To be honest, one of the biggest reasons for booking this flight on Allegiant was that I thought it would be operated with an MD-80. Those airplanes have been the backbone of the Allegiant fleet for years, but they’ve been pretty aggressive with the retirement of those birds in order to switch to newer (and far more fuel efficient) A319 and A320 aircraft.
Knowing that the MD-80’s days were numbered definitely played a large part in choosing to do this trip on this airline, so I was a little bit disappointed when I discovered that I would actually be flying on an A319 instead. I’m not even sure when Allegiant switched to the A319 on the Bellingham to San Diego route, but it must have been very recently because these were still MD-80 flights when I booked this reservation back in mid June.
Oh well – that’s nothing worth complaining about in the grand scheme of things, especially since I was certainly excited enough to fly a new (for me) airline out of San Diego. As a matter of fact, I’ve never even been to Bellingham before, so it would be a trip full of “firsts” for me. I love that kind of stuff!
San Diego, CA (SAN) – Bellingham, WA (BLI)
Friday, July 31 2015
Seat: 24F (economy)
Before I get too far, I’d like to mention that I put together a short video showing the highlights of this flight. There is much more detail in the pictures and words below, but those of you with a short attention span might find the video more interesting:
And now, on with the pics (and words)!
The flight up to Bellingham was scheduled to depart just shy of 6pm, which meant that I was able to get a full day of work in before heading off to the airport. That might sound like a good thing, but I’m more of a morning person, and I hate waiting around all day to start an adventure. I definitely prefer to get going first thing in the morning! Again…oh well.
I did skip out of work a bit early to head down to the airport a lot earlier than necessary, but I actually find airports to be a relaxing place to hang out for a couple hours granted I can find a quiet corner to sit and chill somewhere.
I wasn’t even sure what gate Allegiant used at SAN, but I knew it had to be somewhere at the end of terminal 2 east just like all of the other low-frequency airlines that serve this airport (Spirit, Volaris, Sea Port, etc). As a matter of fact, the flight didn’t even show up on the flight information boards inside the terminal until about an hour before departure, and that would have had me worried if it weren’t for the fact that the inbound flight was showing as “on time” on the arrivals board. So all I could do was just wander around and wait until the gate was posted.
The departure gate ended up as being the dreaded “30”. I say dreaded because it’s the only gate in all of terminal 2 where it’s impossible to see any part of the airplane from inside the terminal. Not a big deal for 99.9% of all other passengers I’m sure, but I was hoping to get some nice pics of that bird parked at the gate. Once again…oh well.
I had pre-purchased “priority boarding” when I reserved my ticket, and there was only one other person that approached the gate when they announced priority boarding. I thought that was interesting – the flight was completely full this evening, but nobody felt like spending a few extra dollars to board early except for me and one other person.
Once onboard with my butt firmly wedged into the tiny slim line seat, I was thinking that there were no surprises here – seating was uncomfortable and really tight. Was it really necessary to think it would be any different on Allegiant? Other than that, the rest of the interior was typical A319.
Our departure was delayed about 20 minutes or so due to fueling “issues” – all the captain said was that there was some discrepancy in what they asked for and what they actually received, so they had to spend the time to sort that out. I’m a firm believer in making sure the math is correct when it comes to airplanes and fuel, so I didn’t mind the delay at all. Please – take all the time you need to make sure things are legit up there in the cockpit!
The marine layer was starting to roll in off the ocean once we were on our way, so I didn’t get to see much of San Diego on the climb out. But the weather had completely cleared up by the time we reached Los Angeles and those of us on the right side of the airplane were treated with amazing views of the entire LA basin.
The remainder of our flight up to the Pacific Northwest this evening was largely uneventful, other than the fact that the caesar salad I purchased in the terminal at SAN right before boarding was far too smelly to eat on an airplane. As soon as I opened the box, I realized I was going to be “that guy” if I proceeded to eat it right then – so I closed it up as fast as I could and put it away as a courtesy to my fellow passengers. Dinner would have to wait.
There were some amazing views out the window once we reached Oregon and Washington, and my eyes (and camera) were glued to the window the entire time. It was a magnificent arrival into BLI that evening.
Here’s a video of the entire landing procedure (descent, landing, and taxi to the gate):
Speaking of arriving into BLI, I was really amazed at how small that airport was. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a very nice and modern facility, but I didn’t expect that we would be deplaning from air stairs and walking across the ramp to the terminal. No, that’s not a complaint! It was a pleasant surprise actually as it’s pretty rare these days to get an up close and personal look at large commercial aircraft. I took the best pics I could despite the darkness and the fact that they were trying to herd everyone inside as quickly as possible.
So, that was my first flight on Allegiant Air. What did I think? Well…it was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be. As a matter of fact, I’d rate it right on par with Spirit Airlines in terms of the overall experience, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They gave me exactly what I paid for (a safe, comfortable flight with all the perks I chose up front), and there’s really nothing to complain about that.