Despite all the skepticism around my initial post, Allegiant did, in fact, announce this week that it’s coming to LAX and not any of the other surrounding airports. Glad to see that my source is as reliable as I thought. It’s definitely some new territory for the airline, and I imagine that they’ll do very well here, or shall I say they’ll do very well bringing people here. Let’s get the details out here for all those frozen Midwesterners who want a little sun and sand (today’s weather: 71 and partly cloudy).
Allegiant is a very simple operation. They will be basing two aircraft here at LAX and those planes will usually each do a morning roundtrip to some far flung destination followed by a second roundtrip in the afternoon every day of the week. That’s right. They’ll serve twelve destinations from LAX with only two airplanes, but that’s normal for these guys.
Allegiant doesn’t try for business traffic. They just want to bring leisure travelers to a destination, and in this case that destination is Southern California. It’s cheap (some flights for as low as $39 each way), but you have to fly on their terms. Make sure you pay attention to all the extra fees – almost nobody escapes without paying more – but it’s still a really good deal overall. Each destination will be served only two or three times per week. Here’s the rollout schedule:
May 1 – Grand Junction (Colorado) on Monday/Friday
May 1 – Medford (Oregon) on Monday/Friday
May 2 – Bellingham (Washington – near the Canadian border) on Monday/Wednesday/Saturday
May 2 – Missoula (Montana) on Wednesday/Saturday
May 3 – Monterey (California) on Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday
May 3 – Springfield/Branson (Missouri) on Thursday/Sunday
May 22 – Billings (Montana) on Tuesday/Friday
May 23 – Fargo (North Dakota) on Tuesday/Saturday
May 23 – Sioux Falls (South Dakota) on Wednesday/Saturday
May 23 – Wichita (Kansas) on Wednesday/Saturday
May 24 – Des Moines (Iowa) on Thursday/Sunday
May 24 – McAllen (Texas) on Thursday/Sunday
It will be very interesting to see how United/American/Alaska react to direct competition on routes they fly nonstop. Scratch that – there really isn’t much competition here, but will it be perceived that way? Those United and American flights from Monterey to LAX are there mostly to feed other flights and not for local traffic. This thrice weekly flight on Allegiant really won’t take much traffic from the existing airlines but rather stimulate new traffic. It’s a little different in Medford where Horizon gets local traffic, but it still won’t be much competition with only two flights a week. Of course, Alaska (Horizon’s parent) has shown that it is all for strong reactions when threatened lately (right, Virgin America?), so there’s no guarantee they will ignore this either.
Another interesting thing is what you find when you pick through the schedules to look for holes. When a plane goes to Monterey on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, it looked like it was sitting on the ground for more than four hours. A little more digging shows that Allegiant is squeezing in a roundtrip down to San Diego from Monterey before it comes back to LAX again. Same thing goes for flights to Grand Junction, but from there the plane is just going back to Vegas, probably so they can swap aircraft through the system.
Also, one of the airplanes has a gaping hole on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons. The plane arrives back at LAX at 140p on Monday, 235p on Tuesday, 355p on Wednesday, and 135p on Friday and does nothing else for the rest of the day. Something tells me they could launch another route or two in the not-too-distant future. There’s no reason for that plane to sit idle.
One more thing. If you’re trying to put the schedules together yourselves, you may have a little trouble until you realize that the Wednesday and Saturday flights to Bellingham are actually flown by an airplane based in Bellingham and not one of the LAX planes. That’s how they can squeeze out an extra morning flight on those days.
Allegiant will use Terminal 6 at LAX, and they won’t need a ton of space. In fact, the flights are scattered so that this entire thing can be operated from only one gate. So, welcome to LAX, Allegiant. We look forward to seeing you bring many pasty white Midwesterners here to spend money and help us out of our budget hole.