I scheduled a trip to Blaine Washington from Palm Springs for my wife to spend her birthday with our grand children. I booked the flight 3 weeks ahead of time, and surprised her with the planned trip the morning of her departure.
On April 1st, 2010 arriving at the check in counter of Allegiant Air in Palm Springs at 10:37am for a flight scheduled for departure at 11:20am (43 minutes before departure) we were informed by the agent assisting a family of 4 (the father was wrapping his Coleman cooler with duct tape) just ahead of us that the counter was now closed, that we were considered a "NO SHOW" and we would not be allowed to check in and that we had forfeited our air fare. At first, I thought this was just a bad April fool’s joke. To my AMAZEMENT, it was not.
As we argued our importance of boarding this flight, another passenger scheduled for this flight, a young mother, with an infant daughter, whose husband was based out of the local 29 Palms Marine Base and was serving duty in Iraq, joined us in line to check in. This young girl was traveling to Blaine Washington to be with her mother who was in the hospital and was scheduled for stage 4 cancer surgery the following day. She explained her situation to the agent, asked for reconsideration to her boarding this flight, as she could not afford to forfeit her fare, and could not afford the additional $258.00 fare for the flight departing the following evening.
Keep in mind, Palm Springs Airport, even though it is considered an International Airport, is neither a very busy airport, it is also designed as a rather small, easy to maneuver airport. I have flown out of the facility numerous times because of its convenience, and ability to move thru quickly. I am certain we could have been at the boarding gate with time to spare to board this plane.
On witnessing this poor display of customer service, 2 couples, waiting to check in at the competitor airline (WestJet) next to the Allegiant Air counter came over and purchased the ticket necessary for this young girl to travel to see her mother the following evening. A TRUE ACT OF HUMAN KINDNESS!! Much unlike the way the agent from Allegiant Air had treated us. I truly feel this agent got pleasure out of denying my wife and this young mother boarding, as she had a bit of a smirk on her face during the entire episode. Her only rebuttal was that we obviously had not read the Terms and Conditions of Allegiant when we purchased our tickets.
I will admit I did not know the airline REQUIRED a 2 hour check in time prior to departure…which seems rather extreme considering this particular airport. I think it necessary they find a way, besides the fine print in their T’s & C’s to inform their customers of such an unusual requirement. I also feel, if a passenger does not arrive with the RERQUIRED check in time, they at LEAST be given the opportunity to move through the security screening and attempt to get to the gate prior to departure. If at that point, we fail to catch the plane, shame on us for missing the flight.
Don’t take my word for it…check out the reviews of this airline on www.rateitall.com. You will see ALL airlines rated, and Allegiant has the most reviews to date (153) with the worst rating (2.35 of 5 stars) of all the airlines.
Needles to say, this is by far the worst display of customer service on the part of ANY company I have ever experienced!