Why does Allegiant Air need two hours of my life?

Today I’m flying to Las Vegas out of our small, national airport in Springfield, Missouri on low-fair airline Allegiant Air.

Allegiant, like most other budget airlines, charges extra for virtually everything beyond the ticket price, including (for two passengers) a $44 “seat selection fee,” and a $17 “convenience fee” for booking online. I feel convenienced already. Even with all the extra fees, the round trip tickets to Las Vegas are still very much affordable and on par with other carriers. But one thing that’s really got my goat is their check-in policy.

You see, Allegiant doesn’t offer the ability to check-in online. (Tell me, what’s my “convenience fee” going towards again?) Further, the confirmation email they sent says one “must check in 2 hours prior to departure, [and] be in the gate area 30 minutes prior to departure to avoid forfeiting their reservation and all associated amenities.” This means that if I don’t show up at the airport two hours before departure, the $44 I spent guaranteeing my seat goes down the drain, and I may be bumped off the flight entirely.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Shouldn’t you be at the airport two hours before departing anyway?” In most airports, you would be correct. But, like I said earlier, Springfield’s airport (SGF) is tiny, and showing up anything more than 45 minutes before departure ensures that you’ll be doing a lot of standing around, or — in my case — drinking overpriced beers in the bar.

The airport’s minimal load means check-in and security lines are never long, and I can walk from one end of the solo concourse to the other in a few minutes. Plus, the airport’s policy says you can’t even pass security and enter the concourse until an hour before your departure. This means I’ll be spending at least an hour waiting in the check-in area, and then another hour in the concourse at my gate. So why make me show up two hours in advance?

Allegiant: get rid of this policy in smaller airports, or get with the times and offer online check-in. Hell, charge me for the ability to check-in online if necessary; I’d rather spend a few bucks for the privilege of showing up when I want rather than sitting around the airport for two hours.

Oh well, at least I’m going to Vegas!