Allegiant launches Fla. service at BIA

By 10:30 a.m. Wednesday a line of passengers stretched back to the double-door entrance of Bangor International Airport, all waiting to board Allegiant Air LLC's inaugural flight to Orlando, Fla.

Agents for Allegiant scrambled to serve the approximately 145 passengers who bought tickets. Meanwhile, representatives from other airlines struggled to identify their own customers among the chaos.

"The line outside is pretty usual on the first flight," said Sabrina LoPiccolo, spokeswoman for Allegiant. "Not only is it backed up because we're training employees, but passengers are getting here early, excited to be the first."

Allegiant Air on Wednesday began its twice-weekly nonstop service from BIA to Orlando Sanford International Airport. Allegiant, a Las Vegas-based low-cost airline, specializes in providing air service from small cities to significant leisure destinations. The air service will run on Wednesdays and Saturdays, using a 150-seat MD-80 jet.

The Contino family of Bangor was in line Wednesday morning and planned to return to Maine on Saturday. The short trip will allow them to visit friends in Orlando and provide Jackie, 16, a much anticipated trip to Disney World.

Jim Contino said it was disappointing to find out they would fly into Orlando Sanford, rather than Orlando International. As a result, the family has to rent a car to make the trip to Disney World.

"We certainly enjoyed not driving very far to the airport on this end, though," said Nancy Contino.

To commemorate its inaugural flight at BIA, Allegiant presented 10 round-trip tickets to the Maine Discovery Museum. Some organizations that receive donated tickets give them directly to children, while others use the tickets to raise funds, LoPiccolo said. Allegiant values the 10 roundtrip tickets at $3,948, she said.

Allegiant donates tickets to city organizations when it moves into a new airport "as our welcoming to the community," she said. "And Orlando is a great place for kids."