Allegiant Air says it will bring in planes from other airlines to try and minimize delays after a "compliance issue" with safety slides grounded dozens of the company's jets.
At least four Allegiant flights have already been cancelled at the Orlando-Sanford International Airport because of the problem.
On Monday, a flight from Las Vegas to Peoria was evacuated on the taxiway before takeoff when a smoke detector went off, prompting the emergency slides to be deployed and used, according to Allegiant officials.
During the investigation of that incident, Allegiant discovered that the emergency slide manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule was different than what Allegiant had been doing. In 2007, the manufacturer recommended that all 4 slides on each aircraft be "overhauled" every year. Allegiant was still doing it every three years, as the manufacturer had recommended prior to 2007.
Allegiant is in the process of ensuring that all 4 slides on all 52 of their MD-80's are in compliance. Thursday night, 30 were taken out of service. 15 were back in service on Friday afternoon but delays are expected for several days while the rest of the jets are inspected.
"We apologize for the disruption to our passengers and ask that they please remain patient as we work to correct the issue, reschedule affected flights and accommodate any passengers impacted," said Andrew Levy, Allegiant Travel Company president.
Some passengers told Local 6 that they were planning on attending a wedding but may now miss it. Others said they will likely also miss scheduled events, including football games.
Stranded passengers said Allegiant offered them a hotel voucher and $100 toward a future flight. Allegiant officials said they've offered passengers with a 2-hour delay $100 credit for a future flight, 4-hour delays get $150, 6-hour delays get $200, and canceled passengers are getting a full refund plus a $200 credit. They are also providing hotels for those who are stuck.
The airline said it has activated additional call center staff and will be contacting affected travelers directly. Customers may also sign up for flight alerts for individual flights or call 702-505-8888.