by Nancy Bestor
Allegiant Air announced last week that it will begin flying from Medford, Oregon to Oakland, California twice a week, beginning in April. Its promotional price? $29 each way (taxes included)! This is great news for Rogue Valley travelers who wish to fly to the Bay Area for the weekend. A quick check of United Airlines’ fares into San Francisco (they don’t fly from Medford into Oakland) shows the lowest price of $192 each way, and Alaska shows $120 each way. Once the promotional price is gone, experts suggest the regular Allegiant price will likely fall somewhere in line with the Eugene/Oakland fare, which is about $60 each way. Still a great deal right? Well kind of.
After getting really excited about this, and mentally planning several trips this summer to see family in the Bay Area, I took a closer look on Allegiant’s site (www.allegiantair.com) and found several additional fees that get tacked on to this $29 one-way price. Are you making your reservation on line? Add $10 per person, each way. Are you making your reservation by telephone? Add $25 per person, each way. Do you want to select a seat when you make your reservation? Add anywhere from $0 to $25. Allegiant allows one carry-on bag and one personal item, just like most other airlines, but if they determine that your carry-on is too big at the gate, or if you want to stroll your baby to the gate then check your stroller? Add $35 for a gate-checked bag. Allegiant will also be flying the Medford/Oakland route just two days a week, Thursdays and Sundays.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m delighted another airline is adding destinations out of our little Medford airport. And the price is very good. With limited service though, I won’t have as many options for travel dates. Sure I can save on reservation fees, but I’ll have to drive to the airport and buy my ticket directly at the counter to do it (who does that anymore?). I won’t get to choose where I sit on the plane (which likely means I’ll end up in the back, next to the smelly bathroom). I’ll also have to plan my weekends to begin on a Thursday and end on a Sunday. Still worth it? Maybe. The truth is, the $120 it costs in gas for us to drive our comfortable car to and from the Bay Area for the weekend is pretty hard to beat. It takes a hair over five hours to drive from our house in Ashland to my family’s home in San Leandro (slightly farther than Oakland). By the time I drive from home to the Medford airport (25 minutes) arrive about an hour early (60 minutes), fly one hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes), then drive 15 minutes to my parents’ house (15 minutes), it’s already three hours. Oh well, Interstate 5 here I come, again.