If I throw you an extra Hamilton or two, do you think you can get me on a plane that isn’t broken or younger than me?
There are lots of times when you’re getting high that you hope you never come back down again, but the whole point of flying high on an airplane is to eventually come down, preferably safely in the destination that’s printed on your boarding pass.
Well, that’s apparently not how the gang at Allegiant Air sees it.
According to a jaw-dropping investigation conducted by the Tampa Bay Times, the jets that make up the Allegiant Air fleet were forced to make at least…wait for it…77 unexpected landings for serious mechanical failures in 2015, meaning “the budget carrier’s planes are four times as likely to fail during flight as those operated by other major U.S. airlines.”
Several Times reporters built a database of more than 65,000 records from the FAA and then “connected a year’s worth of flight records with documents showing mechanical problems at the 11 largest domestic carriers in the United States, including Allegiant.”
What they discovered is almost as disturbing as grandpa’s inability to make it to the crapper these days:
-Forty-two of Allegiant’s 86 planes broke down in mid-flight at least once in 2015. Among them were 15 forced to land by failing engines, nine by overheating tail compartments and six by smoke or the smell of something burning.
-After certain systems on Allegiant planes fail, the company repairs them and puts the planes back in service, only to see the same systems fail again. Eighteen times last year, key parts such as engines, sensors and electronics failed once in flight, got checked out, and then failed again, causing another unexpected landing.
-Allegiant’s jets are, on average, 22 years old. The average age of planes flown by other carriers is 12. Experts say planes as old as Allegiant’s require the most rigorous maintenance in the industry. But Allegiant doesn’t staff its own mechanics at 107 of the 118 airports it flies to.
-Allegiant relies most heavily on McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, an aging model retired by all but two other major U.S. carriers. The company’s MD-80s fail twice as often as those operated by American Airlines and three times as often as those flown by Delta.
Those findings amongst others didn’t sit too well with one former FAA inspector.
“Allegiant is probably going to have an accident,” said Richard Wyeroski. “That airline should basically be grounded and re-evaluated for their certificate.”
So I guess the question now is, “How bad do you want to save 20 bucks?”