Tornadoes, planes, and grumpy fliers — oh my!

Jerry’s post on weird weather around the world, and my observation and subsequent “whining” (as a few readers put it) about Allegiant Air’s lack of online check-in reminded me of one of the strangest airport experiences I’ve had in recent past.

Some of our U.S. readers might have heard about the nasty stretch of weather that made its way through the Midwest last week. The epicenter of the situation, it seems, was in Springfield, Missouri, where I currently live. More specifically, it happened within a few miles of the Springfield-Branson National Airport (SGF) last Monday, January 7th — the evening I was due to fly to Vegas for CES. More than a dozen tornadoes broke out that evening, and the entire airport was forced to evacuate not once, but twice, sending passengers fleeing into vacant hallways in the center of the concourse. (Pictured above; Click to enlarge.) What’s worse, people past the security checkpoint (myself, naturally) were forced to take cover on the other side of security, which meant I had to go through the checkpoint twice that night — regardless of the fact that the supervisors in air traffic control “didn’t see a need for evacuation.” Best to lean on the side of safety, sure, but the most annoying thing (aside from fellow passenger directly blaming the situation on global warming. ZOMG!) happened after the employees corralled the passengers into the hallways: they joined the rest of the staff outside, under the awning, tornado sirens blaring, for a smoke break. That’s annoying. Surprisingly, I still made my flight (though four hours late), and we took to the skies, white-knuckled, with bolts of electricity hugging the sides of the plane.
The entire situation reinforced my argument that Allegiant Air needs to offer online check-in. If they did, I wouldn’t have had to show up two hours early, during one of the most severe tornado outbreaks in recent history, only to take cover twice, and sit around the airport for an extra four hours just so I could make sure the seat I already paid for wouldn’t be given to someone else. Had I been able to check-in online, I would have been able to ride out the storm at home, checking in with the airport on a regular basis to see if it was safe to show up, or if my flight was still scheduled.

I know, whine whine whine — it’s all I do

It’s my only complaint with Allegiant, however. Their planes are clean and updated, the seat pitch was some of the best I’ve experienced, and the staff was helpful and kind. Allow me to check-in online like the rest of the airlines, and I’ve got nothing to whine about.