Allegiant announced new routes from LAX on Tuesday. Photo: Allegiant.
Allegiant Air announced four new seasonal routes from Los Angeles International Airport today. I don’t see it in the press release, but I expect these flights will operate twice per week, as is the airline’s strategy in most markets.
- Cedar Rapids, Iowa – begins June 6, 2014 with fares as low as $92*
- Great Falls, Mont. – begins June 6, 2014 with fares as low as $88*
- Kalispell, Mont. – begins June 5, 2014 with fares as low as $89*
- McAllen, Texas – begins June 5, 2014 with fares as low as $99*
These routes aren’t really meant for Angelenos, since Allegiant does the bulk of its business transporting passengers from smaller cities into bigger ones, like L.A. (And selling those folks vacation packages for the big city.) But these routes, especially Kalispell, could be of use to some L.A. travelers. Kalispell is the gateway to Glacier National Park, and it’s not easy to get to.
On every other airline, passengers must connect. Airchive.com says Delta has the only non-stop flight to Kalispell, and it’s only once per week — on Saturdays.
The Las Vegas Sun has a great interview this weekend with Allegiant Air President and COO Andrew Levy and senior VP of Planning Jude Bricker.
I recommend the whole thing, but this part is my favorite. Bricker is explaining the perfect airplane seat for Allegiant.
“You want it to be like a Herman Miller desk chair, just a diaphragm between you and the guy’s knees behind you.”
The Q & A talks a bit about seat selection. Bricker says selling advanced seats is worth $60 million to Allegiant each year. That’s a lot, considering seating assignments were essentially free for decades.
Allegiant Air will add six first class style seats on its 757 fleet. Wikimedia Commons photo by Aldo Bidini.
First class is coming to Allegiant Air, the super discount airline. Yes, you read that right.
The U.S. government shut down — now completed — was making some folks at Allegiant Air a bit nervous. The discount airline based in Las Vegas plans to start more than 20 new routes between Oct. 25 and Dec. 21. And it turns out there are some new routes an airline cannot start when the government isn’t up and running.
There were, according to airlines spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler, three issues facing some, but not all, of the new flights:
- The first issue was the TSA. Allegiant will fly to at least two airports that do not currently have commercial flights, Wheeler said. The TSA screeners are essential employees, and they would have been ready to work. But these airports did not have the proper equipment. According to Wheeler, the equipment is kept at TSA warehouses when not used at airports. And the employees at those warehouses were deemed non-essential employees.
- Some of the airports already had TSA equipment, but they were new to Allegiant’s system. And when that happens, Allegiant must file Operations Specifications (Ops Spec) with the FAA. “As long as we have dotted all of our I’s and crossed our T’s it’s a fairly routine process,” Wheeler said. But, of course, it’s a process that requires the FAA to be staffed.
- Some of the routes were announced based on the fact that Allegiant is adding three new Airbus aircraft to its fleet this fall. But you can’t just take delivery of the airplane and fly it. “Any new A320 needs to be inspected by the FAA,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler and I chatted on Tuesday, and at the time, she said she wasn’t sure all the new service would go off as scheduled, even if the government reopened this week. No one knew how long it would take the FAA and TSA to resume normal operations.
The good news is that the Los Angeles-Honolulu new flight, scheduled to start Oct. 30 will proceed as planned. Allegiant already has everything it needs for that route. It currently serves both Honolulu and Los Angeles, and it was using 757s — airplanes already in the carrier’s fleet.
Is Allegiant Air testing the market at Los Angeles International Airport?
A few weeks after announcing new Honolulu service, the ultra discount carrier moved to add another flight to a popular vacation destination this winter. Allegiant announced it will fly twice a week between LAX and Montrose Regional Airport in Colorado beginning in December. It’s the closest airport of decent size to the popular ski resort of Telluride.
Fares will be as low as $79.99 one way, though like all fare sales, seats are limited. Of course, you don’t want to be like Southwest Airlines, which on Tuesday was hit with a $200,000 fine by federal regulators for not making enough advertised sale seats available.)
United Airlines, through its partner Skywest, also flies twice a week to Montrose during the winter. I did a quick check and a week-long trip from LAX in January would cost $650 on United. Allegiant tickets should be considerably cheaper than United, even if you can’t get the $79 fares.
Historically, as I wrote earlier this month, Allegiant has taken travelers from smaller cities and taken them to vacation destinations. But with this move, Allegiant might be trying to cater to Angelenos who want to ski.
What do you think? Is there a L.A.-based market for Allegiant’s flights?