Allegiant celebrates 40 million passengers to Florida

EGLIN AFB — Celebration took flight at Gate A3 at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport on Thursday.

To commemorate its 40 millionth passenger to Florida since 2005, Allegiant Air awarded free flights to passengers waiting to board Flight 1902 to MidAmerica St. Louis Airport.

When Allegiant spokeswoman Courtney Goff announced the flight refund, passengers sprung from their seats and cheered amid a flurry of high fives and hugs.

“Oh my God,” Rose Beiermann of Belleville, Illinois, said of the news. “We just thought someone important was coming off the flight.”

Karen Mallory, who was traveling with Beiermann, said their ladies' group of four travel yearly together, usually to Mexico. But this year they decided to visit Destin for the first time.

“Nobody wanted a connecting flight, so that’s how we found Allegiant. It was one trip and it’s been amazing,” Mallory said. “Now we have half of our trip to come back next year.”

Before the big announcement, passengers were treated to sandwiches and gifts, compliments of the airline, and even played a bit of trivia to get the celebration started.

“We are trying to get really involved and meet and greet with all the passengers and just let them know that not only do we appreciate them for continuing to fly Allegiant, but they’re the ones that have helped us reach this great milestone,” Goff said. “We have flown 40 million people into the state of Florida, which is huge considering Allegiant has flown 80 million nationwide, so half of that is just to the state of Florida."

Before the official announcement, Okaloosa County Airports Director Tracy Stage credited Allegiant and their passengers for boosting tourism and jobs in the county. He noted that tourism spending reached $83 million in this year, and since Allegiant added the VPS hub two years ago, 600,000 passengers and 130 jobs have been brought to the area.

“The impact that you’ve had on our community is staggering,” Stage said. "It really goes to show the commitment that Allegiant has to this airport and to their customers."