Flying on Allegiant Air Without Baggage Fees, Take 2

Allegiant Air no baggage fees

I just took a flight for a long weekend on Allegiant Air and managed to do it without paying any baggage fees.

Anyone who has flown this bare-bones airline knows that is not an easy task. The only luggage you can bring along without paying luggage fees is a bag measuring a maximum of 15 inches by 14 inches by 7 inches. When I wrote about pulling this off five years ago, the only thing I could find in my luggage-filled house that would work was a schwag bag freebie from a trade show. This time I found another solution: a convertible bike pannier bag from A company called The Property Of. Usually it’s on the back of my bike, but when I pulled out a tape measure and found it fit, out came the shoulder strap and I was off.

under seat bag Allegiant Air

Now granted it’s easier to pack this light if you’re a married man not going out on the town in your place of arrival. A woman who needs 6 outfits for three days and 12 kinds of goop would have a much tougher time. I packed one additional pair of pants, 2 t-shirts, 2 regular shirts, underwear, socks, my laptop, and all the needed cords. Toiletries were all trial sized items. I wore a few layers including another secret weapon: my ExOfficio Storm Logic jacket. Besides being cozy, it’s loaded with pockets on the inside, pockets that held my Kindle, earbuds, sunglasses, and some cords.

Odd-sized Bags Only on Allegiant Air

How many bags out there are actually 15 inches by 14 inches by 7 inches? Not many since your average laptop bag is wider than 15 inches and few bags are only 7 inches wide. On my flight leg, someone in front of me glided on with a Ciao Luggage under-seat bag with wheels. It seemed a little too fat to me so I looked it up and indeed, it’s 8.5 inches wide instead of 7. This Delsey under-seat bag is in the same situation—two inches wider than the very stingy 7. It’s soft though, so if you didn’t pack it tight you could probably make it fit in the sizer.Any of them will easily fit under the seat of course.

People are getting away with these bags that come close because the gate agents rightfully don’t love being bad cops all day. I’d imagine they don’t subject their customers to stuffing things in the sizer very often. (It hasn’t happened any on my last few flights.)

Allegiant Air bag sizer

But that’s if you’re in the ballpark—you can’t bring something that really won’t fit under the seat and try to breeze through without getting noticed. Even with these Ciao and Delsey ones though, if you got someone in a bad mood one day it could be risky If they didn’t want to cut you any slack, you could be stuck for more than the cost of the bag in luggage fees. I’d recommend finding a small gym bag or scouring your local thrift shops with a tape measure in hand—old bowling ball bags are about right.

Waiting to Commit Will Cost You

These Allegiant luggage fees are lowest when you book your ticket, then they really sock it to you if you want until arriving at the airport to decide you actually need luggage for your vacation. The carry-on fee is $15-$20 per leg up front depending on how far you’re going, then spikes to an outrageous $50 each way at the airport. Checking a bag runs $20-$30 per segment at the time of booking rises to $45 pre-departure, then $50 at the airport. For just one bag. They say they can charge “up to $75” for a gate-checked bag.

You’ll pay more if  your checked bag is more than 40 pounds (most U.S. airlines allow up to 50) and you’ll pay extra if it has dimensions that are over the ones listed on the Allegiant site.

The reason people put up with this—and all the other fees—is that the base fares are so low. You could actually pay less for your ticket than you do in fees, even if all you do is check a bag the day of because you bought some things you need to bring home. My flight between Cleatwater/St. Pete, FL to Greenville, SC was $125 when paying with my credit card. I’m about to buy one for my mom to come visit from Virginia and that’s about the same. Bringing her in on United would cost more than $500, there’s a plane change, and she would still get dinged for baggage if she checked on. Ouch!

This is just one fee on Allegiant though: you’ll pay to pick a seat, to board first, to get a drink of water, get a boarding pass at the counter, or pay with a credit card (3.2% up to $8). I paid the credit card one, but ducked all the others. With no seat selection (which can be “up to $80”) I got a dreaded middle seat on the way there, but a window seat back. It’s only an hour and a half to where my father lives, so I didn’t mind taking the chance. Here’s the whole fee rundown, which requires some scrolling.

Allegiant cheap fares

I’ve done this before though and I’ll do it again. I can fly to 55 cities from where I live on this airline. Since the big 3 suck so badly anyway and are generally downright unpleasant to fly, there’s not much advantage anymore to being on deceptive legacy airlines American, Delta, or United. Yes, you can earn miles, but not as many anymore since those miles are based on dollars spent rather than miles flown. You’re better off just churning their credit cards.

If the flight is going to suck anyway and the big airlines are all racing to the bottom to be more like Spirit and Allegiant, you might as well take the direct flight with the lower fare—even if you do end up paying luggage fees.

Comments
  1. Polly Everage

    Can you take flower seeds in your personal bag.
    Polly Everage
    [email protected]

    • Tim Leffel

      Unless it’s an international flight, yes.

  2. amanda

    Curious, I am hoping to take my kids kindle in their personal bag, Do you know if they allow that with all the fires in flight. Thanks

    • Tim Leffel

      Not an issue on any flights within or out of the USA.

  3. JUDY

    I few from St Pete/Clear Water airport on Allegiant in April 2017 I am a handicapped person in a wheel chair and traveling with my caregiver. My caregiver could not sit with me unless I purchased his seat at additional price. I did not know this until I arrived at airport, most airline will seat caregiver next to special needs person automaticly, I booked on line and no mention of caregiver seating with a handicapped person at additional cost seating. The caregiver must purchase seating at additional next to the handicapped person he or she is traveling with. Just FYI for future special needs travelers.

    • Tim Leffel

      Yes, you have to shell out for everything, including assigned seats. It doesn’t matter the situation. Same with Spirit, RyanAir, Aerobus, etc.

  4. Linda K VanDamme

    Hello..my 2 neices need to fly to Flagstaff AZ to visit their mother…very ill. Anyway one neice is large and can hardly fit in one seat. The other is very trim. Does allegiant have seats with removable arm rests. They could easily fit. Trying to avoid buying two seats for Michelle

    • Tim Leffel

      Not that I know of. As with most budget carriers, all seats are the same. Spirit has some larger ones at the front for a small premium.

  5. Gforce

    If you are, or were, military, ALL of your bags are free. I get one personal, one overhead, and three checked bags at no cost — forever. Thanks, Allegiant!

    • Kelly Green

      Any chance you know if my husband is a veteran and we are flying with him, do we get our carry-on bag free too??

      • Brenda

        Yes you need to have military spouse ID at check in, then you also get free carry on and three checked bags …. dependents also get this if they have Dependant ID.

  6. Simon Sykes

    Solid article. For the reliably-sketchy Allegiant Air experience, I use a safety-award backpack from a construction project 20 years ago. You can jam a lot of stuff into a non-compartmentalized backpack. And it’s squishy, so you can torture it down into their template box if necessary. I’ve never been hassled about it.

  7. J Reynolds

    If I use a suitcase that fits the personal dimensions that fits under the seat, can I carry it on without any fee even though it looks like a suitcase?

  8. Andrea Spitzer

    My mom got me a touch lamp in want to bring it because she passes it’s the only thing I have can I bring it aboard

    • Tim Leffel

      That’s not a restricted item as far as I know.

  9. Kay Riddle

    Can I bring cookies, other small snacks, homemade?

    • Tim Leffel

      As long as they’re not liquids or gels, yes on any airline I’ve ever been on.

  10. Rebecca Burnett

    I’d love to know if i can add a bag AFTER booking, but BEFORE I get to the airport. I am not sure how many bags i need just yet, but i would not wait til the airport. Is the only time to get a discounted bag fees at the time of purchase? Or, after purchase but Before the day of departure? THanks.

    • Tim Leffel

      Yes, you can do that, though it might have to be before the check-in process and printing your boarding pass. And the fee structures are intentionally complicated (as they are with the legacy airlines too), so it may be a few bucks more than if you made up your mind when first booking.

  11. sara

    Does Allegiant offer free seat assignment for families travelling with young children? Most major airlines I’ve traveled with allow me to buy my tickets first, then I just have to call reservations and tell then I’m with young children, and they would gladly assign seats (so we’re not separated) for free.

    • Tim Leffel

      Nope, you will pay extra for that. You have to take your chances at check-in.

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