Why we probably won’t be taking Spirit Airlines again…

During our recent flight from Fort Lauderdale to Montego Bay, our flight was delayed from 2pm to 3pm to 4pm then 6:30pm. As passengers on the flight, you’d probably be this angry…

Airport security needed to  calm angry mob
Airport security needed to calm angry mob

Yes. People were so angry that they started to curse and swear at the staff of Spirit Airlines. Airport security was later called in to control the crowd. To be fair, there was probably nothing much the staff could have done on the ground except…

Spirit Airlines Staff Trying to Calm the Angry Passengers
Spirit Airlines Staff Trying to Calm the Angry Passengers

Proper communications.

As the time delayed from 2pm to 3pm and subsequently from 3pm to 4pm, there was no announcements and passengers either received information from the screens or emails that came in through their hand phones. There was no personal touch that could have addressed the situation early on. As the time drew closer to the 6:30pm time (shown on the board), crowds started to gather at the counter and no proper explanation could be given until…

Elvin from Spirit Airlines addressing the crowd
Elvin from Spirit Airlines addressing the crowd

In comes Elvin. We do not know what his appointment was, only that his name was Elvin. He made an announcement citing reasons for the delayed flight. This was good. In such situations, it is important to be transparent and explain the situation to the passengers. HOWEVER, the reasons given were

1. There weren’t enough air crew to fly. 6 were required and there were currently only 4 air crew on board.

2. Due to papers filed, plane must depart Fort Lauderdale and return by 11pm the same night.

After hearing the first reason, many passengers were furious. This was because the plane had already been on the tarmac for the last 4 hours and many thought that if proper planning was done, the air crew would have already been on board. This caused people to speculate that the REAL reason was because someone forgot to file the papers and cause the plane to be grounded. Again, proper communications could have prevented this sort of speculation – which usually does more harm than good.

People started to approach the counter to cite their need to be on the flight and return by the next day. Others mentioned that they were returning to Jamaica after 3 years away and had to face this situation. Still others just gave up and returned home. In the midst of these chaos, we managed to squeeze to the front of the counter and asked for the real reason. To us, the lack of air crew sounded strange as well.

Elvin then explained to us and the few others around that the lack of air crew was the real reason. Due to weather conditions, other planes that were scheduled to arrive (with the required air crew) were delayed. This resulted in the insufficient air crew. As the 5th air crew approached, the crowd started to cheer but soon found out that the 6th air crew was still required. Kudos to Spirit Airlines in this aspect because if 6 air crew are required for safety, it should not be compromised. Pretty soon, the 6th air crew arrived and we were finally able to depart at approximately 7:30pm.

After boarding, the crew tried to calm the passengers by playing “Don’t Worry Be Happy” and the co-pilot even told the passengers a joke. However, we noted that Spirit Airlines does not do any form of compensation. Some passengers asked if there would be compensation in the form of hotel stays and transport prior to the next flight, Spirit Airlines declined. We were not surprised as we had already read priors of this sort of flight delays from Spirit. No food vouchers were offered eventhough the flight delay caused dinner for most people to be delayed to probably 10pm that evening.

On board, Spirit Airlines could have done some “damage control” by offering juices/drinks to the passengers. There was no offer of drinks. In addition, there were repeated announcements by the crew to ask passengers to sign up for Spirit Airlines credit card. In this situation? Probably not the wisest thing to do.

Hence, after this entire ordeal, we decided that we would probably not fly with Spirit Airlines again. Nonetheless, we would like to take the opportunity to commend Elvin for opening the channel for communications with the passengers.

P.S. Upon arrival, we received an email from Spirit Airlines, apologizing for the delay and offering a $50 voucher on our next Spirit Airlines flight. You probably have guess whether we’d be utilizing that voucher…

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