The airtime for an Allegiant Airlines flight between Las Vegas to Stockton, California is normally an hour. But, due to air traffic controls not providing the clearing for landing, this route turned into a 17-hour ordeal and was deemed the flight from hell.
The flight that was scheduled to land in Stockton at 9pm on Monday had to re-route to LAX, and ended up arriving in Stockton on Tuesday at 2pm. The 175-passengers arrived to the Stockton Airport frustrated that the automated surface weather reporting system that would have given the flight the green-light to land on time was malfunctioning.
Helene Nusdbaumer who is Stockton’s Metropolitan Deputy Director addressed the flight issue, confirming that the airport’s automated surface observing system visibility detector wasn’t responsive. Aircraft rely on this system for landing when the control air towers are not staffed with people who could affirm visibility flight standards. The small airport’s tower that has staff circulating through it from 7am to 9pm just missed the mark for the flight that was arriving around 9pm on Monday night.
The flight was circling in the air for hours without the clearing to land. The Allegiant Airlines flight was going to return to Las Vegas until a thunderstorm broke out which caused for the flight to make a last minute switch up to Los Angeles. At midnight, dozens of flight passengers had to wait for the news on when they could return home to Northern California.
“It was absolutely horrible,” said Jade Watts, who was flying from Vegas to Stockton. “The pilot comes on and says the control tower is closed. And they can’t land without a weather report. He comes back on again and says there’s a thunderstorm in Vegas and zero visibility. They were concerned about gas, so we have to go to the closest airport. Where are we going to freaking land?”
This technical inconvenience interrupted flight passenger’s schedules who were intending on flying back to Las Vegas from Stockton the same night or were using the flight as a connecting transfer. Passengers were ushered to a holding room at LAX, and told to wait for updates.
“We had to go into a holding room,” said Watts. “There’s no restroom in this holding room.”
The flight was eventually rescheduled for Tuesday. Passengers were given $250 ticket vouchers and left to fend for themselves.
This incident contributes to the slew of flight mishaps that have been happening across the United States after the pandemic restrictions loosened to allow for more crowded airports and flight times.