U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Chambers and his wife, Sonia, already had planned a family trip to Orlando, Fla., when a new low-cost airline announced its nonstop service from Tri-State Airport near Huntington.
"We already had reserved the trip though AAA," said Sonia Chambers, chairwoman of the West Virginia Health Care Authority. "And this flight happened to be on the same days we were traveling ... and this was half the cost."
In August, the Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air announced that it would offer direct flights from Tri-State to Orlando Sanford International Airport twice a week, beginning Nov. 3. The flights are scheduled for Tuesdays and Fridays at 12:10 p.m., with return flights leaving Orlando at 9:45 a.m. on the same days. Fares start at $79 one way for the two-hour flights.
Each of Allegiant's MD-80 jets can carry 150 people. On Friday, the first flight was sold out, airport officials said.
"Maintaining good air service is a constant fight for small communities," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who was on hand for the inaugural flight festivities. "We want this to be a strong, longstanding business relationship."
The Chambers' daughters, Ellen, 7, and Emily, 10, already were giddy about the rides at Disney World as they waited to check in.
"I want to go on the water rides," Emily said.
On their first family trip to Disney World, the family already had plans to explore Epcot Center and watch the Illuminations fireworks show shortly after arriving in Orlando.
Ted and Angie Kinder of Barboursville also were headed to Disney World, with their three daughters, Grace, 7, Caroline, 5, and Sarah, 2.
Ted Kinder said checking in for the flight wasn't difficult, despite waiting in line and having three children in tow.
"It would be more difficult to put them in the car and drive 15 hours," he said as he waited to go through security. Without the low-cost fares, they certainly would have driven, he said.
Grace and Caroline both donned Disney character backpacks in preparation for the trip.
"I want to meet the characters most of all," Grace said. Her backpack featured her favorite character, Ariel from the Little Mermaid.
"I want to meet Jasmine [the princess in the Disney movie, "Aladdin"]," added Caroline, who sported a Tinkerbell backpack.
The girls' anticipation was palpable, but Angie Kinder's joy was simpler.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the excitement on their faces," she said.
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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...
Allegiant Air has been selling out many of its flights.
Allegiant Air will begin flying two round trips a week from Huntington to Orlando-Sanford, Fla., beginning Nov. 3.
More than 100 passengers rode Wednesday on Allegiant Airlines' first flight from the metro-east to Sanford, Fla.