Monday I flew Allegiant Air in a Giant Seat, one of their First Class-sized seats up front, from Los Angeles to Honolulu.
Allegiant Air is a Las-Vegas-based low-cost carrier that survives by selling bundled hotel-air-entertainment packages, charging a fee for almost everything, and keeping its costs low.
It was a First Class-sized seat at an economy-class price. Was it worth flying a budget-carrier with no frequent flyer program just to save a few bucks and get a bigger seat?
- How was the check-in, security, boarding, food, and service with Allegiant?
- What perks came with a Giant Seat?
- Which Giant Seat should you choose (they have different leg room and recline)?
I bought my ticket from Los Angeles to Honolulu one way for $284.70 after a carry on bag fee ($25), credit card fee ($4), and Giant Seat fee ($90.) Here’s a post that talks about that decisionmaking process.
Twenty-four hours before my flight, the Allegiant experience began. I got an email saying that I would have to pay $5 to print my boarding pass at the airport. To avoid that fee, I could print it at home or download the Allegiant app and get a mobile boarding pass. I chose the latter option, and it was easy.
Immediately I noticed that I was in Zone 6 for boarding. This would be a theme: I had paid for a big seat up front, but not any of the other accompaniments that usually come with flying in a big seat up front, including priority boarding.
I got to LAX about 90 minutes before my flight and headed straight to Terminal 3 security. Again, my Giant Seat did not grant access to the Priority Lane of security, even though fellow ultra-low cost carriers Spirit and Frontier do give some customers that access.
After security, I headed for a lounge. I have an American Express Platinum card, which means I have free Priority Pass Select lounge access. I fired up the Priority Pass app and saw that the Virgin America Loft in Terminal 3 was open to me.
The Virgin America Loft looked modern, had continental breakfast options, and was near my gate.
I really liked the front counter agents, the breakfast spread was acceptable, and the bar was nice, but other than that, the lounge was a bit ratty. The upholstery on several sofas and chairs was badly stained.
The lounge had nice tarmac views, and you saw all the “misfit” airlines that fly out of Terminal 3 like Allegiant and Spirit.
About 40 minutes before my flight’s departure, I realized, “Oh no! This flight will have no entertainment options. I should download some shows from iTunes.” The internet in the Virgin America Loft was very slow, and I actually got better download speeds by tethering my computer to my phone.
At 9:10 AM, I walked to my gate for the 9:30 AM departure. I was one of the last people to board, and the line was long down the jet way. I got on the plane and turned left to head to seat 3F, which is the first row on the right side of the aircraft.
Alllegiant has six Giant Seats on its 757–four in the front and two in an exit row in the middle of the plane. The seats are basically the size of domestic First Class on a legacy carrier. Only four of the six seats were full, and the seat next to me was empty.
I observed that my pair of Giant Seats had the least legroom but the most recline. My seat actually went much farther back than I wanted to go, so I only reclined a small amount.
The other four Giant Seats had more legroom because there was nothing really in front of them for several feet, but only had about the recline you’d expect from a normal seat.
My seat had legrest and recline buttons. I didn’t actually see legrests on the other pairs of Giant Seats.
I had ample knee room, though my toes just reached the bulkhead when I sat in a normal position. If I flew an Allegiant Giant Seat again, I would choose one of the other pairs for more leg room.
My thoughts on the overall cabin are that it looked worn and a bit dirty. There were small bits of trash scattered throughout that hadn’t been cleaned from the previous flight.
The plane was boarded and ready to go at 9:30 AM, except that there was no ice on board.
This wasn’t really Allegiant’s fault, of course, since they subcontract ice delivery, and the captain did come on the loudspeakers every 15 minutes to apologize and tell us they were begging for the ice.
But overall, it was an annoying delay, especially since most people on board wouldn’t be using ice. See, Allegiant charges $2 for all drinks, including water. Since the ice wasn’t going to be free, I found it a bit annoying that we were waiting. I can see the argument for waiting, but for me it was almost like if we had had to wait for duty free to be restocked or something, pretty annoying.
At 10:25 AM, we finally took off (scheduled departure of 9:30 AM), and because the flight time would only be a bit over five hours, we were scheduled to land only 15 minutes late.
Food and drink service began after take off. I ordered the chips and salsa snack for $4, and it was pitifully small. I also wanted the hummus and pita, but it was out of stock as were the two bigger snacks including the sandwich.
Allegiant only accepts Visa, MasterCard, and Discover, not American Express, gift cards, or cash.
I spent about 90 minutes watching the shows I had downloaded until my computer ran out of juice. I should have charged it longer in the lounge because there were no outlets at the seats.
Then I read for 90 minutes and napped the last two hours on my comfortable Giant Seat.
Overall, the flight was better than flying economy on a legacy carrier because of the extra leg room that really comes in handy on a 5-6 hour flight.
It’s annoying to have to pay for everything and not to get priority boarding or security, but for $284, I don’t think there’s a better way to travel between the mainland and Hawaii. Instead of getting caught up in each nickel-and-diming, just add up the total cost of the flight and compare it to alternatives. Allegiant will come out well if it’s flying where you want to fly at a convenient time for you.
As discussed in my post about booking the flight with cash instead of miles, I was attracted to the very cheap upgrade to a much larger seat and possibility of paying for the flights with my Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®. Remember that Arrival miles can be redeemed for any flight on any airline including Allegiant Air and other low cost carriers.