Long-time readers know we here at AirlineReporter LOVE an opportunity to try out new airlines and AvGeek experiences. Given that, we regret it has taken us so long to try new(ish) airline Avelo which launched in April of 2021. On the West Coast, this airline operates primarily out BURbank airport, just a hop, skip, and a $60 ride-share north from LAX.
We managed to get out to BUR last September to gawk at their fleet, but it took us a full additional year to be in the right place at the right time to finally get our opportunity to fly. Thankfully, following #SpotLAX2022, we had a bit of extra time to give them a shot for a quick trip up to Boise.
Finally, an Avelo Airlines Review!
Avelo Airlines Review: Booking
The booking process was not efficient, but that’s the norm these days. And while I would love to, I can’t fault Avelo for it. Even legacy carriers gum up the works pushing up-sells and various add-ons. Not long ago we used to joke “ULCCs (ultra-low-cost-carriers) are gonna ULCC”, but it’s hard to criticize when even the old guard is doing it. That sweet ancillary revenue is just too hard to pass up, so why not follow the path ULCCs have long since pioneered and normalized?
Avelo’s site was fresh, easy-to-read, and generally intuitive. Our two $29 one-way teaser fares ballooned to $94.99 each after splitting a pre-purchased checked bag and snagging +5-inch legroom seats. We decided against an extra $15 each for priority boarding since buying preferred seats (or a carry-on) with ULCCs tends to yield decent boarding groups. (It did- we ended up in boarding group 2.)
Shortly after booking we received a confirmation email disturbingly light on detail. Essentially a “thanks for booking” note with no real substance to it. Two full days later a full booking confirmation, complete with PNR, receipt, and line-item breakdown arrived. The formal booking confirmation seemed almost like an afterthought or something that needed to be manually generated. Odd…
Checking in was another oddity. Once checked in, the site provided multiple boarding pass delivery channels: E-pass generation (Apple/Google Wallet), email, or text. I opted for Apple Wallet but while on VPN this feature simply would not work. At the suggestion of my AvGeek Wife I disabled VPN and magically it worked. I also requested email and text delivery. Continuing the theme, neither were instant and took about an hour to arrive.
Experience at Avelo’s West Coast Home
Bag check was quick and easy. The Avelo staff were happy and perky despite the ungodly early hour of our BOI-bound flight.
As for the airport experience, let’s be fair. BUR, known since 2017 as Hollywood Burbank Airport, is doing great given that it is less than a decade away from unlocking centenarian status. But the old terminal – combined with major growth in recent years – has made things a bit cramped. We were impressed to find that full PreCheck (albeit commingled with regular security) was offered. The line merge seemed fair, given relatively low volume and space coming at a premium.
The Avelo area is shared with other carriers, and it’s tight. There is, however, sufficient seating if you’re willing to venture away from your gate. A Guy Fieri’s Kitchen is just past security ready to delight or trigger folks, depending on how they feel about the surprisingly polarizing Food Network star. (Best embrace him and head to Flavortown, as there’s not much else in the area!)
Avelo Airlines Review: Boarding and in-flight experience.
Boarding was quick and our bet against buying priority boarding paid off. We snagged Boarding Group 2, which for some reason boarded at the same time as group 1. A common perk of flying into or out of a so-called secondary airport is the chance at air side access between the plane and terminal. Who needs jet bridges (especially in Southern California) when you can experience the ramp in a less managed, and more AvGeek way?
We found Avelo’s slimline seats to be as slightly more comfortable than one would expect from this industry’s new seating standard. They weren’t bad, but it likely helped that as “American Sized” travelers, we both have ample padding built right in. Shout out Avelo’s seat vendor for the comfort feature which we can only think to describe as the Butt Notch™. It really helped.
While I’m being controversial, I might as well mention the seats are pre-reclined, which we rather appreciated. This is another ULCC standard that I’d love to see adopted across the industry. With a pre-reclined seat there’s no unwanted seat back thrust in my face, no squabbles over personal space incursions, and no annoying (and common) broken reclining mechanisms.
ALSO SEE: I don’t recline, and neither should you.
The small premium for 5+ extra inches of legroom really paid off, though I suspect if we had opted to save ~$15 each by selecting just the 2+ inches of legroom we could have done so with only a minor hit to comfort. You do you, but we choose to pay the anxiety or discomfort away.
As for in-flight service, there was none, not even for a fee. Weird! For a two-hour flight this wasn’t an issue, but I’d start deducting points for any flights longer than that.
Avelo also doesn’t offer in-flight entertainment or connectivity. So, you’ll have to stare at the various distraction-rectangles you were going to bring onboard anyway. Or you can always look out the window…
Avelo Airlines Review: Summary
Avelo exceeded expectations. Like with other ULCCs we were able to customize our experience to meet our needs. Even with added fees, our flight was still cheap. The chance to experience a smaller, more convenient (for some) airport was a plus and overall things were generally positive.
Folks are sure to opine in the comments that flying with a ULCC has inherent risks. Cancellations with low-frequency airlines can really ruin a trip, and small airports don’t offer “super exclusive” (albeit always packed) elite lounges. All valid points. And while we enjoy a lavish experience from-time-to-time, a bit of risk, variety, and excitement is always more our style.
Should Avelo decide to eventually bring service to Kansas City we’ll happily be on the first flight out. Either way, we’d gladly consider them for future low-fuss leisure travel.