A Working Trip to Vegas (Trip Report)

JetBlue, Southwest, Trip Reports

Last week, Allegiant paid for me to come out to Vegas and speak to the attendees at its annual conference for the airports it serves. This is a great event that lets Allegiant talk about its own business View from New York, New York Hotelto the airports so that it can further beat into them the importance of low costs. My speech wouldn’t have surprised any readers here since it brought up a lot of topics I’ve written about including small city service, ancillary revenue, and airport infrastructure. But it was a fun event, and I have to thank the Allegiant folks for bringing me out.

This trip wouldn’t be complete, however, without a trip report. Allegiant picked up the tab for the flights, so I don’t have exact amounts. I had hoped to fly out of Long Beach both ways, but there wasn’t a flight early enough on the way out so I had to go to LAX. In fact, my talk was originally early enough that I had to do the 6a flight on Southwest. When my talk was pushed back 30 minutes, they moved me an hour later. On the way home, I could still fly back to Long Beach. Both flights were uneventful.

On the way out, I got to LAX at 6a and was thrilled to find the security line inside the terminal. Still, it took me about 20 minutes to get through. My new laptop case was TSA-friendly, as promised, so that was a nice change of pace. By the time I got through, I went over to the cramped gate 2 for the flight.

May 10, 2012
Southwest 2404 Lv Los Angeles 705a Arr Las Vegas 810a
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 2, Runway 24L, Depart 1m Late
Las Vegas (LAS): Gate C5, Runway 25L, Arrive 2m Early
N762WN, Boeing 737-7H4, Canyon Blue, 100% Full
Seat 6F
Flight Time 48m

From the looks of the gate area, this flight was going to be full. It was. We boarded on time and I grabbed a window seat on the right side. This airplane unfortunately had the old seats. I was hoping to try out the new Evolve ones.

Transfer bags

From my seat, I saw a very un-Southwest site. There was a mountain of bags outside the window, all with a pink “transfer” sticker on them. Point to point? Not quite. The flight attendants were friendly but were smart enough not to get too cutesy at this early hour. They took drink orders before we pushed back so that they would be ready to go once we were in the air on our short flight.

We took off into the shallow marine layer and you could tell these pilots were enjoying themselves. We climbed quickly and had some sharp turns in there to get us on our course to Vegas. A couple bags of peanuts and pretzels later, we were landing in Vegas. (Unfortunately, it was the lightly salted peanut’s turn instead of honey roasted.)

Above the Marine Layer

I was off the plane quickly and on my way to New York, New York, where the event was being held.

I stayed the night in Vegas so I could join the airport folks for dinner and a show (Ka, which is kind of awesome). The next morning, I headed to the airport for my flight back to Long Beach. The line of cars getting into the terminal area was massive. I was reminded that it was mostly cabs coming in to pick up people coming to town – Friday in Vegas. I hopped out of the car as soon as we were near the terminal.

I had checked in the day before but I didn’t have a seat and none were on the seat map except for Even More Space seats and I didn’t want to pay the $15 for the short flight. So I checked in again at the airport, and it just printed out a boarding pass with no seat, saying to go to the gate.

As usual, the security line was insane. It took probably 20 minutes to get through, however, because they move those lines pretty well. The boarding pass said gate D18, but when I walked by D16, it said Long Beach on the board so I stopped there. The agent said no, that was next door and this flight was JFK. Ok.

I went next door and asked for a seat. They had me in a middle in Even More Space. I said, “I assume there are no windows open, right?” She said there actually was one but it didn’t have the extra legroom. I was fine with that. (JetBlue’s normal generous legroom is more than enough for me.)

So I grabbed seat 21F and boarded.

May 11, 2012
JetBlue 287 Lv Las Vegas 1048a Long Beach 1157a
Las Vegas (LAS): Gate D18, Runway 1R, Depart ~15m Late
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2, Runway 30, Arrive 8m Late
N579JB, Airbus A320-232, Blueberries Tail (name Can’t Stop Lovin Blue), 100% Full
Seat 21F
Flight Time 42m

This flight was packed, and it was hot when I boarded. Fortunately it cooled down. We were ready to go on time, but the captain came on and said we’d be delayed 3 or 4 minutes due to “stuff.” Seriously. Really helpful announcement. Despite what the JetBlue flight status showed, we actually didn’t push back until about 15 minutes late. With LiveTV to watch, it was only mildly annoying.

Lake Arrowhead

We taxied out to what for me was a rare departure off runway 1R. We bounced out along the desert until we climbed above the heat for the short flight home. JetBlue has an express service so I just had a bottle of water and I passed on the snacks.

It was a very hazy day in the LA Basin, as we descended, but I had still a great view of Lake Arrowhead. Final approach was surprisingly bouncy. I was half expecting a go-around, actually, but he ended up putting us down almost halfway down the runway. We used all of what was left before taxiing back to the gate.

The Back Stairs

One of the perks of being at the back in Long Beach is that I was able to come down the back stairs. For a dork like me, that’s a great way to end a trip.

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17 comments on “A Working Trip to Vegas (Trip Report)

  1. Sounds like a quick trip that went well. Does show how nice it can be to live in a metro area with more then one airport. Being able to go out of one airport and in to another can help plan your time better.

    So I take it you didn’t put a dollar in a progressive slot machine and will
    $8 million :-)

    1. David – I didn’t drop a dime on gambling. Sometimes it’s fun if I set aside a certain amount, but this was all business.

  2. Oh come on Brett, you aren’t fulling anybody. You wanted to get in a little Texas Hold’em in since you work hard for your customers & your loyal readers. LOL

    1. abefroman329 – I didn’t get any pics of the new terminal, but I did see it taxiing in. Looks like it’s ready to go soon.

  3. Brett = I assume there was some discussion about Allegiant’s new raft of Hawaii destinations. New routes include HNL and OGG from Bellingham (competing against Alaska) and HNL to Eugene, Santa Maria and Stockton to go w/ previously announced service to LAS and Fresno (although maybe I have Fresno and Stockton reversed).

    Obviously, they are not going to concede Bellingham to Hawaii even though Alaska made the preemptive strike. Since they obviously aren’t afraid of competition, I thought Phoenix-Mesa might be next in line, especially with the alternative airport. Maybe sometime down the road…

    It will certainly be interesting to see how these Hawaii flights to smaller airports perform for Allegiant. What are your thoughts?

    1. Bill – There was no specific discussion about Allegiant’s new routes since they hadn’t been announced yet, but in general there was talk about the Hawai’i strategy. I think these flights all make a ton of sense and should do well. Fresno, the first announced route outside of Vegas, is said to be booking extremely well so far.

  4. This is the greatest post ever. Allegiant paid for Ben to fly to an Allegiant event and he flew Southwest and Jet Blue. That’s awesome. I would have done the same.

    1. Allan – It’s Brett, not Ben, but yes, they did fly me on another airline since they don’t fly from Vegas to anywhere near me. In fact, with Allegiant’s leisure-oriented routes that only go a couple days a week, it’s really hard to fly Allegiant for short biz trips even if they do have the service in the market.

      They actually gave me a choice of airlines to fly. The return obviously had to be JetBlue, but on the way out I could fly just about anyone. When it was originally a 6a flight, however, they put me on Southwest because they had the right time.

  5. Not to sound like a snob, but if WN is able to do full service from LAS to LAX why can’t b6? I never ask (on an express flight on b6) for anything more than a bottle of water. But if WN is able to accommodate more passengers (because their planes hold more people) and do a full beverage service, why can’t b6 do the same. Just wondering what the difference is?

    1. Don – Not a snob thing at all. I’ve asked the same question on my trips to the Bay Area. It’s certainly possible but they just don’t do it. I think the policy is that flights have to be over an hour.

    2. From what I understand, express is done because unlike Southwest, Jetblue offers a large variety of snacks. It takes more time to provision the airplane with variety (longer turn time), prep the baskets (jetblue does not use carts), and longer for customers to decide what to get. 150 people each making the choice takes longer than the 130 on Southwest who only have to choose a drink.

      Flight attendants prefer express service, and few if any customers ever complain. In fact, if you ask for a different choice, many times they will accommodate you if you know exactly what you want. Simplicity makes most people happy and saves money!

  6. @ Cranky. Do you mind posting a copy of your speach? (if you have it) Or maybe you just winged it… Thanks!

    1. Joe Guy – I never write a full copy of a speech. Instead, I just write some notes and I rarely actually use them. I’m a much bigger fan of just speaking from memory and making changes midstream if needed. Here are some of my notes.

      +fees are here to stay – good for 2 reasons
      -profitable with high oil
      -customer choice
      -people hate fees, but they really hate distribution (OTAs, not issue for Allegiant)
      -fees keep fares low and demand higher – good for airports

      +may not seem that way to smaller airports with svc loss – consolidation
      -consolidation cuts hubs, routes, frequencies (CVG, PIT, STL)
      -US/AA should make you nervous but it’s good for industry

      +network carrier svc has been the hardest
      -only way to connect to global network but it’s shrinking

      +how does the bleeding stop? government?
      -well govt doesn’t seem to care evidenced by $100 departure tax

      -EAS is failed program
      -airports in AK or MT maybe justified
      -bad service: non-secure, no interline, not reliable
      -small airports compete with each other and ruin chances of more
      -In KS, Dodge City has EAS, but it’s less than 100 miles from Great Bend, Hays, Garden City, and Liberal

      -SCASDP is a better program that tries to create sustained service
      -STS is a great example – but it’s unique

      +so how do you serve the biz traveler?
      -don’t know
      -maybe new aircraft tech will help
      -50 seat RJ is dead, ATR42 is only small airplane being made

      +this talk prob makes you want to drink heavily, news isn’t all bad
      -ultra low cost cxr like G4 pioneered great service
      -leisure, low frequency – tied together
      -not for biz traveler

      +don’t think I’m suggesting you’re helpless – you can do things to help

      -airlines are businesses who want profitable svcs
      -help increase airline revenue
      -help decrease airline costs

      -help increase airline revenue – not a ton of options
      -marketing budget support
      -use community connections
      -use social media for customer service/convenience factor

      -cost side is big impact
      -increase your revenue to reduce airline costs
      -better concessions (LGA/JFK DL/B6)
      -parking charges

      -back and forth with Greg Principato on this, he’s more bullish
      -mature market with growth on GDP
      -build smart
      -with PFCs still capped at $4.50, big building hits rate base
      (even PFCs increase ticket price)
      -build what you reasonably need and don’t make it an architectural statement
      -Miami example vs Ft Lauderdale
      -same for small airports – Owensboro vs Evansville
      -if Allegiant had its way, you’d all have tin sheds (roof optional) with no cost at all
      -that might be extreme, but then again, it could be the difference between profit and loss

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