Category Archives: Reviews

How to make a discount airline work for you: Review of Allegiant Air

Last week, I was standing in a very long line to check in for a flight from Tulsa to Orlando. It was taking forever because it seemed no one had ever flown before or at best, hadn’t read the fine print on how a discount airline works. At one point, the ticketing agent was on the phone with some guy’s mom explaining why he was needing to pay an extra $50 for an overweight bag.

I was texting my husband while waiting for what seemed like forever. We are both travel pros and honestly, we both have to work on our patience with those that might not be on a plane at least once a month. He reminded me that we needed those people to keep not reading all the rules so airlines like Allegiant can stay in business.

Allegiant Air review

Photo courtesy of Woody’s Aeroimages

I personally love that Allegiant flies direct to Orlando from my town. With any other airline, I would have to connect in Dallas or Houston and spend 8 hours getting there. Allegiant arrives in 2.5 hours and I typically pay about $60 each way.

The basic premise of discount airlines is they offer you a super cheap fare then make up for it with all of the add-ons. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up spending as much as with a legacy carrier like American.

Here are a few things to be aware of when flying a discount airline like Allegiant, Spirit or Frontier. Most of these tips will also apply to European discount carriers like Easy Jet and Ryan Air. You can avoid most of the add-on fees if you do your homework.

  1. Pay attention to which airport you are flying into. Discount airlines often utilize a more remote airport. My flights to “Orlando” are actually landing in Sanford, about 45 minutes from the Disney area and I know I’m going to have to rent a car. There is shuttle service available but the cost is about the same as a car rental. Be sure to calculate any additional transportation costs into your trip total when evaluating the overall savings.
  2. Read the luggage requirements. For Allegiant, checked bags are limited to 40 pounds. You can carry on one bag for free but there are size limits and technically you’re supposed to put it under the seat in front of you. On every flight I’ve taken, there has been room in the overhead that I’ve used but don’t bank on that. A backpack or tote bag will meet the requirements for the freebie.
  3. Pay bag fees in advance and share luggage. Allegiant charges half the fee when you reserve a bag more than 24 hours in advance of your flight. For the Orlando flight, it’s $25 each way or $50 each way at the airport. We will also share one large checked bag then each carry on our freebie so that we’re only paying one bag fee.
  4. Download the app. Allegiant charges $5 for each boarding pass printed at the airport. You can avoid this by downloading their app. You can check in through the app, get your boarding pass and check flight status.
  5. Skip priority boarding. It’s not worth an extra $10 or $15 to get on the plane first. You’re all going to the same place eventually.
  6. Don’t be picky about your seat. This is the one I think most people succumb to on the extra fees, but here’s the thing….you have to pay for the seat selection both ways. It’s not worth adding another $30 to your ticket price. When I’ve booked 2 tickets at once, we’ve been placed either in consecutive rows or in aisle seats next to each other. Don’t worry about this if you’re traveling with kids either. You have to enter the kids’ birthdates when purchasing the tickets so they will automatically put at least one parent with each kid. Trust me, no one wants to be in charge of your 3-yr-old on a flight but you.
  7. Just say no to all of the ‘specials’. After selecting your ticket, Allegiant’s site will cycle you through multiple screens to attempt to add on hotel, car, or entertainment tickets. I have never seen a good deal in these options. Just skip them and research those items separately.
  8. Pack snacks. There are no free drinks or snacks on Allegiant flights. No, not even a water bottle. We pack snacks in our carry on and either pick up a water bottle after security or pack an empty one to refill before boarding. There are snacks and drinks to purchase on board if you forget.
  9. Be prepared for delays. I have been fortunate and have not experienced a lot of delays with Allegiant; none more than an hour. The downside of a discount airline is they don’t have a large fleet so if one plane is down for maintenance or weather, it can have a trickle down effect to your flight since they have limited inventory to substitute.

I can deal with no frills to save a lot of money and in my case, also time. Since I have a daughter that lives in Orlando, I am a frequent Allegiant customer and am appreciative of the service they provide to my smaller airport. Just focus on how much you’re saving and the lack of a reclining seat or in-flight entertainment system won’t seem so important anymore.

Have you flown with a discount airline? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

 

 

January Book Review

My taste in books is almost as varied as my taste in music. As I type this, The Vitamin String Quartet Pandora station is playing on my phone. Tomorrow I might be in the mood for a little Pitbull or Zac Brown Band or Christy Nockels. Hopefully, that’s the sign of a well-rounded person and not some psychotic disorder.

This month’s books include 2 non-fictions and a NYT Bestseller and one that falls in the category of what I call “fluff fiction.” Fluff Fiction has no purpose in life except to entertain me on my lunch hours in Panera. These are usually free on Amazon, can be read in a couple of hours, and the ending can be determined after about Chapter 3. I also had 3 that I started and didn’t finish. Sometimes I’m a hard sell with my time when I’m not traveling.

Most people (my husband included) view time spent in the airport and on planes as wasted time. To me, this time is like a gift. The rest of the world is shut out, there’s limited options as to what I can do which allows me to just relax and enjoy a good book, guilt free. Airport time is also the finest and most entertaining people watching ever.

Lessons from Madame chic book reviewLessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris By Jennifer L Scott If you’re fascinated with Parisian or even Western Europe culture, you should read this book. Ms. Scott lived in Paris for 6 months as an exchange student and was a keen observer of the finer differences between American and French life. Lots of practical tips to live life better and more passionately, most of which are free! Her chapter on the ten-item wardrobe particularly intrigued me, but that’s a topic for another day.

 

The Nightingale book review

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah When I started this highly recommended tome, I thought “Oh no, not another story about World War II.” But, I was quickly drawn in to the tale of two sisters in wartime France and how they chose completely different paths to help the war effort yet both sacrificed greatly. By the time I was done, I was emotionally attached to these fictional characters – always a sign of great writing—and totally forgave the book for being set in the same time period as every other book written in the last 3 years (or so it seems).

For the Love Jen Hatmaker book reviewFor the Love by Jen Hatmaker A series of essays is the best way to describe this non-fiction book. Jen masterfully alternates chapters between “make anyone around you wonder why you’re laughing out loud about because it’s impossible to keep the hilarity inside” to “questioning your life and vowing to make some changes”. Her chapters on fashion and being over 40 are best read at home away from others in case you snort from laughing so hard. The chapters on raising Godly kids, marriage and the church are spot on and if I could high five Jen for her wise words, I would.

Me After You by Mindy Hayes This was free on Amazon and total fluff fiction. It’s a sweet romance but also a story of recovering from grief and finding the way to moving on. Note: if you have lost anyone in your life lately, you should skip right over this one. The emotional descriptions of processing grief are so vivid, I’m confident that the author has walked this road.

Titles I started and didn’t finish:

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot: I’ve never read any of the Princess Diaries books. This one was available to download at the library so I thought I’d give it a try. Nope. Not gonna happen. Definitely for its intended younger audience, but even with that consideration, it was dry and bang-your-head-on-the-table boring.

the last anniversary liane moriarty book review

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty: I read “The Husband’s Secret” previously and thought it was just ok. There were SO many characters and it took forever to connect their stories. The ending was also a little too neat and tidy for me, but everyone is raving about what a great author she is so I decided to give her another try. I had the same reaction with this title. I was halfway through when my library loan ended and I just didn’t care. If I’m not invested in your story after 150 pages, we can’t be friends. I seem to be the only person on the planet with this opinion of Ms. Moriarty’s writing so you may try it for yourself to see if you agree with me or the masses.

I regret nothing Jen Lancaster book review

 

I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster: Don’t get me wrong; this memoir is funny. But there was no point or plot or storyline. I probably should have finished it, but I was kind of like a kid in the toy store that saw something else shiny and wandered off to find something better, except instead of a toy, it was another book.

New Releases!

One of my favorite non-travel blogs (although she does have some travel articles) is Mix and Match Mama. Shay Shull, the author, has just released her first cookbooks and I can hardly wait to read them. I’m hoping to have my copies in my hands by tomorrow! Her recipes are super easy and super yummy.

Mix and Match mama meal planner

Mix and Match Meal Planner

Mix and Match cakes

Mix and Match Cakes

Feel free to share any book recommendations in the comments. I keep a running list of books to read on my phone and always love hearing other people’s favorite literary loves.

P.s. This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. You don’t have to use them but I’d be so grateful if you did. Affiliate income helps host this blog and fund my Diet Dr. Pepper habit.