Allegiant Air and Southwest are both popular airlines operating in the US domestic market (with only Southwest flying internationally) and, at first, look very similar. But both have different business models, aircraft fit-outs and even have an opposite fleet (Allegiant is entirely Airbus whilst Southwest is entirely Boeing 737). Which is best? Let us explore.
The first category we will judge the two airlines on is destinations. Allegiant flies to more destinations than Southwest (125 destinations vs 101) but only Southwest flies internationally to Mexico and various Carribean Islands. Thus whilst you have a bigger range of places to go on Allegiant, you likely have more exotic destinations on Southwest.
Plus we also need to touch on fleet size. Allegiant has a fleet of 99 aircraft and Southwest has a fleet of 752 aircraft, over seven times the size of their rival. This means that they can operate several more frequencies per day than the smaller carrier and offer different times for you to fly.
Frequency trumps destinations in this reviewer’s book.
Southwest operates a fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft with 175 seats onboard. There are 32 inches of pitch and the seats are 17 inches wide.
Allegiant flies 177 passengers on its Airbus A320 fleet, with 30 inches of legroom and 34 inches in legroom plus. There are 159 regular seats and 18 seats with additional space. All the seats are 17 inches wide.
Southwest has more legroom on average, but there is no chance to upgrade to an exit row seat specifically to get more legroom. Allegiant has a very small seat pitch on board and would be uncomfortable unless you paid to upgrade.
Now this is one area that Southwest comes out in spades
Southwest allows one personal bag, one carry on (such as a backpack) and then two checked bags. Per passenger. For free. They even allow a passenger to check up to 10 bags if needed.
Allegiant allows one free personal bag (such as a laptop bag) and then charges for all other types of bags after that. Allegiant only allows up to a maximum of four bags per passenger. Thus any savings you might make on a discount fare will be gobbled up by bag fees.
Looking at flights on both the carriers reveals their different business models. Using the example of Oakland to Las Vegas
- Allegiant lowest fare is $49 dollars (arriving at 1:38 PM)
- Southwest’s lowest direct fare is $71 (and arriving at 11 PM)
This highlights the differences in their flight models and that all these extra services on Southwest mean that you have to pay for the difference.
If you had to fly from point A to point B, and both carriers were on offer, likely Allegiant will be the cheaper offering. If you don’t have any luggage (apart from a small bag like a laptop case) then Allegiant might offer the better deal. If the flight is very short (only around an hour) then again Allegiant might be better for your wallet.
However, if you are flying for several hours, have luggage and want a range of different times to fly, then Southwest easily offers a better quality product.
Lastly, according to Skytrax Airline Ratings, Southwest has 2.5 stars and Allegiant has 1.5 stars.
Which do you think is the better airline? Let us know in the comments.