Allegiant to Start Honolulu Flights from Vegas and Fresno in June

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.

Allegiant Finally Goes to Hawaii

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.


24 Responses to Allegiant to Start Honolulu Flights from Vegas and Fresno in June

  1. Ben says:

    I wonder how loyal people in Hawaii will be to their home town airline, or if many of them will jump to Allegiant to save a few bucks. I bet Hawaiian will lower its fares, but like Cranky said, probably won’t get as low as Allegiant. I’d be willing to pay more to fly on one of Hawaiian’s widebody jets, with a little more personal space, but I bet I’m in the minority. Then again, if Allegiant is a lot cheaper, even I would probably get on board. That said, nice to see Allegiant finally get those 757’s into regular service

    • Mark says:

      I live in Kona, and frankly I am extremely disappointed in Hawaiian. Most people don’t realize it, but they have very few Est Coast -Neighbor Island flights. They have also severely gutted their FF program as regards inter-island flying. They now award actual miles (83 miles KOA to OGG) rather than the 500 mile minimum except for elites and credit card holders. Their bag fees are draconian, their people rude. They, along with their competitors have taken all of the Aloha out of Hawaiian travel. I look forward to the Allegiant and Southwest product.

      • Very interesting thoughts. I’ve noticed nonstops to the neighbor islands seem to be predominantly on UA and DL. However, I think changing to awarding actual flight mileage in lieu of a minimum is something the other airlines did too.

        • Fred says:

          Alaska also has started quite a few routes to neighbor islands (as well as HNL to smaller cities on the west coast) in the past few years.

  2. Interesting, they are certainly taking their time and moving in small steps. Hope it works and that they expand their Hawai’i service before too long.

  3. People in Hawaii do like going to Vegas so they may get some traffic with cheap fares.

    There is already enough package deals to Hawaii, so can Allegiant actually offer something better/lower then all the other company’s selling Hawaii travel?

  4. Next location to Hawai’i may already be known. The route map on Allegiant’s website shows Stockton to HNL. However, it could just be an error because the FAT dot is not connected to HNL on the same map, while Stockton and LAS are.

    http://www.allegiantair.com/aaRouteMapStatic.php

  5. Ron says:

    Bill — the map could use some attention to detail, anyway. Stockton is placed north of Oakland, and there are two lines connecting Honolulu and Las Vegas.

    I suspect people going to/from Hawaii typically have luggage. I wonder if the starting of Hawaii service has something to do with the timing of carry-on fees.

    • LOL, I noticed those too! I was actually surprised to see any notation of Hawaii on their route map. As such, it probably does not make much sense to assume Stockton will be part of Allegiant’s luau anytime soon.

      Another thought — Phoenix Mesa. US has 3x on 757s (much of which are likely filled with connecting passengers) and Hawaiian has 1x on a 767 (mostly O&D pxs I assume). Prices for dates I sampled are VERY high. Looks like a good place to expand Allegiant’s luau — AZA is one of their focus cities, it is an alternate airport in a very large metro area and it appears to be a market that could use some price competition. Even the 757s aren’t a detriment here.

  6. skyguyj says:

    Don’t forget Omni has daily “Scheduled Charters” from Hawaii to Vegas and has been doing this run for several years now. Should be interesting to see what happens with Allegiant in the mix!

  7. Love the photo. Reminds me of “Air Israel, please clear the runway”

  8. A says:

    Has Allegiant set this up for connecting their passengers in Vegas and shuttling them out to Hawaii? Can’t imagine they expect Vegas to be all O/D traffic, so this may be a deal to those from smaller midwestern markets to Hawaii. The only people I know that rave about Allegiant are those from small market cities that otherwise would have zero options other than a regional to a hub. This would be their mainline aircraft option all the way to Hawaii.

    • Sanjeev M says:

      Allegiant as far as I know doesn’t do connections, so all O/D.

      @Mark If you think the Hawaiian product is bad, than Allegiant will be much worse.

      Cranky has mentioned in several posts how Hawaii is a big destination, and not necessarily the low yield worthless traffic that many of us think. Its why Southwest and Allegiant want in and explains recent moves by Alaska, Delta, and PMCO. United for years has been king in Hawaii and flies massive capacity to HNL nonstop from ALL the hubs (except Cleveland, which isn’t really a hub anyway)

  9. Jim says:

    No Long Beach, huh? I’m disappointed.

  10. Cedarglen says:

    I suspect that this week-long cycle will be successful (and modestly profitable) for Allegiant. This is great, effective utilization for their 757; (air time makes money and ground time does not…). Both cities have plenty of traffic (who wudda thunk Fresno – but the surrounding area has a huge population) and their low fares will probably attract crowds. Even with their famous up-charges, the effective cost is still better than most others. An even if the limited Fresno schedule is inconvenient for a few customer’s schedules, a Fresno/Vegas hop can be had for minimal additional fare. Allegiant, like Virgin America, is careful and very conservative about adding new routes – and they make very few errors. While this is an extremely heavy load for a single airplane, if they stay on top of their maintance needs I suspect that they can make it work. Lastly, the briefly mentioned flight crew staffing is very tight, but brilliant. Their only real risk is the unexpected Murphy delay. When those happen, I wonder what their Plan-B entails, both for accommodating paid pax and for crew staffing. Given their usual attention to detail, I suspect that they have a Plan-B in place. I wish them well and hope that their 757 is in good shape.

  11. Rocky says:

    There was a lot of talk when Allegiant first announce plans to fly 757s that they would fly BLI-HNL. Alaska had the planes available and beat Allegiant to the BLI market. They’ve also done it for relatively cheap. I wonder if Allegiant will try to break into this market anyways

  12. Axelsarkis says:

    I’ll actually be interested to see how these flights do for Allegiant- and if anymore destinations are down the line if these do well.

  13. Mark says:

    Vegas and Hawaii go hand in hand!!! The Islanders love the city and many hotel on the upper part of the strip cater to them. I think Allegiant will rake in the $$$$$.

  14. yo says:

    6 hours on an Allegiant plane with 223 pax? There aren’t enough muscle relaxers in the world to endure that hell.

  15. Hendo says:

    I’ve been following Allegiant’s progress on offering airfare to Hawaii since they first announced their plans several years ago and was wondering what were the reasons for the delay. I just thought Allegiant was waiting for Southwest to make their move first. But since Southwest has announced that they wouldn’t be offering airfare to Hawaii until 2013, I suppose this is why Allegiant has now made their move.

    I live in Las Vegas and am originally from Hawaii and fly a lot between these two locations; but I don’t know if I’ll ever use Allegiant if they are not a lot cheaper than Hawaiian. Many people use Hawaiian between LAS and HNL because it’s a direct flight. If you fly one of the other carriers, it’ll add at least 3 hours to an already long flight because of the connecting time at another west coast city. As a result, Hawaiian has been the preferred carrier on the HNL-LAS route for most people that have to fly a lot between these two points.

    One thing that will be very interesting to find out is: how will people react to being cramped into the seats that would probably have some of the most narrowest leg room in the industry. Flying between Hawaii and Las Vegas is a long and painful 6 hour flight. Omni, the carrier that offers charter flights between HNL and LAS, recently got rid of their Boeing 757 and upgraded to a wide body plane, a Boeing 767, I believe. Omni did offer some very cheap Hawaii flights; so it would be interesting to find out the reason for changing out their planes, which coincidentally were the same types of aircraft that Allegiant would be using. Could it have been because of complaints over lack of leg room?

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