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Sunday, August 5, 2007

How airlines stay out of bankruptcy

They run themselves like Allegiant!

The good part: you can fly direct out of Ft. Wayne to somewhere nice, like St. Pete. And, you can fly fairly cheaply...if you go no-frills.

Just remember: You will pay a free to make reservations, almost any way you choose to do so. To check a bag, add $10 on to your advertised fare. To choose yours seats, add $10 (remember, all this is each way). To get priority seating, add $10. Snacks: be prepared to pay--no free snacks at all. More than one check-in bag? While golf clubs or a baby stroller are free, you'll pay for extra bags, or bags over 50 pounds.

The good news, I did NOT pay to choose our seats, and we sat together on both flights anyway. As far as paying for snacks, if you want to take a soft drink onboard you have to buy it past security anyway, and you'll pay about the same as on the plane. You can bring a snack with you (if you remember, like that was high on my priority list before leaving). (It would have been if we had been traveling with the kids.)

As for the priority seating, what a joke! Why anyone would pay for this is nuts! DON'T BOTHER. For one, they still board babies and little kids and families first. Second, when they called priority seating, three-quarters of the people waiting got in line! And they all filed out on to the tarmac to wait in the hot sun! Meanwhile, with our aisle seven seats, we sat in the air conditioned comfort of the airport as all these poor fools boarded, got in line when it was our turn, and had 15 less minutes in a scrunchy airplane than the "priority boarders."

The plane we flew down on was pretty old and we had a three hour delay as a minor engine problem was fixed. The plane home was much newer.

Curiously, the seats on it did not recline! Nor did it have any amenities like video, radio, or even pillows or blankets. (You could buy those last two items.)

We got there and back safely, and we did get a good deal on a rental car for the week, booking through Alamo through the Allegiant partnership.

But I couldn't help but think--man, I miss ATA! Free snacks, business class, free luggage, video, radio. Which is probably why they are bankrupt....

The marketing hype for FWA doesn't work, because anyone who flies even occasionally knows the truth. It's cheaper to fly out of Indy. If you can find somebody to take you down there/pick you up, it's even better. Even if you have to long-term park, it's cheaper than FWA. There's nothing bad about having an airline like Allegiant flying in and out of FWA, but don't be fooled: Their advertised rates are red herrings, designed to draw you in. You're going to pay a lot more than you think. With no pop.

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