The low-cost airline Allegiant Air will begin making twice-weekly, non-stop flights to Las Vegas from Lexington starting Nov. 16.
The announcement, made Thursday at a news conference at Blue Grass Airport, comes on the heels of new non-stop service from Knoxville to Las Vegas; Allegiant already flies non-stop from Owensboro to Las Vegas.
Allegiant, based in Las Vegas, will operate two flights from Lexington: on Wednesdays and Saturdays, leaving Blue Grass Airport at 3:45 p.m. on those days and arriving at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport at 5 p.m. Pacific time. Return flights will leave Las Vegas at 8 a.m. Wednesday and Saturday and arrive in Lexington at 2:30 p.m.
The airline will use a Boeing 757 jet, with 217 seats. It will be the largest aircraft serving Lexington.
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Allegiant began flying out of Lexington in 2008. It has flights from Lexington to several destinations in Florida: Punta Gorda, Orlando/Sanford and St. Petersburg/Clearwater.
Richard Hopgood, chairman of the Blue Grass Airport board, said that in three years, Allegiant has captured 8 percent of the Lexington market.
Donald Gross of Versailles, who was waiting at the airport for a flight to Seattle, said, "It is always nice to have more flights leaving out of Lexington." He said he had been to Las Vegas, and although going to the nightlife hot spot "is not something I would do a lot, it might be nice to have that as a connection to someplace else."
For the Lexington-Las Vegas service, Allegiant is offering a $105 introductory fare, but that is not available for every seat or on every flight. Tickets must be purchased by Sept. 21 and for travel Nov. 16 to Feb. 14, Allegiant said in a news release; blackout dates include Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.
(On Nov. 16, the flight crew and airport ground personnel will have several hours of training on the Boeing 757, so that first flight will leave Lexington at 8:30 p.m. The fare shown on Allegiant's Web site for the first flight is $87.99.)
None of Allegiant's advertised fares include several fees. One is a "convenience fee" of $16.99 for booking a flight online. If a passenger books by phone, he or she is charged $16.99 plus an additional $14.99, according to Allegiantair.com. The booking fees can be avoided only by buying a ticket at the airport ticket counter.
Charges also are assessed for carry-on baggage, seat assignments, order of boarding and various add-ons. For instance, when attempting to book a flight online Thursday for the first week of service to Las Vegas, the reservation automatically included a seat assignment at the most expensive rate ($19.99, whereas the lowest rate was $10.99; rates range from $4.99 to $29.99, according to the Web site); "priority boarding" for $9.99, which would allow the passenger to board early and claim overhead storage space first; and an add-on shuttle service for $14.99.
In addition, Allegiant, like many airlines, charges for checked bags. The fees vary by route, but for Lexington to Las Vegas, the fee is $24.99 per bag if paid while making the flight reservation or $35 if paid at the gate.
Asked about Allegiant's fees, spokeswoman Kristine Shattuck-Cooper said the airline gives "a stripped-down, very base fare. Then anything you choose to add onto that, we give you that flexibility."