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Boarding Avelo’s first ever commercial flight in Burbank. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

Onboard the First Avelo Airlines Flight

Avelo Airlines has officially taken flight. The new low-cost carrier, dreamt up by former Allegiant Air executive Andrew Levy, launched its inaugural flight from Hollywood Burbank Airport to Charles M. Shultz Sonoma County Airport on Wednesday. The highly anticipated startup plans to operate point-to-point routes between secondary markets.

Despite launching during a pandemic, Avelo hopes to tempt customers with rock-bottom fares starting at $19 one-way and cheap $10 checked bags. These low prices could be just what Avelo needs to entice travelers to fly again. In a recent interview with AirlineGeeks, CEO Andrew Levy discussed the airline’s new network focus and its plans to stand out from the crowd. 

The inaugural flight was the first chance customers had to see the airline’s full gate-to-gate experience. Here’s what it was like to be on Avelo’s first flight which connects busy Los Angeles County to the beautiful California wine country.

At Hollywood Burbank Airport

The festivities began in Burbank where the media and other attendees were welcomed by Avelo employees and airport staff. The check-in area was full of smiling faces, vibrant colors and an Avelo backdrop which proved to be a popular photo op. 

AirlineGeeks Writer Taylor Rains was one of Avelo’s first passengers! (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

The check-in process was easy, which can be done online or at one of Avelo’s three counters. Passengers will also see a spot to check the size of their carry-on.

The airline aims to streamline and simplify the airport experience. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

At the gate, attendees had the opportunity to mingle with others and get hyped for the flight, which was a breath of fresh air after 14 months of minimal socializing.

Before boarding, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony where Levy spoke about that company’s purpose and his vision, saying, “Avelo’s purpose is to inspire travel. That is the single greatest distinction that we bring to the marketplace and today you will get a chance to be on our flight to experience that first hand.”

Avelo’s CEO addresses the inaugural passengers prior to the first flight. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

The boarding process for Avelo was pretty straightforward. The gate had a carry-on bag size check and a screen displaying the destination and departure time. Passengers were assigned a boarding group between one and five and boarded via a ramp when their group was called. At the aircraft door, customers were greeted by flight attendants and Alevo executives.

Customers board the first ever Avelo Airlines flight. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

In Burbank, all flights are boarded using air stairs. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

Once onboard, passengers got a first look at the interior of the Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The plane had roomy galleys, sufficient overhead bin space, a good size tray table, and seatback pockets. Compared to other budget carriers, Avelo had an impressive cabin. 

Inside the galley of an Avelo Airlines Boeing 737-800. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

The tray table onboard was a descent size and larger than the tray tables you may find onboard other low-cost carriers. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

The seats were pretty comfortable on the one-hour journey. They were not too hard, even with minimal padding, and would be fine for a short flight. 

The plane is configured with 189 economy seats, all of which have varying pitches. Standard seats had 29 inches, the front row had 39 inches and exit rows had 38 inches. Furthermore, the few rows behind the front and the exit rows varied from 32 to 35 inches. 

While Avelo is still deciding on what the standard seat will be across its entire fleet, the seats on the inaugural flight actually reclined, which is uncommon for a budget airline.

The extra legroom seats on Avelo Airlines are available when you purchase your ticket for an additional fee and had plenty of room. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

After everyone was seated and the safety briefing complete, we were ready for departure. The pilots pushed back from the gate at 10:30 a.m. on the dot and we were wheels up shortly after. The take-off was met with cheers and applause as we soared above beautiful Southern California. 

In the Air

The one-hour ride to Santa Rosa was very lively. Passengers were mingling and the company served sparkling apple cider to toast to a successful launch.

Takeoff onboard the first Avelo Airlines flight! (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

The airline served sparkling apple cider to toast the inaugural flight. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

The inflight food and drink service was basic but was clearly tailored for the pandemic. The flight attendants served a pre-packaged snack, complete with tasty shortbread cookies, a water bottle and a hand sanitizing wipe. While the snack was small, it is likely Avelo will add more options as the pandemic comes under control. The airline plans to charge for food and beverages in the long term. 

Customers flying Avelo can expect a small wrapped drink and snack onboard the airline’s flights. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

An Avelo Airlines flight attendant serves passengers onboard the airline’s first flight. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

At Charles M. Shultz Sonoma County Airport

After a smooth ride, Avelo was treated with a warm welcome from Charles M. Shultz Sonoma County Airport. Passengers deplaned via a ramp where we were handed a bag full of goodies and met with cheers from airport employees. It was a true feel-good moment. 

Once in the airport, we heard from Levy, Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Rogers, the Sonoma County Airport and a Sonoma County Tourism representative. Levy discussed his excitement to serve Santa Rosa, and how he has personal ties to the area after marrying there in 2014. Meanwhile, Sonoma County Tourism expressed optimism about travel to Santa Rosa, explaining that there is a strong demand to travel to the area as the pandemic loosens its grip on everyone’s daily lives. 

Rogers discussed how Avelo’s service would not only have a strong economic impact on tourism to the area but also have a great social impact. He said, “My little brother, the closest airport to him is Burbank, so having a flight that I can depend on that is cheap enough to afford so I can be a part of his family in southern California means the world to me. This company and these flights will better connect our community to folks who have been missing their loved ones and their friends.”

Levy discusses the airline’s plans after the airline’s first regularly scheduled passenger flight. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

The return to Burbank left at 3:55 p.m., leaving passengers with about four hours between flights. So, what better way to kill time than at one of Sonoma County’s infamous wineries? Avelo shuttled members of the media off to Lynmar Estate and treated us to a garden-to-table lunch and wine tasting. There, the winery’s owner Lynn Fritz explained how Avelo will greatly impact tourism to not only his winery but to the community as a whole.  

Local wineries expect to benefit greatly from the new Avelo service. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

After a lovely experience in California’s wine country, we made our way back to the airport for the return flight to Burbank. It was a smooth ride back and the festivities concluded with a round of applause after touchdown.

While Avelo is a new carrier and has a lot of work to do to become a household name, the airline plans to expand quickly and serve 11 leisure-focused destinations by the summer. The airline has been built by brilliant minds with decades of experience in the industry. After a successful day one, there’s optimism that it will find its stride and truly take off. 

Author

  • Taylor Rains graduated from Florida Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Aviation Management in 2017. She has worked in the aviation industry for the past five years and has a specialty in safety analytics for part 121 airlines, but she has also worked for a part 135 company in Alaska. Her experience has allowed her to work in many areas of aviation, including airport operations, flight operations, security, inflight, dispatch, and maintenance. Taylor is also an avid traveler and has used her flight benefits to fly on as many airlines and aircraft types as possible. So far, her favorite flight has been aboard KLM’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

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