How does Allegiant keep costs so low? Here are two ways.

Allegiant Air is very frugal. Photo: Allegiant Air. 

Allegiant Air is very frugal. Photo: Allegiant Air. 

Just how frugal is Allegiant Air?

This is a question I asked Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler last week. Her airline is well known for adding a bunch of fees to the cost of every ticket. It's also known for its relentless drive to cut costs. 

But what you might not know about Allegiant is the depth of this drive to keep costs low. The company, for example, operates from spartan office space in Las Vegas. 

"In our headquarters no one has offices," Wheeler said. "[CEO] Maury [Gallagher] doesn't have an office. He has a desk that looks exactly like mine. Someone who works in call center and Maury have exactly the same desk. It was to give a psychological message that we are all working toward the same goal here."

Yes, other companies have similar policies, though not many. 

But I have another money-saving anecdote that could be uniquely Allegiant. As some of you know, airline employees enjoy certain perks when traveling on their own airlines or competitors. One perk is either free or substantially discounted travel. But there's a catch. This travel is usually standby, and the employees have no guarantee they'll make the flight. An employee only gets on if there's a free seat at the last minute. 

For this reason, airline employees usually book a confirmed seat on their own carrier or a competitor if they must go somewhere for a meeting. Flying standby - or 'non rev' in airline lingo, meaning 'non' revenue' - is rarely worth the trouble.

However, this is not the case at Allegiant. 

"A lot of our employees on the business side of things 'non-rev,"' Wheeler said. "One of our employees always goes 'non rev.' It doesn't matter if he is going to go meet with bankers. He is going to fly standby because it is cheaper."

And what happens if an Allegiant employee can't get on as a standby passenger? Wheeler said that rarely happens.

"Luckily, 90% of the time they actually get where they are going," she said.