STOCKTON, California (KCRA) — What was supposed to be an hour-long Allegiant Air flight from Las Vegas to Stockton turned into a 17-hour ordeal for dozens of passengers.
The original arrival was planned for 9 p.m. on Monday, but Jade Watts and other passengers finally landed at Stockton Airport on Tuesday at 2 p.m.
“I think everybody on the flight is very frustrated,” Watts said. “There was no help given, no instructions. There was no assistance.”
Allegiant said in an email to KCRA 3 that it was unable to land in Stockton “due to air traffic control’s automatic surface weather reporting system failing to provide visibility information required for landing.”
The Stockton Metropolitan’s Deputy Director, Helene Nusdbaumer, confirmed that the airport’s automated surface observing system, or ASOS visibility sensor, failed. Nusdbaumer said the airport uses this automated system when the control tower is not staffed.
The tower is usually staffed from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., which is typically how smaller airports are operated. Nusdbaumer added that this kind of issue rarely happens.
“So we had to circle and circle and circle,” Watts recalled. “Then they said we were going to go back to Las Vegas.”
But then the pilot told passengers of more bad news: a thunderstorm in Las Vegas meant the plane needed to be rerouted again, Watts said.
Around midnight the plane finally touched down in Los Angeles where the exhausted gaggle of passengers waiting for answers, Watts said.
The delay also impacted passengers who were supposed to fly out of Stockton into Las Vegas on the same plane Monday night. Syowia Williams and her daughter say they were offered a refund or a new ticket.
“I was mad, because I was tired and ready to go home,” Williams, who lives in Las Vegas told KCRA 3.
Williams stayed with family in Stockton while she waited for a new flight.
Watts said she and her fellow passengers were frustrated because they had no place to stay.
“There was a guy that said, ‘What do we do? Do we need to find hotel rooms, are we on our own?'” Watts said. “And the gentleman said, ‘Yes, as of right now, you’re on your own.'”
Allegiant said that compensation was provided “to assist with unanticipated expenses.”
However, Watts said there were issues with the vouchers.
“Everybody had to find hotel rooms. There were people sleeping in the airport … older ladies just kind of walking around by themselves not sure what to do,” Watts said.
KCRA 3 has also reached out to the Federal Aviation Agency for comment on the situation.
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