Woman misses husband’s funeral after buying what she thought was a legitimate plane ticket

ORLANDO, FL — A Florida woman said she couldn’t make it to her husband’s funeral because of a scam involving Allegiant Air.

Joanne Stainer, 79, remembers the 59 great years she had with her husband Joe.

He passed away in March and the family planned to lay him to rest in June at their family cemetery in Wisconsin.

“Joe had the most wonderful personality. Always had a joke,” Stainer said.

Stainer, her son, and grandson were all set to fly from Sanford Orlando International Airport to Appleton on June 1. But a medical emergency kept Stainer from catching that flight.

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She instead had to book a last-minute ticket to Wisconsin by herself, flying out the night before her husband’s funeral.

Stainer told investigative reporter Ashlyn Webb from our sister station WFTV that she’s not the most tech-savvy, so she called 411 to direct her to Allegiant Airlines to book that flight.

Stainer said she spoke to a man who said he worked for Allegiant.

“And so, he says, I can take care of that for you,” Stainer said.

Allegiant’s website shows the roundtrip flight costs roughly $50 to $200.

The man even sent her what looked to be an Allegiant boarding pass with a confirmation code.

Fast forward to June 3, Stainer gave Allegiant’s ticket counter that code and they printed her an actual boarding pass, checked her bags, and an Allegiant attendant even wheeled her through TSA.

She was just waiting at the gate when everyone else boarded-- except for her.

“I said, why? Why can’t I go on the flight? I’ve got a ticket,” Stainer said.

An Allegiant supervisor told her she didn’t have an actual ticket.

“He said, we’ve had a lot of scammers. This is not the first time that this has happened to us,” Stainer said.

Stainer said the scammers got away with $2,000, charging her card more than a dozen times in small charges.

Webb called the number Stainer used to book that fraudulent ticket. The person originally claimed to be a travel agency in New York.

The supervisor of their so-called agency wouldn’t say the company’s name unless we said who the passenger was.

Stainer’s story also raises other questions, like how was she able to get to the gate with a fake ticket?

Allegiant confirmed with Webb that their system did not flag Stainer’s ticket until after she left the ticket counter.

TSA said Stainer got through because the airline gave her a legitimate boarding pass.


Allegiant said typically their team would have caught a fraudulent ticket before then, but Stainer’s ticket was purchased too close to departure.

By the time the airline learned the ticket was fraudulent, Stainer’s luggage was already on the plane.

Her checked bag made it to Appleton, but Stainer missed her husband’s funeral.

“I was so intent on ‘I’m going to be there to watch him be put in the ground.’ I owe him that,” Stainer said.

Allegiant said this scam has grown throughout the pandemic and recommends booking directly through the airline, so you avoid getting scammed.

The Better Business Bureau said before you book, do a quick internet search to make sure the number you’re calling or the website you’re using is actually the airline.

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