So we decided to look more closely at how Allegiant Air makes its money while being a low-fare airline.
It's all in the details.
SR staffer Rich Landers jumped on Allegiant.com and looked at the actual costs for a round trip to Honolulu in February. Here's his take:
The advertised price was $179 one-way. Which is significantly lower than other carriers to that destination.
Here's his summary of the final bill:
Despite a low advertised fare, costs add up quickly when booking fares ... from Spokane to Hawaii. Here are the costs for two people, round-trip.
-- The round trip fare for TWO people comes out to $655.20. Taxes and fees total $116.80.
--A seat selection fee of about $21 is charged if you want to select a seat in advance to be assured you can sit with your partner or family. Total roundtrip cost for two: $82. (Seats coming back were $20 each, instead of the $21 going to Hawaii.)
--The airline gives a range of costs for carry-on bags. The only choice you have for the Spokane-Honolulu flight is $50 for a carry-on bag that can't exceed 25 pounds, limited to 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches. It does not say round trip, but I assume it is: Total for two: $100.
--If you need to check a bag, the cost is a minimum of $70. Let's say you can do without it. $0 added cost.
That makes the total roundtrip price for two: $954, or $938 if you pay with a debit card.
That's still better than the current advertised price on competing airlines that require a stop between Spokane and Honolulu, but it's a long shot from the advertized special of $180 that caught my eye.
For contrast, OfficeHours ran a booking test on Alaska Air via Priceline and came up with two round trips coming to about $1,290. So yeah, there are some advantages with Allegiant.
We got an explanation on those seat and luggage fees from Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler:
We charge a fee to choose your seat assignment – each seat has a different value based on demand for the seat. If you do not purchase a seat assignment you will be randomly assigned a seat at check-in.
Carry-on and checked baggage fees vary by route. Hawaii routes are most expensive because it is our longest flight. For many of our optional products the cost to customer vary by airport and route, a reflection of how our costs vary. The less it cost us, the less our customers