Allegiant flyers help boost airport to the top

By JORDAN GARCEAU/Montana State News

Allegiant Airline has substantially increased the number of passengers served in Bozeman, helping Bozeman’s airport become the busiest in the state.

According to the Montana Department of Transportation, Bozeman’s Allegiant Airlines increased passengers from 3025 to 30,207 from 2008 to 2013. This jump is notable, considering the growth of the airline in Billings between the same years was only 37,237 to 41,924. Although Billings is considerably larger than Bozeman, Bozeman’s Allegiant passenger count is comparable.

This jump in Allegiant passengers happened simultaneously as Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport began it’s journey to growth. Bozeman currently has the busiest airport in the state.  In servicing 483,132 passengers in 2014, Bozeman surpassed the Logan International Airport of Billings by 63,289 passengers.

The growth of Allegiant’s service has undoubtedly contributed to the overall total of passengers utilizing Bozeman’s airport. The airline’s bargain and vacation packages have lead to its increased use by Bozeman community members.

Allegiant’s website states, “With low-low fares, nonstop, all-jet service and premier travel partners, Allegiant provides a complete travel experience with great value and without all the hassle.” Bozeman’s Montana State University students have also found this to be the case.

Danielle Wilcox, a business student at MSU stated, “Allegiant Air has given my friends and I a way to afford trips to interesting destinations we couldn’t normally afford to visit.” Students like Wilcox are  typical within the Bozeman community.

With students frequently booking cheap Allegiant trips to Las Vegas for as low as $220 for flight and hotel, Allegiant Air can afford to be picky and strict with their regulations.

When booking on the Allegiant website, a customer leaving from Bozeman can only choose either Sunday or Thursday to fly out or return on. This can make travel tricky; however, a quick Thursday to Sunday get away may just be their key to success. The Bozeman Allegiant service only travels to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and the occasional California city.

In addition to limited fly out days and destinations, Allegiant enforces a stringent luggage policy. Passengers can carry on a personal item, but have to pay for any additional luggage. This is inclusive of what would be considered “carry-on” luggage at most every other airline. This restriction could be considered a hidden fee that compensates for the airlines extremely low travel packages.

Keleigh Russell, an English major at MSU, detailed her experience with luggage fees while traveling on Allegiant. “My friends and I booked a trip to Vegas and each purchased a carry on for $30. When we were loading the plane, the airline workers made sure every carry on was the appropriate size. My friend’s luggage didn’t make the cut so we rearranged all our luggage so she didn’t have to pay $50 to check her already paid for bag.”

Regardless of stories like Russell’s, passengers continue to use Bozeman’s Allegiant Air. When asked if she would use Allegiant again, Russell replied with, “Yes! You just can’t beat the prices on a college budget.”

As the Bozeman passengers of Allegiant remain steady and strong, it will be interesting to see if the Bozeman community, particularly students, continues to utilize their services. With Bozeman now being the busiest airport in the state, there are many other airlines to choose from with increased flexibility and travel guidelines.

– Edited by David Crawford

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