Las Vegas has always been a place I wanted to visit ever since I found out Allegiant Air flies directly to from Grand Forks, in addition to direct flights to Phoenix/Mesa and Orlando/Sanford. They operate an MD80 on the route. Heck yeah! Being a low cost (or ultra low cost?) carrier, you could imagine that they are in to charging for every thing. Luckily, they do not charge for oxygen masks, seat cushion floatation devices, etc. :)
They are in the news for two various reasons. One of them is because of the ultra-low fares they offer when it comes to holiday seasons AND off peak times, and yet making huge profits out of their ultra low-cost business model, such as charging for carry on, checked baggage, seating assignments, or package deals with car companies, tour companies, hotels, etc. etc. The other reason they are in the news is for their safety. They are on the FAA’s watchlist because of the many violations. More often than not, however they get passengers from A to B without a hitch.
This was a trip that was in the making since April 2016. After a not-so-nice experience in the Spring at Florida, my girlfriend and I decided to head to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving, a 4 day break we get from University. Allegiant Air's dates for the Thanksgiving period had not been uploaded, sadly. Once it was uploaded, I was onboard an Airbus A380! After waking up and recovering from a bit of the jet lag at Kolkata, I fought my way through the Hola! VPN app and book my ticket: no, Allegiant’s website do not work outside the United States (those not in the USA, check it out! www.allegiantair.com) A pretty reasonable ticket for $275 round trip which included seats, a carry on bag, and the flight itself on the MD80! I was excited.
Flight details: G4485 GFK to LAS 23NOV16 dep 1306 hours CST, arr 1420 hours PST MD80 G4484 LAS to GFK 27NOV16 dep 0725 hours PST, arr 1221 hours CST MD80
Booked seats 33A & B for GFK-LAS and 22A&B for LAS-GFK. Keeping an eye on Flightradar24 of the two flights, never was the flight delayed by over 30 minutes. Worked for us very well. In terms of the aircraft, it was looking more and more likely to be an MD83 both ways, but there was still a ray of hope for an MD-88 to operate one of the flights. I was hopeful.
ONLINE CHECK IN
The year’s snowfall was quite delayed. It happened on the 22nd, just a day before our trip. Thankfully, it was only a light snow shower, and there was not much to worry about. Check in for the flight was not too bad, both on mobile and web. There were some more tried-to-force selling going on with regards to bags. Nice try Allegiant, but not for me :) I changed seats to 34D and 34F, based on the assumption that no one would like to select 34E, the middle seat. It was only a matter of time!
Screenshots from the online check in
That night at work, I found out that there would be three others on my fight! Pretty nice LOL. I also kept a track of all MD83s at Las Vegas, the ones that headed back to base after a day’s of flying. These are the planes: N416NV N417NV N421NV N422NV N424NV N427NV N861GA N862GA N863GA N864GA N865GA N876GA N878GA N879GA N891GA
The next morning was a strange but familiar sight: most classes empty and very quiet because people had left to go back home, and yet there was a sense of excitement to get out of classes and school as a whole - a well deserved break for all of us. It was N891GA, a 30.5 year old MD-83 built in Long Beach, California. She served half of her life with SAS Scandinavian Airlines as an MD-82, before being rated up to an MD-83.
CHECK IN, SECURITY…
We headed for the airport at 1100 hours, 2hr06min before the flight. No need for us to check in, we headed up towards security. The line was kinda long, neither was it very organized because of just the one scanner in operation. We settled down at the gate, Gate 1. Curbside
Check in counters
Headed up to security
It was a full house at Grand Forks International. With 9 flights (6 Delta flights to Minneapolis/St. Paul, one Allegiant MD80 to Orlando Sanford, our MD80 to Las Vegas, and the A319 to Phoenix/Mesa). The same showed in the terminal, as passengers for our flight to LAS and and the DL flight to MSP had gathered inside the terminal.
Cutting through the fog, I saw the lights, the wings and the fuselage as the Mad Dog landed gracefully, and taxied towards the gate. The 30.5 years old beauty served a pretty SASsy life in Europe, being with SAS Scandinavian Airlines. Bags were being unloaded - Allegiant made good money from the large number of checked luggage! As the first couple of passengers disembarked, the boarding announcements were made - yep, not a very long wait!
Boarding commenced at 1232 hours, group wise. Allegiant has a fairly standard boarding process, starting with group 1 through to group 7 or whatever. Group 1 is for those who paid the $10.25 extra to board and sit on the plane for a little longer, I guess. Group 2 was other passengers with no paid carry on, which is when my girlfriend went ahead and boarded. Group 3 was next, and I did not waste any time and was the second one to board in this group, all of us had a carry on bag that would fit in the overhead bin.
There was a sense of excitement onboard as the crew welcomed everyone onboard for the flight to Las Vegas. They requested us to put most things under the seat in front of us, as much as possible, while only the paid-for carry-ons get to go inside the cabin luggage hold. There was also an announcement asking us to stay put in our seats since 'the aircraft uses an automated weight and balancing system'. Curios.
The plane gradually filled up - just 4 or 5 seats went empty, but you kinda get the feeling that Allegiant did earn more through ancillary fees such as baggage, seat selection, etc. One thing I did notice was how comfortable the seat was. Being a LCC, one could expect some really uncomfortable seating, but this one had a very well padded seat, in addition to a decent amount of legroom - yet these were the cheapest seats sold. Sunseeker, Allegiant's magazine advertised their three bases extensively - Las Vegas, Phoenix and Orlando. These were very helpful guides to those heading for the holidays. I liked what I saw.
DL coming in from MSP
Decent view of the JT8D.
Pushed back at 1307 hours a minute late. One of the marshals being the same lady who was doing the check in and boarding! Following some anxiously long waiting, the Captain came online and announced that we'd get de-iced, my second time! This time however, it was a much quicker process for us: the engines were fired up without warning, but wow the PW JT8D engines sounded so lovely!
A fairly quick taxi to runway 35L.
The take off process was a bit strange: we lined up, engines were spooled up to different levels for a good minute and a half before we blasted down the runway and in to the cold skies over North Dakota. I was loving the sounds of the JT8D engines!
We soon broke free of the clouds, in to the clear blue skies over the Midwestern United States. Most passengers were quite awake, talking to each other, as I indulged in the sounds of the JT8Ds and photographed whatever was going on….while my girlfriend decided to get her textbooks out and started studying ?
Cabin of the MD83
Seat pocket contents and tray table:
A round of BoB service was conducted - they announced that the Deli pack was not available. That did look like the good only thing for a quick snack, some meat and cheese was in it. There weren't too many takers for this - I bought some ginger ale and a bottle of water.
Scenery outside the window -
Some more pics from the cabin itself -
The flight itself was quite calm. The crew didn't have much going on as the passengers were all quite relaxed. Just about an hour in to the flight the scene outside changed drastically. One could easily identify the snow clad Colorado Mountains (plateaus?) as we jetted over. Did I also mention the number of cross continental flights that flew over? Couple of long haul jets such as the B757 and B767 were doing the routine West Coast - East Coast services.
A quick visit to the restroom, it was well kept and clean, stocked with hand wash soap (I highlight this as some airlines back home do not even provide this basic but vital amenity. Looking at you, Jet Airways).
An early Thanksgiving with Turkey Jerky!
The scenery changed from snowy to rocky and desert-y as we flew over the Rockies and in to towards the Mojave Desert. Another round of service was done - even lesser takers this time. They also made various announcements in which they were advertising Las Vegas while also pushing to make more money by selling discounted tours and events. Being a low cost airline has no limits as to how much can be earned from ancillary fees!
The cabin crew members did not have much to do. However, they kept a positive attitude all throughout - smiling and serving the passengers, answering questions and helping folk out. I didn't see them as much, however. It was turning in to be a bit of a long flight - in fact, the data on FR24 showed that this was one of the longer flight times at 3hr02min flying time (I found out later). The Captain came over the PA system to give us some details - we would reach the gate about 20 minutes late due to the de-icing process at Grand Forks, and that it would be nice and sunny out at Vegas, just after we'd encounter some turbulence on approach.
DESCENT AND ARRIVAL
And so it happened. The cabin crew members secured the cabin as we descended over parts of the Grand Canyon, Lake Mead and Eastern Suburbs of Las Vegas.
Slowly, rocking about in turbulence, up down, left right, we descended closer and closer towards McCarran International Airport. A smooth touchdown on Runway 25L at 1434 hours PST (24 minutes late), we taxied towards the gate.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Las Vegas!!’ said the enthusiastic flight attendant, as many passengers onboard cheered to celebrate the start of their Thanksgiving holiday. Had to wait for a couple of take offs, before we and a Southwest B737-700 could taxi to the gate. One engine was shut off, single engine taxi being a commonplace among many carriers all over the world.
Concourse A at Las Vegas is where Allegiant’s home is at. I saw most of their aircraft types there, the MD-83, B757, A319, etc. Taxied in to the gate and engines off at 1441 hours, people excitedly got their belongings out and headed for the fun and gambling at the Sin City! One thing I quite liked (and to be honest, very low-cost airline like!) was the fact that many ground transport units such as the sanitary truck, food loading truck, and the security truck (I guess..) were all modified Ford F-150s. Pretty cool!
Disembarked and headed straight in to the slot machines in the airport. I had to take my time and just look at the planes around and scenery around: the MD83 that we chased from Fargo, a B757 to McAllen, TX while in the background was the Luxor (pyramid and Egypt themed hotel and Casino), while there was also a very gold skyscraper….the Trump tower. Eugh.
Always fun to be followed around on FR24 - (Thanks for the screenshot, AbV!)
Shout out to TG for helping me out with the editing of this flight report! :)
Found a couple of helpful people who guided us towards the ride/share taxis where most Uber and Lyft drivers come and pick up passengers, and headed for the AirBnb. It was time for a real blast of a time at Las Vegas!
Day 1 - November 23rd - Las Vegas Strip, BurGR dinner, Bellagio Observatory
Inside Planet Hollywood -
Las Vegas Boulevard
Planet Hollywood, Paris Las Vegas
Girlfriend and I decided this was perhaps the best burger and poutine (ish?) we have had. Amazing stuff!
Bellagio Observatory, full of pumpkins. Good thing Starbucks found other pumpkins to fill the needs of the Fall Season :P
The fountain was impressive. As loud as 'Ecstasy of Gold' was played over the loudspeaker, I half expected Metallica to show up and play a concert (Metallica use Ecstasy of Gold for their intro music)
Day 2 - November 24th 2017 - Thanksgiving at the Grand Canyon!
It was an early start to the day, getting an Uber at 4am was surprisingly easy. The North Rim was truly spectacular! Lake Mead
Entering the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon…
Lunch at the Hulapai Ranch
Las Vegas at night
Since it was turkey day, most restaurants were closed, save for a Walmart close to our AirBnB - pizza was the name of the game…
Following two very active days, it was time to take a breather and sleep in - good thing the puppers and doggos at the AirBnb gave us plenty of company!
Please do stay tuned for Part 2, for more from Las Vegas and the rather eventful flight back home…
Grand Forks - GFK
Las Vegas - LAS
Not really anything to complain about with Allegiant. Going in with low expectations on a LCC is the right thing to do, and as long as one keeps an eye on Allegiant's policies and procedures, they should expect to have a pretty normal flight with no discrepancies. As we all say, you get what you paid for and suffice to say, I was left pretty satisfied.
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