How did an Allegiant Air plane almost run out of fuel?

How did an Allegiant Air flight nearly run out of fuel? Photo: Eddie Maloney, Wikimedia Commons. 

How did an Allegiant Air flight nearly run out of fuel? Photo: Eddie Maloney, Wikimedia Commons. 

Most airline stories in the mainstream media sound worse than they are. But there's a piece this week in the Tampa Bay Times - my former employer - about Allegiant Air that is actually concerning.

According to the Times, an Allegiant Air plane recently expected to land at an airport in North Dakota that was temporarily closed due to an airshow. Allegiant should have known the airport was closed, but the pilots were apparently shocked to learn this news when they were approaching the field.

All this would have been fine if Allegiant had done what controllers suggested - land at an alternate airport 70 miles to the north. But that's not what happened. 

Here's how the Times describes it:

The pilot contacted the Fargo tower a little before 1 p.m., the tape shows, to tell air traffic control that Allegiant had been trying to get in touch with airport officials, apparently by telephone.

"We don't have … enough fuel to go anywhere else," the pilot told the Fargo tower. "And our guys are trying to get in touch with the tower manager right now to coordinate our landing or I'm going to have to declare an emergency and come in and land."

Allegiant was able to land in Fargo, but it doesn't sound like anyone was happy about it. The airline told the newspaper it was looking into the incident.