Customer service par for the course on Allegiant Air, Tahoe Air |

Customer service par for the course on Allegiant Air, Tahoe Air

If you like intimate air travel where you can choose your own seat and get personal attention, now is the time to fly from the Lake Tahoe Airport. Officials from Tahoe Air and Allegiant Air don’t expect it to last much longer.

Tahoe Air is currently averaging a passenger load factor of 15 to 25 percent. But that’s double from just two weeks ago when loads were at 7 to 10 percent, according to chief executive officer Bruce Wetsel. It currently has 2,500 to 2,600 reservations booked through September. A couple weeks ago it had only 1,000 bookings.

Allegiant’s load factor is about 29 percent, compared to 15 percent in June.

“We fly every flight that’s scheduled whether there’s a person on board or not,” said Linda Paul who handles Allegiant’s sales and marketing programs in South Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe Air took off for the first time on June 25. Based at the Lake Tahoe Airport, it offers direct flights to San Jose, Calif., and Los Angeles.

Allegiant Air added Lake Tahoe to its flight schedule on June 3. Based in Fresno, Calif., it offers direct flights to Las Vegas and Burbank, Calif., airports.

Allegiant’s and Tahoe Air’s small loads mean personal attention.

“Whenever the owner (Jim Patterson) comes on the plane, he does giveaways, question-and-answer sessions or puts champagne on board,” Paul said. “He loves to fly and see passengers smile.

“Everybody says that our cookies are outstanding.”

When Tahoe Air canceled two flights – to and from San Jose – airline officials personally called the scheduled passengers.

The cancellation was due to a gyroscope problem and the part had to be shipped.

Eighty percent of Tahoe Air’s flights have been on time based on the industry standard of within five minutes of scheduled departure and 15 minutes of arrival, said Jack Keady, vice president of marketing and sales.

“We’ll put our record up against anyone’s,” he added.

Allegiant has also had only a few glitches.

The airline diverted one flight to Reno due to high winds at the Lake Tahoe Airport. Flights on one day were canceled due to an electrical problem.

“We have to check every wire,” Paul said. “It takes time.”

Tahoe Air’s most exciting day came on July 2. A Reno Air flight was canceled and Tahoe Air was called on to carry its 61 passengers from San Jose to Lake Tahoe. Two buses were sent up to take them to Reno. Only six people got on the bus. The rest either took private transportation or stayed.

“Tahoe is where they were going in the first place,” Keady said. “The people who were really thrilled were those who were to pick them up. They didn’t need to drive to Reno.”

With the advertising campaigns of the both airlines just getting off the ground, reservations are coming in at an expanding rate and both airlines are expanding their services.

Tahoe Air officials considered July a “shake-down” month. Beginning Friday, they will begin all flights on their published schedule.

Allegiant is planning soon to increase its flights to seven-days a week.

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