Budget airline Allegiant offers dirt cheap nonstop service from Concord Regional Airport to four airports in Florida.
Orlando Sanford International Airport
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Punta Gorda Airport
St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport
Rates for one-way trips on Allegiant are as low as $35.
For comparison, a one-way ticket from Charlotte-Douglas to Orlando* would set you back up to $185 on Delta, $178 on JetBlue and a completely insane $461 on American Airlines, all of which are robbery.
Since it’s unlikely you’re closing up shop on your life in Charlotte and starting over anew in Florida, you’ll want a ticket home. But even more than doubling your ticket price for a round trip on Allegiant is still considerably cheaper than the other roundtrip options.
Roundtrip tickets on those other airlines range from $241 all the way up to $571*, and none of the flights I’m looking at are nonstop.
Meanwhile, Allegiant’s nonstop flight pricing is so insanely low, the ticket I’m doing this test search on (a flight on Friday, September 16) is actually just $11.53. Yeah, the cost of one craft cocktail in Charlotte. Add $23.47 in taxes and fees and you’re off to Florida for $35 even.
But you still need to get home. Good news. It wouldn’t cost a million dollars to add a return ticket to my test trip.
Prices for the return ticket during my selected test dates range from $39 – $49 depending on which day you choose to fly back the following week.
One of the main setbacks when it comes to flying Allegiant is that their routes don’t fly daily. The Concord to Orlando route I’m looking at, for example, only flies Monday, Wednesday and Friday. So you couldn’t leave Friday and come back Sunday for a quick weekend trip. Your return flight would have to be Monday.
Other routes, like Concord to St. Petersburg, only fly Thursday and Sunday.
If you’re thinking Allegiant’s ultra-low pricing is too good to be true, that’s because it is—to an extent.
But if you know what you’re doing, you can avoid a lot of the extra fees.
For starters, they’ll try to sell you all kinds of upgrades to make up for their crazy $11 flight. They’ll suggest you pay for a hotel, a rental car, a trip to Sea World, trip insurance, priority boarding and (perhaps most maddeningly) a seat.
Yes, Allegiant makes you pay extra for an assigned seat. Prices range from $9 – $20 with premiums on aisle seats and extra leg room. But you don’t have to buy it.
If you’re flying solo or don’t care if you snag a spot next to your travel companion, just skip the extra fee and get your seat assignment at the gate. It’s a short flight. You’ll be fine.
They’ll also charge you for your bags, including your carryon.
Allegiant charges $18 for your carryon and $18 per checked bag. The only free bag you get is your one personal item, like a purse or briefcase. Personally, I need at least a carryon so I pay for that bag.
If you can pass on the upgrades and avoid tons of baggage fees, you’ll still lock in the cheapest advertised price with Allegiant but, of course, you might trade on some comforts you’re used to on other airlines—like sitting by your friends, bringing a free carryon and flying out of a real airport.
And that leads us to the Allegiant gate at Concord Regional Airport, which is little more than a glorified garage.
They’re gearing up for a substantial renovation but Concord Regional Airport is not at all what you think of when you picture an airport.
Right now, the entire Allegiant operation is housed in a large, barely air conditioned metal garage.
You’ll still check in and go through security but that’s where the airport comparisons end.
I recently flew on Allegiant to St. Petersburg on my first trip out of Concord. We got there early because I thought I’d have a chance to sit at an airport bar and sip a cocktail. HILARIOUS.
There are a few vending machines but that’s it as far as food options.
You’ll sit on folding chairs in a large waiting area lined with tubular air conditioners working fruitlessly the lower the stifling temperature. It’s nothing fancy.
The bathrooms, it pains me to say, are in porta-trailers outside.
If you can put up with all of that, you can fly to Florida for next to nothing.
Personally, I can definitely put up with all of that. At first, I was pretty horrified by the whole situation but now that I know what I’m getting into (and, more importantly, how much money I can save), I’ll definitely fly Allegiant out of Concord again.
*Airline pricing changes constantly. These prices are from a Monday, August 15 search for a Thursday, September 15 flight. Please don’t send me a bunch of new prices you found.