Friday, August 31, 2007

Why I will never fly Spirit Airways again

Costa Rica was great but Spirit Airlines was no picnic. (Unless the picnic involved lots of bugs of varying stickiness while your ice cream melts and fourteen babies surround you bawling at full volume. Then, yes, dealing with Spirit is very much like a picnic). After reading countless blogs/articles about the horror that is Spirit Airlines I figure why not one more to add to the campfire tales? So here it is, light a fire, turn on the scary music and get the marshmallows roasting as I share my scary Spirit story.

The Time Line for our 6pm flight: [Fri. 4pm: Get boarding passes] --> [Fri. 5:30pm: Wait to board] --> [Fri. 6:00pm: Flight delayed. --> [Fri. 6:30pm: Flight delayed: -->[Fr. 7:00pm: Flight delayed]-->[Fri. 8:00pm. Flight delayed. Please take train, go all the way back to the ticketing counter and re-book for another day] -->[Fri. 8:20. Ticketing counter] -->[Fri. 9:00. Still in non moving line. K dashes to explain time crunch. Jason sends us to gate. We go through security, board train, run to gate] -->[Fri. 9:20. Gate folks: go back to ticketing. Our seats are given away. No room. After 20 minutes of pleading and agreeing not to ask for a hotel, food we can go. After a 35 minute hold we're booked on an 11am flight Saturday and reach Ft. Ld. atmidnight] -->[Sat. 11am. Flight delayed] -->[Sat. 2pm. Flight delayed] -->[Sat. 2:30pm. Flight delayed]-->[Sat. 3:00pm. Plane arrives, pilots are tired. Flight cancelled] -->[Sat. 11:00pm. 31 hours later board flight]

I know things happen, I "get it", BUT this isn't a fluke. It happens constantly. And its not just the cancelled flights. The Spirit Airlines ticketing counters are beyond words. Think cute red barn of normal barn proportions. Picture it filled with 62 goats. 12 cows. 13 sheep and 4 fish flopping while the hay catches fire. That would be a less chaotic place to be than the Spirit Airline ticketing counter. The line isn't a line, its a jumbled mass of people, swirling around in a strange maze practically out to the street. There are suitcases abandoned or unattended in the middle of the aisles, the exits blocked while people nap or chat on the phone. Where does the line begin? Where does it end? Who knows? Certainly not anyone who works for Spirit. Each person is helped at the counter for 5-15 min. (Yes, I timed it). This nightmare existed EACH time we dealt with ticketing. On the way there. On the way back one week later.

And they Lie! In Atlanta, they said it was chaotic because a huge storm in Ft. Lauderdale had busted their computers. My brother who spent a good portion of the day in Ft. Lauderdale (and was our hero that day, thank you lil' bro) told us it had been an unusually beautiful sunshiny cloud free day. Why the lies?

But Aisha, you may counter, Surely once the higher ups find out this stuff will stop. Well, if you thought that, you'd be wrong. Here's an excerpt of an e-mail Spirit Airlines CEO, Ben Baldanza, wrote in a "reply all" response to a complaint by a customer affected by Spirit's delays: "...we owe him nothing as far as I'm concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He's never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny." Yep, the higher ups at Spirit really care.

The PR response to the debacle? Even more caring: Alison Russell a spokeswoman for the Miramar-based airline stood by Baldanza's response..."No, we really don't believe we have anything to apologize for regarding Ben's e-mail," Russell said. "I can tell you that Ben cares enormously about our customers and our customer service. Ben said what is exactly true: we don't owe the customer anything. People can and do post whatever they would like on the Internet."..."Truthfully, I'm genuinely not concerned," she said. "People are going to have a blog for good things or bad things. We are very pleased with our customer service,we are very pleased with what we do."
Mr. Baldanza, saving a penny's great, its a reason to fly your airline BUT its not the only reason. We also fly to get where we need to at a reasonable time and deserve respect. Just because I saved $20 going with you doesn't make up for being treated like I'm part of an anarchist cattle convention.

Perhaps Mr. Baldanza, you can dismiss this since you don't have to deal with it. You dont have to endure your ticketing counter when you check in for flights. Customer service doesnt put you on hold for 34 minutes. Perhaps its hard to understand what you dont experience but if your airline keeps it up I dont know how its bad rep will balance the "cheap" tickets. Yes, you you may be cheaper but I know one thing, after what I went through, I will NEVER fly Spirit again. Period. Treat others how you want to be treated Mr. Baldanza, its not only nice, but it makes good business sense.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just came across your blog searching for Spirit, the lines in FLL are insane. I am not sure if I will fly them again. That email doesn't help.

pixie said...

Well, I've heard other horror stories so I guess I'll never fly their airline! What jerks!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the scary story I will keep it in mind when I pick who to fly with.

nuh ibn zbigniew gondek said...

As salaam alaikum.

I really dislike coming out of my comfort zone. Travel generally and airplanes specifically are a big cause of ugh!!!

Thanks for sharing,

nuh ibn

Aisha said...

Anon- Ft. Laud was the most shocking. Not in Costa Rica nor in my hometown did I see lines like that. In Ft Laud though... it was as though a cattle convention was underway, and I include myself in the cattle descripton. It was a nightmare.

Pixie, the only way I could say it might be ok is if you carry on all your luggage (b/c they lost a lot of people's luggage) and are going domestic so you can check in online. MAYBE it might be okay then.

Anon- welcome!

Nuh- welcome to the blog and thanks for commenting. Its a pain indeed.

Anonymous said...

I flew once years ago when they started service and since than never !! The worst airline experiences I have Are Spirit and US airways...next in line with air tran. I am surprise they haven't bankrupt yet.

Mystic

Enyur said...

Wow, that is one crappy airline/service all right! I think they should just start calling themselves Seeyaapa Airlines (that's problem in Punjabi) lol!

P.S. Hope you're doing well...yes, I am ashamed of my behaviour...I keep disappearing...but I'm back again! (Eid kay chaand ki tarha!) :o)

Tee said...

I've never even heard of that airline, but thanks for the warning.

I find that I am dealing with more and more companies cutting corners and not treating their customers well. It's frustrating to have to spend your own personal time sorting things out, etc.

Just last week, after 2 years of putting up with crap, I reported a well known fence company to the BBB. I don't think it will resolve the issue but they have made me so angry by essentially completely ignoring me. (And a search of the internet shows I'm not the only one complaining.)

:p

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