Broken faith, broken heart, and Allegiant Air

Written By: catherinewells | Categorized In: Uncategorized

My dad passed away last week.  It was not unexpected; he was 97 and had been in hospice for a couple of months.  I was prepared for his passing, and when it finally came, I made reservations to fly back to North Dakota where, not only would the Clan gather, but dozens of neighbors and friends would join us to celebrate a life richly lived by one of the kindest, most humble souls any of us has ever known.  On Friday morning my husband and I drove 120 miles to a regional airport to catch a flight on a low-cost carrier, one of the few airlines that serves cities in North Dakota.

Now, I have flown this carrier before and not been pleased.  Like most low-cost airlines, they treat you like cattle and tack on extra fees until the cost savings is minimal.  But it was a direct flight from Phoenix to Fargo, three hours, no chance of lost luggage.  We arrived at the airport an hour and a quarter before the scheduled departure, and my husband went to check our flight on the status board.

It said Canceled.

He checked his email–no message of cancellation.  He checked the Allegiant website–it still said On Time.  But as we waited in line to check in, the message came back, relayed from passenger to passenger:  yes, the flight was canceled.  Why?  No one knew.  The ground crew were contractors, and they had no information except that the flight would go out the following morning at 9:00 am.  My dad’s funeral was at 10:30.

We frantically drove to the major airport, Sky Harbor, and found a Frontier flight through Denver to Fargo.  As we booked it, an email finally arrived from Allegiant saying their flight was canceled.  Then the Frontier flight was delayed and  we learned there was no chance of making our connection.  If we went to Denver, they couldn’t get us to Fargo until Sunday or Monday.  We canceled off that flight (fully refunded), but it was too late to get our bag off.

No bag, no flight, no way to make the funeral.  When I recovered from my emotional meltdown, we drove home–120 miles–packed another bag, slept in our own bed, and drove back the following morning to take the rescheduled Allegiant flight.  I reached my brother’s house at 3:00 pm,  four hours after 150 people, including friends I had not seen in years, gathered to offer their condolences and support.  By the time I got there, all but family had gone home.

Later we learned Allegiant had no pilot for the Friday flight.  They have trouble keeping pilots; I guess they don’t treat them any better than they do their customers.

So here’s the lesson from my experience:  Never trust an airline.  Though I hated their poor service and money-gouging practices, I still trusted Allegiant to get me where I needed to be.  They failed me.  I will never trust an airline again.  I most certainly will never fly Allegiant, and  I’m not alone.  If you own Allegiant stock, you might want to think about that.

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