Way back on March 5, 2010, Allegiant announced it would purchase some used 757s so that it could go to Hawai’i. Here we are more than 2 years later and the strategy is finally, mercifully, being put into place. Flights to Honolulu begin on June 29 from one city you undoubtedly expected and another that’s a bit surprising.
There has been plenty of speculation over the years and one city that has often been mentioned is Fresno. Fresno is the heart of the largest Combined Statistical Area west of the Rockies without service to Hawai’i, so you’d think it could support something, right? Allegiant is the perfect airline to fly it, and it will start with 1 weekly flight. That seems like a smart way to start and I bet it does very well.
The other city, however, is Las Vegas. Vegas is a big city, and there’s a lot of traffic wanting to head in each direction on that route, but Hawaiian flies to Honolulu 17 times a week already. Allegiant hates head-to-head competition, so why is the airline doing this? I think it’s playing it safe from an operational perspective.
Here’s how the airplane will fly. On Wednesday morning, the airplane will leave Vegas for Honolulu and it will turn right back around in the afternoon with an evening arrival in Vegas. It does the same thing on Friday. On Saturday, it goes out to Honolulu at the same time, but then the afternoon return goes to Fresno. Sunday morning, it flies back to Honolulu with a Sunday afternoon return to Vegas. That Fresno flight is what’s called an “inside turn,” which means that that it does a roundtrip from Honolulu to Fresno inside of its regular Vegas – Honolulu roundtrip.
This allows Allegiant to keep the 757 close to home. It will end every night except for Saturday in Vegas, and its crews will be Vegas-based. I’m told that on routes that it can, Allegiant will use a three-person cockpit so that the crew can fly the entire roundtrip each day. My guess is that Vegas was picked more for operational convenience than anything else.
That being said, clearly Allegiant thinks that it has a chance of making this route succeed, but it also wouldn’t surprise if it didn’t. But so what? If it doesn’t work, I assume Allegiant will be comfortable enough down the line that it can put the 757 in places like Bellingham, Eugene, etc. (I’d guess those will happen sooner than later anyway – new Hawai’i routes should be announced for the Fall.) In other words, there is no shortage of opportunity if Vegas doesn’t succeed.
What will it be like if you fly Allegiant to Hawai’i? Not much different than if you fly within the mainland today. You’re just on a bigger airplane with more people. The 757s seat a whopping 223
sardines people. I don’t know about legroom, but I’d guess seat pitch is in the 30″ range. But hey, if you want to get there cheap, this will be the way to go.
Allegiant says one way fares from Vegas will start at $174. Of course that doesn’t include all the extras you’ll need to buy along the way, but it will still probably end up less than if you fly someone else. And Allegiant is naturally hoping you won’t just be buying airfare. The airline wants to make money selling you a whole package, and it’s lined up dozens of the main hotels in Hawai’i to help it make money.
While I’m not quite as bullish on Vegas, I am excited to see how Hawai’i flying does in general. The demand should be there, but will it be profitable? After years of speculating, we’ll finally be able to see for ourselves soon enough.