Review of Allegiant Air flight Richmond St Petersburg-Clearwater in Economy

Airline Allegiant Air
Flight 849
Class Economy
Seat 22A
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 02:11
Take-off 23 Nov 17, 10:23
Arrival at 23 Nov 17, 12:34
G4 11 reviews
lsmick3
By 978
Published on 29th November 2017
Welcome to this dramatically different FR for me. I’ll admit— I have been an ultra low cost carrier avoider for all my life and I was very hesitant to book on Allegiant due to the added costs, safety, stories of how uncomfortable the cabin is, and lack of any loyalty program. But, we decided last minute to travel over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday—possibly the most expensive time to travel in the States. With this flight being, literally, a thousand dollars less than on any legacy carrier or even JetBlue, we decided to have our Ultra Low Cost adventure on a short 2 hour gate-to-gate hop down to Florida.

At every city Allegiant serves, with the exception of their Focus Cities, there are contracted employees to serve the 2x a week flights. Though Allegiant has their own counters at RIC, its right next to the Southwest counter and staff went between the two counters as if they were functioning as one airline. It seemed as if both carriers were using the same contractors? Since there was only one flight out, the check in experience was extremely quick. The only hold up was because of another passenger whose suitcase was slightly over the 40 pound limit (!!) having to make some last minute packing changes. I had paid for two bags up front and the price was comparable to what the US legacy carriers charge. They did not play with their baggage policy… (from the PIE airport…)

photo img_2192

There was a $9 upcharge for Priority Access which allowed passengers a dedicated check in line as well as priority sceening. Though I had seriously considered paying this just to make this experience as close to what I expect and normally get as a passenger in F or J, I’m glad I didn’t. Since the aircraft is small and there was only one flight departing, there really wasn’t any wait time at baggage drop. Though at a larger airport the Priority Access could be helpful at security, since Allegiant serves mostly smaller markets and secondary airports, there just aren’t long screening lines. Besides, if you’re flying Allegiant, you’re going on vacation—just relax!

We have TSA Pre-Check so security was, as always, a two to three minute ordeal. We passed the time post security catching up with some friends in the terminal that we ran into and were heading to Chicago for the holiday.

Our inbound aircraft was on time…something I’m finding more and more rare with my legacy airline of choice, AA. Aircraft was also on the newer end for their fleet, which alleviated some of my safety concerns.

photo img_2113photo img_2114

As indicated by my pass, boarding was scheduled to start an HOUR before departure. This is one strategy that I think is great, especially for a leisure airline that caters to non-frequent fliers. All passengers were ready to go when boarding started. Boarding was by Zone, with Zone 1 being virtually nobody (Priority Access, Allegiant Credit Card holders, active duty military). There was no pre-boarding. Zones 2 & 3 were for those with no carry on bags. Zones 4 & 5 were for those with carry ons.

photo img_2116

Boarding was very quick especially because those without bags were boarded before those without. Also, because the seats are narrower (17 in), the aisle was wide enough for people to pass each other. They were NOT playing with getting people on board and wheels up. Though the process was fast, all FA's were extremely friendly and professional.

photo img_2117

The cabin was very fresh and surprisingly clean. Yes, the seats are narrower by an inch and there is 30 inches of pitch. However, the seats were comfortable for a short trip…and I found that I absolutely LOVED the fact that they did not recline. Because I didn't end up having the person in front of me basically in my lap, I found the narrow pitch to be surprisingly adequate.

photo img_2118

My bulkhead seat…

photo img_2122

View towards the rear…

photo img_2124

View towards the front…

photo img_2123

Thinline seats…

photo img_2127

The legroom was fine for a short flight… My husband is 6'5 and could cross his legs. I will admit that since my 5 year old daughter had the middle seat instead of another adult that this made things more comfortable…



Tray table up with in flight reading material above…

photo img_2120

Very small tray table but this is not a business flight for working nor would a meal be served… Also, to cut back on cleaning there was no seat pocket full of trash! The bare bones seat backs were a bit offputting just because it was very harsh looking. But still, everything was very functional and this cut back on maintenance/cleaning.

photo img_2119photo img_2135

Departure was exactly on time. I have not experienced this since I do not know when…

photo img_2148photo img_2126

We taxied for about five minutes and were on our way over Richmond…

photo img_2146photo img_2147

The in flight service started promptly about 20 minutes into the flight. Yes, you have to pay for the water. However…I found the prices to be very reasonable compared to other carriers.

photo img_2129photo img_2130

I kicked off our trip with a round of Tito's Bloody Marys. Though Tito's was not listed on the in flight menu, I was pleasantly surprised to be offered it. Our FA also gave me a double for the price of a single :)

photo img_2154

FA's made a second round for refreshments about half way thru the flight…I found this very courteous but I also know the real reason is because Allegiant is generating revenue any way they can.

Going through the in-flight reading materials…

In flight mag was regional and heavily laden with mid price hotel, resort and tourist site ads. It speaks to their core business. After all, a good chunk of their revenue comes from their travel agency.

photo img_2128

Add for their credit card…horrible deal. No free bags–but you do get free drinks. It allows you to simply "erase" Allegiant charges like Cap One Venture or Barclay Arrival…but you're stuck with Allegiant.

photo img_2133

Ad for their planned resort…though Allegiant has been wildly profitable as a Rust Belt-Sun Belt airline, I'm not certain how they will be as property managers. For it to be successful, they'll have to dramatically expand their Punta Gorda service and make their price point for their vacation units more in alignment with their airfare.

photo img_2134

Help wanted!! BTW…seems as if they had some JetBlue inspiration with some of the uniforms.

photo img_2170

A quick trip to the lav– nothing special at all but very clean.

photo img_2155

Look towards the front of the cabin….

photo img_2157

Final approach into PIE…

photo img_2185

Bonus shot from the return flight of a pretty decant Merlot that, again, I scored a 2 for 1 on.

photo img_2195
See more

Verdict

Allegiant Air

7.1/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew9.5
Entertainment/wifi2.0
Meal/catering9.0

Richmond - RIC

10.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

St Petersburg-Clearwater - PIE

7.6/10
Efficiency9.5
Access10.0
Services5.0
Cleanliness6.0

Conclusion

Overall, I was VERY surprised with Allegiant. Though I didn't make enough photos for a FR of our return flight, it was equally as comfortable and again, ON TIME.

PROS:
1) On time performance (I value this very much)
2) Cost
3) Friendliness of all crew (never encountered a gruff person)
4) "Pay as you go" for what you want
5) Direct service from smaller markets
6) PIE airport only services Allegiant and SunCountry so its pretty much like a private airport.
7) Very efficient procedures

CONS:
1) No Wifi for pay (but, its nice to unplug for a while)
2) Would like to see some sort of loyalty program extended to those without their credit card

We tried Allegiant out this time primarily based on our last minute plans. I will definitely fly again with them not because of their cost, but because it was actually a good experience to a leisure destination. By no means will they ever be my go-to carrier in the way AA or JetBlue is, but if I can get a point to point with them in the future that works with my schedule, I will.

Related

2 Comments

  • Comment 420985 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5503 Comments

    OMG, how did I not know about this trip? It's probably good I didn't because I would have told you to avoid Allegiant (though that would have been wrong, it now seems). For these types of point-to-point routes Allegiant seems really good. I really just hate the ULCC concept, but if they serve the right market nonstop, definitely worth giving it a try. Overall the experience looks decent, and you were lucky to have one of the newer A320s, which are more spacious than the old rickety MD80s.

    I don't think the Southwest employees at RIC are contractors--AFAIK they are actual SWA employees (former AirTran crew). They might be contracted to handle the Allegiant flight, though. 30" of pitch is OK when you have slimline seats. The problem with slimline seats of course, if that they don't have a lot of cushioning and start to hurt after a while. Believe it or not, I just experience 30" seat pitch in Business class last week. That's right, BA Club Europe only has 30" of pitch in Business!

    Also looks like going through PIE is easy as...PIE...ah, I kill me. Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 421035 by
    lsmick3 AUTHOR 35 Comments

    Ha yeah I didn't let many people know about this trip and ended up being pleasantly surprised. Its fun to try new carriers anyways. Spirit is going to start 3-4x week RIC-FLL and MCO service in March and I'm already like "nope nope nope nope...." The only benefit that will come of that tire fire is that those are already serviced routes on JetBlue (and Allegiant to an extent) from RIC and we're hoping it will drive costs down. Southwest bailed on MCO last year so I hope this doesn't mean JetBlue will bail as well... And, ugh, yes I remember the crummy BA Club Europe experience from when we came to visit you all in 2015...I barely had room to raise my champagne class ha.

Login to post a comment.