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Allegiant reimbursing passengers stranded in Syracuse after flight diverted from N Falls

Posted at 6:36 PM, Oct 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-03 18:36:04-04

A spokesperson for Allegiant Air told 7Eyewitness News all passengers on Flight 894 will be reimbursed the full cost of their ticket from St. Petersburg to Niagara Falls.  The flight was scheduled to arrive in the Falls around 5 p.m. last Thursday but was diverted to Syracuse due to low visibility.

Passengers on the flight say they were stuck waiting at Hancock International Airport in Syracuse for hours while the airline told them it was arranging for buses to take everyone back to Niagara Falls.

Dave Mammoser of Hamburg said Allegiant told passengers at 9 p.m. they'd have to find their own way home.

"There would be no buses.  There would be no transportation and we are on our own," he said.  "Those were her exact words, 'on your own'."

Allegiant Air released the following statement to 7Eyewitness News:

"In the event of a weather-related diversion, we make every effort to secure ground transportation for our passengers to their destination.  Unfortunately in this case, we found that all area transportation providers were completely booked and unavailable to accommodate us.  This was likely due to a number of factors including charters booked for various weekend sports events and the evening time frame.  This highly unusual occurrence resulted in our passengers having to obtain ground transportation on their own."

Mammoser said the three hour flight turned into nearly 13 hours of travel for him and his wife.  

"The trip back -- I call it the trip from hell because it was never ending," he said.

Jim Timkey of Lockport shared a similar story.

"They told us that everything was cancelled.  There would be no bus and we were to find our own way home," he said.  "I ended up back home at 1 or 1:30 in the morning."

Passengers said one of the most frustrating parts of the evening came when the plane flew back to Niagara Falls with no passengers.

"At the airport, we were told they were flying back the plane empty," Timkey said.  "But it was more assumed by everyone that they were going back to Florida."

"The plane was flown back to Niagara Falls empty," Mammoser said.  "Which makes no sense to me whatsoever."

Allegiant Air confirmed the plane was flown from Syracuse to Niagara Falls with no passengers.  A spokesperson said at the time the plane took off, the airline was unsure if weather would allow the plane to land in the Falls.  The carrier said it decided to fly without passengers to avoid the possibility of diverting them twice in the same evening.

The airline is in the process of reaching out to all 153 passengers on board the flight to issue each an automatic refund for the cost of the ticket from St. Petersburg to Niagara Falls.  Allegiant said it hopes this will provide customers with more money than reimbursing their travel costs from Syracuse to the Falls.

If customers have any questions or concerns, they're asked to contact Allegiant's 24-hour customer care center at (702) 505-8888.