Allegiant Air
A woman aboard an Allegiant Air called an hours-long delay on the tarmac at the Albuquerque International Sunport “false imprisonment.” In this photo, an Allegiant Air jet carrying members of the New Orleans Fire Department comes in for a landing at McCarran International Airport on September 6, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A New Mexico woman aboard an Allegiant Air called an extended delay on the tarmac at the Albuquerque International Sunport last week “false imprisonment” in extreme conditions.

Celena Kwitkowski alleged that passengers were held Thursday for well over three hours on a hot plane without water or lavatory access. The airline said the incident resulted from a “minor mechanical issue” as well as “an altercation between passengers.”

“They need to apologize for us, they need to take responsibility and ownership,” Kwitkowski told Albuquerque NBC-affiliate KOB4. “As far as I'm concerned, this was false imprisonment.”

KOB4 reported Friday that Allegiant Air Flight 471 to Las Vegas was scheduled to leave around 5 p.m. MDT. But a record from Flightaware states the Thursday evening flight did not depart well after 8:00 p.m., making the flight more than five hours late to its destination.

“Approximately around 7:30-ish, people were getting aggravated,” Kwitkowski said. “It started getting warm on the plane because the air was not on. Before 9:00, they actually locked the bathroom doors and said we were not allowed to use the bathroom.”

Video recorded by Kwitkowski on her cellphone and shared with KOB showed tension during the delay, during which time she alleged that an elderly man asked a flight attendant if he could leave the plane. A clip from the exchange revealed a flight attendant told the man that if he exited the craft he would not be allowed to reboard.

“It was burning hot,” Kwitkowski said. “They had no air on this airplane. We were melting.”

Allegiant Air told the news outlet there was a “combination of factors” that led to the delay and added that the incident was a “highly unusual situation.”

“Initially, there was a minor mechanical issue which caused a delay after passengers had boarded. It took longer than expected to address, so delayed the flight a little over an hour,” Allegiant Air told KOB4. “After the aircraft pushed back, it returned to the gate due to an altercation between passengers. Local law enforcement was called to escort the individuals involved off of the aircraft, and those passengers' bags were also removed. There were a few other passengers who were not involved, but also requested to deplane at that time. All told, this activity delayed departure about another hour.”

The airline then addressed an inquiry made about air conditioning aboard the plane. Allegiant Air said that while it would have been running because the aircraft was powered, the strength of the airflow in the plane’s cabin would have been “quite a bit lower at the gate or taxiing than it is once the aircraft gets up to full power in flight.”

In spite of Kwitkowski’s allegations, the airline maintained that it did, in fact, provide its passengers with both tap and bottled water.

“Our logs and reports do show that the crew supplied water (what's called a 'poor service' where cups of water are distributed) during the initial delay,” the airline said. “Also, at the time the flight returned to the gate, the crew requested Allegiant station staff to bring bottles of water to the plane, which were distributed to passengers.”

Kwitkowski told KOB4 that she has type 2 diabetes and wasn’t feeling well after the plane finally arrived at its Nevada destination. The airline apologized to passengers aboard the flight in a statement to International Business Times.

“We regret that this delayed our passengers and impacted their comfort, but thank them for their patience and understanding,” the airline said. “Please also be aware that because of the inconvenience caused by these delays, passengers were issued vouchers towards future travel on Allegiant.”