When we do reviews of airlines and their various aircrafts/flights, we tend to focus on seat pitch, in-flight entertainment, meals, etc. – basically, First World Problems. However, the one thing we take for granted in the West is: safety. Apparently, our confidence is entirely misplaced. The excellent Tampa Bay Times, winner of 12 Pulitzer Prizes, wrote a terrific exposé into the frankly appalling safety record of the Las Vegas based Allegiant Air.
Here is an excerpt from the full article
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.
I have personally flown Allegiant once from Monterey to Vegas – it was a fairly uneventful flight but I did notice that the aircraft looked very old and dated. Little did I know that I was gambling with my very life. It goes to show how you can never take anything for granted.