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Mid-air diversion strands family in Southwest Florida

Posted at 11:02 PM, Jan 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-22 17:40:34-05

UPDATE AS OF JAN. 22, 2019:

An Allegiant Air spokesperson said the flight was diverted when it was an hour and a half away from Albany and the passengers could have contacted Allegiant and found a flight out of another airport, like St. Petersburg.

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — An upstate New York family is among many people stranded in Southwest Florida for the next few days because of the snowstorms up north.

Randy and Aimee Kretzschmar were visiting family in Southwest Florida, but their stay got extended for another week after their flight to Albany, New York, got diverted back to Punta Gorda while they were in the air.

Aimee Kretzschmar said the announcement was made when they were just 20 minutes away from landing in Albany.

“I looked at my husband and said I knew this was going to happen,” she said.

Kretzschmar said she knew about the snowstorm hitting New York and assumed their Allegiant flight on Sunday morning would get canceled. She called the airline the night before to see if she should book another flight, but was told their flight was still on schedule. She said that was the first red flag.

“Why would you even take the chance to fly us there? That’s terrible,” she said.

The next Allegiant flight from Punta Gorda to Albany is Thursday. And now Kretzschmar’s kids are missing a week of school and her husband Randy said he’s losing money.

“I’m a local union member. No work, no pay,” he said.

Allegiant Air said in a statement:

While the flight was in the air, the weather changed. Air Traffic Control directed the flight to divert back to PGD because weather conditions were too unsafe to land at Albany. Once the aircraft returned to PGD, the flight was canceled due to the snowstorm. At that time, passengers were given the option to either be re-accommodated on another flight at no charge, or receive a credit voucher or refund.

Aimee Kretzschmar said the airline should’ve scheduled more flights ahead of the storm.

“I’m baffled that they didn’t plan this out more,” she said. “Okay maybe one day having to be out, but four days out when you knew the storm was coming?! It just makes no sense.”

For now, they’ll continue staying with family friends until Allegiant Air takes them home later this week. Randy Kretzschmar said it’ll be their last flight with the airline.

“I’ll never fly with them again. They’ve lost me as a customer. It’s not worth it,” he said.

In the meantime the family is looking for free activities for the kids to do and waiting to go back home on Thursday.