I once wrote a post called Allegiant Airlines Review: Expect Everything, Carry Nothing. There I documented a perfectly peaceful journey from Montana to Las Vegas on an antiquated MD80. Most people probably have never flown Allegiant but for Montanans, Allegiant is a direct way to get from the middle of nowhere to destinations like Phoenix and Las Vegas at a low fare. That’s why I was shocked when I watched the 60 Minutes segment on Allegiant which goes into great detail about Allegiant’s questionable safety record. There were two guests on the show – one who is a former NTSB agent and the other who is a former FAA lawyer. They both unequivocally say that no one should fly Allegiant if he/she values living. That’s not an exaggeration. They compared Allegiant to tragic ValuJet which crashed in the Everglades killing 110 people. In fact, the former CEO of ValuJet is now the CEO of Allegiant. Why? Because Allegiant has created a toxic culture whereby pilots are discouraged from declaring emergencies, are pressured to not report mechanical problems, and are strongly dissuaded from publicly speaking about the airline.
What is more disturbing about the story is the FAA’s complicity in allowing Allegiant to continue operating in this manner with impunity. Instead of sanctioning the company, the FAA has only sent strongly worded letters to the carrier. Given that lives of thousands of passengers are at stake, that behavior is unacceptable.
Before watching the segment, the joke about flying Allegiant was that it was the Greyhound of the skies. Now, there’s nothing to laugh about.