MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Allegiant Air began direct flights between Myrtle Beach and two Midwest cities Friday.
The airline now offers travelers service between Fort Wayne, IN, and Myrtle Beach and also between Grand Rapids, MI, and Myrtle Beach. The schedule calls for one departure and one arrival of the flights on Fridays and Mondays.
The new Allegiant flights were not full Friday, but that is normal for the first day of service, according to Horry County Marketing Manager Lauren Morris. There weren't any lines at the ticket counter either, but the flights seem to be already popular with some travelers.
Abby Sensenbaugh said she is excited about the new low-cost direct flight between Myrtle Beach and Fort Wayne. She took the first flight home to Fort Wayne to surprise her sister on her birthday.
"They don't know I'm coming home, but I got the great deal so I'm coming home to surprise her," Sensenbaugh said. "Usually I have to go through Atlanta, or Chicago, or Indy, and it's just so much traveling when it's done that it's great that it's a direct flight now."
Sensenbaugh drove up from Charleston to take advantage of the new flight, and she was not alone. Karla Hodak said the direct flight at a low price was worth the drive from Wilmington.
"Especially a direct flight, because last time I flew to Fort Wayne, I flew into Indianapolis and it just takes forever," Hodak said.
Rob McCarthy from Oak Island, NC, also drove to Myrtle Beach for the low price. He said if the Allegiant flight was not available, he would have driven to Fort Wayne.
Allegiant Air added the flights based on demand from travelers, many of them looking to vacation in Myrtle Beach. For Michelle Miller from Conway, it also makes a good option to go home to Indiana and have family visit more frequently.
"A couple of my family members have already made comments about getting tickets through Allegiant to come down," Miller said.
Having more visitors to the Grand Strand is certainly a goal for the airport. City and county leadership hope it grows to have an even larger positive impact on the local economy.
Sensenbaugh said the new flight will definitely draw her family to the area more often.
"We would definitely utilize the things in Myrtle Beach," she said. "Broadway at the Beach is right up there and all the different theaters. I think that that's something my family would really enjoy."
Sensenbaugh said she will be traveling from Charleston more often too. She has already planned another trip to take the flight to Grand Rapids.
"We're actually surprising my mom for Mother's Day because we go camping up in Michigan, and it's on the way," Sensenbaugh explained. "So it works."
Another flight will begin at the Myrtle Beach International Airport on Saturday. Spirit Airlines is starting a daily direct flight between Myrtle Beach and Atlanta.