Saturday, August 19, 2017

Allegiant Air flight left on tarmac for three hours, passenger says

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A birthday gift turned into a nightmare on the tarmac for a New Mexico woman.

Celena Kwitkowski calls her experience with Allegiant Airlines Thursday night "false imprisonment." She said they sat on the tarmac at the Albuquerque International Sunport for more than three hours in the heat with no water or access to the bathroom.

They were supposed to depart Albuquerque for Las Vegas, Nevada around 5 pm. Instead, Kwitkowski says they sat in a hot airplane until after 10 p.m.
Allegiant Air flight left on tarmac for three hours, passenger says

"They need to apologize for us, they need to take responsibility and ownership," Kwitkowski said. "As far as I'm concerned, this was false imprisonment."

Allegiant Air gave this explanation of Thursday's events through email Friday:

Unfortunately, it was a combination of factors that impacted this flight and made it a highly unusual situation.

Initially, there was a minor mechanical issue which caused a delay after passengers had boarded.  It took longer than expected to address, so delayed the flight a little over an hour.

After the aircraft pushed back, it returned to the gate due to an altercation between passengers. Local law enforcement was called to escort the individuals involved off of the aircraft, and those passengers' bags were also removed.  There were a few other passengers who were not involved, but also requested to deplane at that time.  All told, this activity delayed departure about another hour.  I do not have details about the passenger altercation, that would require follow up with law enforcement agency at the airport.

To your question about air conditioning, the aircraft would have been powered the entire time with air conditioning running, but the strength of the air is going to be quite a bit lower at the gate or taxiing than it is once the aircraft gets up to full power in flight.  Similar to a car sitting still and idling with A/C running vs going full speed on the highway.  Of course, given the temps in Albuquerque, the aircraft would be warm and we regret any discomfort during this unusual situation.

Our logs and reports do show that the crew supplied water (what's called a "poor service" where cups of water are distributed) during the initial delay.  Also, at the time the flight returned to the gate, the crew requested Allegiant station staff to bring bottles of water to the plane, which were distributed to passengers.

Again, this was an unusual situation which we regret delayed our customers and impacted their comfort, but thank them for their patience and understanding.  Please also be aware that because of the inconvenience caused by these delays, passengers have been issued vouchers towards future travel on Allegiant.

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