Is Allegiant Airlines safe? Our thoughts on the 60 Minutes investigation into Allegiant’s safety practices.

Allegiant Airlines is in hot water after a 60 minutes piece that aired Sunday night questioning their safety practices.

Steve Kroft, 60 Minutes correspondent noted that after a month long investigation they found an alarming number of issues and incidents between January 1, 2016, and October 31, 2017 that raised some red flags. “We found more than 100 serious mechanical incidents, including mid-air engine failures, smoke and fumes in the cabin, rapid descents, flight control malfunctions, hydraulic leaks and aborted take-offs,” Kroft said.

Allegiant stock has taken a tumble since the air date, and the airline has been firmly on the defensive. They have released a memo (which you can view here if you have a strong tolerance for PR fluff). where they state that “the 60 Minutes story was instigated by a terminated employee currently involved in a lawsuit seeking money damages from the company. Incidents referenced are years old, and took place before our most recent, comprehensive FAA audit. The story breaks no news”

We dove into this a little bit, and it would appear that the majority of the issues are due to the fact that while Allegiant has an ever growing A320 fleet, they’re still flying a decent amount of outdated MD-80s (purchased second hand) which have been causing a ton of issues including an alarming amount of aborted takeoffs and mid-air engine failures.

I should probably mention that we’ve flown Allegiant Airlines four times now, and on each occasion we were in a new Airbus 320. Despite numerous delays caused by their heavy flight schedule and short turnaround times, we had no real issues (though we did witness a pilot and 2 maintenance guys standing around a turbine spinning it by hand and yelling “See, you can hear it” within earshot of passengers descending the exposed stairway after one of our flights so nothing in this story would shock me).

My lovely fiancée sarcastically preparing for the “standard Allegiant pre and post-crash procedures” on our latest flight.

In the end, I feel like this is a bit overblown and will become even less relevant as they continue to phase out their MD-80 fleet. My biggest hope is that this prompts Allegiant to expedite that process which would be great news for everyone. My second biggest hope is that the negative PR from this story causes demand to drop so we can snag another $20 flight. I don’t know what that says about me.

We’re not experts, and the people who are are engaged in a heated debate over this story with strong arguments on both sides of the fence. One thing that does stand out to us is that since the airline was founded in 2001, they’ve never had a fatal accident. Almost 20 years in it’s hard to attribute that to dumb luck. The airline was quick to bring this up as well, reiterating that they “have safely carried nearly 90 million passengers since beginning operations in 2001” without issue. I guess the odds are in our favor (at least we’ll keep telling ourselves that). We fear nothing. We die like men.


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