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Allegiant Airlines is terrible and here's why...

NoDak
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Allegiant Airlines is terrible and here's why...

Below is the exchange I had with Allegiant (Vegas-based employees only) after the awful experience we had on our flight home from Vegas on 7/9/10. This is all about PRINCIPLE and not about the dollar amount I requested to be refunded (which I never got back btw).

=========================================

Please forward this to Customer Relations and consider this a formal complaint re our air travel with your airlines on July 9, 2010.

Some of your Vegas-based Alligiant employees need to be reprimanded, suspended, or fired for the following:

**NOTE: I should not have to mention this, but in the case of anyone reading this who lacks common sense...when you have a handicapped/disabled person on-board your airlines, that person (and his/her caregiver - that would be me) are to be given special/first-class treatment when flying ANY airlines. This is not 'optional' or random, this is REQUIRED for each and every handicapped customer, and should be taken VERY seriously by your employees. I have a handicapped brother who I grew up with and to again to state the obvious, handicapped people have ENOUGH challenges to deal with in life in general. They NEVER EVER should have to endure substandard/lousy customer service!!! OR be nitpicked (about something petty) by some smug/rude agent and ripped off by a company because of some agent's poor judgment and idiotic decision-making and lack of compassion. I am offended and I am extremely upset about what took place on 7/9/2010 (ie, how we were mistreated), and it will not go unreported until those who gave us lousy service and didn't use common sense are held accountable by your management. These Vegas-based Allegiant counter agents and flight attendants did not get a verbal tongue-lashing (although they probably deserved one!) during the flight because I thought this was a better way to voice my concerns.

1.) Main thrust of the complaint is wrt a carry-on bag that was not allowed to accompany us on the return flight (Vegas to Bismarck / Flight # 414), and instead we were improperly charged $35 for being forced to check the bag because a couple of irrational and RUDE counter agents (Kristy, lady working the counter, and another woman, don't have her name, working the 'carry-on passenger' line) who nitpicked over the bag supposedly being "too long". ALL THIS DESPITE THE FACT I told them that I/we carried the SAME bag on the first leg of the round trip with no problem at all (and with GOOD customer service from the Bismarck-based Allegiant employees). The escort who we had from the counter to the gate (an older gentlemen working for Prospect, who provided outstanding customer service btw!) was shocked when we told him that your Allegiant agents were pulling out a measuring tape and nitpicking about a fraction of an inch! He said in all his years of working at the Las Vegas airport, he had NEVER heard of the agents using tape measurers. He was so blown away, he said he was going to have to go back to the counter area to see this ludicrous behavior for himself! In addition, on arrival to Bismarck yesterday morning, I counted at least a half-dozen to a dozen other flyers who exited our plane in Bismarck with carry-on bags that were comparable in size to our bag (or bigger!). Doesn't sound like CONSISTENT customer service, now does it?

2.) No offer of assistance to my handicapped/disabled companion and spouse by ANY of the flight attendents when we boarded and exited the aircraft. All three of them (female) just kind of stood around and watched and didn't say anything or offer to help us. I assisted my spouse (she uses a cane and can only walk short distances) from the end of the ramp to her seat and vice-versa. Felicia, one of the attendants, was especially rude and inconsiderate. There was a compartment clearly marked "For front row customers" in front of us. But Felicia took my spouse's cane and put it in some compartment WAY behind us. I asked her why she was doing that and her excuse was that the first row compartment was full. Later I noticed that some flight crew's bag AND a tray of food was in that 'front-row CUSTOMER' compartment! How selfish and stupid can someone (like these flight attendants) be? Note: after landing in Bismarck, a kind and thoughtful passenger passed my spouse's cane forward up to us, doing the job that the flight attendant was supposed to do!

3.) After she and the other two fight attendants exhibited a don't-care/unfriendly attitude towards us, Felicia even had the audacity to add some snide comment (in a distasteful tone) to me during the flight that I was not allowed to chew tobacco on the flight. Of course, she mentions this to me AFTER I was finished with my chew. Even though I was already visibly upset re the baggage fee incident prior to boarding, I said nothing in return. Newsflash: there are NO SIGNS wrt chewing tobacco on your plane. You have signs obviously re smoking. If you use common sense, you would know that chewing tobacco is a SMOKELESS product, so the "no smoking" ban on board does not apply. Also I do not take kindly some flip comment like the one she said to me...there was NO reason for the flight attendant to be a jerk about it. I am an adult, not a child, so treat me like one! As an adult, I have been using smokeless tobacco for 20 years and I know how to use it discreetly (not bothering anyone around me) and I know how to dispose of it properly after use. Please tell your smug flight attendant to save her dumb comments, especially when I am the caregiver of a disabled person.

I am requesting that swift reprimanding action be taken on the above-mentioned employees immediately by Allegiant's management, and that the improper and inappropriate baggage fee be refunded to me (via my credit card) as soon as possible. If you really know (and are interested in giving) good customer service and not having your reputation ruined, then to make up for this lousy customer service (again, only by the Vegas-based employees mentioned above), an offer of a voucher or credit for a future flight (just giving an example) to both of us would be a nice gesture by your company.....if you ever want us to continue using (or recommending) your airlines in the future.

==========================================

a couple of days later, I get the following phone call (my notes following a brief conversation with so-called "customer relations" are below)......

Well that was interesting....

Someone from Allegiant (Cathy) calls me and does a lousy job "apologizing", and then upsets me more by saying I won't be getting my $35 back.....then after the phone call, I see a voucher for $35 in my email....??? Puzzling....

Anyway, some of your people really need re-learn proper customer service:

1.) "The customer is always right" - This of course doesn't really mean 'always'. But regarding something that's borderline or a matter of interpretation OR WHEN THERE IS A FACTUAL INCONSISTENCY (as was committed by your Vegas-based counter agents), the proper thing to do is to give the customer (me) a break (or the benefit of the doubt). Let it go. The customer doesn't want to hear "We're sorry for their rudeness; however our employees did this-this-and-that right". Don't want to hear the however's, but's, and all the other justifications. It makes your apology sound empty. Your employees in Las Vegas screwed up, period! They dismissed out of hand (or thought I was lying) what I said, the FACT that the bag in question WAS A CARRY-ON from Bismarck to LV. They basically said "it doesn't matter what happened in Bismarck". Your agent improperly charging me $35 is called USING BAD JUDGMENT.

2.) Don't say things to a customer like "let me educate you on (blah blah blah)". That is condescending, coming from someone who should be experienced enough in so-called customer relations and should know better.....especially when you KNOW before you make the call that the customer is already pretty livid. I (the customer) am not interested in being lectured to about this policy or that policy's minutia. You (Allegiant) could've have easily said "Sorry sir for the inconvenience. We'll refund your money promptly. You may want to consider using a smaller bag next time you wish to fly with us." That is the proper tone and approach to take towards the customer.

Please pass that along and maybe I can educate them.

In the meantime, a $35 voucher is unacceptable compensation, because it just means that I have to spend more money with your airlines, which in all likelihood, I won't be flying anymore.

Seattle, Washington
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1. Re: Allegiant Airlines is terrible and here's why...

Why do people write it's always about the principle, not the money??

This is what I am reading.

1. You feel all "handicapped" people need to be given "special first class treatment". This treatment is "required" by virtue of the fact the passenger has some sort of handicap. You are angry because you were forced to check an oversized bag, that apparently you managed to get on the plane on your first flight.

Well, you were lucky your first flight. If the bag was oversized, it was oversized and should have been checked. If they actually measured it, I can only assume that the bag indeed exceeded the carryon limits. Why you feel an employee who is following company procedures deserves a "verbal tongue lashing" is beyond me.

Why not turn this around and feel lucky that you got away with taking it onboard on the first flight. You saved $35! Lucky you.

2. Did you notify the airline in advance that there were passengers that would need assistance, or were you planing on them just knowing this? It is not the job of an FA to take care of passenger's canes. You got it safely didn't you? Not sure what the problem is here.

3. O.k., when I got to this one, I totally no longer believe your thread. Nice one though.

Is it a nice day where you live? Perhaps you should spend sometime outside in the sunshine, instead of wasting it with these ridiculous posts.

Edited: 24 July 2010, 16:21
North Carolina
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2. Re: Allegiant Airlines is terrible and here's why...

3. You're lucky you weren't tossed out mid flight. Chewing tobacco is just plain nasty! I'm sure your fellow passengers were thrilled to be flying with you.

Frankfort, Indiana
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3. Re: Allegiant Airlines is terrible and here's why...

Just a couple things and not meaning to sound like I'm downplaying your complaints in any way.

Complaint #1: The issue of the bag-Just because a bag is allowed on for one leg of a trip doesn't mean that th bagactually meets the standards set by the airline. Now I agree if it was as close as you say it was that they should have allowed you to carry it on. Does Allegiant do OLCI? I'm sure with your situation (your handicapped spouse), that you had to stop at the counter anyway to arrange assistance, but if Allegiant does do OLCI then that would explain why so many other passengers with comparable bags were allowed to carry their bags on.

Complaint #2: No offer of assistance by cabin crew-While an offer of assistance should have been made regardless, I have seen caregivers be rather rude to people offering assistance. I don't know if they take it as they don't know what they're doing or if they just have their own way of doing things. I have seen it happen though on several occasions.

Complaint #3: The chewing tobacco-It wasn't on Allegiant, but I could have sworn that I heard some airline announce that chewing tobacco wasn't allowed either. That would have just been a company policy and not a federal law like smoking, but just saying that maybe that's what happened there. Why it wasn't brought up sooner than it was, I have no idea.

The apology?- There's no excuse and no explanation for this one. Even if the woman didn't mean it when she apologized, she could have at least made herself sound sincere and I know that makes a huge difference. While it would be nice if they meant it when they apologized, at least it makes the customer feel better if it sounds sincere. Once again, no excuse for this one.

Solution- Easy enough and you've already said that you'd do it. Vote with your wallet. The company may not miss the money from you and your spouse, but if enough people do it and stick to their guns, then the company will be forced to make changes.

Bangkok
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for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
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4. Re: Allegiant Airlines is terrible and here's why...

Hi,

It sounds like this is another case that highlights the difference between what we think *should* have been done, be that from a customer service point of view or otherwise, and what *must* be done from a contractual or regulatory basis.

As to the notion that handicapped/disabled persons be afforded "special/first-class treatment", this isn't exactly true... Persons with credible disabilities, as defined and codified under US Federal Law, 14 CFR Part 382, are afforded special rights and accommodations.. This is commonly known as the "Air Carrier Access Act".. or ACAA for short.

Full text here:

http://www.dotcr.ost.dot.gov/asp/airacc.asp

If you read the Act carefully, it *does* speak to exactly what responsibilities, services and accommodations the airline *MUST* provide to said passengers and that such services may NOT come with charges.

So.. with that in mind...

<<FIRST POINT>> about the checked cabin bag.. Unless the cabin bag contained legitimate supplies or other items that the qualified disabled passenger needed for the trip, the airline is perfectly within their rights to mandate that it be checked if there is no space or otherwise.. The fact that the owner of the bag happens to be a disabled traveler is not material to the discussion-- *SO LONG AS* the bag itself does not contain necessary supplies for that disabled passenger, Allegiant hasn't violated any regulatory rules.

As to the fact that they (Allegiant) used a tape measure, again, Allegiant is perfectly within their rights to use any reasonable device or methodology to ascertain your bags dimensions and weight to insure compliance with carry-on size, weight limits.. So while you may find it "nick picking" to do so, it's perfectly permitted.

<<SECOND POINT>> The ACAA does in fact outline, in great deal, exactly what "assistance" the airline and their personnel are *required* to provide to all qualified disabled person during the boarding, in-flight and de-planing process. From what you write, it doesn't appear that the Allegiant FA's violated any ACAA rules as well, since with limited exceptions (for people with ambulatory issues) airline personnel are NOT required to physically move, seat or otherwise alter a persons body position to accommodate their seating..

As to the notion that they then put your spouses cane "in some compartment WAY behind us", the ACAA *does require* that the airline allow you to store the mobility device ON the aircraft itself and WITHOUT charge, but there is NO mandate that speaks to it's stored proximity relative to your specific seating location... As such, again, Allegiant was perfectly within the regulations by storing it in another location, albeit not close to you-- so long as it was: a) on the aircraft itself and b) done so without charge.

<<THIRD POINT>> The use of smoke-less tobacco is regualted by the individual airlines themselves as it's doesn't currently fall under federal statues for on-board use. If it was in fact prohibited, then they were right to inform you of such.. However, not withstanding, they should do so in a polite and professional manner.

Summary.. I think that the issues with your disabled flying partner sound bad. and I think that (without being there to witness it) there was probably some other, perhaps better ways to address these issues, but I also don't think that it raises to a point of non-compliance with the law..

Also, as a reverse-looking suggestion, all US airlines MUST have a formal complaints officer (CRO).. a specially trained and designated airline employee, available to you either in person or by phone to hear and assist in resolving any matter related to ACAA statues and accommodations.. If you ever believe that any of your *rights* are being violated you should politely request to see or speak to this person at the earliest convenience.

I think in the end, that Allegiant perhaps didn't handle the matter as best as it could have, but that they also didn't break any laws in terms of what they did or did not do.. That's how I derive my initial comment.. In this case it appears that Allegiant followed the rules, but didn't do so using the most professional and customer-service oriented manner.

Travel Safe,

Garden Bay, Canada
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for Air Travel, Business Travel
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5. Re: Allegiant Airlines is terrible and here's why...

Wow. I'm sorry CaptNDiet, but I don't see anything in the complaint that I'd agree was a transgression by the airline. Carry-on size and tobacco use rules are pretty much consistent across the industry. FA's are prohibited from doing lifting/toting of people or luggage.

The bag size issue is annoying, I know. Bag sizes in the US identified by bag manufacturers are typically internal dimensions, yet the airlines specify external... which makes sense but easily puts the passenger at odds.

I do agree with one aspect... I dislike it too when you have a bulkhead seat and the FA's have put all their stuff in the overhead bin. I don't see this much on CO, but I do see it frequently on AC.

Bangkok
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for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
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6. Re: Allegiant Airlines is terrible and here's why...

Hi,

To add a comment in regards to where the crews store their bags... I'd note that for many airlines, exactly where the FA's are supposed to store their bags are pre-set and explicitly defined for them by company policy and is *not* a random or discretionary thing.. Generally speaking where they are supposed to store their bags is governed somewhat on where they will be assigned to work on that flight.

So, as unsavory as it may be, in some cases, they are supposed to- by company policy- store their approved bags in a designated FC closet or bin... it's not "just 'cause it's there" kind of a thing.

Travel Safe,

7. Re: Allegiant Airlines is terrible and here's why...

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Removed on: 24 July 2010, 18:35
Vancouver, Canada
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for London
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8. Re: Allegiant Airlines is terrible and here's why...

A few things come to mind.

If a person wishes to complain then that person is entirely free to write a letter to a company, outlining the reasons for the disappointment and including pertinent details - in this case date of travel, flight numbers, arrival and departure cities and ticket numbers. NB - for clarity, the personal information should be included in the letter the unhappy consumer writes, not posted in a public forum.

The letter should be factual; although frustrated about the situation, emotion should be kept out of the body of the letter as much as possible. USE OF CAPS for emphasis is discouraged.

Let's say there were three areas of concern. Ideally, a good letter of complaint should include suggestions of ways to make things better, both for the (in this case) airline and pax. Could some leeway have been allowed for the hand baggage? Perhaps, but not if the flight was chockablock and every inch of overhead locker space utliised. Could cabin crew be more proactive in terms of helping those who need a bit of assistance? Maybe - but it depends on what is required in terms of help or assistance (qv the ACAA info posted by GOPBI).

A one page letter outlining the matters, potential changes that may have made the experience better for pax and staff and a request for a reply within ten working days. Now that's a letter of complaint.

Use of smokeless tobacco is one I would not like to see on board any plane. Sorry to be didactic but it's neither pleasant to be around nor attractive as the end product.

As mentioned, there are specific lockers and storage areas for cabin crew bags and service items. Whilst this may seem 'unfair' it's the mandate of the airline and we must live with it.

Luzon, Philippines
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9. Re: Allegiant Airlines is terrible and here's why...

My diagnosis after reading the complaint and rebuttal from other TA members is....this is another common case of AFPS = Angry First Post Syndrome. The term was coined by a fellow TA member in one of the forums in Southeast Asia.

Edited: 24 July 2010, 19:04
atlanta
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10. Re: Allegiant Airlines is terrible and here's why...

Your expecations of what you expected are not supported by any "REQUIREMENT" but your "I am special" attitude.

The bigger "handicap" here appears to be the OP "I am special and the rules don't apply to ME" attitutde. Your expecation of service is not realistic and appears to be based on the 'I am special" rather then any requirement. The airline is NOT required to do all the things you seem to expect.

The bag was TOO big. Just because someone was NICE enough to let you BREAK the rules does not make that the rule! LOL!

And as for attitude.. Something tells me OP reaped what he sowed. The whole tone of his letter is proof of that IMHO.

Edited: 24 July 2010, 20:38