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As the saying goes, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” If you were a passenger on Allegiant flight #454 from LAS to Oklahoma City (OKC) this past Sunday, that saying rang maddeningly true — as your flight back home was delayed… by four days.
According to local media reports, the aircraft pushed back, but shortly after doing so, maintenance issues forced the cancellation of the flight. Maintenance issues and cancellation happen, especially when you have a fleet averaging 27.5 years old. But, what’s really telling is what happened next. The airline reportedly only offered passengers soft drinks, and then the ground crew informed passengers that there weren’t any replacement Allegiant flights until the airline’s next scheduled flights between the airports. Trouble is, that next flight was four days later.
No meal vouchers were provided, nor were hotel accommodations, ground transportation or rebooking options on other airlines. Allegiant agents merely offered to rebook the passengers on the next Allegiant flight four days later. When passengers pushed for more, the Allegiant agents allegedly threatened to call security, saying that the passengers needed to leave. Trouble is, passengers reported that there were no rental cars available to do so.
Passengers who needed to get to Oklahoma City for work Monday and elected to pay last-minute pricing only reportedly were promised a refund of their original Allegiant ticket price.
Can Allegiant actually do this? Sadly, yes. Passengers booked on Allegiant agree to the airline’s Contract of Carriage. According to this contract:
Carrier shall not be liable for any failure or delay in operating any flight due to causes beyond Carrier’s control, including but not limited to, acts of God, governmental actions, fire, weather, mechanical difficulties, Air Traffic Control, strikes or labor disputes, or inability to obtain fuel for the flight in question.
You read that right — when it comes to delays and cancellations, Allegiant assumes no responsibility for its own maintenance. So, now that we know Allegiant won’t assume responsibility for the delay, what happens when the inevitable delay/cancellation happens? “In the case of delay that the delay is significant, refund the unused portion of the passenger’s fare.” In addition to being the least the airline could do, there’s not even a definition of what’s a “significant” delay.
This incident highlights the fact that if you choose to book an Allegiant flight, you’re taking a risk. The airline’s geriatric fleet is prone to mechanical issues, and the airline’s Contract of Carriage offers you no protection besides a refund. If you decide to book with the carrier, make sure that you use a credit card with solid trip delay protection, like the Citi Prestige Card‘s up to $500 of compensation for more than a three hour delay or the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s up to $500 of compensation for a six hour delay.
With all that said, we reached out to Allegiant asking for clarification and to provide a statement on the original news reports. The airline responded that this was an “unusual situation – canceling without a reschedule is rare, and is only invoked when there are truly no other options available for switching aircraft or rescheduling.” It seems that the airline just didn’t have a spare aircraft in its fleet to cover the cancellation and get the 160 passengers from LAS to OKC.
Allegiant also clarified the refund, reaccommodation and extra-costs situation in the following statement:
We sincerely apologize for the interruption to our passengers’ travel plans. All passengers have been issued refunds for the flight, as well as an additional $300 to help defray costs associated with the disruption to their plans. In addition, each passenger has been issued a $150 voucher toward future travel on Allegiant. Passengers were also given the option to be reaccommodated on another Allegiant flight at no charge, for example, some chose to take Monday’s flight from Las Vegas to nearby Tulsa, OK.
If passengers have questions or need assistance, they should contact customer care at 702-505-8888.
It sounds like Allegiant ended up doing the right thing in this situation. However, the issue remains that the airline isn’t obligated to provide any of this per its Contract of Carriage.
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