From Mitten State to Sunshine State | Characteristics

The convenience (and cost) of flying with Allegiant Air
By Jillian Manning | March 26, 2022

About 17,000 passengers will fly to and from Traverse City over the two weeks around spring break, according to Kevin Kline, CEO of Cherry Capital Airport (TVC). Many of these people are heading south for warmer weather, especially since TVC offers three nonstop flights to Florida on Allegiant Air, landing in Punta Gorda/Fort Myers, Tampa/St. Pete and Orlando/Sanford.

For those of us who have spent more than a decade in the North, the option of a nonstop flight is a novelty, unless of course you are heading to Detroit or Chicago. Allegiant flights are also attractively priced, with tickets (no charge) starting at $50 one-way. Northern Express set out to get the inside scoop on who is traveling on these flights, where they are going and how it affects both northern Michigan and Florida destinations.

In numbers
Surprisingly, spring break isn’t the busiest time of year for local travelers. (The gold medal goes to the end of June, after school is out and before the glorious days of summer are here to stay.) However, Klein says spring break remains one of the main drivers of local travel to and from TVC.

“Our parking lot is full. [we have] lots of full flights and the concessions are going to be high,” Klein tells us. “It’s a busy time of the year. It’s not the peak like July, but…I would rank it in our top five for our best economic activity at the airport.

Klein predicts that nearly 100% of seats will be sold for Allegiant flights during school vacations. Allegiant operates two types of aircraft from TVC: the Airbus A319 (which seats 156 passengers) and the Airbus A320 (which seats 186). With multiple flights to each destination over the holiday period, thousands of passengers will make the three-hour, 1,400-mile journeys.

The airline touts its cheap fares, and at a glance, that $50 price tag might seem too good to be true. Well, technically it is. Yes, you can get out of town for less than $100, but your return flight will likely be between $125 and $250, with last minute tickets or high demand days exceeding $350 at either end. Then you can either choose a package for your seat, luggage and other upgrades or buy a la carte. Seat prices range from as low as $1 for a mid-stern seat to $39+ for seats in the front of the boat with better legroom. Carry-on luggage can cost between $18 and $50 per trip, checked luggage between $30 and $50.

All in all, when we booked an example of the lowest priced trip we could find without an upgrade – other than carry-on, as we figured most people don’t just travel with a carry-on hand or a backpack – the bill came to $240 with all taxes and fees. Travelers who want a little more bells and whistles will likely see prices above $300.

Even without the frills, $240 is still a competitive rate and has the added benefit of being tied to a nonstop flight, which means no layovers, no getting stuck at O’Hare, and no worrying about whether there’s will have time to eat or use the toilet. as you sprint towards your connection. “Convenient” is the word Klein uses repeatedly to describe Allegiant flights.

fly together
So who’s riding Allegiant these days? The answer to this question: almost everyone.

“I think [the senior] people are traveling more often because of Allegiant flights and the convenience of nonstop flights,” says Klein. “But then, because of the cost, you see a lot of families leaving. … This time of year is really family and couple oriented and everyone is going on vacation.

Justin Mortier, a Traverse Citian and managing partner of the LaBelle Management hotel group, has one such family.

“Our family has used Allegiant many times,” says Mortier. “The price is more economical for our large family. Hot destinations are very popular and, above all, direct flights are a game-changer. Navigating four children through a large airport to catch a connecting flight can be quite stressful.

Although most people flock to Florida for a getaway, Klein also notes that spring break is a busy time for inbound traffic, with returning snowbirds and passengers from other parts of the country heading north. from Michigan.

“This spring break, you’re going to see what I call multi-directional traffic, not just a southerly flow of traffic, then a northerly flow at the end,” Klein says. “Because of the pandemic, you’re going to see people start going out to visit family.”

Indeed, travel to the United States is expected to increase for Spring Break 2022. Vacasa, an international vacation rental management company, finds that 37% of Americans plan to travel during Spring Break, compared to 29% the last year. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that this trend will continue through the spring and summer, predicting that domestic travel at Easter will increase by 212% compared to 2021 and that summer travel bookings will increase. by 58%.

Spring in the Sunshine State
You bought your ticket, took your flight and landed in Florida. What happens then? Well, Disney is an obvious draw for Orlando/Sanford passengers, and trips to the beach and golf are also popular for those who missed warm-weather activities. In all three destinations, business is booming thanks to the arrival of chilly and sun-hungry northerners.

“I see people coming here in droves to just hang out,” says Cynthia Hinson, director of communications and public relations for the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau (PGEB VCB). “Everyone wants to go to the beach. They want to get in the water. …And because the weather is so nice (it’s not too wet yet), people can enjoy all the hiking trails.

Whatever people are looking for, the data is clear in one respect: people are visiting. The PGEB VCB has just announced a $1.6 million increase in its Tourism Development Levy – a 5% levy collected via accommodation establishments – starting in 2020. Of course, this is not just about Michiganders who fly south, but as hospitality says, heads are definitely in the beds.

“Our hotels are full. Our Airbnbs are full. You have to plan a few weeks in advance – you can’t just come unless you want to pay top dollar,” says Hinson.

But for those who have planned ahead, a Punta Gorda vacation can feel a bit like home.

“Everyone does everything on the water,” says Hinson, mentioning beloved northern activities like paddleboarding, boating and fishing. In terms of non-water activities, it points to great restaurants, shopping, and art exhibits. (Sounds like some NoMi cities you know?)

For readers heading south, Hinson’s top recommendations for spring break include:
– Spring training for the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park
– The “ZimSculpt” exhibition at the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens
– Fisherman’s Village
– The Military Heritage Museum
– Babcock Ranch Eco Tours

Those of us staying home during the break are just asking you to bring some sunshine with you.

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