Review: Here’s the Deal with Allegiant Air from Rochester, New York

In late 2015, Allegiant Air landed at the Rochester International Airport offering another low-cost travel option to Florida for residents of Western New York.  Allegiant Air currently has two routes departing from Rochester (ROC) flying nonstop to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Orlando Sanford International (SFB).  A budget airline, Allegiant Air “unbundles” ticket cost promising passengers base fares nearly half the price of their competitors.  However, that base fare entitles you to a seat and ONLY a seat, everything else is an upcharge.  We flew the budget airline for the first time on our recent spring break trip.  Continue reading to find out more about our experience.

Airbus

Image courtesy Allegiant Air

DISCLOSURE: Allegiant Air hosted my family and we were provided with complimentary airfare for the purposes of experiencing the flight.  However, all opinions expressed are those of the author.

I admit I was a little nervous flying a low-cost carrier like Allegiant Air, and wasn’t quite sure about what I was getting my family into for the flight.  Would the aircraft be in good condition?  Would we be packed in like sardines?  What would the service be like?  I wasn’t alone in my concerns either.  When I posted a picture of our aircraft on social media, an immediate reply was,

“I’ve heard nothing but “Horror” stories on Allegiant Air.  Did you have any issues?”

Here’s the take-away, our experience with Allegiant Air was great.  We had no issues at all with the airplane or service.  Allegiant Air got us where we needed to go quickly and efficiently.  Gotta love non-stop flights!  The plane was comfortable enough, perhaps a little Spartan, but the seats were clean with no ripped fabric, and as large as any other airline.

MD80

Image courtesy Allegiant Air

 

Here’s the deal with Allegiant Air – know ahead of time what you’re paying for and plan accordingly.  For our flight we paid for, our tickets, an assigned seat, a carry-on, and a checked bag.  [Note: the weight-limited is 40 pounds on a checked bag, not 50 pounds as with some other airlines.]  The woman at the check-in desk was very accommodating and let my 46-pound suitcase pass because all the other bags were the smaller roller-bags that could have been carry-ons.  As mentioned before, besides my unassigned seat, everything else was an extra charge on Allegiant Air.  So with all those “extras” you’re paying for, is Allegiant Air still a deal?  Here’s a direct comparison of Southwest vs. Allegiant for their nonstop service from Rochester to Orlando over Labor Day weekend (a time our family might choose to go).

Southwest Airlines:

Nonstop: Thursday, September 1 to Sunday, September 4, $314

Includes Economy ticket, no seat assignment, two checked bags (up to 50 pounds), carry-on bag, personal item, snacks on flight (pretzels and soft drink).

Allegiant Air:

Nonstop: Thursday, September 1 to Sunday, September 4, $176.50

Includes Economy ticket and a personal item.

Seat assignment roundtrip $40, carry-on bag $35, checked bag (up to 40 pounds) $50. Total $301.50

Remember Allegiant also does not have the same number of flights as other carriers – only offering 2 flights/week, and flies into a different Orlando airport (Sanford vs. Orlando International).  The Orlando Sanford International airport (SFB) is an hour from Walt Disney World compared to a 30-minute drive from Orlando International Airport (MCO).  That being said, our family loved the smaller Sanford airport – much easier to navigate and get through security.

Orlando Sanford International Airport

When you add up the costs of the optional services and fees, the deal aspect of Allegiant Air diminishes compared to Southwest.  It’s true you can get a seat on an Allegiant Air flight for almost half as much as Southwest.  If you only need a carry-on and don’t care about an assigned seat, you can save a great deal.

Would I fly with my family on Allegiant Air again?  Absolutely.  The quality of service we experienced was as good as any other airline we’ve recently flown.  That being said, I would also make sure to pay ahead of time for an assigned seat (great for the family to sit together during the flight) and at least a carry-on bag if not a checked bag as well.  I’d be sure to compare the total cost of Allegiant Air with other airlines, and factor in transportation time if flying into Orlando.

Allegiant Air

Take home message: you need to know what your discount ticket on Allegiant Air includes, and be sure to pay for “extras” you may need to have the most comfortable flight.  Even if the Allegiant Air ticket does not turn out to be a huge discount over other carriers, it is always great to have more competition in the Rochester airline market.  That turns out to be a win for all consumers.

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About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.