For regular readers, you’ll know that I don’t write reviews of hotels, airlines, restaurants, or things like that, except as incorporated into a larger story. So why this one? A couple reasons. First, Avelo Airlines generously sponsored my flights to and from Humboldt County on my recent trip, so I actually paid much more attention to the experience than I normally would. Secondly, and much more importantly, Avelo is a new airline and I have been asked by dozens of people how my experience was. So with those things in mind, here we go.
Avelo Airlines is basically exactly a year old, as of this writing. It was launched in April 2021 as a budget carrier operating primarily from two bases of operations. On the west coast, that center is Burbank. On the east coast, New Haven. (Edit: a few days after writing, Avelo announced a new base in Orlando.) The carrier flies old 737s, and as of now, has eight aircraft in its fleet, flying mostly to smaller underserved airports (like Arcata-Eureka, hence my working with them).
For purposes of this review, I am going to divide things into objective fact, and my personal opinions (positive or negative). I will try to keep the two completely separate, and not offer opinion on the facts.
Avelo, first and foremost, is a budget carrier. This means fares are comparatively low, but your ticket may not include all the things you’re looking for. Those can be added a la carte. So, your fare includes access to the space below the seat in front of you, but checking a bag is extra, and access to the overhead bins (for a full sized carry-on) is also extra. So if you are able to travel with only a backpack on a shorter trip, the fare you see is the fare you’ll pay, but if you need more stuff, that bottom line will be higher. Likewise, any advance seat assignment is also extra.
Food service is non-existent on Avelo, even pretzels. Beverage service is limited to small bottles of water.
The aircraft, as mentioned above, are old. (At least the two I flew on were, and yes, I am sure they were different aircraft – more on that later.) Therefore, there is no seatback entertainment, and no wifi. There is no in-flight magazine, although pretty much no airline is doing that these days.
Opinions – Bad
I flew on two different aircraft for this trip. I know they were different because the seats were totally different. On my southbound flight, the seats were basically normal airline seats. On the northbound, they were thin, hard as a rock, non-reclining, and the least comfortable airline seats I’ve ever sat in/on. So I guess you can say the “hard product,” that is the physical manifestation of the aircraft, is inconsistent. That’s a negative to me.
This being mere days after the ending of the federal mask mandate, none of the onboard crew were wearing masks, and only a single gate agent. As I am someone still concerned about Covid, and who continues to wear my N95 mask most places, that’s a negative in my book. I also wish there had been an announcement upon arrival that masks are required inside the terminal in Burbank, as our unmasked passengers continued unmasked.
Opinions – Good
The aircraft were both well cleaned, which I find impressive given how quickly planes are turned around (mine were on the ground less than 40 minutes). The livery is plain on the inside, which might be due to the lack of a consistent seat, or just to save money. However, plain doesn’t bother me. I don’t need monogrammed seats.
Crew were nice. There were lots of smiles, and even a cracked joke about the short landing and hard breaking coming into Burbank. Likewise the gate agents were friendly, informed, and seemed not to hate their lives.
Boarding was set up fairly well. Odd numbered groups line up on one side and even on the other, and the process alternates. I couldn’t tell what differentiated groups. Overhead space was plentiful since the costs kept some away from it, so even my group 5 of 6 meant there was plenty of space left for my rollerboard. That’s a big perk in my book.
After my northbound flight, I was sure my review would be negative. On even a 90 minute flight, those seats had my back hurting; the small child kicking my seat back didn’t help. The southbound flight changed that opinion somewhat. Overall, at the price point, Avelo is worth a consideration. The airline flies direct between places that would otherwise require a stop (from Burbank to Arcata would mean laying over in San Francisco on United), and that is huge. So even if the seats aren’t always the greatest, that’s worth something. Just bring a pillow to be safe.
Thank you to Avelo Airlines for sponsoring my flights on this recent trip. As you may be able to tell, my complimentary status did not affect my opinion at all.
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10 thoughts on “An Honest Review of Avelo Airlines”
So glad you had a good experience. My elderly neighbors, 87 yo, & 80 yo still don’t have their suitcases. They were never put on the plane & remain in CT. Avelo is telling them to pay for their luggage to be shipped to them. He needed a wheelchair, they waited and waited for the assistance from Avelo to get them to the gate. No desk in Orlando destination to talk to a person. Think before flying this airline!
I’m so sorry for their experience. I think we can all agree that airline experiences are uneven at best, with no US carrier rating out as “good.”
One thing: wheelchair assistance is an airport service, not part of any airline.
This is a wonderful and helpful review! Never heard of the airline before and read this blog after a quick google search since I’m a little nervous to fly from BUR to ACV on a lesser known aircraft but feeling a little better after this! Thank you!
I’m so glad you found us and that this is able to help. If you need recommendations of things to do and see in the Arcata/Eureka area, check out our guides!
Your review, though recent is WAY off base.
1) Your review can’t be considered honest being that you were comped the seats.
2) You barely touch on the fact that their “advertised prices” almost triple when you start to add on amenities.
3) You basically buy your right to get on the plane. Then you have to pay extra for the actual seat, which is hefty.
Then you pay a hefty price for ANYTHING you bring on the plane.
Then you get stung if you change a flight and the price is lower. You don’t get a refund, you only get credit for future flights.
4) bottom line, their “advertised price” of, say, $145.00 round trip, turns into $350 after all the fees if you have a carry on (ANY carry on) and checked bag (as a lot of people do).
It’s always too good to read the small print and compare apples to apples.
Thank you for reading the review. Of course, as with most “budget” airlines, those things are extra. As far as I can tell, a basic fare includes a personal item that can fit under the seat in front of you, which is no different in policy than a dozen other carriers. (It doesn’t mean I agree with it.) For a short weekend trip, if I take only a backpack, that is a fee I don’t need to pay.
Your point is well-taken that one does need to compare the total cost for an equivalent experience. However, for a short flight and a short trip, I’m willing to make some sacrifices in return for cost savings.
I am going to disagree with your premise that one cannot be objective on a product or experience that is comped. I believe my review to be an accurate portrayal of my personal experience, which does not include refund policy since I didn’t use it. It was a review of the experience itself, and a bottom line opinion that I’d use the airline under a certain set of circumstances.
Muy lentos muy pobre la atención. Muchos cambios el personal no muy amable..muy pequeño el espacio..me cambiaron el vuelo 3 veces..
They just expanded service from Dayton
– Orlando and I did some reading and some things may have improved since the writing of the blog. Their fleet is comprised of new (next) generation 737. They fly 737- 700s (3 by 3 seating, 1 center aisle, 3 lavs, 145 ish seats) and 737-800 (3 by 3 seating, 1 center aisle, 3 lavs with 185 seats). This is what I believe Southwest flies. They allow 1 personal item that can be stowed under the seat and 1 carryon bag. Checked bags still cost extra, but considering this is pretty cub standard these days, even the bigger carriers have started to charge for checked bags. What I find appealing beyond price is that you are flying direct. For me, flying on a big carrier from Dayton to Orlando means having to layover in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, or Charlotte usually. You save a lot of time and money not getting stuck in those airports for 2 hours. It’s criminal how much money you can spend during a layover — in Atlanta a coffee is like $8 and that is for a non-frills coffee. It’s also so much less stressful — no pilgrimages or mad dash runs to try to get to your departure gate. I’m considering flying them, but the one thing that I know is true is that their pilots are dramatically underpaid. I know this gives newer pilots an opportunity to gain experience, but I’ve seen enough Air Disaster episodes to know that these pilots are not always treated as well as they should by the company.