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Allegiant customers livid, cite lack of help following MidAmerica security issue

ST. LOUIS – A security scare at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport on caused a slew of travel woes for Allegiant Airline customers.

The nightmare began at MidAmerica on Easter Sunday. After waiting for hours on the runway, passengers on an Allegiant flight were asked to de-board their plane.

TSA screeners found a passenger waiting to board with a laptop with suspicious-looking wires, now believed to be a hard drive. An Allegiant spokesperson said the time it took to investigate of the laptop forced flight crews to exceed their maximum duty time, so five Allegiant flights into and out of MidAmerica were canceled.

Passengers waited for hours only to learn Allegiant couldn’t get them on another flight for two to four days.

Rebecca Barczewski of south St. Louis County was headed for a vacation to Fort Walton Beach, Florida with her daughter, son-in-law, and their three kids. They were all visiting from Kentucky.

Barczewski said they drove home Monday after Allegiant offered no help.

Allegiant did offer passengers refunds or seats on other flights, but Allegiant doesn't have daily flights to its destinations so it can be a two or four-day wait for another flight. Customers said Allegiant did not offer help with hotel stays or contingency flights with other airlines.

Allegiant released the following statement late Monday afternoon:

"We understand that our unique schedule makes any sort of interruption more difficult than on a carrier with more frequent service, which is why we do everything in our power to mitigate operational disruptions. This, however, was unexpected and entirely out of our control – we had every intention to operate these flights as planned, but were at the mercy of local law enforcement and TSA officials.

"As an ultra-low-cost carrier, we work with more limited resources than the larger carriers, and cannot always simply add flights – that requires spare aircraft and crew that we do not always have available, especially on two of our busiest days of the week (Sunday/Monday) during a very busy time of the year for travel (spring break/Easter holiday.)

"Because of this, we did make a special accommodation like you mentioned – we refunded passengers for any unflown portion of their itinerary. This is not required by the Department of Transportation, but we know that this situation had extraordinary circumstances, and having the refund from the flight will assist with our passengers’ needs to find alternate methods of transportation."