I’m on a plane, flying back from Florida. This is a day later than I was supposed to fly back. I’m sure you can guess why – I missed my plane. By about 5 minutes. The plane was still on the ground. In fact it was still at the gate, but they had closed the doors, and by their policy, they were not going to reopen them. We’d simply missed our flight.
These things happen. I’m mad at myself for thinking an hour before the flight was enough time out of an airport as small as Sanford. Never heard of it? Yeah, it’s that small. It’s outside of Orlando. Anyway, I checked my bag and got in line for security and was randomly selected for a security search. Don’t roll your eyes. I was chosen by the metal detector, not by the TSA. But again, these things happen. You arrive early for that reason. Here’s why I’m mad pissed off at Allegiant Air. Their customer service SUCKS!
Let me back track to Thursday, the day we flew out. Better grab a cold one, this is a long story.
When I’d booked my flight, I had paid for one carry on for myself and one under the plane for my aunt. We’d also reserved a wheelchair for her as she has medical conditions and has a difficult time walking long distances. We get to the airport, Bloomington Peoria, another SMALL airport, about an hour early but by the time I’d drop ed her at the curb and parked in the long term parking we were closer to 40 minutes till take off. No problem I thought, we’d checked in online, I would just check the bag and grab the wheelchair. Except there was no one at the counter.
I can see into the office behind the counter, and there was my wheelchair, but no agent. So I called customer service. I admit I was frantic by the time I got an agent on the line, the whole time I’m on hold I was running around looking for another wheelchair. When the customer service rep asked how she could help, my response was “I’m at the airport and I’m supposed to check a bag and I’d reserved a wheelchair but there is no one at the counter. What am I supposed to do?” Again, I imagine this in a frantic voice. Her response was not to try and calm me down, but rather to scold me. “There isn’t anyone at the counter because it is less than 45 minutes until the flight departs. The agent has already gone to the gate and there’s no wheelchair because they are all at the gate.” Okay, fair enough. They have one employee. So my next question was “What am I supposed to do with my bag? It’s small enough to be a carry on. Can I pay a fee to change that over?” The answer was no. I was told that I would have to leave a bag behind and my wheelchair person would have to walk to the gate. And if I missed the flight they would not refund us our money. I bluntly told her thanks for nothing and hung up on her.
So there I was in the middle of the airport, on my hands and knees, now on the verge of bawling or hyperventilating trying to figure out what to transfer from one bag to another, then running back out to the parking lot, throwing my carryon/personal item bag in the car and running back. I think I lost at least one item out of the backpack because it wasn’t zipped properly. So I ran back in the airport, and by now I was hyperventilating. Litterally gasping for breath and wheezing, my heart feeling oike it’s going to pound right out of ky chest. This body is not designed for extreme cardio! We got through security because the TSA was so kind – how often do you hear that?
We got to the gate before they closed the door and she never even check if we were supposed to have carryon baggage or not. But we had made it.
I won’t even go into how the plane sounded like there was a propeller attached (which was scary since there wasn’t!) Or how badly the thing rattled. I’ve flown before and this was the first time I’d ever prayed to God to not let me die in a fiery plane crash because I was convinced I would. But again, we made it and we had a great couple days seeing my mom’s new house and visiting with my sister and her family. I even got to spend my oldest great nephew’s 6th birthday with him.
So yesterday. We were at the Sanford airport a little more than an hour before takeoff. I joined the line to check my bag. Two more people got in line behind me. I jokingly texted my husband about them not giving us cap today. Elaine, the agent was very nice. We got our wheelchair and I got us in the security line. I’d refused assistance, which was a mistake. I didn’t realize there was an express lane for the disabled. So we wound our way through the line. While we were in line, I heard the man ounce last call for Bloomington. I looked at my watch. It was only 3:30. I thought surely I’d heard him wrong, but even if I didn’t we should have plenty of time. It’s a small airport and we could see the gates once we were through security. But the line wound around a little and I got randomly selected for a security check. They swabbed my shoes, but they were quick and polite about it. So off we go. We both had to pee so very badly, so quick stop at the potty and then on to the gate.
At the gate we had Deja vue. There was no one at our gate’s counter. I asked the agent at the adjoining counter about our flight. I can see the plane. It’s right there. I’m embarrassed, but not worried yet. She says, “looks like they closed the door.” No shit sherlock. But she radios, and asks “Is the gate closed? Okay.” and she returns to typing on her computer. So I stand there waiting. I
Was someone coming to let us on? I thought so. Then she opened her gate and disappeared down the gangway with another woman and didn’t return. Now I’m starting to worry again. I start looking around. No one else is coming to help us.
I ran over to another Allegiant agent who is boarding his plane and apologize for bothering him but I’m wondering how to get on my plane. “You don’t” was the answer. “Once they shut the doors, they don’t reopen them.” I run back to my aunt and tell her what he just said. My head is whipping around looking for answers that aren’t there. But I see another agent and this one isn’t boarding a plane so I run over to her counter and explain my situation. She explained that they shut the gate 15 minutes before takeoff to pressurize the cabin and run through their pre flight check so that the planes can take off on time. She also explained I would have to r e-book at the counter downstairs and there would be a small fee of $75 per ticket. She also told me there wasn’t another flight back to Bloomington until Thursday. She offered a couple of suggestions of other airports I could fly into, but really, I needed to go downstairs. They were the ones who had to help me. At least she was sympathetic to our problem.
When I got back to my aunt, she was talking to an agent who was telling her the same thing, only not as kindly. This woman added that we’d supposedly been paiged three times. I’d like to know when and where because the only other announcement I’d heard was about a car in the white zone that was about to be towed. While all this is happening, the plane pulled away from the gate – at 3 minutes to 4. Looks like they were ahead of schedule.
So we returned downstairs to the ticket counter where we were directed to the lead agent. We asked about other flights into Illinois, figuring at this point we’d have to rent a car and drive to Bloomington to get our car. The woman handed us a sheet of paper and said, “wWell these are the airports we fly to, which one do you want me to look at?” Apparently looking on the computer and offering suggestions is not in her job description, but she wasn’t rude. She just wasn’t helpful. I get to figure my own way out of this dilemma. So we start asking.
“What day do do you fly into Rockford?” Also on Thursday. Fort Wayne? Thursday. Springfield? “We’re not flying there until next spring.”
“What do you have flying tomorrow? “
“We’ll we fly into Montana or North Carolina on Mondays.”
Yeah, that’s not helpful. So I pulled out my tablet and pulled up Priceline to find out who could get me back home. I found a ticket out of Orlando International on Delta, one way, flying into Midway airport, for $257. My aunt had thought she’d just stay until Thursday and pay the $75.
They put her name in the computer, but it was giving an error. The male agent who was helping her said “just a minute” and walked away. He never came back. After about 10 minutes, we asked the other woman what was going on (by this time my parents are sitting in the cell lot waiting for us since we’d called and told them we’d missed the flight) only to be told that there weren’t any seats left. Thanks for letting us know. I informed the woman that while she was nice enough, there was no way in hell that I was EVER flying their airline again.
I called my mom and told her to come get us and got my aunt booked onto the same flight, for another $257. Our $79 each way ticket had originally come to the grand sum of $534 after they’d fee’d us to death. Now with the additional $500 our “inexpensive quick vacation had cost us a little over $1000. And that doesn’t include the 9 hours of work I had to miss today in addition to the 8 hours I took off on Friday. So add a loss of two days pay and my first night of school.
Through this whole ordeal, with the exception of 3 people, they were rude, unhelpful and their policies are complete B.S. I absolutely will never fly that airline again. If your not a seasoned travelor, I’d advice you against flying them too. Then again, if you’re a seasoned travelor, you probably already know that a cheap flight is cheap for a reason. Here’s praying that I make it home tonight. I still have to change planes in Detroit.