Allegiant customer hears loud 'thunk' in the air, pilot aborts 3 - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Allegiant customer hears loud 'thunk' in the air, pilot aborts 3rd failed flight

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Allegiant flyers were stranded after a cancelled flight Sunday. (FOX5) Allegiant flyers were stranded after a cancelled flight Sunday. (FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Allegiant Air admitted it has been having a "challenging" time this week trying to serve customers at McCarran International Airport. More than a dozen departing flights had to be canceled over the weekend in Las Vegas, many of them due to "mechanical issues."

Hilarie Grey, a spokesperson for the airline, blamed crowded schedules.

"July 30th was our single busiest day in term of scheduled flights. This means that all available aircraft were in use, which gave us a lower margin for adjustment should any issue arise," she wrote in an email. "To help mitigate these impacts through the remainder of our summer schedule, we have taken the extra step of bringing additional aircraft to Las Vegas to increase flexibility."

One upset customer said she realized over the weekend that all of the mechanical issues with Allegiant flights aren't necessarily caught before the plane takes off. She boarded three flights over the weekend, but never made it to her destination.

"They didn't give us any details. Just mechanical issues," customer Brenda Wagner said. "It seemed like everything was going okay!"

Wagner said she experienced mechanical issues on her first flight, on Friday, to Billings, Montana. The plane made it out onto the tarmac, but never departed. Instead, the flight was rescheduled for the following day.

When Wagner returned on Saturday, she said she experienced the exact same problems. She said she and her husband boarded the plane, only to find out that it couldn't take off, again, due to mechanical issues.

"We all just kind of joked about it and figured third time's the charm," Wagner said laughing. 

The third time was the charm ... kind of.

After passengers got off the second plane and boarded the third plane, it finally took off.

"Everybody was excited. We were clapping that we were finally in the air," Wagner remembered. "Then it all happened."

Within 20 to 30 minutes, Wagner said she heard a loud "thunk" and then a loud "rushing noise." She said the plane, which started to smell like "hot hydraulic fluid," abruptly veered to the left and started losing altitude. 

"You know how when you drop your stomach goes out from under you? That was going on," she said. "We seriously thought that we were going to crash at that point ... There were a lot of small children. Toddlers. There was at least probably four infants and probably four or five pregnant women. We had one lady who was 91 who was traveling by herself."

After a few minutes, she said the pilot announced that he had turned the plane around and that they would need to land back in Las Vegas because of mechanical issues. After everyone landed safely, she said she decided she wasn't going to take a gamble by boarding a fourth plane.

"That's it. We're done. We're not doing this again. We're not going to give them another chance to drop us like a rock," Wagner said. "It's only going to take one time to really screw up and you're going to kill a bunch of people ... They really have some maintenance issues. Really."

"The pilot and the co-pilot were sitting in the front waiting for everybody to leave, and they were just kind of sitting there looking at each other like, 'What the heck just happened?!'" she said.

An Allegiant spokesperson stated that the landing was not an "emergency landing," but was necessary due to an "indicator issue." The final flight departed approximately six hours later. The airline gave Wagner $300 to use toward another Allegiant flight, but she said she will never use it.

Wagner never made it to Billings, Montana. She said she wasn't even allowed to cancel the return flight back to Las Vegas. The purpose of the trip was to see her elderly mother-in-law.

"They just diagnosed her with Alzheimer's so we wanted to spend some time with her while she could still know who we are," she said. "We'll see. Everything happens for a reason."

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Statement from Allegiant Air

Every one of Allegiant’s team members dedicates their work to the goal of getting thousands of people on hundreds of flights every day to their destinations – and to do that safely and efficiently.  Allegiant’s core mission is to enable travel for those who might not otherwise have access, or be able to afford to fly.  We take great pride in fulfilling that promise to our customers, but unfortunately there can be instances when unanticipated issues intervene and we need to make the difficult decision to reschedule – or in rare instances cancel – a flight. 

This past weekend was a challenging one at our Las Vegas station for a variety of reasons.  Summer is the highest travel season of the year, and Sunday, July 30th was our single busiest day in terms of scheduled flights.  This means that all available aircraft were in use, which gave us a lower margin for adjustment should any issue arise.  Safety is always our first priority, so if there is any even minor indication an aircraft may not be able to operate at 100 percent, we will always err on the side of safety and ensure every issue is addressed.   This past weekend, that meant 11 departures between Sunday and Monday were rescheduled and one flight in a unique circumstance was canceled.

To help mitigate these impacts through the remainder of our summer schedule, we have taken the extra step of bringing additional aircraft to Las Vegas to increase flexibility.

We know that any last-minute change and disruption to travel plans is frustrating to passengers, as it is disappointing to us when we fail to meet expectations.  That is why we take extra steps above what the Department of Transportation requires to help our passengers get to their destination.  We make every effort to reschedule flights, and to assist those passengers traveling on the reschedule with hotel accommodations for the night.  In the rare situation where a flight is canceled outright, we strive to provide passengers with resources to allow them flexibility – refunding the fare and providing additional funds to defray costs, however they choose to travel.  In every case when there is an alternative Allegiant flight available, we will re-accommodate at no charge.  Again, we sincerely apologize to our passengers impacted by this weekend’s challenges and thank them for their patience during this busiest time of the year. 

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