As 2021 rolls on, you may be considering air travel within the United States or the Caribbean. Two of your carrier options are Spirit Airlines or Allegiant. Both will whisk you away to your next great escape! Today, I am comparing and discussing cheap flights on both.
I have flown on both airlines over the years and have never had an issue with either of them. My most recent trip was on Allegiant Airlines from NYC to The Great Smoky Mountains. But here are points to consider.
Spirit Airlines is a larger airline than Allegiant Airlines. But they do compete for the same dollar, so that is why we are comparing the two. Let's start with the basic facts:
Size of the Fleet
Before we go any further, deciding HOW you are going to get somewhere via flight can be a seemingly daunting task when it comes to price. But let’s demystify that for you. Let’s look at this idea from an airline’s perspective and then we will get to you.
Revenue management is a big deal for airlines. What is the highest price an airline can charge for a seat? The sky's the limit!
Let's use a quick analogy to answer. When you look at the produce section of a supermarket, an orange has a fast expiration date. It was picked off the tree, and now it’s ready for you to purchase. The grocer wants to charge as much as he or she can for that orange before throwing it away. Unless the commercial aviation industry radically changes the way they charge for seats, then think of every seat on every flight as a piece of rotting fruit. THAT seat on THAT day on THAT flight (or segment) is only going to exist once. If the flight takes off and a seat is empty, then it becomes a piece of fruit the airline makes no money on.
Now let’s talk about you. You expressed an interest that you want a cheap flight to wherever you are going. Many factors contribute to the cost of an airline seat. These include, the specific airline, the on-board experience, the class of seat, where you are flying from and where you are going and how long it takes to get there. And finally, in some instances how far in advance you book and pay for these seats.
For starters, in many cases getting the lowest or cheapest airfare has everything to do with where you live and what airport is your home airport. That’s where the word HUB comes into play or “cities of focus” or operating bases. To give you a clue, research online and check the number of gates an airline occupies at any given airport and then check to see how many flights depart from that airport or city per day. More gates and more flights equal more flexibility when things don’t go as planned.
Why is it important to consider big hubs for the carrier? Because the more fights per day decreases the chances of issues on your air travel day. Issues such as missing your flight, weather delays, crew delays or airplane mechanical problems.
Now let’s look at the value of your time. The longer it takes to get somewhere...the less you might pay. Airlines know through years of industry research; the flying public wants non-stop flights. That’s point A (the place you are flying from) to point B (your ultimate destination) without having to stop, or change planes. Therefore, a non-stop flight might be slightly more expensive than an itinerary with stops or connections. Also, the time of day you depart often affects the ticket price. For instance, a 6:00 a.m. departure might be cheaper than the more desirable 9:00 a.m. departure.
Given all that, let’s get back to Spirit vs. Allegiant. Both airlines have one class of seating with the exception of Spirit which offers “the big seat up front”. Both charge for your seat assignment. The better the seat, the higher the price.
Both airlines offer snacks and soft drinks inflight. Both have entertainment options and both offer a frequent flier mileage program.
Playing The Game
Both of these airlines want you to communicate with them on their terms. In other words, they want you to sign up for their loyalty program. They want you to book through their website and on their App. They want you to make purchases in advance (that’s where some of the cost savings come from). They want you to check in online (or through their App) and they want to communicate with you via text message or email. The more you participate, the more likely you are to have a worry-free flight experience.
A Word of Caution
Low cost carriers (such as these) are just that. They are NOT less-safe than a larger airline. They are regulated just as much as other carriers by the FAA and the DOT. It means they have less room to maneuver in the event of a travel disruption by them, the weather or you. In some cases, the fare may be cheap, but that's the only flight of the day. If it gets cancelled then you’re out of luck for that day. I fly on low cost carriers about once a month and rarely have worrisome incidents. But I do have my eyes WIDE open.
Keep in mind, this information is for educational purposes only and contains editorial opinion by yours truly. Facts contained here may change without notice. We try to keep up with the changes, but I strongly encourage you to do your own research before making travel purchases.
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!