Your affordable options for visiting the gay vacation mecca of Hawaii have increased greatly with the recent introduction by specialty low-cost carrier Allegiant Air of direct flights from Honolulu to Bellingham, Washington; Eugene, Oregon; Santa Maria, California; and Stockton, California. Additionally, the carrier, which also specializes in full-service vacation packages, added service to Bellingham from Maui's main airport, Kahului. These new routes are in addition to existing Allegiant service from Honolulu to Monterey and Fresno, CA as well as to Las Vegas.
How might these flights make sense for residents of the West Coast? Bellingham is just an hour's drive south of Vancouver, BC; Stockton is an hour south of Sacramento and a little more than an hour east of Berkeley and San Francisco's East Bay area; and Santa Maria is about an hour north of Santa Barbara and just 40 minutes south of San Luis Obispo. Eugene is Oregon's second-largest city and about two hours' drive from Portland airport. So these new routes will make a difference for quite a few travelers.
Allegiant has carved out a niche for itself by establishing nonstop service to a handful of major resort destinations (Hawaii, Las Vegas, Phoenix-Scottdale, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, Orlando, Palm Springs, San Francisco) from mostly mid-size to small cities throughout the United States, including Allentown, PA; Asheville, NC; Colorado Springs, CO; Gary, IN; Plattsburgh, NY; Toledo, OH; Niagara Falls, NY; and many others). If some of these markets seem remote, if not downright obscure, consider that many of these communities are a fairly short and easy drive from major cities. Allentown is close to Philadelphia and New York City, Gary is just outside Chicago, Plattsburgh is a short drive from Montreal, Toledo is near Detroit, and Niagara Falls serves the Toronto market. Flying from these smaller cities can be more convenient and less time-consuming than dealing with mega airports in major cities. On the negative side, if your flight is canceled or delayed , your options for getting home are considerably more limited than if you fly into a major airport.
Allegiant fares tend to be very competitive. However, like some other low-frills carriers, the airline charges fees for certain services that larger airlines don't. In 2012, Allegiant began charging passengers $35 for carry-on luggage (each passenger may carry a small item, such as a briefcase, computer bag, or purse, for free). Checked bags are also $35 per bag, but baggage rates drop considerably if you prepay online. If you add up baggage costs and airfare, and you pay for baggage online, Allegiant can end up being a less pricey alternative to flying on major carriers from larger airports. It pays to do a little homework and compare different strategies. Certainly if you live within an hour's drive of Bellingham, Eugene, Stockton, and Santa Maria, booking a Hawaii trip on Allegiant can be a great time and money saver.