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For Second Straight Month, Same Airline Strands Passengers on Tarmac, Reportedly without A/C


“They could be the worst airline in the world and we’d fly them because we want to go to Vegas,” said Tom Mayo of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who recently flew there with his family. “It’s our only option.”

For the second straight month, the same airline has forced passengers to wait in their seats for hours on a tarmac, reportedly without air conditioning.

More than 150 Allegiant Air passengers were forced to sweat it out in their seats in triple-digit temperatures for 2 1/2 hours earlier this week even though the plane was still at the gate, according to a local news station.

In this Thursday, May 9, 2013, photo, a Southwest airline taxis by parked Allegiant Air jetliners at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. (Credit: AP)

KTVK-TV reports passengers had already boarded the plane at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on Wednesday when a maintenance issue was discovered that left the aircraft without air conditioning.

There were no reports of any injuries to the passengers, and it isn't immediately clear where the delayed flight was headed.

A call Friday to Las Vegas-based Allegiant for comment wasn't immediately returned. The airline has said Arizona's summer heat can increase mechanical issues.

In this Thursday, May 9, 2013, photo, an Allegiant Air flight attendant prepares his passengers for the Laredo, Tex.-bound flight before it pushes back from the terminal at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. (Credit: AP)

This is second month in a row that an Allegiant flight has experienced such a delay. In June, passengers stuck on the tarmac for hours on an Allegiant Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Phoenix, supposedly without air conditioning or water, put the saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” into practice.

“Flight attendants leave us alone to our devices after 5 hours, 2 planes, no snacks, no water, no A/C,” a passenger going by joeypancakes on YouTube wrote of the weekend flight. Under these conditions, joeypancakes said two people passed out and another two vomited.

What’s to do in a situation like this? In order “to avoid a mutiny, the passengers banded together in song,” joeypancakes wrote.

The song they chose? R Kelly’s 1996, No. 2 Billboard hit “I Believe I Can Fly.” (Check out the hilarious video below.)

It may be of interest to add that Allegiant is considered a bit of an airline anomaly; unlike many of its competitors over the last decade, Allegiant has been profitable for 10 straight years, according to the Toledo Blade.

In this Thursday, May 9, 2013, photo, two Allegiant Air jets taxi at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. (Credit: AP)

The small airline only flies from small cities to sunny vacation spots, a niche ignored by its competitors, the Blade reports.

More from the Blade:

Allegiant uses low fares and nonstop flights to entice people who otherwise wouldn’t fly. Then it pitches them hotels, rental cars, show tickets, and other entertainment, earning millions in commissions.

Passengers face fees for almost every service and amenity imaginable. At Allegiant, fees for checked baggage and changing an itinerary — common on many airlines — are just the start.

The Las Vegas-based airline charges extra to book flights online or to use a credit card. Selecting a seat in advance costs $5 to $75 each way, depending on the length of a flight. A bottle of water costs $2.

While other airlines tout aircraft with Wi-Fi and TVs in every seat, Allegiant buys old planes to avoid hefty loans. And to pack in as many passengers as possible, its seats don’t recline. But for small-town Americans with limited flight options, these inconveniences are worth it for a few days of sunshine.

“They could be the worst airline in the world and we’d fly them because we want to go to Vegas,” said Tom Mayo of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who recently flew there with his family. “It’s our only option.”

Allegiant offers nonstop service from places such as Toledo; Owensboro, Ky.; Casper, Wyo., and Appleton, Wis., to popular destinations in Nevada, Florida, Hawaii, and Arizona.

“Typically, the best way to make money is not to compete with somebody,” said Andrew C. Levy, president of Allegiant Travel Co., who sits in a cubicle next to the rest of his staff.

Last year, 7 million passengers took a flight on Allegiant. That is a sliver of the 642 million people who took a domestic flight last year. But Allegiant earned a whopping $11.22 each way from those passengers. On average, the airline industry earned 37 cents each way, per passenger, according to Airlines for America, the industry’s lobbying group.

Allegiant is ruthless about keeping its costs down. Its employees are some of the lowest paid in the industry; in some cases making $20 an hour less than colleagues at other airlines. It pays cash for airplanes nearly twice as old as everyone else. It only sells directly to vacationers, refusing to pay Expedia, Orbitz, or other sites to list its flights.

And if you have a question, it will cost you: The airline doesn’t have a toll-free number.

To book a trip by phone, Allegiant charges $50 for each round-trip ticket. To book online costs $20 for each round-trip ticket. The only way to avoid the fees is to buy tickets at the airport, something fewer than 3 percent of its customers did last year.

Placing a suitcase in an overhead bin is $10 to $25. If passengers show up at the airport with a large carry-on bag and haven’t prepaid, the airline penalizes them an extra $25 to $50, depending on the route.

Here's the report from KTVK-TV:

Here's video of passengers' infamous "I Believe I Can Fly" rendition aboard the Allegiant flight stuck on a Las Vegas tarmac in June:

The Associated Press contributed to this article.




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