Review: Is Allegiant a good airline to fly to Arizona?

If you’re looking for a low-cost, no-frills flight to the Phoenix area, it’s likely that Allegiant Air will make its way into your web search results.

If you have no experience with Allegiant and are wondering if they’re worth trying, keep reading for my unbiased take on the Allegiant experience. Plus, I’ll provide some tips that might help smooth out your travels to and from the Phoenix/Mesa, Arizona area.

What makes this review unbiased?
By unbiased, I mean that I received no incentive from Allegiant, or any other entity, to write this review. I paid for my tickets with my own money and experienced the same treatment as all other passengers.

It’s not all pie in the sky

Scroll down to read about my disastrous first impression with Allegiant and how they slowly won me back over time.

How come Allegiant fares are so much cheaper than other airlines?

Allegiant built its brand by offering some of the lowest fares available to cities around the country. All you get when you buy a low-fare flight on Allegiant is a seat on a plane to your destination.

Low fares means no frills

Don’t expect complimentary snacks or drinks, unless you have Allegiant rewards credit card to flash at the flight attendant.

Want to choose a specific seat for your flight? You’ll pay more for that. Same thing if you bring luggage that doesn’t fit under your seat. You get the idea.

Exception: Active duty military members and veterans get special treatment on Allegiant flights with many of the standard fees waived, plus early boarding privileges and free travel for one pet. See all the ways Allegiant honors the brave men and women who serve(d) in the armed forces.

Smaller airports mean lower costs for Allegiant and lower fares for you.

Allegiant specializes in flights to smaller, underserved markets that many larger airlines don’t bother with. The larger, busier airports tend to charge the airlines higher fees for using their facilities. Of course, the airlines pass those costs on to passengers.

Where in Arizona does Allegiant fly?

  • Mesa Gateway Airport: Flights to/from over 50 cities each week
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport: Flights to/from 3 cities weekly (as of June 2022)

As of this writing, Allegiant offered flights to Arizona from cities all across the country. Most of those flights land at and take off from Mesa Gateway Airport. Only three cities are served from the larger Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in nearby Phoenix.

Iconic flight control tower rises stands out high above the runways at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport as the sun sets west of the city

How far is Mesa Gateway airport from Phoenix?

By car, the drive from Mesa Gateway airport to downtown Phoenix is 32 miles. Keep in mind, Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the U.S. So your actual destination could be an extra 15 to 30 miles further (or closer) than downtown.

Inter-airport shuttle:

Phoenix Gateway Direct operates a shuttle between the Mesa and Phoenix airports. Check prices or make a reservation.

Sample of cities with direct flights on Allegiant to Arizona:

  • Appleton, WI
  • Billings, MT
  • Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Destin , FL
  • Grand Island, NE
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Minot, ND
  • Peoria, IL
  • Orange County, CA
  • South Bend, IN

See if Allegiant serves your city or one near you at allegiantair.com

In most cases, Allegiant only flies in or out of these smaller airports a few times a week; not multiple times every day like some airlines do.

The vibe is chill at smaller airports like Mesa Gateway, the destination of most Arizona-bound Allegiant flights.

What to do in Arizona? Get ideas.

Check out the Insider’s Guide to Arizona Wonders or check out the Arizona Bucket List.

Frequently asked questions about flying Allegiant:

Do I need a credit card to book a flight on Allegiant?

No. You can use a credit card or debit card to pay your flight.

Can I pick my own seat on Allegiant flights?

Only if you pay extra. With the standard low fare, your seat will be assigned to you when you check in. That’s important to know if you’re traveling with others that you’d like to sit by.

See highlights from my June 2022 flight from Mesa Gateway Airport to Grand Island, NE and back.

Tips for getting the most out of your Allegiant travel experience:

  • Book early. Word is getting out and about Allegiant’s low fares and flights are filling up faster than ever.
  • Install the Allegiant app. It really helps simplify check-in, boarding and monitoring your flight status.
  • Pack small. You’ll pay more for any item(s) that don’t fit under the seat.
  • Bring your own drink(s) and snacks. Or you’ll pay a pretty penny for them on your flight.

Advantages of holding an Allegiant MasterCard:

  • Complimentary priority boarding for you and others on your itinerary
  • Free beverage every time you fly
  • Buy one, get one free airfare anytime you use your card to purchase a vacation package from Allegiant with 4 or more hotel nights or 7 or more rental car days on the same itinerary
  • 3 x points on Allegiant purchases
  • Bonus points offers when you sign up with the application offered during your flight
  • No blackout dates and points never expire

My first experience with Allegiant was a disaster

It was July, 2016 and my family of four needed to fly from the Phoenix area to Wichita, Kansas for the funeral of someone very close to us.

Long story, short: Our flight was canceled by Allegiant with only a couple hours’ notice. Since the next flight to our destination wouldn’t leave for several days, we scrambled for alternatives and chose to fly to Colorado Springs, then rent a car and drive the rest of the way. Plan B sounded good on paper, but when we arrived in Colorado there were no rental cars available.

Our next move was to catch a shuttle van to Denver, then hop a flight to Wichita. This unexpected twist caused much grief and costed us over $1400 on top of the original cost of our Allegiant flights. At the funeral the next day, we were emotionally exhausted.

The return flight on Allegiant went okay, but by that time my wife and I had already made a pact to never fly Allegiant again. I broke the pact a few months later when I used the travel credits we had on deposit for a flight from Mesa to Omaha, and back. I justified it by not wanting Allegiant to keep our money that they refused to refund from the botched flight to Wichita.

The “makeup” flight went fine. Nearly six years and over a dozen flights (on other airlines) would pass before I felt the temptation to fly Allegiant again.

How Allegiant won be back

In June 2022, I needed to travel to rural Kansas town with a population of 400 to be with family. Grand Island, Nebraska is the closest town with a commercial airport. It’s served only by only one airline with flights from/to Arizona – Allegiant.

In the post-pandemic era of 2022, flight cancellations had practically become an epidemic of their own. And not just with Allegiant; virtually all airlines were canceling flights in record numbers.

I decided to roll the dice and book a flight with Allegiant. Suffice it to say, I prepared myself for the likelihood of a flight cancellation. After all, my first impression hadn’t quite faded yet.

I scored a flight on Allegiant for only $120, round trip. The next best fare for the weekend I needed to travel was a $1200 flight to Omaha, about a 2-1/2 hour drive to the east. (The unusually high cost was because the timing coincided with the 2022 College World Series, which attracts thousands of fans from all around the country.)

My flight out of Mesa Gateway airport was on a Friday afternoon, and the return flight from Grand Island was the following Monday. My top concern was getting to Nebraska, then the return flight being cancelled. That’s because I would have to wait four more days until the next Allegiant flight could get me back to Mesa.

Thankfully, both of my flights took off and landed at the scheduled times, and I was quite pleased with the entire experience, especially the security screening at both airports and in-flight service on both flights.

Would I recommend Allegiant to others flying to Arizona?

Yes. Based on my most recent experience on Allegiant, I have no hesitation to book flights with them again in the future, and I’d definitely recommend others give them a try also.

One caveat: if you have a rigid timeline for returning back to your city of origin, build in a contingency plan for how you’ll get home in the event Allegiant cancels your flight. Remember: they don’t flight to every city on their route map every day.

For more details about Allegiant or to check fares for your city or one near you, visit allegiantair.com.

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