The Hidden Costs of Budget Travel
I took my first flight with Allegiant Air a couple of weeks ago, and the jaw-dropping experience definitely left me with a first impression: Allegiant is a circus, a master of disaster, and a customer-serviceless organization (or shall I say un-organization). Harsh? Ask anyone who has flown Allegiant. If you can find a good report, please share it because I would very much like to hear one. I would love some hope for the future. You see, this is my problem: Allegiant Air has extremely attractive prices. What you don’t see in their prices are the empty promises, endlessly-ringing customer service telephone numbers, and delayed flights.
An Allegiant Air Story
We left Bozeman at 3:30 pm and headed for Billings to catch a two-hour flight that night to Las Vegas. We were scheduled to attend a conference that began the next morning. After the Allegiant computer systems had gone down at check-in and delayed our flight by an hour (they literally issued hand-written boarding passes), our very full flight was finally allowed to board. The flight attendants completed the entire process of getting the plane ready, from closing the door and overhead bins, to finishing the safety procedures, to buckling up for takeoff, to- “Ladies and gentlemen, I hate to tell you this, but… the First Officer’s shift has timed out. We cannot legally fly this plane. You all must deplane.” YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. His shift timed out? As in, he KNEW he wouldn’t have enough time to legally fly this plane back to Vegas, and he didn’t tell anyone? Yep.
We deplaned, bags and all, and 180 furious passengers awaited further instruction at the gate. The poor gate attendant was the one who had to announce the plans to us, and he didn’t even work for Allegiant, in fact, none of the Allegiant crew even showed their faces for the rest of the night. They ushered us all to a nearby hotel and promised to give us all a $100 travel voucher to put towards future travel (which we are all SO looking forward to). The plane sat there overnight and our flight was rescheduled for 8:30 the following morning. The young girl in the seat in front of me was going to miss tryouts for the team she really wanted to be on. My friend and I were going to miss the first morning of our conference (including my favorite speaker’s session) that we paid good money for. These are things you can’t get back, and these apparently are the risks you take should you choose to fly Allegiant Air.
The Real Problem
Allegiant Air is a budget airline with extremely affordable prices, and I happen to know for a fact that I will fly with them again. Here’s what I won’t do: book an Allegiant flight to connect with another flight out of a larger airport, book an Allegiant flight when I have a time-sensitive trip planned. They have a track record of delayed flights, so when it really matters that you get somewhere on time, try to avoid Allegiant. My best friend nearly missed my wedding because of Allegiant, our friend nearly missed the same conference that we were headed to because of Allegiant. I have yet to figure out exactly where to get my $100 voucher because they simply said, “It will be on your account online” which was a lie. They don’t answer their phones but play you nice messages saying “the wait is over 60 minutes.” Who has 60 minutes to spend on hold on a phone line that probably doesn’t even have anyone working the other end?
Moral of the story: If you’re going to try to save a buck flying Allegiant, make sure your trip doesn’t depend on your flight being on time. I can’t say I won’t fly with them again, because I love to save a buck, but I have learned an important lesson and I hope you can learn from this, too. Do you have any experience flying with Allegiant Air? Please tell me you have a good story to share so I can have hope for the future with this discount airline!