VIENNA - Allegiant Air is not expecting today's predicted snow and ice to trigger a repeat of last week's incident that left many local residents stranded in Punta Gorda, Fla.
Despite expected low temperatures and freezing conditions, Allegiant Air public relations specialist Lindsay Hernquist said Tuesday that scheduled flights at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport bound for Daytona Beach and Punta Gorda Thursday and Sunday should not be delayed or rescheduled.
"We are aware of the expected weather this weekend, but there are no currently expected delays, cancellations or planned rescheduled flights," Hernquist said.
She noted that any changes would be communicated through the company's travel alert system, available on Allegiant's website main page under "flight status."
"If it's determined that (a delay will occur), we will contact our passengers and call or send an email letting them know how long the delay is," Hernquist said. "If there is anything beyond (a delay), we will let them know what steps to follow or what to expect for an updated departure time."
Hernquist's comments came on the heels of a frustrating weekend for local passengers whose flights were repeatedly postponed as they attempted to reach their Youngstown destination from Florida.
Warren resident Peggy Smith, who was among the stranded passengers, said Allegiant's travel alerts were far from reliable. Smith's initial flight back to Youngstown, Flight 980, was canceled for "operational need." It was renamed Flight 1980 and scheduled for a Friday departure.
"I signed up for travel alerts with Allegiant online and I was given an alert saying that (Flight 1980) was on time and that's what it said up until I arrived at the airport," Smith said. "When I arrived, there were deputy sheriffs posted, and (an Allegiant representative) was telling a group of people that the flight was canceled, and that no other flight was scheduled at that time."
Smith said she booked a flight with Delta Air Lines out of Fort Myers in order to get home, ultimately arriving in Cleveland at around 11:30 p.m. Friday.
"It wasn't until (Saturday morning) that I received a travel alert from Allegiant saying that my (Friday afternoon) flight had been canceled," Smith said.
Hernquist said Allegiant had made the decision to cancel the second flight due to weather conditions in the Punta Gorda area.
"The flights operating between Youngstown and Punta Gorda were canceled on Friday afternoon due to weather (low ceiling) in Punta Gorda," Hernquist said in email correspondence. "We are very sorry for the disruption in travel plans, but the safety of our customers and of our pilots is our number one concern."
Dan Dickten, director of aviation at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, said he has confidence Allegiant will make good on its promises it made to its passengers.
"We are among 80 communities to have this low fare," Dickten said.
He pointed out that when delays or cancellations occur, it often is magnified at smaller airports like Youngstown-Warren or Punta Gorda. Cancellations occur frequently at all airports, but they are less notable at larger airports, Dickten said.
Hernquist said Allegiant has a plan in place to compensate those affected by the situation, including offering a full refund of their itinerary, as well as a $100 voucher for future travel with the air line.