Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spirit Airlines Now Shut Through Thursday

Now Spirit Airlines has canceled flights through Thursday. The airline has stranded passengers since Saturday, when its pilots went on strike. The cancellations have been announced day by day, giving disgracefully short notice to passengers.

I don't want to sound like the Spirit Airlines blog here. The airline carries only about 16,500 passengers a day -- but Spirit is known for its very low fares, and has an avid following, especially to and from Fort Lauderdale, where it is the main carrier.

Again my advice: Do not call Spirit's 800 number for remediation. You'll be on hold till Labor Day. Instead, assuming you bought your ticket with a credit card, call your credit card company and ask for a refund because of service not delivered.

UPDATE: Thanks to Joe Brancatelli for the heads-up on the following. Spirit later today changed the notice on its Web site to say, essentially, if you choose a refund rather than a "future flight credit," you won't get that extra $100 voucher that Spirit has been touting all week. (Even though people can't get through on the Spirit phone anyway)

Here's Spirit's new policy, which could have been written by P.T. Barnum at his worst:

"If you are scheduled to fly Spirit on Saturday, June 12 – Thursday, June 17, 2010, we will process a future flight credit for the full amount of the unflown portion of your reservation plus an additional $100 future flight credit to thank you for your continued support.

Or, if you would prefer to receive a full refund for the unflown portion of your reservation instead, please call 1 (800) 772-7117 and one of our Customer Service Representatives will assist you. (Customers who prefer to receive a refund instead of a future flight credit will not receive the additional $100 future flight credit.)"


Patrick Smith, an international airline pilot who is a well-read and well-informed blogger and columnist for Salon, recently wrote this in his blog about Spirit and its pilots strike:

"Spirit is a larger carrier than you probably realize, operating a fleet of 30 Airbus A320-series planes from bases in Detroit and Fort Lauderdale throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. The strike is stranding some 17,000 travelers daily.

"Spirit bills itself not merely as a low-cost carrier, but an ultra-low-cost carrier. ... it was Spirit that touched off controversy back in April by announcing it would begin charging passengers not only for checked luggage, but carry-on bags as well. ... [As to striking pilots], a 10th-year first officer at Spirit earns as little as $65,000 annually."


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