Tiny Allegiant Air thrives

No-frills, high-fees airline has been profitable for 10 consecutive years

By Scott Mayerowitz

Associated Press

Published: Friday, June 28 2013 6:25 p.m. MDT

So on Tuesdays, when most of Allegiant's customers are stuck in the office, the airline keeps nearly all its planes on the ground.

Flying older planes has drawbacks, though. They burn more fuel, something Allegiant combats by squeezing 166 passengers onto planes — 26 more than American Airlines has on comparable jets. They also have more mechanical problems, resulting in more delays.

One of every four Allegiant flights last year was at least 15 minutes late, the worst record in the industry, according to flight tracker FlightAware.

The bigger problem is if a mechanical issue forces a plane to be grounded. Given its limited schedule and packed planes, there usually isn't another flight to book passengers on. Instead, they are left waiting six hours while a new plane is flown in.

Sometimes flights are postponed to the next day. In one extreme situation in March, more than 1,700 passengers flying to and from Hawaii saw multi-day delays, including one flight that was 52 hours late.

That's a lot of time to kill at an airport bar.

The cost of Allegiant

Part of Allegiant Air's success is the fees it charges for all sorts of extras. They quickly add up: passengers paid an average $83 in fees roundtrip. Here is a sampling of some of the airline's fees.

Booking a ticket on the Internet: $20

Booking on the phone: $50

Paying with a credit card instead of a debit card: $8

Advance seat assignments: $5-75 each way, depending on route.

Placing a bag in the overhead bin: $10-$25 each way if prepaid, depending on route and $50-$75 if purchased at the airport.

Checking luggage: $30-$70 if prepaid, depending on route and $100-$150 if purchased at the airport.

Bottle of water onboard: $2.

Fruit and cheese plate: $5.

Beer: $5.

Early boarding: $5.

Bringing a pet in the cabin: $200, per person

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