Why It’s Cheaper To Buy Allegiant Tickets At The Airport

I find the low cost carrier business model fascinating. These airlines, which include Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant, and soon to be Sun Country, offer rock bottom fares and then make their money with piles of fees. You can pretty much expect to pay for almost everything from a seat assignment to a drink, and everything in between.

One of the more interesting fees that Spirit has is what amounts to a convenience fee for using their website. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you were buying a ticket to a show from Ticketmaster! Except in this case, the flight is the show. They call it the passenger usage charge and it can be as much as $18.99 per ticket.

Interestingly, there is some amount of logic behind this fee. Airlines have to pay a 7.5% federal excise tax on the ticket price. But they don’t pay the tax on fees. So it saves them 7.5% on about $19, which basically allows them to keep an extra $1.40 on every ticket. Multiply that by thousands and thousands of tickets every single day, and well, you get the idea.

But to get away with calling it a fee, not just part of the fare, there has to be way of not paying it. And the way to not pay it is to book the ticket at the airport, in person, with an agent. Sneaky, eh?

I actually booked a ticket on Spirit for my mother-in-law at the Denver airport recently just to test out how this worked in practice. It turned out to be really easy, mostly because I got lucky and got there during a Sunday morning lull. I was in and out in less than five minutes. Had I wanted to buy a ticket on the morning of my first ever Spirit flight in June, however….

Anyway, it turns out that Spirit isn’t the only low cost carrier with a website convenience fee.

Allegiant Air optional services and fees

Allegiant Air has their own version of the Ticketmaster charge. They call it the Electronic Carrier Usage Charge and it amounts to $13.00 per passenger, per segment, to all airline reservations booked through the website or call center.

The sort of hilarious thing to me is that right below the Electronic Carrier Usage Charge is the Call Center Booking Fee, which of course is also per passenger and per segment.


Allegiant Air “optional” booking fees

I don’t know about you, but that’s not my idea of extreme stacking.

Save money by buying Allegiant Air tickets at the airport

To get away with calling the Electronic Carrier Usage Charge an optional fee, it has to be optional. So like Spirit, they let you avoid that fee by buying your tickets at the airport. Of course, they don’t explicitly tell you that because they don’t really want you to buy your tickets at the airport. That not only increases their staffing costs but it also cuts into their revenue. Even if they avoid the 7.5% federal excise tax on the $13, they still pocket the rest.

The Allegiant Air FAQs encourages you to book your tickets through the website (where you’ll pay the $13 fee) or through the call center ($13 fee, plus $14.99 call center charge). Then they say that tickets for same day travel may be purchased at the airport ticket counter based on availability. And that the hours vary by location.


Allegiant Air frequently asked questions 

But then where they list the airport ticket counter locations and hours, it says that:

In most cities, airport ticket purchase will be available for one hour following each scheduled departure.

So Allegiant will sell you a ticket for same day travel at the airport, but only for one hour following departure. 😉

Then there is a link to the booking page where you can ostensibly find the departure time for your local airport.

The somewhat confusing thing, at least to me, is that there is also a table of times for select airports. My best guess is that these airports have multiple flights per day, so rather than just saying “an hour after scheduled departure,” it makes more sense to define the hours during which you can buy a ticket. Again, just my guess.


Allegiant Air ticket counter hours at select airports

Allegiant also lists stations where service has not yet started, but where tickets can apparently still be purchased. And also a list of addresses for those having trouble finding the airport. You might laugh, but these are mostly tiny airports, so it might actually make sense.


Allegiant Air ticketing hours and airport locations

Bottom line

Much like with Spirit, you can save money on Allegiant Air tickets by purchasing them at the airport. In the case of Allegiant, you should save $13 per person per segment.

The challenge is that Allegiant flies a really sparse schedule so their airport counters are only open for a very limited number of hours each week. But if that works for your schedule, it could be worthwhile. And if you’re flying as a family, those savings could add up fast.

Have you ever purchased Allegiant Air tickets at the airport?

Comments

  1. You couldn’t pay me enough to set foot on any of these airlines; especially Allegiant. There is a reason their maintenance intervals are twice the industry standard.

  2. I want to thank the suckers that fly spirit, allegiant, et al, for keeping those guys in business and forcing the big three to lower their fares.

  3. Why people want to fly this way is beyond me. It’s rarely cheaper and it doesn’t make me feel confident if left and right I get cheated by the carrier I am entrusting my life with. Makes me wonder where else they cheat to make an ‘additional dollar’ ‘multiplied by thousands and thousands every day’

  4. I don’t quite understand the language about “same day travel”. Can you purchase an advance ticket at the airport and avoid the fee?

  5. @CalStanford
    “It’s rarely cheaper…” Seriously? Where I live, Spirit fares are sometimes 1/10 or less of the fare on other carriers. If I book for multiple passengers, at the airport, it is much, much cheaper. That leaves plenty of money left over to book a big front seat, which beats any of the other carriers’ basic economy offerings, hands down.

  6. Allegiant doesn’t fly out of my home airport, Atlanta, but Spirit and Frontier do. I recently went to the airport and bought one-way tickets on Frontier from Atlanta to Miami for $25.20 per ticket for travel in October, 2017. It is part of an international low-cost carrier trip that I’m taking that uses Spirit, WOW, RyanAir, and Norwegian to fly from Atlanta to Miami to Brussels, then London to Copenhagen, and Copenhagen to Ft. Lauderdale to Atlanta. Total airfare cost? $305.66 per person, round trip

    This includes selecting my own seats on Wow and Ryanair.

    The key is learning to live out of the personal item bag, and therefor not paying the high luggage fees. It’s pretty easy to do, you just have to plan on washing your clothes during the trip.

    Back to Frontier – the flight I had bought to Miami was cancelled as Frontier decided to postpone flying the Atlanta-Miami route until mid-November, rather than in October. So Frontier not only refunded my $50, but also provided 2 vouchers for $200 in future flight tickets as long as I book within the next 6 months. Pretty sweet deal.

    The key to flying the ULCC’s is understanding how to avoid paying for what you don’t need or want, and not stepping into a mistake, usually caused by using a too-large travel bag.

  7. I am guessing that the ULCC haters either are rich, single, or don’t fly alot. If you have a family and like to travel Spirit/Allegiant are the way to go. Saving 13 bucks with Allegiant or 17.50 with Spirit for buying your tickets at the airport is a no brainer especially when you have a family of five.

  8. This was helpful since I use Allegiant from Santa Maria to Las Vegas, I’ll give it a shot and see if it works out.

  9. I.E. the carriers I avoid like cholera or ebola. When I was confronted with the choice of either flying Allegiant or drive 300 miles, I hit the road without any hesitation. Same goes for Spirit. I’d rather walk than fly with either airline.

    My favourite airlines for domestic routes remains Southwest and American. The former offers cheap tickets in Y and offers everything I need whereas the latter has the advantage of being in OW.

  10. Allegiant offers direct flights from my hometown to FL, and now soon to PVD. That’s pretty cool in my book, as my town is out of the way of the big Intl airports (like 1.5 -2 hr drive). The haters make me laugh. I’m going to try buying at the local airport next time!

  11. I have gone to the airport to buy Spirit tickets from TPA to Atlantic City because they are the only ones who fly direct to AC. It is definitely cheaper! However you have to go home and buy the bag because it’s cheaper that way. I actually went to TJMax and bought what we call our “Spirit Bag” for this trip only. We bought a little larger bag and put it through so we only have to purchase one bag. The bag paid for itself in one trip. Sounds crazy but it works. They also gave me a big seat just because I asked at the airport and they didn’t charge me. Sweet!

  12. I’ve bought advance tickets on Allegiant at the airport. For people at small stations it’s often impractical because the stations are only staffed when there’s a flight, which could be as little as twice a week. The reason ticket sales are after the flight is that the same agents work the flight until it departs (first as check-in agents, then as gate agents), so they don’t have time to sell tickets until after the flight has left. At large stations there’s enough staffing to keep regular ticket sale hours.

    Then again, the one time I tried to save money by buying tickets at the airport (family of 4), it took me 5 days to find the time to get there (my time constraints, not Allegiant’s), and by the time I got to the airport the fare had risen by more than the fee. So while it felt good to have circumvented the fee, I ended up paying more than I would have paid if I had booked on the web when I first saw the flights.

  13. What I think a lot of folks don’t get, is for many of us, Allegiant is the only direct flight to some very desirable markets, most notably, Vegas. So, you have to choose between the cut rate fare for a direct flight versus a connection on the big 3. And since this is almost always leisure travel, it is a pretty easy decision, actually. (I would never use them for biz travel.)

  14. You could save money and tour life by not flying Allegiant at all. Its the absolute worst airline run by the former guy from value jet that went out of business because a plane crashed doing the same negligence with this airline. DON’T FLY THIS AIRLINE!

  15. Allegiant is great. My husband and I have flown 9 times since January and flying this week again. We have 3 additional flights planned this year with them. Well known large airlines crash too. Allegiant flies directly to where we want to go. We have had no problems nor have we ever felt unsafe. Yes, we purchased tickets at airport several times. Nothing to it.

  16. Keeping it in perspective, Valujet had a crash that killed 110 people. They flew well over 12 million passengers during their fairly brief lifespan. Taking that into account, the odds of dying flying Valujet was lower than the odds of being killed driving a car and even lower than your odds of dying due to a complication from a surgery gone awry.

    On top of that, regulations surrounding aircraft maintenance and crew training have improved many times over since the fateful Valujet Flight 592 crash. To use the argument that it is unsafe to fly Allegiant because some perceived it to be unsafe to fly Valujet 20 years ago is an emotional argument that is not statistically viable.

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