Latest from The Spokesman-Review
Updated at 1:28 p.m. Feb. 12
Updated to include a statement by Allegiant Air on the issue of new routes and possible cancellation of routes:
Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler emailed this comment regarding the issue that the TWU cited for the flyers handed out:
Many of the routes in our system have never been flown before - we have no historical data to look to and forecast demand and costs based on available data. Allegiant is making every effort to bring new service to underserved communities at affordable prices and in this case, new visitors to the Hawaiian islands, visitors who have never had access to nonstop service to Hawaii before. We do not go into a market unless we believe we will be successful there, but some routes do not work out the way we anticipate. The vast majority of our new routes are successful.
Is there a guaranteed right of free speech aboard a commercial airliner?
That question was raised last weekend during the first Allegiant Air flight from Spokane's airport to Hawaii.
Last weekend, the TWU sent a representative aboard the first flight, and once on board, the union rep handed out leaflets to passengers
In December Allegiant's flight attendants voted to be represented by a local of the Transport Workers Union. This first-flight event occurred as Allegiant and the union are hammering out their first-ever contract for flight attendants.
The flyer handed out is what you see here.
The issue isn't union representation. A press release, posted at this link, includes information about the company’s record of abrupt cancellation of service to “underperforming” markets. The leaflet leaves the impression Allegiant dumps its service to some markets without a lot of advance notice. We're not sure how accurate that is.
There were no incidents on the flight, according to reports. A sheriff's deputy, however, interviewed the union worker in Honolulu when the flight arrived. After 10 minutes, the union worker left, having established no disruptions occurred during the flight.
So here's the nub: If you're in a restaurant with your best friend, is it OK if union workers drop by your table and ask you to sign a petiion against the owner of the business? Or pass out material suggesting the owner is mistreating employees?
Restaurants are public or semi-public locations. An airplane may not be the same kind of workplace.
Or, is free speech basically free speech, provided it doesn't inflame or injure anyone?
Which way should the law tilt?
Today's Spokesman Review has a story about the first Allegiant Air direct flight to Hawaii from Spokane.
We call attention to related news about this flight; namely, that these inaugural flights will be staffed with full-time flight attendants. Up to now Allegiant has told its workers it would use part-time attendants on those flights.
Allegiant's position, based on media coverage in Hawaii, came down to an apparent desire to not pay health beneifts, according to a story in the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
Earlier this week Transport Workers Union Local 577, representing more than 600 flight attendants at Allegiant, announced the change to full-time status for those attendants who would be based in Honolulu. Allegiant's action only affected that uncertain number based in Hawaii. Its flight attendants at its nine U.S. bases all are classified full-time and receive benefits.
The union's release said: "The airline, which begins service to Honolulu this week from airports in Boise, Phoenix/Mesa and Spokane had originally planned to service these and other Hawaii routes with part-time flight attendants based in Honolulu.
"In October, (union officials) wrote to Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie and U.S. senators and members of Congress from Hawaii. The letter questioned whether Allegiant’s planned use of so-called part-timers – for a route on which each flight lasted at least 14 hours – was a maneuver to avoid providing health care benefits for flight attendants based in Hawaii.' "
That letter and some other efforts led to Allegiant making the change. The Star Advertiser summary of the change by Allegiant can be found here.
One more post about Allegiant Air, the Las Vegas-based carrier that's launching a nonstop from Spokane to Honolulu in January.
If I were designing a cool website that took all the guesswork out of how much passengers have to pay when taking a flight, I'd hope to come up with something like NerdWallet has.
It's especially helpful in detailing exactly how assorted fees and costs will be added to your fare. Using interactive features to modify the number of bags, NerdWallet sweetly totals the final cost by tracking what happens if you purchase more than or less than 30 days in advance, whether you buy online or by phone, and how many bags you check.
It doesn't, as far as we can tell, detail the airport fees and taxes that are also added.
For instance, it shows if you're flying on Allegiant and have 2 checked bags both under 40 pounds, that will add $140.
If you ask what the price will be if both are 44 pounds (exceeding the 40-pound threshhold), that will add another $100.
Check it out.
Allegiant Air, based in Las Vegas, is already shuffling some of its small-city routes.
An Associated Press story today noted that Allegiant is cancelling flights between Sioux Falls, S.D., and LA, citing lack of space at LA International Airprot.
Also being shut down are Allegiant flights to LA from Billings and Pasco.
An Allegiant spokesman said the airline lacks adequate gate and ticket counters at LAX.
The low-cost airline announced this week it's launching flights in January between Spokane and Honolulu.
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
So it's now official that Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air will start flying weekly flights from Spokane to Oahu.
The story appeared on Spokesman.com earlier today. Some notable and not well-known facts about low-fare Allegiant. It flies into and out of 80 cities, including Bellingham, Wash. Which tells you how competive Allegiant has to be, if they choose to set up flights in and out of places like Missoula and Bellingham.
Also notable is some of its operating philosophy. It chooses about a dozen destination locations and then forms routes from smaller cities to those destinations. Yes, Allegiant.com lists Bellingham as a little gem of a getaway.
Here's another key part of their approach: The airline uses the Ryanair model of looking for secondary revenue through sales of food, beverages, and souvenirs on board as well as charges for checking luggage and advance seat assignments. Which means, the current discount rate of $180 one-way to Oahu doesn't stay that low when you start adding in other costs, like luggage. The St. Petersburg Times reported that the airline's average "extra" revenues came to $33.35 per passenger in 2011.
And a Wikipedia entry added this nugget of insight: "Allegiant CEO Maurice Gallagher stated in an article that appeared September 2009 issue of Fast Company that the advantages of this pricing structure was psychological. He went on to say, 'We collect $110 from you at the end of your trip. If I tried to charge you $110 up front, you wouldn't pay it. But if I sell you a $75 ticket and you self-select the rest, you will.' "
Allegiant Air, a discount airline that serves mostly small to midsized cities, will begin weekly nonstop flights from Spokane to Honolulu in February. The once-per-week nonstop flight will leave on Saturday mornings and return the following Friday evening. The last time Spokane passengers had nonstops to Hawaii was in 2003, when Anchorage-based Hawaiian Vacations offered charter flights to Maui. That charter service stopped after several months, said Spokane airport spokesman Todd Woodard. “We think Spokane will embrace the service and the deals we have with great bundles for hotels and rental cars,” said Eric Fletcher, an Allegiant airport manager. He said the hope is to build traffic to two flights per week/Tom Sowa, SR. More here.
Question: When & why did you last visit Hawaii?