Air fare fanfare 

Some might be gamblers. Some might be rock climbers. Some might be parents going to see their kids. But when Allegiant Air’s inaugural direct flight to Las Vegas takes off from Missoula International Airport at 11:50 a.m. this Thursday, March 31, there’s one group that won’t be on board: the media.

Proving that journalistic integrity is alive and well in the Garden City, not one member of the local media accepted Allegiant’s tempting freebie—a roundtrip ticket to Vegas (one-way fares range from $89 to $189) and an implied three nights in a hotel courtesy of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Rather, says Spiker Communications’ Danielle Dellerson, who does PR for the airport, she received regrets from members of the media who explained that they do not, as a matter of policy, accept such freebies.

A sip of free champagne, though? We’ll see. At Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony just inside the airport, champagne and cake will be distributed while Dick King, CEO of the Missoula Area Economic Development Corporation and Interim Airport Director Joe Easton speak briefly. More cake and more champagne will be served on board, but, Dellerson says, “that’ll probably be the first and last time that they have food and beverage service on the flight.”

Chances are it’ll be the first and last time Elvis and a Vegas showgirl are along for the ride as well. At the airport, an Elvis impersonator will dance and “schmooze with everyone and [give them] a taste of what to expect when they get down to Vegas,” Dellerson says. Then he and the showgirl, dressed in a large headdress and not-so-large sequined outfit, will accompany the nearly 150 passengers on the MD-80 to Sin City. On the runway, a “water cannon”—aka two fire trucks—will douse the airplane with water, kind of like champagne on a boat’s bow, Dellerson says.

Among the paying passengers on board will be City Councilman Myrt Charney and his wife, Jean. Myrt’s daughter recently moved from Alaska to Laughlin, Nev., about a 90-minute drive from Las Vegas, so the couple is going to see her. “Not necessarily to go to Las Vegas,” Jean says.

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