Avelo Delivers the Basics Well to Ogden, Utah (Trip Report)

Avelo, Trip Reports

It’s not often I get to fly a new airline, but last week, I had the chance to fly Avelo. When the airline first launched with $19 fares, I showed the route map to my kids. I told them they could pick a destination, and I’d take each one of them on an overnight trip wherever they wanted. My son chose Ogden, Utah and his trip was first up. I think he just wanted to cross Utah off his list. How was it? It was easy, and despite some minor nits, it’s exactly what I would have hoped to get from the airline.

Let’s start with the price. We had first booked the trip in June for $94 all-in for both of us. The only extra we paid for was a seat assignment, taking the cheapest seats in the back just so we could make sure we sat together. Since it was just an overnight trip, we knew we could each bring a small personal item onboard for free. We later had to change the date due to camp conflicts. Avelo has no change fee, but the new dates were a bit more expensive. All-in cost for the new dates for both of us: $104.

I knew the worst part of the trip would involve the drive up to Burbank. Since Ogden doesn’t operate on Sunday, we couldn’t do a weekend trip. (I have to work on Cranky Network Weekly Friday night into Saturday.) So we decided to go Thursday to Friday.

Driving up, it took about an hour to get there which wasn’t all that bad. I opted to skip the economy parking lot and pay the big bucks ($23 a day) to park in Lot G. We found a covered spot and walked the 5 minutes into the terminal.

I had checked in on the app, but that app is just not great. I kept trying to sign in and it would kick me back, never finding my reservation. I checked in using the confirmation number and it worked, but it doesn’t display the boarding pass. I could either download (which didn’t work) or I could email myself. I did that and printed it out, not knowing if I had to do that or not. Avelo knows the app isn’t good, and it is working on something better eventually.

Avelo doesn’t have TSA Precheck up and running yet, so we got there a bit earlier than I might have otherwise done. The line for security was short, but it moved slowly. I forgot how annoying it is to travel without Precheck. Shoes off, laptop out, etc. My son had packed a full tube of toothpaste, and the eagle-eyed agent caught it. But that agent looked at him and said, “you know what, it’s fine. Just take it.” That was a delightful show of humanity.

Our gate, B3, was right on the other side of security, but it was crowded as you can see above. So we walked over to B4 which was empty and had plenty of seating to wait it out. I watched our airplane come in from Phoenix/Mesa, and I counted 73 people getting off.

Once they were off, they started boarding us nearly right away. It was a little confusing since they started with boarding group 3 after pre-boarding. I don’t know if that’s because they use stairs in the back in Burbank or not, but we were in group 1. Once they called us, we were ready to go. I asked the agent how full we were and she said we were booked to 117. Not awful, and way better than Phoenix/Mesa.

July 8, 2021
Avelo 107 Lv Burbank 1110a Arr Ogden 2p
Burbank (BUR): Gate B3, Runway 15, Depart 7m Early
Ogden (OGD): Gate 1 and Only, Runway 21, Arrive 13m Early
N801XT (msn 35220), Boeing 737-86N, Standard colors, ~62% Full
Seat 34B, Coach
Flight Time 1h24m

Since we were way in the back, we boarded the rear stairs and were greeted by what I assume was a smiling flight attendant. With a mask on, it’s hard to tell. We found our seats with someone already sitting in the aisle. She got up and let us in and we settled in for the ride.

The seat pitch is nothing to write home about, but of course, we could have paid more if we wanted more legroom. This was perfectly fine for me for what was scheduled to be less than 1.5 hours.

The turn time is longer than it needs to be with these loads. We were boarded up early, made easier by the lack of carry-on bags clogging overhead bins.

We were ready early, and we pushed back early. The flight attendants did their safety briefing and politely told everyone to keep their masks over their noses and mouths. The woman next to me did not get the memo. She never wore her mask properly, and her nose was never covered. She was warned about it before we took off, but she never really complied, and I think the flight attendants did all they should have done since nobody else was actively complaining.

We took off to the south as is usually the case, and we looped around before heading toward Vegas, with one heck of a view of Edwards Air Force Base along the way.

Once at altitude, the seatbelt sign came off and the flight attendants came through with little snack packs.

The woman next to me decided to open up a container of something unidentifiable, and it smelled awful. It also gave her an excuse for taking her mask off entirely. She did not eat quickly.

Avelo has no entertainment onboard and no wifi, and you know what? For a flight this short I loved it. I just looked out the window and enjoyed the view. It was delightful to not have any distractions.

The flight attendants were working their butts off on this flight. They were up and down the aisle constantly collecting trash and just being present. They made very few announcements, only pausing to encourage 2021 grads to sign up for a free ticket giveaway.

The pilots had told us we might have some light to moderate turbulence on the way into Ogden, so they buttoned up early. We hit about 20,000 feet and went into a thin layer of scattered clouds. That’s when the bumps started and it was moderate turbulence much of the way down as we passed the Great Salt Lake.

Once we got lower and away from the mountains, it smoothed out a bit. We landed to the southwest and taxied back to what’s left of the Ogden terminal.

I’m not kidding. There was clearly an old tower on top of the terminal, but that has been partially removed. Walking off the airplane into the heat, we walked through an outdoor area with a playground.

Then we walked through the tiny terminal to the front where people were waiting for rides.

The big problem with Ogden is that you can’t rent a car at the airport. Oh sure, there’s a Hertz counter there, but they don’t staff it. I was told they maybe get 1 or 2 people off a flight, so it’s not worth it. They just told us to call them to come get picked up off our flight. So we did, and they got us, drove us back, and gave us our own car to hit the road.

After a short 24 hours where we visited the Dinosaur Park, the Hill Aerospace Museum, and my highlight of the trip, the Golden Spike National Historical Park, it was time to come back.

Hertz told us that they had some parking spots at the terminal, so we could just leave a car there, drop the key in the drop box, and call them up so they could pick it up. With that done about an hour before our flight, we walked over through the small terminal.

Past the empty Hertz counter on the right was a tiny ticket counter buried behind a huge column.

I had checked us in on our phone, but I hadn’t been able to print out our passes. I asked the counter agent if we needed to print them. She didn’t answer, but instead just asked for my ID. So I guess we did? I’m not sure. She did mention it was booked to 145, so that was a pretty decent load.

With the boarding passes, we walked over to the stapled-on addition to the terminal to go through security. Again they caught my son’s toothpaste, but this time there would be no mercy. It was confiscated after we told him we didn’t have any other place to put it. So be it.

The waiting room was pretty full. Seats were available, but it was crowded, and the two unisex bathrooms right next to the boarding gate aren’t ideally located. It was hectic over there once people started lining up.

They started boarding pretty quickly after our airplane arrived. This time, the flight had more people onboard, and from the looks of it, a lot of them were Ogden-originators. I immediately had a sense of déjà vu.

July 9, 2021
Avelo 108 Lv Ogden 240p Arr Burbank 340p
Ogden (OGD): Gate 1 and Only, Runway 21, Depart 10m Early
Burbank (BUR): Gate B3, Runway 8, Arrive 5m Late
N801XT (msn 35220), Boeing 737-86N, Standard colors, ~75% Full
Seat 34B, Coach
Flight Time 1h29m

This was the same exact aircraft with the same exact cabin crew. We had the same exact seats as well, so it was a very strange feeling. Boarding finished up more than 20 minutes early, but we hung around a bit longer before pushing back 10 minutes early.

There was a taxiway that led to the northern end of the runway, but we taxied down the runway instead and turned around. I guess that taxiway must not be big enough for a 737. Soon after, we were airborne climbing through the murk. Oh, there wasn’t a cloud around, but the smog was just thick. It’s hard to see where the mountains end and the air begins.

We climbed through much calmer skies than the day before and made our way up to cruise. The same friendly crew came by with snack packs and did the same great job. This time, the pilots kept the seatbelt sign on the whole flight, however, and they made the flight attendants sit down for a bit.

The person in front of me decided to recline his seat fully right after takeoff. This should be a criminal offense. I’m told that Avelo will be locking seat recline, so that others don’t have to endure this inhumanity. With tight seat pitch, that’s just not right.

One of the pilots came on to tell us that we were, I can’t remember the word, negotiating or fighting some weather ahead, so it might get bumpy. There was a line of storms, and it turns out that we did a lot of turning to get around the worst of it. Ultimately, we flew right over the top of one part of the line, in between cells, and it was as smooth as could be.

My seatmate on this flight couldn’t have been more pleasant. She and her family were from Ogden — she invited me to stay if I come back — and they were excited to not fly from Salt Lake. They were going all the way to Escondido which, for those not familiar, is very far from Burbank. But they preferred flying to Burbank and driving than driving to Salt Lake and flying to Orange County or San Diego.

We descended over the Antelope Valley before following parallel to the 14 freeway. We were able to spot Vasquez Rocks which we’ve hiked, so my son liked that. We then went just west of the 5/14 interchange which I’ve always found impressive.

That brought us into the valley before turning east with a great view of Van Nuys right below us.

Avelo does not carry your regular Burbank traveler, so the pilots were smart to warn everyone that the runway is short and they apply full brakes. Despite this warning, people were still pretty shocked at the force. My son said he wants to donate some money so they can “fix that runway problem.”

We taxied back and lined up for gate B4, but then we stopped. The pilot came on and said that we were early and they had no marshallers to bring us in, so we had to wait. And wait. At one point the engines revved up and we moved a couple feet, but then we stopped again. Finally after about 20 minutes, we moved over to gate B3. There had been another airplane there, so I’m guessing someone decided we would have to wait until that plane left. In the end, we were 5 minutes late despite getting an early start.

After a fun-filled 1.5 hour drive home, I was glad to be back. Avelo got us to Ogden for cheap, safely, and on-time. What else could we want from this trip? I’m hoping for the same experience for my trip with my daughter. I will, of course, write about that here.

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35 comments on “Avelo Delivers the Basics Well to Ogden, Utah (Trip Report)

  1. I’m not always a big fan of the color purple in logos and branding, but wow. That really is a gorgeous livery, and looks even better in these photos than in the photos from previous posts. So nice to see a startup/low-cost airline with a livery that isn’t loud and tacky.

    Glad to see that you’re still getting your kids into the avgeekery, showing them route maps and working on checking off airlines, airports, and states together. Sounds like you’ve been making some great memories with them doing that, and it’s always fun to share passions together.

  2. When they recline their seat like that, sometimes I choose to take my seat’s overhead personal air vent, set it on full blast, and direct it squarely at their head.

    That has worked well for me in the past.

    1. That’s not a bad idea… “I’m not being passive aggressive, I’m just trying to direct air at my legs, so that my knees and ankles don’t get too warm and swell up too much.” ;-)

      I never think of the “recline” button in coach seats and never use it, not even on trans-oceanic redeye flights. I’m not even 6′ tall, but my body dimensions are such that my knees are often pressed against the seat in front of me (or very close to it) in coach. As a result, on the rare occasions when the person in front of me tries, they are often unable to recline their seat much, if any. :-)

    2. I raise my knees and stick them right into their back. It’s usually over after 5 minutes. Works even better with the latest slimline seats.

      Occasionally involves a bit of explaining, but overall very effective. I recommend it!

    3. I honestly wish more airlines would implement the “slide-forward” recline so if people want to recline, fine, but you reduce your own legroom for it. Or create a rule that if your seat pitch is less than 32″, no recline. I’m 6’4″ so this is never fun. But I do hate on climb out when the person in front of you reclines. It’s almost like it slams down faster at that point in the flight.

  3. That’s not a bad idea… “I’m not being passive aggressive, I’m just trying to direct air at my legs, so that my knees and ankles don’t get too warm and swell up too much.” ;-)

    I never think of the “recline” button in coach seats and never use it, not even on trans-oceanic redeye flights. I’m not even 6′ tall, but my body dimensions are such that my knees are often pressed against the seat in front of me (or very close to it) in coach. As a result, on the rare occasions when the person in front of me tries, they are often unable to recline their seat much, if any. :-)

  4. Sounds like a good basic service and a fun trip! Too bad about the nasty neighbours, I’ve never understood people who think it’s okay to bring stinky food on a flight (if I bring food, I try to get cold food or, if warm, at least something fairly inoffensive) or who need full recline for short daytime flights.

    (Having flown with a sciatica flair-up in the past, I can understand the need for occasional slight recline, but it’s rarely necessary to go all the way back on a short flight.)

    Looking forward to more of these short trips! Any chance of you coming east anytime soon and giving Breeze a try?

  5. Mentally trying to reconcile Ogden to Bur vs, SLC to SAN.

    I guess time in the car is a wash…. Parking cheaper at Ogden?

    But man, that LA drive….

    1. Jeremy – Well, it’s still a good 45 minutes from SAN up to Escondido, though I don’t know exactly where they were going. Maybe 2 hours down from Burbank. That’s all without traffic, but it’s a drive either way. And it sounds like locals have learned to really hate the new SLC because of the long walks to gates. Reality may not match perception.

      1. The new SLC was clearly not designed by or for locals. However I think much of that will be alleviated when they open phase 2 of the north concourse which will include a new direct connection to the terminal thus avoiding the current circuitous route for many passengers.

    2. Don’t forget there’s one-seat ride Amtrak Pacific Surfliner service from the Burbank Airport train station to Oceanside, and then it’s an easy transfer to the Sprinter train the remaining distance down to Escondido. I’ve definately looked into flying in/out of Burbank going to and from Dinseyland because of this rail connection (although it’s never made sense cost wise flying to and from South Bend or Chicago).

      Conversly from Ogden to Salt Lake City also has good rail connections (that don’t operate on Sundays) Front Runner to North Temple up the escalator and the Green Line to the Airport is right there (although there’s currently a shuttle bus from a temperary airport station to the new terminal until November 2021 as they relocate the rail station that used to be at edge of the old terminals A concourse).

      If Avelo added non-stops from my home airport of South Bend to Burbank we would probalby fly them on our trips to anywhere in SoCal (either to Disneyland or family in San Diego County) connecting to Metrolink or the Surfliner to head farther south, instead of spending the more than 3 hours it takes to go South Shore Line to the ‘L’ to get to O’Hare or Midway.

      1. just curious. why dont you drive to O Hare or Midway and park? instead of going through all that trouble (and time) of Amtrak and the L

    3. Google Maps shows 1:30 for Ogden to SLC and SAN to Escondido combined, compared to 2:15 for BUR-Escondido.

      But you’d have to factor in airfare, parking in Ogden vs. SLC, rental car price difference in BUR vs SLC, and airport experience – SLC may be a bit of a hike, but Ogden’s airport looks pretty unpleasant. And the extra time in the car from BUR, especially since LA traffic can get really bad for no apparent reason.

      It’s similar to the considerations I used to do when I lived in NYC and would go to visit my family in Bradenton: an extra hour in the car from TPA vs. SRQ, travel to the departure airport (JFK vs EWR, on public transport LGA is a non-starter), airfare, and price of rental car (SRQ usually more expensive than TPA.) And the possibility of an upgrade back in the day on CO out of EWR. Usually TPA worked out cheaper, but those rare times when SRQ did were great.

  6. “But that agent looked at him and said, “you know what, it’s fine. Just take it.” That was a delightful show of humanity.” Same thing happed to my daughter last year. We flew to see family and she packed a water bottle as it is a habit for her to do so. The TSA agent pulled it out of her backpack and I told the agent I was sorry and would be more than happy to dump it and dry it out. She said it was ok, tested it, and handed it back to my daughter. It was very nice of the agent.

    Back before Ogden had airline service, there used to be a pretty nice restaurant in the terminal. I don’t know if it’s still there, I used to fly there with students for a bite to eat all the time. Although the terminal looks about the same.

    Also, I’m surprised that Avelo chose to do service to Ogden but not Provo. Maybe it’s trying to avoid going head to head with Allegiant, but it seemed like Allegiant had more success there. But then again we see how well Mesa is working out for Avelo.

  7. “My son had packed a full tube of toothpaste, and the eagle-eyed agent caught it. But that agent looked at him and said, “you know what, it’s fine. Just take it.” That was a delightful show of humanity.” That happened to me last year. We took a trip to see family and my daughter packed a water bottle out of habit for her to always take one. The agent pulled it out of her bag, I apologized and told her I would be more than happy to dump it and dry it out. She said it was fine and tested it really quick and handed it back to my daughter. It was very nice of the agent.

    Ogden airport used to have a nice restaurant in the terminal (it was a hole in the wall, but so is the terminal). I used to fly there with students all the time for a meal. I will say the terminal doesn’t look that different.

    I’m still surprised that Avelo chose Ogden over Provo since Allegiant had more success in Provo. Although maybe they didn’t think they could compete with Provo’s LAX flight on Allegiant. Especially since we’re seeing how Mesa is working out for them unfortunately.

      1. I’m having that problem too lately. Maybe they are trying to tell us something?!

  8. I’m curious to know what kind of rabbit you think they’re going to pull out of the hat to keep BUR sustainable during the winter? Come September, kids go back to school and many people go back to the office for the first time in a year, this leasure gravy is going to dry up faster than a snow cone on Southern California asphalt in July.

    Have you heard any chatter about them branching to sun and snow destinations like PVR & EGE?

    1. Eric – Well it’s just a big market so you don’t need all that much to fill an airplane. I imagine there may be enough people willing to fly to some of these places in the winter, especially for weekend trips. But I really don’t know.

  9. Might want to double-check the tags on this post. Looks like you copied them from your recent Molokai trip since Avelo is missing but Hawaiian, Mokulule, and United are there.

  10. I have honestly never heard the words ‘great view’ and ‘Van Nuys’ used in the same sentence. Made me laugh out loud. Great post, Cranky. Thank you.

  11. Love that you’re passing along the joy of route maps to another generation!

    “I counted 73 people” — waaay back when HP started, WN used to send “spies” over from T1 at PHX with “clickers” to get a handle on load factors.

    I grew up (chronologically) in Escondido. Cannot imagine using BUR!

    Nice report

  12. Glad to see Avelo doing well at the initial run of it for Ogden. Too bad about Mesa.

    Will be on Breeze two Mondays from now (taking Allegiant AUS-XNA, then Breeze back XNA-SAT with family). Should be a fun time, and will try to get a trip report out on it somewhere.

    Pretty sure I won’t be flying Avelo any time soon for the same reason you’re unlikely to fly Breeze. Will be interesting to see how each evolves…seems like Breeze has more runway though.

  13. Thanks for the Trip Report. How was the Golden Spike National Historic Park? Did you consider it worthwhile?

    1. Dale – That was really great. The original track was pulled up during WWII when they needed the metal. It had already been bypassing Promontory for 50 years thanks to a new bypass they built over Great Salt Lake. So there’s nothing out there, but they’ve now rebuilt that piece of the track and put a visitor center there. They also have two engines, both replicas which were built 40 years ago. They bring them out most mornings during the summer. In the winter, you can tour the engine house. When they’re rolling the engines out, the ranger gives a talk about the history. I really enjoyed. Then they have two auto tours which go on the grades where the track used to be. It’s pretty amazing to see what they had to cut through to make it work. I really liked it a lot.

  14. I guess this shows that airlines are in the transportation business first and foremost. I wonder if Avelo would consider serving Long Beach.

    1. Tim – Yep, that this trip. And it was entirely Hertz corporate. The location said they had it and checked it in properly. They couldn’t have been more friendly the whole time.

  15. Just a couple of comments concerning OGD Airport. The old air traffic control tower was built in 1950. The structure has exceeded its useful life and it is technically a visual obstruction for the working air traffic control tower, so it is being demolished. Please pardon the demolition dust. The full old tower should be gone by September.

    The Hertz counter has several issues, but all are being worked on. Hertz is just emerging from both the pandemic & bankruptcy proceedings, and the situation is made worse by a lack of vehicle inventory.

    The U-turn on the runway was only necessary due to construction that had closed the parallel taxiway. This construction is now complete and the taxiway is open full length. The taxiway is capable of handling B-737-800 and larger.

    One additional note, the visibility issues were smoke caused by the wildland fires. Generally, skies are clear & blue in northern Utah.

    I appreciate your open and honest reporting on your trip. OGD is beginning a $2.6 million improvement and expansion program to the terminal building that should be completed in 2022. Please come visit Ogden again.

    1. Thanks for chiming in Bryant. I couldn’t tell if the tower pulldown was in progress, but glad to hear that’ll be done soon. And thanks for the color on the runway u-turn. It did the trick either way, but I’d just never seen it before.

      As for Hertz, the person I spoke with seemed to indicate they had so little volume that they didn’t find it worth staffing. I hope that’s not the case and that they do reopen it, because that was a big downside to what was otherwise super convenient.

      And on the wildfires, well, that’s the new normal I suppose. It sounds like the mountains do a good job of catching all the pollutants and trapping them. I did some searching and it looks like Salt Lake air quality is some of the worst in the world. I don’t know how much of that stretches up to Ogden.

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