Friday, April 15, 2011

I Do Not Pledge Allegiance to Allegiant Air

This past weekend, my hubby Jason and I were invited to join another couple for a quick jaunt in Las Vegas.  We had been planning to drive but, after a 6 hour ride back from Mammoth in March; Jason thought flying sounded like the better way to go.

He was very excited when he phoned me at work to say that he found us flights on Allegiant Air out of Long Beach Airport.   The flight was $37 each way, for each of us plus, an additional $9 per person – per leg – for priority seating.  The whole shebang – for both of us -- cost less than $200.

So, when the weekend of our trip was upon us, we were super excited.  Our flight on Friday night was scheduled to depart at 7:55pm, so we headed to the airport a bit early to get some dinner first. Now, we have flown out of this airport a few times before, but always on Jet Blue.  So when we went down to security and realized we were in the north terminal…I mean…north wing…I mean…north hallway.  This airport is small and there was not one other person checking in with us. Jason and I thought perhaps we had gotten a great deal on flying private.

Well, once we entered that terminal, it was as though we were walking onto a movie set or quite possibly into an alternate reality.  Everyone was lined up when we arrived and they had just started boarding our flight.  We got on line and as they were announcing rows Z20 to Z30.  We tried to figure out what was going on.  I said since our seats had an “A” before the number, perhaps we had to board last?!??!

So we waited patiently for a bit and then Jason just went up to ask.  Well, the gate keeper told us they had given our seats away.  Of course, I had a cow and completely fumed as we walked from the terminal across the tarmac toward the gangway.

But, it got even better!  This airline charged per bag so we had decided to carry on our luggage.  Now, for those of you who really know me, I am extremely challenged when it comes to packing light.  (Remember my 70 pound suitcase in Paris…ok, another story for another day.)

So I was pissed when the baggage guy told me there was no more room and I had to check my bag, I really went ballistic.  Through gritted teeth, I told Jason I was in a bad mood but he – as usual – looked to the bright side and said, “At least they didn’t make us pay.”

Once we got on board, the flight attendant said hello and – without really thinking about it – I blurted out that our seats had been given away.  She was so nice and actually gave us two seats next to each other in the front of the plane that had been reserved.

It was obvious that she was the senior flight attendant because another woman said those seats were reserved for someone else.  But one look from the Alpha attendant and she zipped it up. 

So we got seated and waited while the rest of the travelers made their way on board.  After several minutes, the flight crew began to prepare for take-off.  The plane even started to move.

Then it stopped.  The Alpha did not look pleased and when she picked up the phone she couldn’t hide the disgust on her face.  Then she clicked off the first call and phoned the flight attendant in the back of the plane.  She used her hand to cover her mouth to relay whatever was going on. 

Jason’s first thought that something mechanical was wrong with the plane and we wouldn’t get to Vegas.  I think everyone else was thinking the same thing as we all looked at each other and the plane returned to the jet way.

They opened the doors back up and then we waited - and waited - and then we waited some more.

After quite a few minutes, the Alpha made an announcement that some passengers had had difficulties checking in and had been stuck behind a big party.  Well, since you could only hear crickets when we checked in, it sounded like a bunch of bull, but what could we do except sit and wait.

So, the first group of 3 or 4 passengers got on board.  Everyone yelled – some peopled said hooray and some people hissed boo.  But we were all excited because now we were on our way to Vegas.

But not so fast!  So we waited another 10 more minutes and one guy got on the plane.  They sat him in the first row, which was first class Ghetto-style.  Once again, a few people said hooray and most people said boo again.  But we were all excited to FINALLY be on our way to Vegas.

Well, that wasn’t the case either.  Next thing, the guy that I had given my bag to on the tarmac came on board the plane.  He was completely flirting with the crew members.  Then the pilot came out of the cock-pit and went to use the rest room.  He started flirting with the crew too. It was truly like a bad episode of Singled Out.

Passengers were really starting to get hostile and curse and say things under their breath.  The baggage guy started to walk around and ask people, “You upset?”  And people were pissed, so they would reply, “Yes.”  Then he started to explain that the owner of the company’s son was the guy who just got on the plane.  He gave permission to hold up the plane so that some passengers that were behind him online could make it on the plane. 

Then he would move on to counsel some other disgruntled passenger with his headphones on top of his head, saying, “Was wrong wit you, don worry about a thing.”

Then a woman sitting a row behind us went off.

“This is f&#$% ghetto airlines,” she said.  “Don’t worry if your late, just come on down, we’ll wait for you.”

“The fools are going to be in the unemployment line next week and I hope they are happy. The ghetto airline is going out of business if they keep conducting it like this.”

Jason and I started laughing because she was going off.  And she didn’t stop. My replay of her diatribe doesn’t even do her justice.
Then another group of two women got on the plane and we still had to wait another 10 minutes or so, but it seemed like forever.

Finally, the last person whom we were waiting for got on the plane.  He was another pilot – obviously he had some pull.  They didn’t even ask him to check his bag; they just put it up in the cockpit.  That got me and the lady sitting next to me cracking up.  I know he worked for the airline but weren’t there TSA regulations.  You can’t just put a suitcase up – on the floor of the cockpit – between the two pilots. 

So then we thought we might be finally going somewhere, but then we noticed the baggage guy was still in the back of the plane completely trying to get some girl’s phone number.

Almost an hour after we were supposed to depart – the time we were supposed to be arriving in Vegas – our plane finally pulled away from the gate. 

The flight attendants started to prepare for take-off again.  The Alpha said that she would go through the emergency procedures again, for those who weren’t listening the first time around.

Then, I looked out the window, and I saw the baggage guy.  He was the one who had been onboard socializing with everyone and trying to get the girls’ phone numbers.  He was outside -- with those little red wands – marshaling the plane.  I don’t know why, but I found that to be hysterical.

The good news is that once we got off the ground, the flight was smooth sailing. 

They even had time to roll out the drink carts – where even water wasn’t free – and charge us for some snacks that they got at (what looked like) Smart N Final.  There was nothing free on this flight.

Our return flight from Vegas went without a hitch.  So, I can’t really say anything negative about the airline in general except that I suppose we experienced a Friday night flight to Vegas on the Soul Plane!

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