Flying Allegiant Air from Grand Forks: Things to Know Before You Go

Have you flown or worked for Allegiant Air? What do you have to say about the airline? Share your thoughts in the comments section, or e-mail theviewfromseven@gmail.com

Looking for a cheap getaway to the sunny southwestern U.S. this winter? You might want to consider flying Allegiant Air out of Grand Forks — if you’re prepared to be flexible.

This new option for Winnipeg travelers received some attention in the Winnipeg Free Press recently, which noted that Allegiant’s Grand Forks operation was taking traffic away from Winnipeg’s James Richardson International Airport.

Not that anyone need cry for Air Canada, WestJet, United or Northwest/Delta. Allegiant only competes with them for price-sensitive infrequent travelers — the major airlines’ least valuable customers, a group of customers that the airlines have been looking to reduce their dependency upon by getting rid of seat capacity.

Choosing Grand Forks as a destination wasn’t much of a surprise. Part of Allegiant’s business plan has been to fly into airports located relatively close to Canadian cities in order to attract Canadian vacationers. In addition to Grand Forks, these border airfields include Bellingham, Wash. (80 kilometres south of Vancouver) and Plattsburgh, N.Y. (120 kilometres south of Montreal).

Is it worth the trip to Grand Forks to catch an Allegiant Air flight this winter? Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pros

  • Allegiant charges reasonable fares. A November Grand Forks-Las Vegas round trip costs $295 to $425 U.S. ($322 to $464 Cdn.), taxes and fees included.
  • Friendly employees. Many posters on a popular airline passenger review web site have commented favourably on Allegiant’s friendly, motivated crews — qualities that are in short supply on troubled rival United Airlines.
  • Non-stop flights. Unlike most U.S. airlines, Allegiant doesn’t pass its passengers through a hub. Once you’re on the aircraft, you’ll go straight to your destination, sparing yourself the time and inconvenience of a connection in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago or Denver. (Their destinations from Grand Forks are limited, however, to just Phoenix and Las Vegas.)

Cons

  • Low-cost airlines don’t necessarily offer the lowest fares. A Nov. 15-22 Grand Forks-Las Vegas round trip on Allegiant costs $464 Cdn. taxes and fees included, plus additional charges for checked baggage and beverages — not to mention the cost of getting to Grand Forks. On the same dates, WestJet is offering Winnipeg-Vegas and Vegas-Winnipeg non-stops for $455 Cdn. — taxes, fees, checked baggage and beverages included, and a much shorter trip to the airport. Charters might even offer better fares from Winnipeg.
  • Few options for rebooking if you miss your (non-refundable) flight. Allegiant only operates a handful of flights per week out of small markets like Grand Forks.  Miss a Sunday flight to Las Vegas, and your choices will be (perhaps) to go on standby for Thursday’s flight, make an expensive last-minute booking on a network airline, or cancel your trip entirely. Plan your schedule keeping in mind that snowstorms can cause highways to be closed between Winnipeg and Grand Forks, and that border crossings can sometimes take longer than expected.
  • All the extras cost extra. Bring extra U.S. cash with you for beverages ($2-$5 per serving) and, if you haven’t already purchased it online, baggage check-in ($15-$35  for the first checked bag, $25-$35 for a second bag), plus any other unexpected expenses that might come up. The same caution can be made for many other airlines, so always choose carefully.
  • Limited legroom and no seat recline. Allegiant’s aircraft have charter-style seating, with only 30 inches (2.5 feet or 76 cm) between the back of your seat and the seat in front of  you. If you’re taller than 5′ 8″ (1.73 m), then you might be better off on WestJet, whose aircraft offer two to four inches more legroom.
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About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

2 Responses to Flying Allegiant Air from Grand Forks: Things to Know Before You Go

  1. Rob says:

    Canadian $ going Up They say 1.10 Time To Carry Canadian Funds Good Luck Getting Exchange In The US

  2. Fred says:

    You can now fly to Florida from Grand Forks!

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