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Headed to Arizona? Best to travel light

By Corene Brisendine

It’s a package deal.

Allegiant Air began flights to Phoenix Nov. 7 from Manhattan, but the airline hopes to do more than just ferry folks back and forth to Arizona.

“We like to think of ourselves as a travel agency that owns an airline,” said Micah Lillard, spokesperson for Allegiant. “We don’t just fly you to the airport and leave you stranded, or force you to book everything separately.”

When booking a flight online, there are more than just the flights to consider.

The first step is choosing the destination.

If you’re flying to Phoenix, for instance, there are actually two choices: Phoenix-Mesa or Scottsdale-Mesa.

Lillard said the airport is the same, but people associate their destination with Phoenix or Scottsdale.

Next, the website offers package deals with several hotels.

Lillard said when travelers choose to book their hotel stays through the airline, they get a better deal because of the contract Allegiant has with the hotels.

“We have direct partnerships with hotels, car rentals, golf courses and concert venues,” Lillard said. “That means we offer cheaper rates than if (travelers) book directly or through a travel agency.”

The hotels are listed by price and by location.

So if there is a golfer in the family, the map tab on the airline’s website shows what hotels near golf courses are contracted with Allegiant.

Along with giving the price, the site shows if there are any special offers.

The Arizona Biltmore has a special offer through Alleigant that includes the fourth night free, 30 percent off retail items and 20 percent off spa visits at the hotel.

Once you decide on a hotel, Allegiant’s website allows you to choose a vehicle.

Lillard said Allegiant has a contract with Alamo Rental Cars. He said after the transaction is completed in booking a flight, securing a hotel and renting a car, a confirmation code is emailed to the customer along with boarding passes.

The customer can print the confirmation code along with the boarding passes. When the plane lands in at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, the passenger merely needs to bring the code to the rental car counter to pick up a vehicle.

Finally, there are day-trip packages available through the website.

Some of those trips include Grand Canyon tours, trips to Sedona and Wet ‘n’ Wild tickets.

Allegiant’s prices are attractive, and the package deals save some money — but passengers heading to Arizona need to be careful with luggage.

The airline allows one personal bag for free. That bag can be a purse, laptop or briefcase, but it must be able to fit under your seat.

After that, the charges can mount up if you don’t travel light.

According to Allegiant website, one carry-on item ranges from $10 to $30, but the price starts at $50 when you pay at the airport.

Checked bags are even more expensive. Online prices range from $14.99 to $35.99 per bag. At the airport, checked bags are $50-$75 each.

Lillard said the price of the bag depends on the length of the flight. So, the longer the flight the more expensive it is to bring a bag. The flight time from Manhattan to Phoenix is about 2 1/2 hours.

Lillard said all hotel, car rental and day-trip packages can also be purchased in flight.

If a traveler decides at the last minute to make reservations or get a car, flight attendants can handle booking. Travelers get the same discounts as if ordering them online in advance.

The bottom line with using Allegiant’s service, though, is that the better deals need to purchased in advance – and online.

So if you start dreaming of Arizona’s warm temperatures as the winter chill hits eastern Kansas, here’s the Allegiant formula: Plan ahead and book everything online.

All you need is time off and some spare cash.

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