We took the big all-girls trip to the American Girl Store in Los Angeles this week. To get to Los Angeles from my home town, we elected to fly using Allegiant Air, a discount airline. Flying Allegiant Air was a great experience. The flights were on time, the staff was friendly, and the price was not to be beat! But there are a few things you should know before booking with Allegiant Air, as discount airfare can turn into a big expense, if you aren’t careful.

4 Allegiant Air Booking Tips

Book Early

The prices for a seat on an Allegiant Air flight can be cheap. We booked seats for $32.99 each way. However, there are only a select amount of seats available at each price point, and as the plane fills up, the seat prices also go up. If you have the luxury of knowing well in advance that you’re going to need a flight, book right away for the best prices.

Also, each transaction has a $15 charge, if you book online. To save the most money, book your flight at the airport in advance of your trip. That may not be feasible at a big airport, such as LAX, but since Allegiant has many flights going to and from smaller airports, booking at the desk is a good option for many Allegiant customers.

Choose Your Options Carefully

The base price for an Allegiant flight only guarantees you a seat.

Seat Assignment Fee – If you want a specific seat, you have to pay a fee. In our case, that fee was $7.99 a seat. Since we were traveling in a group, and since it was my daughter’s first flight, I elected to pay to select our seats. Had I not paid, there was a good chance we would not be seated together.

Priority Boarding Fee – You can also pay a fee, in our case $8.99 per passenger, for priority boarding. This gives you the right to board the plane in the first group. I opted against this option. When booking online, you need to make sure to uncheck this (and the option to pay for pre-assigned seats). The options are always checked when booking, so make sure you don’t pay for options you don’t want.

Boarding an Allegiant flight looks like this: first the priority boarding passengers board. Then those with assigned seats may board. Finally, those who opted against assigned seats board, taking any available seats that are left.

In my opinion, if you are only taking carryon baggage, it’s worth it to select your seats. We saw several passengers in the last boarding group pay baggage fees, because there wasn’t any room in the overhead bins by the time they boarded. Priority boarding probably isn’t necessary, but I will gladly pay to be in the second group.

Everything Costs Something

Any extras on Allegiant cost money.

Food and Drink – Be sure to take your own food and drinks on the plane. Even water will run you $2. We brought refillable water bottles and filled them in the drinking fountain after passing through security. We also brought lots of snacks to keep the girls happy. It worked out really well.

Checked Bag Fee – Checked baggage incurs a hefty fee of up to $35 if purchased in advance, $35 per bag at check in, and $35 if gate checked. This makes checked baggage a bad deal for this airline. It also makes it equally important to be sure you get your carryon baggage into the overhead bins. I’d rather pay the $7.99 seat fee than $35, if there’s not room for my bags!

We were fortunate in that our second flight was completely booked and the agent at the gate offered to check all our carryon bags for free. I don’t know how common that is, but we sure appreciated it!

Flight Change Fee – You will also have to pay if you want the ability to change your flight at no extra cost. Allegiant’s Trip Flex costs $50-$75 and ensures that you can make changes to your plans until 24 hours before your flight.

Flights are Limited

Allegiant flys from my home airport only twice a week. Not two days a week, but two flights a week. Thus, if you need to fly on specific days or times, Allegiant isn’t the airline for you.

However, if you are flexible, it’s not difficult to plan a vacation around these flight times.

The potential downside, which we didn’t encounter, is what happens when there are technical delays at a smaller airport. With no additional flights, you just have to wait until the problem is fixed. Again, if you’re on a tight schedule, this is something to consider before booking with Allegiant. If your schedule is flexible, this is an annoying problem, but not a crisis.

While flying Allegiant Air is not for everyone, it can be a very good deal for families who have to purchase multiple tickets. Suddenly flying is not out of reach for families on modest incomes. We’ll definitely be flying with Allegiant again!