01. Introduction: San Diego to Bellingham and back on Allegiant, Horizon, and Alaska Airlines
02. Allegiant Air A319 San Diego, CA to Bellingham, WA
03. Holiday Inn Express, Bellingham WA
04. The one reason why it’s impossible to hate an airline like Allegiant
05. Horizon Air Dash 8 Q400 Bellingham to Seattle
06. Alaska Airlines 737-800 economy class Seattle to San Diego
You don’t even have to be an airline nerd like me to know that Allegiant Air is pretty much the butt of all travel jokes here in the US, and this isn’t really all that shocking considering that they are considered to be “bottom of the barrel” when it comes to commercial air transport. Everything about the brand screams “cheap” thanks in large part to a fleet of old aircraft, an outdated website, and a livery that looks anything but sophisticated. They have even been known to cut corners when it comes to maintenance and operational procedures, but thankfully they haven’t had any major incidents as of yet. I’m not here to say that they are an unsafe airline – as a matter of fact, my first flight with them was a perfectly fine experience and I’d be more than comfortable to fly with them again. But they do carry a stigma about them that is going to be tough to shake as they grow larger.
Before I had my first flight with them, I admit that I was one of those who were quick to dismiss this as a “real” airline (whatever that means) and I basically thought of them as bus service in the air. I was expecting abysmal service, old and ratty airplanes, and airport facilities no better than what you would find at the local bus station downtown. I was pleasantly surprised – and even satisfied – with my experience, and it really changed my perception of the Allegiant Air culture.
But that wasn’t the most interesting part of my experience.
The part that had the most impact on me was flying with them to a place I’ve never been to before. A place that I probably never would have traveled to if it weren’t for this airline. Yes, I’ve been to Seattle and Vancouver, but Bellingham is sandwiched right in between the two in one of the most amazing parts of the country I’ve ever seen. I snickered a bit when Allegiant announced BLI-SAN service several years ago (“Bellingham? Really? Why?”), but I’m very thankful for that service now. Bellingham is beautiful, and a very convenient alternative to flying into SEA or YVR. It took Allegiant Air to convince me of this, which is sad considering how open-minded I consider myself to be when it comes to travel.
Allegiant has built a solid business of flying from major cities to secondary airports, which is a huge convenience to the residents of these smaller communities. Having Allegiant Air serve your regional airport means having to make less connections and even fly non-stop to popular vacation destinations – which I know is a blessing having suffered through the experience of having SBN (South Bend, IN) as my home airport for several years back in the early 2000’s. Multiple connections and lack of non-stops to cities I’d actually want to travel to was very hard to deal with and it’s one of the best things I love about living in San Diego now. I’m currently a 15 minute drive to an airport that has non-stops to pretty much every major city in the US, with a growing list of International destinations.
Residents of cities like Casper, WY and Elmira, NY have benefited greatly from this small and highly ridiculed airline. And for me, I’m looking at the destinations on allegiantair.com with great interest. Hagerstown, MD? Never heard of it, but Allegiant Air can take me there. Sounds interesting, and I think it would be fun to do a tour of some of these smaller cities on this airline just for kicks. It would certainly be cheap enough I think – if there’s one thing that this airline does right, it’s cheap fares.
Thank you Allegiant!