Passengers Watch With Disbelief As Their Allegiant Air Flight Leaves Without Them

Over 20 passengers watched in horror as their Allegiant Air flight from Huntsville to Fort Lauderdale took off without them. The passengers had lined up at the gate, tickets in hand, when the plane pushed back. Apparently, the single ticketing agent had struggled to handle everyone on time and didn’t tell the plane to wait. Passengers called the airline once they realized they were stranded as kids shouted, “We want to go to Disney World!”

“So, everybody calls Allegiant Air,” Rigas said. “Three people got hung up on.”

“‘You’re on your own’ is basically what they told us,” Duncan said.

Roy Harris, Jr., a passenger from Huntsville, called an attorney after he realized nothing was being done to help the passengers.

“At first, they did not want to give us a refund,” he said. “Their attitude was, ‘Too bad, you lost your money.’ “

The people who did get through to Allegiant Air were told it was their fault for not getting to the airport two hours before their flight, Harris said.

“I arrived early before the flight,” he said, “but not as early as some others who had been there up to three hours.”

Allegiant eventually rebooked the stranded passengers on a later flight. By way of crappy apology, the airline offered everyone a $75 voucher for future travel or drinks on the plane. One passenger responded, “It was a little bit too little, too late. We’re all exhausted. It could have been much easier.”

Travelers left holding their bags as flight leaves without them [The Huntsville Times]
(Photo: Cubbie_n_Vegas)

Comments

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  1. thirdbase says:

    Stuck in Alabama. That is a horror!

  2. cde says:

    Willful negligence/Willful contract tort. I foresee tens of thousands per left passenger in their future.

  3. felixgolden says:

    How the hell does the flight crew or the staff manning the gate not realize something’s wrong? Twenty five missing people off the passenger manifest should be a pretty big red flag.

  4. overbysara says:

    @felixgolden: I agree. Why the hell didn’t the flight crew say, “hhmmm… odd that we have so many empty seats! Let me go check.”

  5. EllenRose says:

    I was on a flight like that, with Northwest. It was a connecting flight in Houston, and the plane in was late, so a bunch of us got there after the door to the airway had been closed.

    A woman was typing away at her keyboard, doing her very best not to look at us, but I finally got tired of looking at the plane sitting out there at the other end of the airway, and insisted on her attention.

    Of course I was told I should have been there earlier. I pointed out the incoming flight had still been in the air at the time she wanted us – but here we were, with perfectly good tickets in hand, and there was the airplane. There were mutters of assent from the people behind me.

    With ill grace, she went down the airway to see what could be done. Eventually, five of us got seats, filling up the plane. I guess the rest were out of luck.

    I purely despise functionaries that are unwilling to see people.

  6. Pro-Pain says:

    Silly stupid people. Didn’t notice 20+ people missing. That’s almost borderline retarted.

  7. homerjay says:

    Good Lord…I’m just waiting for some airline to institute a policy where the flight crew is required to randomly spit on passengers- just for the hell of it.

    I’m SO happy I no longer travel for work. I haven’t been on a plane in 3 years and I’m very thankful.

    I think next time I take a long-distance family vacation, I’ll be driving. Boston to Orlando isn’t THAT far…..

  8. ClayS says:

    The root cause of the problem seems to be that fact that the airline had only one ticket agent working to check passengers in.

    I wouldn’t blame any of the low-level airline personnel for not acting to hold the plane from departing; that would create a lot of complaints from the passengers that were already on the plane. The fault rests with the airline management for not ensuring there were enough ticket agents to facilitate the check in process.

  9. badhatharry says:

    If any of these people had checked luggage, wouldn’t it have been a tip-off that they had to unload 25 pieces from the plane? And wouldn’t that have delayed take-off long enough for those 25 people to board?

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    “Huntsville, I regrettably inform you that you’re simply not good enough to fly to Ft Lauderdale. Thank you for flying Allegiant.”

  11. MFfan310 says:

    Allegiant Air is known for delays and charging you for every nook and cranny. $12 to check a bag, $8.50 to book online, charging for food and drinks, and such… no wonder they’re one of the only airlines that turned a profit last quarter.

    Also, they stranded several passengers between St. Pete and Fort Wayne for 30 hours due to Mother Nature and mechanical issues on New Year’s Eve. It’s probably because Allegiant buys used MD-80s from American Airlines, Aeromexico, SAS, and other airlines as they retire those old fuel-guzzlers… heck, they even now operate American’s first MD-80 that was delivered back in 1982!

    Oh, and Fort Lauderdale’s airport is known for atrocious delays… but blame the NIMBYs for not allowing the airport to use all three runways for jets, not Allegiant or any of the other airlines that operate there.

  12. 3drage says:

    I feel bad for the people stuck inside the gate when it pulled away.

  13. mammalpants says:

    thats really horrible! i hear if you stay in that state for longer than 4 hours, the residents will fry you up and eat you off of the state flag, a camouflage table cloth!

  14. danseuse322 says:

    Don’t ever ever, even if terminally ill and it is the only transportation to the medical facility, fly Allegiant Air.

    Check.

  15. DeltaPurser says:

    Well, the door to the aircraft doesn’t shut by itself, you know… It’s closed by the gate agents 5 or 10 minutes before scheduled departure (depending on the airline). These passengers were obviously not at the gate at that time, as no agent would just step away from the podium, run down the jetway, deliver the final paperwork and shut the door while peopel are in line.

    So, these people were probably late checking in, arrived to the gate too late, and were then pissed off because the flight had left on time.

    If there was only one agent checkin people in, then Allegiant has an issue – they need to hire more people, or invest in a check-in kiosk.

    The story id HIGHLY sensationalistic, and obviously not enough things are happening in Hunstville for a paper to print something like this.

    I call BS on this one…

  16. Oface says:

    @mammalpants: What a sordid view of Alabama you have. You must have them confused with Arkansas.

  17. DeltaPurser says:

    Oh, one more thing, while I’m at it… Fort Lauderdale is 4 HOURS away from Disney. How come they didn’t fly to Orlando if they were in such a fu*king hurry to get there? Probably to save a few $$… Morons! “Hey, honey, we can save $10 each if we fly to FLL instead of MCO!” Never mind car rentals are more expensive there, and you’d spend much more than that on gas to get to Orlando…

  18. emptydarkone says:

    It makes me sad that Allegiant isn’t ‘taking this very seriously’.

  19. AcidReign says:

        No, no, our Alabama state flag is a less-dye, lazy copy of the old Confederate battle flag. Check it out:

    [en.wikipedia.org]

        Table cloth? We eat off’n th’ TEE-vee trays, in our trailer! Besides, we ain’t gonna start eatin’ the touristers, least till we run out of possums and armadilloes!

  20. ClayS says:

    @emptydarkone:
    Good point. That is of course considered to be the defacto baseline standard when it comes to customer service matters.

  21. Sudonum says:

    @DeltaPurser:
    Maybe they were going to meet friends or family in FLL and then go to Disney together?

  22. DeltaPurser says:

    Yeah… maybe. Or maybe they were just plain ol’ cheap.

  23. DeltaPurser says:

    @Sudonum: I’m just being a goof ball… You’re right. Who knows…

  24. scoosdad says:

    @DeltaPurser: I was thinking the same thing as you, but I just looked at their flight schedule between Huntsville and Orlando. They don’t fly that route every single day, so it’s possible that they needed to fly on that specific day, and the only other option was to fly into Fort Lauderdale. Or take another airline with higher ticket prices.

    We had Allegiant Air in our city for about nine months and the only route they flew was to Orlando (Orlando-Sanford, not MCO), and they did not have a flight out or back every single day, which made booking a trip with them a challenge. They dropped the route after nine months because they claimed they couldn’t make any money despite the flights being nearly 90 percent full, on average. I always found that hard to believe. They were sharing the same planes flying in and out of here with another city in the midwest, which had the same kind of checkerboard schedule.

  25. edrebber says:

    For all the flight crew knew, terrorists could have prevented the 25 passengers from boarding the plane to make it easier to hijack. Remember the 911 flight where the passengers thwarted the terrorist attack. So much for heightened security.

    An’ here I sit so patiently
    Waiting to find out what price
    You have to pay to get out of
    Going through all these things twice.
    Oh, Mama, can this really be the end,
    To be stuck inside of Huntsville
    With the Fort Lauderdale blues again.

  26. Propaniac says:

    @ClayS: I’m pretty sure the complaints of people who have to sit on the tarmac for an extra fifteen minutes before take-off (while people boarded the plane, so it’s not even like the reason for the delay wouldn’t be obvious) would be a less ominous threat than the complaints of 25 people who had been checked in and were standing at the gate when the plane pulled away and stranded them for twelve hours.

  27. sled_dog says:

    @DeltaPurser:
    So, these people were probably late checking in, arrived to the gate too late, and were then pissed off because the flight had left on time.

    After a lot of flying, I’ve seen this happen with 2-3 people at most. But 20+? Hmmmm.

  28. P41 says:

    I think the ticketing agent they’re referring to is the one that works outside the secure area. So people couldn’t get their tickets fast enough, so by the time the final 20 of them got through security and to the gate the doors were already closed.

    Badhatharry is right, bags are supposed to be matched up with passengers, so if any of the 20 checked a bag, somebody should have known something was wrong.

  29. Youthier says:

    This is the third horrific Allegiant story I’ve heard in the last two months… and the other two I heard were from my parents and a friend.

    My parents had a flight that was delayed 7 hours and at midnight, Allegiant said the flight was cancelled. People were PISSED (and this flight was going to Orlando so kids were smartly crying about Disney World) and after 30 minutes, they decided it was uncancelled. As to why the plane was delayed 7 hours, no one ever found out. Granted, the airport is in Indiana and February but the day of the flight it was beautiful weather.

    My friend told me they took off from Indiana for Vegas, were in the air ten minutes and told that there was a mechanical failure so they were turning back around. 5 hours later, they had a new flight. That had to stop in Illinois to fill up.

    Um, no thanks.

  30. robotprom says:

    Allegiant is the Greyhound of the air. I only fly them becuase they’re cheaper than driving to my mom’s house.

  31. vastrightwing says:

    Lower your blood pressure and stop screaming at the airlines. Everyone knows that flying sucks. Accept it or don’t fly. Airlines will never listen, they don’t have to: people will fly forever. Plus airlines own the politicians, so nothing will ever get done. Get over it!

  32. Trai_Dep says:

    Having unmatched (w/ passenger) luggage onboard a plane is a HUGE security red flag. One of the top two or three, actually. Immediately land the plane, flashing siren emergency bad, security breech.

    Of course, this aspect slipped right past the authorities. Yay, TSA! GREAT job!

    So the take-away from this is that the only damned thing saving Alabama from being the #1 destination of terrorists everywhere is that they can’t find it on a map.

  33. ywgflyer says:

    Nobody makes any announcements? Nobody asks why the airplane is pushing back (it’s not that hard to reposition it to the gate if it’s pushed back and some ridiculous mistake like this is discovered at that time)?

    I think there might be a bit more to this story than is being reported.

    @P41: I think that’s a bit more plausible. Late checkin isn’t an excuse as to why you missed your flight. Hell, isn’t boarding time around 30-40mins before scheduled departure time for a lot of flights these days? Same reason.

  34. TeraGram says:

    Well, drat. I’m sorry to hear about this kind of behavior. Allegiant is due to start flights out of my local airport very soon, direct to Vegas, baby! The prices seemed reasonable and I was actually looking forward to a quickie weekend in Sin City.

    Double drat. Oh, well.

    Anyway, love the image. Very nice. Kudos to the photog.

  35. DeltaPurser says:

    @Trai_Dep: Actually, contrary what most people believe, it is NOT against the TSA rules to leave the bags on the aircraft without the passengers. As long as the bags have been screened by TSA, and if the passengers are not on as a result of the airline, then it’s OK. In other words, if the passenger makes the decision not to get on, then the bags have to come off… If the airline makes the decision not to board the passenger, then the bags can stay.

  36. Buran says:

    @vastrightwing: Uhm, they could actually get their heads out of their asses and provide good service and not get screamed at. Duh. If you take someone’s money for something and then fail to provide it, you deserve what you get.

  37. fullmetalgenesis says:

    I work at a small FBO here in Alabama, and it is almost universally understood in the aviation community here:

    Don’t fly commercial from Hunstville.

  38. oakie says:

    @Pro-Pain: “Silly stupid people. Didn’t notice 20+ people missing. That’s almost borderline retarted.”

    if you’re going to bother accusing someone of being “retarted”, ensure you’re not retarded yourself by learning how to spell.

  39. EClaire says:

    I will NEVER fly Allegiant again. I flew from Des Moines to Las Vegas in January. Originally, we were supposed to leave on a Sunday January 27th and return January 30th. I had planned this for months as it was my 21st birthday present. The flight was cancelled due to mechanical problems. That’s fine. I would much rather fly safely than fly at all. But we really got a slap in the face when we were offered like the Huntsville flight, a $75 dollar voucher. You can’t buy a hamburger for $75 dollars.

    I spent the next day, Monday the 28th trying to get through to Allegiant on their customer service line which, for a lack of words SUCKS and found out we could get on the plane with 3 hours notice. We would return Thursday the 31st.

    My mom and I paid for a package deal on their website to stay at the Planet Hollywood for 3 nights. When I told the customer service rep. we paid for three nights, she said that all the alloted “Allegiant rooms” were booked for the evening of the 30th. I said that at this point, my mom and I would like to go no matter what since we’d been looking forward to the trip for months. The rep. said we’d have to cover the hotel stay for the 3rd night. After I told her repeatedly we paid for three nights and we’d like the night of the 30th covered she told me there was nothing we could do. I told her that we’d like the difference refunded out of our package. She said no. I asked to speak to the manager on duty and she also told me no.

    I called the Planet Hollywood in Vegas (which I HIGHLY recommend) and they were very cordial and understanding of my situation. We ended up having to pay $169 for the night of the 30th, but were upgraded to a suite for our entire stay, not just the night we payed full price for. They were AWESOME.

    I haven’t tried to call Allegiant back since February 1st because I’m not interested in spending 2 hours listening to them try to hawk me a flight to Orlando or Tampa. At this point the voucher is going in the shredder and I guess I’m S.O.L. and will have to pay the 3rd night’s cost.

  40. RuralRob says:

    I haven’t flown commercially since summer ’02. Between the airport Gestapos and the incredibly evil airlines that strand people for 9+ hours on snowy runways with no food/water/toilets, no WAY am I going to give them any of my hard-earned money. California is big and varied enough for me, thanks. (Though when gas hits $10/gallon in a few months, I guess much of CA will be out of reach as well!)

  41. Fly Girl says:

    Sounds like what really happened is that the ticket counter/check-in counter was short staffed and that people waited for “hours” (probably more like 45 minutes) to get checked in.

    After those people who were waiting “hours” finally got checked in and through security and to their gate… Their flight was pushing back.

    That stuff happens. Pretty frequently. If you’re ever checking in for a flight, assuming you got there at least an hour in advance, and you’re still waiting at 30-45 minutes prior to departure to get checked in, you need to make a nuisance of yourself. Tell someone. Cut in line. Move up to the front. Get someone’s attention.

    An organized airline will have agents working the check-in crowd, “triaging” guests and moving those on earlier flights up to the front of the line. You should never assume that just because you’ve been waiting that the gate agent is going to hold the flight for you– they probably don’t even know you’re there.

    Boarding is supposed to start 20-30 minutes prior to departure, the doors close (ideally) 10 minutes prior to departure. Push back comes shortly after. If you’re not on board the aircraft 10 minutes prior to departure, you’re SOL.

    If the check-in desk is running behind, they can escort everyone through the TSA checkpoints so that they don’t have to wait in line and they can call the gate agent to request that the flight be held…

    That being said, a lot of times flight ops will choose to depart without the late/delayed passengers because the FAA dings airlines for every delay, no matter what the cause.

    In the airline’s mind, it can be more cost effective to leave on time and have a bunch of unhappy passengers rather than wait for 20 people and pay a penalty to the FAA…

    The only other comment that I have is that… Well, they obviously didn’t leave with an empty aircraft. The airlines say to arrive 2 hours prior to the flight for a reason– so that when things like ticketing delays happen, you can still make it to your flight one time. Obviously SOME people made it on time because they were on the plane that left.

    And when you’re waiting in line, 45 minutes can FEEL like three hours, but it’s not the same. Unless you can prove that you were there two hours in advance, you’re going to have a hard time making your case to the airline.

    Plus, they got put on a later flight that day and got a $75.00 voucher each… I think they were compensated appropriately– it’s a sucky situation and a hard lesson learned, but I think that Allegiant made right by these passengers.

  42. Fly Girl says:

    Sounds like what really happened is that the ticket counter/check-in counter was short staffed and that people waited for “hours” (probably more like 45 minutes) to get checked in.

    After those people who were waiting “hours” finally got checked in and through security and to their gate… Their flight was pushing back.

    That stuff happens. Pretty frequently. If you’re ever checking in for a flight, assuming you got there at least an hour in advance, and you’re still waiting at 30-45 minutes prior to departure to get checked in, you need to make a nuisance of yourself. Tell someone. Cut in line. Move up to the front. Get someone’s attention.

    An organized airline will have agents working the check-in crowd, “triaging” guests and moving those on earlier flights up to the front of the line. You should never assume that just because you’ve been waiting that the gate agent is going to hold the flight for you– they probably don’t even know you’re there.

    Boarding is supposed to start 20-30 minutes prior to departure, the doors close (ideally) 10 minutes prior to departure. Push back comes shortly after. If you’re not on board the aircraft 10 minutes prior to departure, you’re SOL.

    If the check-in desk is running behind, they can escort everyone through the TSA checkpoints so that they don’t have to wait in line and they can call the gate agent to request that the flight be held…

    That being said, a lot of times flight ops will choose to depart without the late/delayed passengers because the FAA dings airlines for every delay, no matter what the cause.

    In the airline’s mind, it can be more cost effective to leave on time and have a bunch of unhappy passengers rather than wait for 20 people and pay a penalty to the FAA…

    The only other comment that I have is that… Well, they obviously didn’t leave with an empty aircraft. The airlines say to arrive 2 hours prior to the flight for a reason– so that when things like ticketing delays happen, you can still make it to your flight on time. Obviously SOME people made it on time because they were on the plane that left.

    And when you’re waiting in line, 45 minutes can FEEL like three hours, but it’s not the same thing. Unless you can prove that you were there two hours in advance, you’re going to have a hard time making your case to the airline.

    Plus, they all got put on a later flight that day and got a $75.00 voucher each… I think they were compensated appropriately– it’s a sucky situation and a hard lesson learned, but I think that Allegiant made right by these passengers.

  43. Fly Girl says:

    @DeltaPurser: Thank you! I’ve heard that same argument made over and over and over in these comments, yet it’s completely untrue. Positive bag match only applies on international flights, not domestic flights.

  44. grebby says:

    Used to be I would avoid the Allegiants and AirTrans of the world in favor of the Uniteds and Deltas, but there’s really no difference anymore. I live in their hub, Las Vegas, so Allegiant goes non-stop to a lot of places that require long layovers on any other airline. Yes, they charge you separately for everything–checked bags, peanuts, reserving a seat online–but it still adds up to less than flying American or Continental.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Allegiant Air is probably one of the worst airlines around. I had a flight from Roanoke VA to Orlando FL and I missed the flight. They refused to rebook me on a later flight and made me pay $150 to get new tickets.

    I had another flight from Greensboro NC to Tampa FL and of course the flight was late leaving Tampa because of maintenance, and my trip was very time sensitive. I literally made it to Florida just in time,

    If they weren’t so cheap I don’t think anyone would fly them. There very inconvenient, and they don’t cater to there passengers at all.