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Allegiant Air has taken some serious flak in the past couple years. In 2015, the ultra-low cost carrier found itself at the center of media attention when the airline’s own pilots expressed their concerns about aircraft safety to the board in an open letter. They even fired a pilot after he returned to an airport due to safety concerns.

In this latest incident, Allegiant mistakenly sent an elderly couple to the wrong destination. Helen Weeker, age 97, and her husband George found themselves in Ogdensburg, New York rather than Grand Rapids after boarding a flight in Fort Lauderdale. The gates for the two flights were next to each other, and the airline employees wheeling Helen and George reportedly put them on the wrong plane.

A boarding pass glitch allowed the pair to board the wrong aircraft, and the couple didn’t notice the mistake until they landed. The couple was sent back and will be traveling to Grand Rapids at a later date. Allegiant apologized for the ordeal and is refunding them the fare.

Could this have been any other airline?

Of course it could have been. JetBlue mixed up two young boys last year flying as unaccompanied minors. But this just adds fuel to the ire faced by the low cost carrier.

I’ve been caught red-handed once trying to use the wrong boarding pass on a flight. The United gate agent immediately caught it. In my case I simply pull out the wrong pass for my two leg journey. I honestly wonder, did the boarding pass scanner malfunction? Or did Allegiant not even scan the couple’s boarding passes?

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Should you fly Allegiant?

Allegiant has become a very profitable airline. Yet fares are often ridiculously cheap, especially if you can travel really light. So where exactly does the profit come from? The airline’s success has to come at a cost somewhere, and all fingers have been pointing at the maintenance issues.

Allegiant’s planes have far more safety-related mishaps than other U.S. carriers, with many more aborted takeoffs and equipment not working properly in general. The airline DID order some new planes, and says it has addressed safety concerns.

I’ve flown Allegiant just once, and only after some distinct consideration on my part. The fare was $100s cheaper than other airlines, and I decided I couldn’t pass it up. But I was definitely a bit unnerved by what I read. My flight went well, at least from a safety point of view. A 2+ hour delay can hardly be considered going “well” in the most general sense.

Since that trip I’ve really considered whether I would fly Allegiant again. Honestly, I’m not sure, so I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t ever fly the airline. But I’ll at least gently caution you against it. The price point is certainly great. I’m just worried that Allegiant’s practices may one day come back to bite them.

Featured image courtesy of Eddie Maloney under CC 2.0 license


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