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Although the Las Vegas-based airline had sent out a email memo to employees on March 30 outlining the move, it had not made a public announcement. The airline's website was to be reconfigured overnight on Tuesday to include the new charge.
President Andrew Levy wrote in the memo that the fee followed Allegiant's "ongoing effort to develop an innovative, new approach to travel. ... (I)n many cases, the industry has seen our success and followed our lead."
However, rival discounter Spirit drew widespread attention two years ago for launching the first carry-on bag fee, which ranges from $20 to $45, depending on where passengers pay and whether they belong to a discount program.
Allegiant management could not be reached for further comment. The memo did not include revenue projections from the fee.
Allegiant will not charge passengers for items they can fit under the seat in front of them, such as backpacks or purses. But storing something in the overhead bin will now cost $35 if paid at the airport, or $10 to $30 when included with an online reservation, depending on the route. An Allegiant spokesperson said that the "majority of markets" would run $15 or less.
Allegiant's business model revolves around offering relatively low base fares, but adding an extensive menu of surcharges on everything from purchasing tickets online to seat assignments to drinking water. Last year, Allegiant collected an average $128.05 per customer, including $91.66 in fares on scheduled flights, $31.51 in surcharges and $4.88 from other sources such as hotel bookings.
With its nonstop connections to relatively small cities such as McAllen, Texas, and South Bend, Ind., Allegiant has grown into one of the five largest carriers at McCarran International Airport. The 341,000 passengers it carried through the airport during the first two months of 2012 marked a 18 percent gain from last year.
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