It gives the appearance of spinning out of control.
Click for AUDIO version.
Allegiant Airlines has become the running joke of the airline industry. I heard rumors of their incompetence for a long time, but it wasn’t until I finally rode with them from St. Petersburg to Asheville did I realize how bad it is. In my case, the returning flight was inexplicably cancelled, leaving over a hundred would-be passengers stranded in Asheville. This forced a friend and I to rent a car and spend the next twelve hours driving home, which was not a relaxing way to spend Father’s Day.
Since then I have heard a multitude of complaints about the airline:
* Recently, a flight from Jacksonville to Pittsburgh was delayed more than 18 hours.
* Another flight, from Sanford, Florida to North Carolina was delayed three times, causing the passengers to arrive ten hours late.
* A good friend of mine claims his wife was on a flight to North Carolina last year, but was detoured to another airport for fuel. The scuttlebutt was their credit wasn’t good at the Asheville Airport.
* Another friend told me a story of how he was removed from an Allegiant flight because he was carrying his daughter’s cute five pound tranquilized dog in a proper carrier, all because the lead flight attendant threw a fit over the sleeping dog. Although he objected to the false accusations of the attendant, that he wasn’t obeying her commands, he didn’t resist and was turned over to two armed police officers who laughed at the absurdity of the incident. My friend and the dog were allowed to leave on another flight the next day, but not to his planned destination, causing him to rent a car to travel home. This embarrassing story caused him to seek legal counsel.
In April, Allegiant performed an “Air Pilots Satisfaction Survey” of their pilots and first officers. Of the 507 responses to the survey, they found:
46% of the pilots and first officers said they are not satisfied working at Allegiant.
83% say morale is low.
89% are not satisfied with their pay.
A report produced in May claims the pilots feel there is a lack of a safety culture with the airline. According to Teamsters Local 1224 President Daniel Wells, “Almost half of the pilots said they will not allow their own families to fly on the aircraft.”
This has caused the Allegiant pilot resignation rate to increase 600 percent between 2011 and 2014 according to the union.
All of this has caused the FAA to audit the airline ahead of schedule with a report due out soon.
As far as I could tell, my flight cancellation was a public relations nightmare creating many unhappy customers. Initially, there was only one agent to try and cope with over 100 disgruntled passengers. Extra agents were eventually summoned, but the damage had been done. As far as I was concerned, Allegiant handled the flight cancellation badly, but even worse, they didn’t seem to care about their paid customers.
The next day I called Allegiant’s Customer Relations department and, to their credit, they refunded my money.
Allegiant tries to do as much business as possible through their web site. Contacting a human being by telephone is difficult. For those interested, here are the official numbers for their Customer Relations department: 702/505-8888 and 702/430-3250.
All of these Allegiant stories would be funny if air transportation wasn’t so serious. As for me, this was my first and last experience with Allegiant. At the rate they are going, I cannot imagine how they will survive.
Keep the Faith!