgin America, an airline which has since been acquired by Alaska Airlines.
Back then, bag fees weren’t common, seat selection fees were unheard of, and change fees were plentiful. In 2021, the script has been flipped and Avelo Airlines is positioning itself as a budget carrier that will fly from secondary airports with reasonable ancillary fees and no change fees, something that is top of mind for today’s travelers wary of whether travel plans might have to change.
Avelo Airlines was started by former top executive at Allegiant and United, Andrew Levy, who acquired charter airline Xtra Airways in 2018 with the intent of creating the new low-cost carrier. On April 8, 2021, the new airline was announced and tickets went on sale from just $19, bringing more competition to a recovering domestic U.S. flight network.
Where Does Avelo Airlines Fly?
Avelo Airlines currently has one base at Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) in the Los Angeles metro area. It flies to 11 destinations along the West Coast from Burbank and has plans to add a new East Coast base at Tweed New Haven Airport (HVN) during the third quarter of 2021.
Avelo’s initial schedule out of Burbank (BUR) includes service to/from the following cities:
- Arcata-Eureka, CA (ACV) – 4x weekly
- Bozeman, MT (BZN) – 4x weekly
- Eugene, OR (EUG) – 4x weekly
- Grand Junction, CO (GJT) – 4x weekly
- Medford, OR (MFR) – 4x weekly
- Ogden-Hinkley-Salt Lake, UT (OGD) – 4x weekly
- Pasco Tri-Cities, WA (PSC) – 4x weekly
- Phoenix-Mesa, AZ (AZA) – 1x daily
- Redding, CA (RDD) – 3x weekly
- Redmond, OR (RDM) – 3x weekly
- Santa Rosa, CA (STS) – 1x daily
Avelo Airlines will be the only airline to serve the majority of these routes, however, since Avelo’s launch, Alaska Airlines has announced new service between Burbank and Santa Rosa and American Airlines has upgraded its aircraft on existing service between Burbank and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX). Avelo hasn’t announced which routes it will serve out of New Haven yet, but I would guess it will mostly include leisure destinations in Florida and other southern U.S. states.
How to Book a Flight with Avelo Airlines
Similar to Southwest, the only way to book a flight with Avelo Airlines is to visit its website at aveloair.com. You won’t see Avelo Airlines as an option when searching popular search engines like Google Flights or Online Travel Agencies such as Expedia. From its website, booking is fairly straightforward. You can view fares on a monthly calendar to see which dates have the best rates by ensuring the “Low Fare Calendar” check box is ticked. Once you’ve chosen dates, you’ll enter traveler details and then be brought to the add-ons screen.
Extra Fees on Avelo Airlines During the Booking Process
As with other low-cost carriers, the airfare on Avelo Airlines only includes a free personal item no larger than 14 x 9 x 9.5 inches. Examples include a small backpack, purse, or laptop bag. Similar to Spirit, Avelo Airlines is charging more for carry-on bags than it is for checked bags. This is to encourage travelers to check bags, which helps speed the boarding process and save space in the overhead bins for passengers willing to pay extra for the convenience. You’ll notice that Avelo’s checked bag fees are very reasonable compared to what the major airlines charge.
Common fees charged by Avelo Airlines include:
- Seat selection: $4 and up
- Carry-on bag: $35
- First checked bag: $10
- Second checked bag: $20
- Additional checked bags: $100
- Priority boarding: $10
- Pet in cabin: $95
Note that there will be an additional $10 fee added to your first and second bag charges if you choose to pay for your bags at the airport check-in counter. To avoid this, simply pay for your bags during booking or prior to check-in. And if you don’t wish to pay a seat selection fee, simply skip the seat selection process and one will be assigned to you for free during check-in.
For a full list of Avelo’s fees, visit its optional services page. An interesting fee listed here is a “Distribution charge” of up to $22, which looks very similar to online booking fees charged by Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit. Avelo states that fares on its website may include “an embedded distribution charge” which does not apply to reservations made at an Avelo airport ticket counter. I didn’t see this charge on any test searches I did on its website, but this could be a fee that gets rolled out in the future.
The Avelo Airlines Inflight Experience
Avelo Airlines currently operates three Boeing 737-800 aircraft, each with a total of 189 seats divided between 129 standard slimline seats with a 29-inch seat pitch and 60 extra-legroom seats. The more spacious seating will have anywhere from 31 to 38 inches of pitch and fees to select these seats during booking start from $18 and up. All seats recline except for those in front of the exit rows, though there are plans to switch to pre-reclined seats, similar to Spirit, in the future.
Seatbacks have a standard sized tray table, but do not have power ports or seatback screens. Currently, there isn’t any inflight entertainment or Wi-Fi, but Avelo does plan to offer Wi-Fi on its planes in the future. During the pandemic, Avelo is offering a similar onboard service as other U.S. airlines where it provides a small snack pack and bottle of water. Eventually, Avelo plans to charge for inflight beverages and snacks similar to other ultra-low-cost carriers such as Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit.
In short, Avelo Airlines is a great new option for travelers looking for a cheap, point-to-point flight along the West Coast. By utilizing Burbank Airport in the LA Area, it’s the most convenient way to reach Hollywood and it will be a more relaxed experience compared to flying in and out of LAX. The low checked bag fees and no fees for changes on all tickets give Avelo an advantage over other similar airlines.
It will be interesting to see how Avelo Airlines expands and if the airline can withstand fierce competition from the major airlines once travel demand really picks back up. For now, Avelo has very little direct competition on the routes it flies. So, if you’re looking to take a domestic trip this summer, don’t forget to check out Avelo Airlines. It could save you both time and money.