A Personal Rant

Forgive me for foregoing the problems of the world in order to indulge a hissy fit, but what’s the use of having a blog if I can’t use it to vent?

Last week, my husband and I–together with several members of our extended family– took our annual vacation in South Carolina, where we’ve owned a beachfront time-share for some 40+ plus years. I usually drive, but it’s over 800 miles, and I’m getting “up there in years” as my kids point out, so we decided to fly.

We booked airfare to Myrtle Beach on Allegiant, which bills itself as a low-cost airline. (It is, if you don’t mind being charged extra for things like carry-on bags and printed boarding passes, and–oh, I don’t know–breathing.) Our vacation condominium is about 35 miles south of Myrtle Beach, and we rented a car. Typical vacation measures.

We hadn’t flown into Myrtle Beach Airport for several years, and found it had been greatly expanded; given that this was the height of the season, it was also a zoo. We hadn’t thought to order a wheelchair for my husband, who has mobility issues, because we remembered the airport as tiny, but my oldest son, who was traveling with us, “commandeered” one that had been abandoned on the concourse, and after an hour in the very long Alamo line to pick up our rental car, we drove to the beach.

A week later, we needed to come home. This time, my husband called Allegiant (which I will never, ever fly again) to reserve a wheelchair. (The airport website instructed us to call our airline.) We have done this with several other airlines, both in the U.S. and Europe, without incident. This time, we had what can only be described as an out-of-body experience.

The man who answered the customer service line had a very thick accent; it was difficult to understand him, and he clearly had difficulty understanding my husband. Much, much worse was the fact that–when my husband finally got him to understand what we wanted–he responded that he’d need credit card information to cover the wheelchair fee of 35.00! He also required an email address, and after several unsuccessful efforts to spell that URL, he finally got it right.

Then he said that the wheelchair fee would be 50.00.

My husband–who is usually pretty mild-mannered (after all, he has to live with me…)–said “No.” After some more back-and-forth, the agent said “Let me talk to my manager,” and put my husband on hold for an extended period of time–at least 15 minutes.( As long as I’m being bitchy anyway, I will report that the hold “music”was also awful.) He finally came back and said he’d convinced his manager to authorize a “credit” of $15, bringing the charge for the wheelchair to “only” $35, which my husband agreed to pay.

Evidently, Allegiant’s obligation to supply that wheelchair (which we were told to pick up at the reservation counter, although several were waiting at the airport curb) was contingent upon replying to the email we received with “I agree.”

The email began with an inappropriately cheery “Greetings for the day!”

As per our conversation and as agreed, we have confirmed your Allegiant Add-on service (wheelchair) under Confirmation No #CJZJSY, with a total charge of $35.00 USD  (Including Taxes & Fees).

The total cost for this service including all taxes and fees would be $35.00  USD.

Please Note: Your credit card may be billed in multiple charges not exceeding the above-mentioned total amount. One charge from AIRLINE & another charge (total might be) from our merchant partner TravoMonk LLC.

Your Credit/Debit Card/Bank statement will reflect charges authorized by Airline & TravoMonk  LLC but not exceeding the above-agreed amount.

All transaction service fees are 100% non-refundable.

The conversation reserving this wheelchair kept my husband on the telephone for over an hour–he had to repeat our flight information and his email address multiple times, and of course, we had to hold while he obtained that munificent $15 reduction authorization from his manager.

It was unreal.

We did get a wheelchair in Myrtle Beach, but when we got to the gate in Indianapolis, there was no wheelchair waiting. Despite the payment of $35.

We’re fortunate–we can afford an unanticipated fee of $35, but I can’t help thinking about people who book Allegiant because they want to save money, and then find that they have to pay extra for virtually everything. Not just snacks or drinks, not just boarding passes, not just the privilege of shlepping their carry-ons on board, but also–should they be unfortunate enough to require mobility assistance- wheelchairs.

Unconscionable. (And, I’m pretty sure, a violation of federal law…Any aviation lawyers out there who can confirm?)

Okay, I’m through. Tomorrow, back to the world’s problems….


  1. This sounds a LOT like my 9 Month battle with TDS Telephone in WI. I was TRYING to automate my payments. It was set up in 2019 and worked flawlessly till Nov 22022. My credit card company issued a new card (Same card number but new expiration date). I could NOT get anyone to enter the NEW date. So nothing worked for month after month. I faxed and mailed via USPS many times – I kept sending the new forms to move it to auto-pay via Huntington checking. They dropped one digit from the account number when they tried to use it – that was MY Fault so they had to fine me and demand instant payment. ON AND ON this went for 9 Months. IF one gets a phone person, English is NOT their first language. A simple issue that SHOULD have been resolved in 5 minutes, dragged on for 9 months. The world has gone stupid. Sometimes it feels like the bastards are trying to kill me. I hate this crap.

  2. Sounds like somebody bought Allegiant and is deliberately running it into the ground so they can declare the company bankrupt and walk away with the money they’ve drained out of it.

  3. Allegiant Airline is abominable!! The worst. I flew it once … never again. Sorry your experience was as bad.

  4. Sorry to hear of your horrific experience. It makes one wonder what sort of people actually fly the planes or how much they’re paid to do so.

    Maybe this is the prime example of what President Biden has been talking about regarding gouging fees.

  5. Don’t get me started on our experience with United Airlines on a series of ****ups on a trip from Bilbo Spain to Indy. Covid was the best part of the trip.

  6. Hmmm, maybe our Secretary of Transportation should hear about this, particularly the upcharge for the wheelchair.

  7. Go to YouTube and search for United Breaks Guitars. There are three videos and they are very entertaining. View them in sequence. Actually there is a fourth from the president of Taylor Guitars.

    Customer service is mostly dead everywhere.

  8. Sheila,
    This will likely accomplish nothing but would be therapeutic if nothing else. If you’re on the new Twitter (I’m no longer), find Allegiant’s handle and be clear about the lousy, inexcusably service you received. I had a service issue with another airline, tweeted about it and got a fairly quick response.

  9. Report this to Mayor Pete at the USDOT. I think he is working on a lot of these Airline rip-off issues

  10. Bravo, done with respect and detail. if your over say 50, some just
    walked onto planes long ago without the er,baggage. porters were there to help with family,the need for assitance and just to getya to the gate across LAX. without the BS. (thanks porters @DIA) tip in cash, and smile. but the world has changed,to Sheila, its not easy to drive anywhere anymore, ask a trucker. but flying, id rather extend my vacation time and drive anyway. airpots,(yea my way of calling them) have become a investment/profit boon dangle. while we get compressed into a time line,(thank a i-bone,and its reward of being expected to perform to others needs first) thats being more and more less personal and more like regulation. looking at the pics of recent airport checkins and some app to get ya faster? into the hull, seems like a blind step that just isnt working,it still takes more time to do the flight search,pay,and drive to the airpot /the car rental counter,(thats another scam)than it is to drive. (from bismarck save money! fly to denver,then to charlotte NC,then to KC for less!, yea my wifes search, shes driving to KC.)imagine that for a few bucks saved.)
    if airlines are starving for money, charge everyone for a damn cost of a single ticket and make it worth flying again. nit picking the customer, will,gets a educated venting in real time here..
    and the users view of what not to do. if theres a ADA law, pass it on here, and lets make a voice to that affect. that wheelchair use shouldnt be a issue. nor should flying..

  11. PATMCC:
    dont drive a truck, we live this rodeo daily with every aspect of it..

  12. Allegiant and another jet had a near miss over FL this past week – both are under investigation.

    It makes you wonder what percent of passengers return to fly on this “no frills/near crash” airline?

    I looked, and the DOT doesn’t collect this record. 🙁

  13. That seems like a violation of law to charge for a wheelchair. Definitely should be contested. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. Apparently United allows wheelchairs and they do not charge but there are several things they ask you to fill out beforehand on their website. However, it seems with it being public transport that you should be allowed to fly whichever airline you choose with wheelchair accommodations.

  14. Welcome to people sans wealth as livestock.

    Hey, blacks put up with it for 200 years so we can for the last inning of life.

  15. It also seems there is a law called the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 that you could reference wherein you define that “accommodation” satisfies a “need”. Your “needs” were not satisfied and therefore you weren’t accommodated. Merely suggesting the availability of a wheelchair is not “accommodation”.

  16. “It’s a big, wide, wonderful world we live in.” The last time I traveled, I was using a cane and didn’t think I needed assistance, but the driver who took me to the airport, escorted me to the ticket counter. They called for a wheel chair, and changed my seat. They also arranged for a wheelchair pickup in Indy. That was Spirit Airlines! They did the same in Indy for my return flight.

    I have been feeling extraordinarily blessed in the last couple of years and this might be a continuation of that. Not everything is going to hell in a handbasket, just a large part of our little world!

  17. OUCH!
    We have flown Allegiant a number of times, out of Clearwater/St. Pete, with no difficulty, but we
    just have carry-on’s and no mobility issues.
    One thing that complicated your issue was that the fellow on the phone was not a native english
    speaker. He might not have been stationed in the U.S., and your husband/we are allowed to ask
    about that. If he/she is not in the U.S., one can request to be connected to someone who is, in the
    hope that communication does not become part of the problem.

  18. Sorry. I’ve had only one experience with Allegiant (Indpls RT Palm Springs) and I found no troubles. Each of us can cite examples of terrible experiences, but how many of such events are there compared to the volume of traffic handled by the airlines? There is no doubt that each of these egregious events occur and the airlines could do better. But there is very little competition in the airline industry and it gets worse each year.
    And the rail and bus services in this country make the the airlines the only feasible mode of inter-urban travel. Both the airlines and the highways are federally subsidized. Enough.

  19. Time to invest in high speed rail. Like the rest of the western world. Eastern, too. Oh wait – we don’t invest for the future any more. My bad.

  20. A long time ago I spent 15 years working in the travel business. Air travel has certainly become more complicated and not nearly as much fun. While I’m no defender of Allegiant I can offer an alternative perspective.
    Allegiant is NOT trying to be everything to everybody. They are a regional carrier offering
    NONSTOP service from point A to B. Allegiant was your ONLY nonstop option from IND -MYR.
    You could have taken DL or AA with a connecting flight and possibly paid as much or more than Allegiant. Within those other airlines
    there are levels of pricing and service ( from advance seat assignments to free checked baggage) from basic to First class.

    Allegiant spells it out VERY CLEARLY on their booking website what you are getting and what you are not by the fare you choose to pay. There are no surprises unless you can’t or don’t read.

    I have flown Allegiant several times to Florida without incident. I also purchase the fare “bundle” that allows me to cancel with refund, priority check-in, checked and carry on bags, and advance seat assignments. It’s not cheap but the nonstop option is always the priority for me – even though their seats are hard and seem more narrow.
    I have seen several elderly people on these flights – they are usually the last ones to exit as they are waiting for wheelchairs. Many of them sporting allegiant credit cards that offer travel perks and points for future travel. So it’s definitely attractive to a lot of people and most of the time the plane is completely full.
    For a certain group of people who don’t care where they sit or have baggage the airline offers a cheap nonstop option by paying the most basic fare.
    Travel is a hassle – but everyone can find “something” to bitch about.

    Don’t bother calling “Pete” – he’s probably on his free time!

  21. Professor-I wish you had called me first. If you had, you would possibly had avoided all of this.

  22. This is my husband’s biggest complaint! Every time we’re in Europe–and the one time we were in China–we’ve traveled by train. They’re fast, comfortable (you can move around, unlike airplanes) and civilized. If there was a train down the East Coast, we’d have taken it!!

  23. I have flown Allegiant several times from Indy to Clearwater/St. Pete without any problems whatsoever. They are flying a new Airbus that route. Pretty sweet. Airline has always been on time. My elderly mother uses a wheelchair in airports and we’ve never had Allegiant charge us for one. This must be a new thing they’re doing. Pretty stupid. I guarantee you though if you’d just had shown and asked for a wheelchair, the airport would have provided you one for free. Allegiant might have too if you’d have asked for one at the counter as opposed to ordering it in advance. Still there is no excuse for Allegiant charging you for one. Again, stupid.

  24. MoJo,

    High speed rail throughout the US is never going to happen no matter how much money people might be willing to spend on it.. The US is spread out with numerous areas that have no population density whatsoever. Europe can do high speed rail because it has population density.

    Bottom line is you have to have population density for a good commuter rail system.

  25. A couple of years ago, Allegiant also had the distinction of being the unsafest airline.

    I’ve used wheelchairs at the airport for family, friends, and once for myself – always without charge. Charging for a wheelchair should be – maybe it is a crime. They don’t charge extra for wheels on the plane. That comes with the ticket price. Turn them in for the charge and the whole time-consuming experience.

  26. Hi Sheila —
    There is a train — the Silver Meteor which goes thru Kingstree, SC – which is about an hour from your seaside destination. However, you have to take a different train from Chicago to Washington, DC and then transfer to the Meteor. And of course you will stop at every little podunk tow between Chicago and Kingstree. So the entire trip should take no more than 2 entire days!

    To MoJo’s point — do you think the US will EVER invest in high speed rail like the rest of the civilized world? Why can’t we give the unemployed coal miners jobs manufacturing and building rail?!!?!? Oh right, the $$$$ and decision-making is in the hands of the oil barons – thanks, Joe Manchin!!!

  27. Sheila,

    Just think of the nice trains we could have across this country basically passing by or through every nook and cranny, if, the money they spend on the Ukraine was spent on here.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t help Ukraine, but, when it comes to blowing stuff up and killing people, there’s always money available! When it comes to preserving life, it’s a great big kerfuffle. The politicians and wealthy complain about all of the pigs at the trough looking for something free.

    Ask for some bombs to be dropped on someone, or, an automatic military style weapon designed for maximum bloodshed sold in local gun shops, there’s no problem! Sign the checks and send them off.

  28. I wouldn’t ever fly Allegiant no matter how low the advertised price.

  29. Basically our economic system is set to MAXIMIZE profits. A “reasonable return on investments” is too little. Corporations are supposed to maximize return to shareholders only, with no other concerns and in a functional monopoly like the airline industry, that means “***” the customer, all airlines are the same, you have nowhere else to turn — unless you have money and fly first class.

    Based on this, discount airlines, unlike their Peoples Express predecessor, have found the way to stay in business to offer low prices, and then “***” you with fees for breathing.

    The major airlines have decided to follow suit by cramming in more seats (I’m just under 5’3″ and I find the leg room to be a problem). Then they went along with charging for luggage and finally for seats.

    An alternative would be to do away with frequent flyer miles, but that would hurt business customers most, their biggest profit group.

    As an aside (since we are airing pet peeves), years ago there was a class action lawsuit against the airlines for price fixing. I used to travel to conferences then, so I received over $1,000 in coupons — all unusable because they were only valid on full fare purchases, which I never used. The extra $100 I would have had to pay to use my $25 coupon made no sense.

    As for high speed rail, you are both incorrect and correct, Paul. It is not all or nothing. A rail line between San Diego and San Fransisco would make sense, as well as between DC and Boston. Crisscrossing the country with high speed rails would not make sense — and again, we won’t build them because of the expense; we already have airplanes.

    I did enjoy my long train ride from Chicago to New Orleans, years ago and it was just a 5 minute cab ride to my hotel in the French Quarter (over an hour from the airport) – of course the train was 12 hours late. Fortunately, I was not in a hurry and planned for extra time.

  30. I will never fly Allegiant again. They have direct flights from Mesa AZ to South Bend so I had to use them once or twice to see my Mother. I don’t like being nickel and dimed for everything. If you compare other airline prices, you’ll find, you get what you pay for.

    And Paul, you’ve obliviously never taken trains in Europe. There is a lot of farm land in Europe and there are long distance trains, commuter trains and local buses. Don’t criticize things you know nothing about. The US gas and oil companies paid millions to lobbyists to keep trains from continuing across the country and you know it! That’s why we don’t have public transportation worth a damn.

  31. I often lament the days when airlines were vigorously regulated. Before the days of poor service, making profit off borrowed money and tax deduction rewarded mergers. Those days saw wonderful service , no overbooking and hardly any delays. Why was regulation so good? Stupid result of deregulation: Regulation did not permit airlines to compete for the same customer base. Instead airlines had assigned exclusive routes. Charges and performance, as well as safety, were highly monitored and enforced. The air lines of the day like; PAN AM, Northwest Orient, TWA and even new comers such as Ameican, United and ohers did well. Exclusive routes had a requirement that at least one regional airport
    even if the service was not profitable. Taking into consideration the large profits made from the exclusive routes. I REMEMBER THE DAYS WHEN I COULD TAKE A CONNECTING FLIGHT OUT OF MUNCIE AIRPORT INSTEAD OF DRIVING 60 miles to Ft.Wayne or Dayton or 90 miles to Indy. All tolled it was cheaper and easier than current nightmare. I first took a flight from NYC to Ft. Wayne alone as a 9 yea old,. The days before deregulation were pleasant. zFlew often. 80 s the nightmare began.

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