Florida is back in the flight plan for MidAmerica St. Louis Airport.
More than 100 passengers rode Wednesday on Allegiant Airlines' first flight from the metro-east to Sanford, Fla., which is near Orlando.
"We're thrilled with the support that we have had for our flights to Las Vegas," said Allegiant spokesman Eric Woodson. "Hopefully our flights to Florida will be just as successful."
Woodson said Allegiant's Las Vegas flights average 85 percent capacity. The company flies MD-80 jets that can carry about 150 people.
Passengers were treated to a party at the airport complete with cake and, to set the mood for central Florida, performances by the Disney Radio Dancers.
Free airline tickets were given away, including a set of 10 for round trip passage on Allegiant given to 7-year-old Ella Prickett of Swansea.
Ella, a second-grader at Wolf Branch, suffers from neuroblastoma, a cancer that began in her right adrenal gland and spread to her bones and bone marrow. She accepted the tickets with plans to raffle them off to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network, a group that raises money to pay for treatment of children at Children's Hospital and Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center.
"Our family really wants to give something back after all they have done for us," said Ella's mom, Laurie Prickett.
Traveler Suzanne Moore was on the inaugural flight. She said she was thrilled to have an alternative to waiting in lines at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
"My husband has trouble with his leg and he wasn't looking forward to walking all over the big airport," said Moore, of Decatur. "This is perfect. It's so easy to get in and get to your plane.
Allegiant isn't the first airline to fly to Sanford out of MidAmerica. TransMeridian Airline flew the same route until September when the company went bankrupt.
Woodson said his company's leaders plan to succeed where TransMeridan Failed by keeping costs low and not over extending themselves.
"We are flying to places that have a lot of demand and at times of the week where the flights are wanted," Woodson said.
Allegiant's flights to Florida depart on Wednesday and Saturday at 6:05 p.m.
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2626.
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