Update 11/15/12: I filed a credit card dispute, a Better Business Bureau complaint, an FAA complaint and sent a demand letter to Allegiant Air. The FAA resolved this in just three days and it would appear they compelled Allegiant Air to give me a refund. If you have a problem with any airline I suggest going here to file an FAA complaint. I am impressed that it only took three days for the FAA to get this resolved.
This is a warning to not take advantage of the debit card discount offered by Allegiant Air unless you are certain that your issuer allows chargebacks. Not all debit cards have this feature. I used a credit card for this flight so I was able to initiate a chargeback but if I had used a debit card I may have to file a lawsuit against them to get this money.
I planned on spending the weekend in Deadwood, SD to go see old friends where I lived for about five years. As we were pulling back from the gate, the pilot informs us that Rapid City’s airport has been closed all morning due to frozen fog. We were going to take a chance anyway and see if it reopened during the 1.5 hour flight. This seemed like a poor decision to me but they know their business so they must know the calculated risk of flying to a closed airport and getting diverted. They made this bet and lost. After circling Rapid City for close to an hour, the flight got diverted to Casper, WY.
We spent four hours on the ground in Casper. We were asked to exit the plane because they expected a major delay. It is a tiny airport with no restaurant and only vending machines. There was another flight headed to Las Vegas from Casper. I attempted to get on this flight but the Allegiant Air employee in Casper had no interest in helping me. Many people rented cars or had people come to Casper to pick them up. Rapid City is a four hour drive from Casper in nice weather.
Flight Canceled and Returns to Las Vegas
The captain did a great job of communicating with us. He finally told us Rapid City’s airport would remain closed for the entire day. We were going back to Las Vegas and the people affected would get a free hotel room there. Most of the people on this flight were returning home from Las Vegas.
Once everyone got on the plane they announced there would be no free hotel room. This caused some major unrest and about 15-20 people got off the plane that caused further delays. To make things worse, the plane had a mechanical issue that delayed us another 30 minutes.
We finally got back to Las Vegas nine hours after we took off. Allegiant Air only flies to Rapid City twice a week but they were adding a new flight to accommodate the remainder of the people that chose to return to Las Vegas. I told the gate agent that I wanted a refund for the canceled flight as the rescheduled flight would ruin half of my vacation and there was no guarantee the weather would be any better today. They told me I was entitled to a refund and to call customer service.
Allegiant Customer No Service
I called their CS and was refused a refund. I was told that I had the option of boarding the rescheduled flight the following day or forfeit my money. I told them the flight was not acceptable, especially considering the weather was expected to be worse today. They put me on hold to talk to their supervisor and came back to tell me I would not get a refund. I asked to talk to their supervisor and they told me there was no supervisor there, contradicting what they had told me minutes before. They told me “I am the supervisor” when I called them on their lie. This got me really angry and their CS hung up on me. Their awful attitude reminded me of the Pop Copy skit Dave Chappelle did years ago.
Allegiant’s terms and conditions are clear that I am entitled to a refund. Rule 90b states:
Flight terminations or involuntary cancellations – If a passenger’s scheduled transportation is cancelled, or terminated before the passenger has reached his or her final destination as a result of a flight cancellation or omission of a scheduled stop, Carrier will, at the passenger’s option, transport the passenger on another of Carrier’s flights on which space is available at no additional charge, or refund the fare for the unused transportation, or provide a credit voucher for such amount toward the purchase of future travel.
Even without the above T&C keeping my money would borderline on fraud. They accepted my money and failed to provide me with the service I paid them to provide.
I called my credit card company and initiated a chargeback that I will easily win. I recalled that Allegiant Air offered a debit card discount when buying the ticket. Many people in my position that take advantage of this discount would have to sue Allegiant to get their money back. I suppose this is one of the reasons they offer it. They must make millions a year stealing from people that have no ability to charge back and do not go to the trouble of suing them for refunds on canceled flights.
I know Allegiant is a bottom feeder type airline. They have fees for carry on bags, using their website to buy a ticket, using a credit card, picking a seat, and they even charge you $2 for a bottle of water. They are the only airline that flies non stop from Las Vegas to Rapid City though so it is hard to justify paying twice as much while having to connect in Denver or Salt Lake City.