Come February, a three-hour drive from Missoula can net you nonstop, $179-each-way jet service to and from Hawaii.
For a while, anyway.
Allegiant Travel Co. on Tuesday announced it would initiate once-a-week flights from Spokane to Honolulu on Saturdays beginning Feb. 9.
Return flights will occur Fridays. The route will be served by Allegiant’s new fleet of Boeing 757 aircraft.
The $179 each-way fares are an introductory offer, and presently are available on all flights between Spokane and Honolulu through March 23 according to the airline’s website, Allegiant.com.
Others in April also are offered at $179. As of Tuesday, you couldn’t book the new Allegiant flight beyond April 13.
The ticket prices do not include Allegiant’s baggage fees, which start at $35 per checked bag for the first two bags and $25 for carry-on baggage that goes in overhead bins.
The $358 round-trip airfare – that’s the price if paying with a debit card; it’s $366 if paying with a credit card – compares to the approximately $721 it would cost you to fly from Missoula to Honolulu on Feb. 9 and return on Feb. 15 if booking now.
It saves you two three-hour drives, gas and possibly a hotel room for the night, but includes a pair of four-hour layovers in Seattle. You can, however, also book flights between Missoula and Honolulu any day of the week, as opposed to being limited to Saturday flights out and Friday flights back on Allegiant’s service from Spokane.
The $721 roundtrip was the lowest Missoula-Honolulu fare available at CheapTickets.com Tuesday to compare with the February dates Allegiant will start flying between Spokane and Honolulu.
Also Tuesday, Allegiant announced it would begin service between Boise and Honolulu the same weekend.
The two cities, neither of which Allegiant has served before, join seven more in the West the airline had already tapped for its new Honolulu market.
The airline focuses on linking smaller markets to “world-class leisure destinations.” It offers MD-80 service from Missoula to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Oakland-San Francisco and Phoenix-Mesa, for instance, and from Kalispell to Las Vegas and Oakland-San Francisco.
Its Missoula-L.A. route is being reduced to seasonal service, however (see related story).
Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said Tuesday the airline will continue to look at expanding service to Honolulu from other small-city markets.
Asked if Missoula was a possibility, she said, “It’s not impossible, but I don’t think we have it on our agenda at the moment, so it’s not in the immediate future. To be honest, I don’t know what the flying time is between Missoula and Honolulu – it has to be within the range of the 757.“
The airline had already announced it would begin nonstop service to Honolulu from Las Vegas; Eugene, Ore.; Bellingham, Wash.; and the California cities of Fresno, Stockton, Santa Maria and Monterey.
The Las Vegas and Fresno flights to the islands are already up and running.
For people willing to arrange their Hawaiian vacations around Allegiant’s once-a-week flights, Wheeler said the airline can be attractive because of its prices and nonstop service. Presently, the cheapest Spokane-Honolulu fares on other carriers are almost $300 more than Allegiant’s introductory price, and require hour-plus layovers, and plane changes, in both Seattle and Bellingham.
When the introductory fares are taken, Allegiant’s prices will operate as usual, where they can change daily, in either direction.
“We’re not like other carriers that set a price,” Wheeler said. “You may see one fare one day, and another the next. They go up and down depending on demand.”
The Spokane-Hawaii flights will depart at 7 a.m. Saturdays and arrive in Honolulu at 11:30 a.m. Return flights on Fridays leave at 11 a.m. and arrive in Spokane at 7 p.m.
There is a four-hour time difference between the Pacific Time Zone and the islands.
Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.