Nowadays a vast majority of airline passengers buy their tickets online, given the practice of electronic ticketing. However, some ultra low cost carriers give you an incentive to book tickets at the airport. I’ve written about this practice at Breeze Airways, Frontier Airlines, and Spirit Airlines, and in this post wanted to look at how you can save money by buying your Allegiant Air tickets at the airport.
Save money buying Allegiant tickets at the airport
Allegiant Air is one of the largest ultra low cost carriers in the United States, as the airline flies a variety of point-to-point routes that are otherwise underserved. Even if you don’t go out of your way to fly Allegiant, odds are that you’ll find yourself in a situation at some point where Allegiant has the most convenient flight.
Allegiant Air typically has incredibly low base fares, though you’ll see that each ticket includes an “Electronic Carrier Usage Charge” of $22 per passenger per segment. This applies to all reservations booked through Allegiant’s website or call center.
You won’t really notice this fee unless you really look closely. For example, take the below flight from St. Petersburg (PIE) to Flint (FNT). The fare is $84, and on the very last page prior to booking you can see a breakdown of that, and you’ll notice that there’s a $22 “Carrier Usage Charge.”
If you book your ticket through Allegiant’s website or call center, you’re on the hook for paying that fee. However, there’s a way to avoid it — if you instead book at any Allegiant airport ticket counter, you won’t have to pay the “Carrier Usage Charge.”
Now, Allegiant doesn’t want to make it easy for you to actually book at the airport, though. Allegiant’s website lists at what times you can purchase tickets at the airport. Airport ticketing is available for one hour following a flight’s scheduled departure, so often there’s just a one hour period on certain days of the week where you can ticket travel.
While it might not be worth making a special trip to the airport for a one-way ticket for one person to save $22, if you’re traveling as a larger group, booking multiple tickets, etc., the savings may add up.
It’s funny the extent to which Allegiant tries to hide that you can ticket your reservations at the airport. For example, if you go to Allegiant’s FAQs, you’ll see the following listed:
Can we purchase our tickets at the airport?
Travelers are advised to book in advance through the Allegiant Air Web site or customer call center. Airline tickets for same day travel may be purchased at the airport ticket counter based on availability. Airport ticket counter hours are limited and vary by location.
You don’t have to be traveling the same day to ticket a reservation to the airport. Quite to the contrary, Allegiant’s logic doesn’t add up. The airline claims it’ll only sell you tickets at the airport for an hour following a flight’s departure, yet also says that you can book at the airport for same day travel.
Why Allegiant tickets are cheaper at the airport
Okay, you can save money by booking your Allegiant tickets at the airport, but what’s the logic for this policy? It comes down to taxes.
Airlines have to pay a 7.5% federal excise tax on airfare, but not on optional fees. In order for something to be considered an optional fee, there has to be a way to avoid paying it. So Allegiant doesn’t have to pay taxes on the “Carrier Usage Charge” portion of the ticket cost because it’s technically a fee, rather than airfare, since you can avoid it.
Of course Allegiant doesn’t want to make it easy or lucrative to avoid paying this fee, which is why the airline only lets you avoid this by booking at the airport, and greatly limits the hours where you can do so.
Virtually all ultra low cost carriers have similar made up charges that make up a big portion of the airfare, in order to reduce the taxes they have to pay on ticket costs. In this particular case, Allegiant is saving 7.5% of $22, which is ~$1.65. Those tax savings add up when you consider how many tickets Allegiant sells (Allegiant generally carries over 15 million passengers per year).
Much like with other ultra low cost carriers, you can save money by purchasing your Allegiant tickets at the airport. This will save you $22 per person per segment, as you won’t have to pay the “Carrier Usage Charge.”
Allegiant sure doesn’t make it easy, though, as you can only ticket reservations for one hour following a flight’s departure, so you really have to time your trip to the airport. While it’s probably not worth making a trek to the airport to save $22, if you’re booking multiple tickets, some might find this to be worthwhile.
Have you ever purchased Allegiant Air tickets at the airport?