Passengers Stuck On Grounded Valley Flight Wednesday

July 19, 2013

Allegiant Air is facing criticism for a two-hour delay Wednesday that left passengers stuck onboard with little air conditioning. The airline said the delay at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport was necessary for safety reasons.

The 150 passengers were given food and drinks as they waited, but weak air conditioning led to hot temperatures inside the plane. Allegiant spokeswoman Lindsday Hernquist said delays are sometimes needed, even though maintenance crews do safety checks every night and flight crews do one prior to boarding.

“There are some additional maintenance issues that may arise when passengers have boarded,” Hernquist said. “But we are very thorough with our checks, and safety is our number-one priority with our passengers, so we will not fly unless it’s absolutely safe.”

The Transport Workers Union has criticized Allegiant for mechanical delays like this one during the summer. Thom McDaniel, vice president with the union, said the delayed passengers were placed in a potentially dangerous situation by the airline. He said Allegiant’s use of older aircraft and few daily flights out of Mesa worsens these delays – and that the union has been attempting to address the problem for years.

“One of the first things that we brought up was the hot aircrafts during the summertime,” McDaniel said, “and making sure that the proper maintenance was done and the proper precautions were taken to make sure that the flight attendants or the customers were not going to be exposed to things like this.”

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