Beat the House and Fly Free on Allegiant

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Allegiant Air -- the little Las Vegas "airline that could" in a contracting travel climate -- is not only expanding its route system, it's anteing up the pot with an odds-on deal: Find a better air and hotel package than Allegiant offers and you fly free.

Allegiant's Low-Price Pledge has been announced under a new "Travel is our Deal" marketing campaign that started October 6th. The airline notes that although the campaign just started they have not had to fly anyone anywhere for free just yet.

The hitch? There are a few. Allegiant offers packages from 75 cities. But the cities served are lightly serviced centers, such as Bozeman, MT, Allentown, PA and Santa Maria, CA. Similarly, the choice of packaged destinations remains limited, so you can easily fly from Peoria, IL to Las Vegas, Phoenix or Clearwater, FL and bundle in a hotel. But you cannot go from Peoria to Los Angeles, for instance, or Duluth. Finding competition, or any published packages at all, between points served on Allegiant will be the first challenge.

Secondly, surmounting the list of add-on fees will bump up any gains in pricing depending on how you book, how you pack and how you sit. There are homeland security fees ($10.70 per segment -- one take off and one landing); A "convenience fee" of $14.99 per passenger who books a ticket anywhere but in person at an official Allegiant Air airport ticket office; Checked bag fees: $14.99-$34.99 per bag, per segment for the first two checked bags when purchased at time of booking, or $35 per checked bag, per person, per segment for the first two bags at airport check-in.

Third, in order to check the package prices online you must fill out a firewall of form blanks. Finally, don't expect to lay back and snooze on your way from Fargo, ND to Orlando -- or anywhere else. The airline is eliminating the recliner function for "prereclined" seats to maximize space and revenue to keep these great deals rolling.

Allegiant admits the phones are not ringing off hook yet with certified and provable challenges to the airline's offer. "It's pretty hard to beat our fares and deals," says airline spokesman Sabrina LoPiccolo.

The Las Vegas-based company started in 1997 with point to point flights between Southern California and Las Vegas but started a rapid expansion model in 2002 to service second and third tier regions with flights to Las Vegas and become more of a travel company than an airline. With that model it expanded its non-stop segment service to more than 75 airports throughout the US, from Bangor, ME to Clearwater, FL to Long Beach on a hop-scotch grid of routes. It partnered that map with hotel deals in key destination cities its serves for easy and efficient packaging. That map will include destinations in Hawaii starting next summer.

"The business model has been to offer non-stop service at low cost to smaller markets and package that with hotels. That's it in a nutshell so this campaign just amplifies that message," says LoPiccolo.

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