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Spirit Airlines & an ill-fated first impression

Editor’s Note: This is a post sent in by a guest blogger about his experience with Spirit Airlines. In all fairness, we’d also like to invite our readers to check out a very different experience another guest blogger had with Spirit Airlines. Or feel free to get writing and send in any and all experiences you have!

By Jay Wetcher

I have flown extensively over the past 25 years, domestic and international, on business and personal travel.  I have encountered all kinds of delays, lost bags, even 2 emergency landings. I have never had an experience like the one I had on Spirit Airlines.

On Jan 4, 2008, I had the misfortune of flying on Spirit Airlines for the first time. The flight was from Fort Lauderdale, Fl to Washington DC Regan Airport.

Upon check in, I was offered an upgrade to a big seat, which I took. (more about this later) Upon arrival at the gate, about 1 hour prior to the scheduled departure time, I saw that the aircraft was at the gate, very good sign. I noticed that the Spirit section of the terminal was in utter chaos, but I have seen this before on other airlines, and did not pay any attention. The flight did not board as scheduled, so I tried to ask when it would board. There were very few Spirit employees available, and when I found one, a flight attendant waiting to board a flight, I was told to check the tv monitors. When I explained that I already had, and the monitor said the flight was on time, and it was already past the scheduled departure time, the person said "Welcome to Spirit Airlines, no flights are ever on time." I thought that this was just a disgruntled employee. I found another employee, a gate agent, who informed me that she had no idea why the flight was delayed or when it might leave. She was nice enough, but she was clearly fed up with her job. I never did find out the true reason for the delay.

The flight finally boarded, and our upgrade to the big seats resulted in a sick elderly woman and daughter in our big seats. The flight attendant asked if we would please take another seat, which we did, happily, because I understood how difficult it would have been to relocate the elderly woman, and did not want to inconvenience the other passengers. There were no other big seats available, so we took two regular seats. The flight attendant said to call Spirit for a credit of the upgrade cost. I said OK, and the flight left for DC.

Upon arrival in DC, over 1 hour late, we waited for another 70 minutes for the baggage. After waiting for all the baggage to be delivered, we were missing all four checked bags. We had to complete a lost baggage claim form, which I know is the standard procedure. I asked the person in the baggage office when I could expect notification that my bags were located, and I was told if they did not contact me, I should wait 5 days, and call Spirit. We left the airport with no baggage.

I tried to call the phone number at the baggage office, and got voice mail. I left a message, and did not receive a return call. On Sunday Jan 6, 2006, we received a call from a courier telling us that he had 2 of our 4 bags, and he would deliver them that evening, which he did. He also told me that the additional 2 bags had not been located yet. I told him that we were going home the next day, and that if they were located prior to our departure, to hold them at the airport, and we would pick them up when we were at the airport. The bags still have not been located as of 1/23/08.

Now for the good part of this story. I tried to call for the credit for the unavailable upgrade to the big seats that I paid $80 for.  It is impossible to reach Spirit Airlines, by phone. Other than reservations, every phone prompt selection rings busy. I tried to speak with a reservations agent and they could not assist, which I understand, but they would not transfer me to a supervisor. Same story with trying to call about the lost bags. I found the phone number of the Corporate office of Spirit in Miramar, Fl, and called. There was a phone prompt for lost baggage. Of course, I got voice mail, and left a detailed message. I was very surprised when the I received a return call the next day. The person told me that the airline records indicated that all 4 bags were delivered. When I told her that only 2 were delivered, she said she would contact the appropriate people at the DC Airport and figure out what happened, and that I would hear back from her within a few hours.

The next day I received a call from the baggage office in DC, and was told that he reviewed the video tape of all the bags left behind in Fort Lauderdale, and there were none in the video so he assumed that all bags were delivered. He did apologize for the misunderstanding, and acknowledged that he knew only 2 bags were located and delivered. He assured me that he would straighten out the error, and I would receive a return call within 24 hours. I have left at least 4 messages for the corporate baggage claim office. Today, I left a very nasty message and I did get a return call, from the same person I spoke with who told me all the bags were delivered. She denied that she ever spoke to me, and told me I needed to send the lost baggage info to her and she would look into the situation.

I am certain this will carry on for a long time, but I will not stop chasing after my lost bags and upgrade credit.

By the way, based on the total lack of responsiveness on the part of Spirit Airlines, I decided to buy return tickets on another airline and forfeit my return tickets on Sprit.  I did not feel safe flying on an airline with extremely disgruntled employees.

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  1. I’d tell you to complain to the CEO, but he apparently doesn’t take complaints seriously (nor does he apparently understand the function of the reply to all button). Check here from one of The Diff’s favorite sites, The Consumerist:
    http://tinyurl.com/236ppp

    Posted by: Track Record | January 29, 2008
  2. P.S. – if you want to get in touch with the CEO, email him here: Ben.Baldanza@SpiritAir.com.
    Who knows, you might get and unexpected, and entertaining, response.

    Posted by: Email the CEO | January 29, 2008
  3. I am experiencing the same treatment. It took about a half hour to get thru to someone. When I tried to confirm a flight change I was put on hold for another 15 min. When she came back on the line I wanted to clarify what she told me and was abruptly hung up on.
    I can’t imagine how this airline will stay in business — the word will get out.
    I appreciate the info on the lost bags. I have alreay paid for the checked bags ($10 bucks each) but will figure out a way to get everything into carryons even if I have to ship some of the things home or throw them out.
    This is absolutly my last flight with Spirit.

    Posted by: Don Leonard | February 20, 2008
  4. My husband and I also flew Spirit airlines for the first time on Sunday, June 1, 2008. We checked in two bags at Punta Cana. One bag was lost at the fort lauderdale airport (our connecting airport). We had one hour to catch a connecting flight. We had to run back and forth from baggage conveyor belt to the other because unknown to us spirt was placing the bags from the flight on two different baggage conveyor belts instead of one. we asked 2 different spirit employees about the missing baggage, one of whom said he would go check and come back, well of course, we never saw him again and after about 30 minutes, we asked a 3rd spirit employee again about the missing baggage and was told that some of the bags from Punta Cana didn’t make it onto the plane and that anyone making connections should go to their flght connections and the bags would be forwarded to Laguardia airport on the next outgoing flight and that when we get to Lagaurdia we could file a missing baggage report there. After going through customs again, now obviously cutting it very close to our next connecting flight, we were told we had to go the next terminal which was about two blocks away. Once arriving at the next terminal and going through yet another customs inspections were delayed another 10 minutes, we informed the spirit personnel that we now had five minutes to catch our next flight, but thank goodness our connecting flight was delayed and we were able to make the flight. After arriving at our final destination at Laguardia Airport, we filed a lost baggage claim and had an argument with the baggage claim employee because she insisted we did not check two bags in Punta Cana, eventhough I had two different claim tickeks in my hand. Finally, she reluctantly decided to complete a lost baggage report. The next two days I have left several voice messages and thus far have not received not one return call. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Spirt airlines is known for cheaper airfare and the cheap, lousy customer service is exactly what I got. I have filed a complaint with the BBB, attorney general’s office and various agencies and I have a lot more to report to.

    Posted by: DG | June 4, 2008
  5. Took 40 minutes on hold to reach a human. All lines except sales gave you a busy signal. Would not switch my one way to a round trip so I could get the $79 fare. Had to pay $100 instead. From what I have been reading I’m glad they are not taking any baggage with them.

    Posted by: Dan Rathka | June 14, 2008
  6. I booked a RT Flight for myself and my husband on Spirit Airlines from ACY to Providencials on May 29th 2008. On June 13th I tried to retrieve the reservation to provide the information to our contact in Providenciales. The reservation status showed “CLOSED” I called and called and could not get through, so I drove out to Atlantic City where I was told a credit had been issued and there were no other flights available.The reason no one answered the phone was something about changing there customer service from the Phillipines to India or vice versa, I rebooked on Delta out of Philadelphia at a much higher rate, had no choice, we already had our resort reservation. Today is June 18th and I still have no credit, emails to Spirit continue to go unanswered as well as being on hold for hours at a time. I guess I am going to have to drive out to Atlantic City Airport again and speak to a human to try and get the credit for the canceled flights. Why am I typing this email, because I have nothing better to do while I have been on hold for another 45 + minutes trying to speak to someone on the phone. We have flown Spirit before and it has been convenient, but after this daymare, I have no problem driving the hour to Philadelphia knowing I am going to be able get where I need to go! I do not care how cheap Spirit is, when it comes to my money Good Customer Service is more important and that is something I am willing to pay extra for.

    Posted by: Stasia Mescanti | June 18, 2008
  7. My husband and I are all too familiar with the story Posted by: DG | Jun 4, 2008 4:02:03 PM. Although our final destination was Tampa, FL, We had the EXACT same experience because we were on that same flight from Punta Cana on June 1st, 2008. Both of our bags have still not been retrieved. We’ve sent letters to Spirit Airlines, FAA, and Consumer Protection for Airlines including our official claim. We have not heard back and wonder if we ever will. I have never seen such appauling circumstance and ineffecient customer service. Needless to say it ruined any experience we left the Dominican with. I am telling everyone I know NEVER to fly Spirit Airlines. Will we ever see our belongings again or any compensation from this misfortune and incompetence?

    Posted by: JG | June 26, 2008
  8. Has anyone ever been able to get a phone number of customer service at Spirit Air that actually works or somone who will return voice mails? Trying for 4 weeks now and still get no response???????

    Posted by: John | July 1, 2008
  9. This is a direct phone number. I am having a live conversation (although she just put me on hold) with Spirit customer service rep Niurka Paulino (who can be reached at 954-447-7965 x 1711) she goes by the name “Nikki”

    Posted by: abby | July 2, 2008
  10. Hi,
    Thanks for the number to someone other than in India. We are stranded in San Antonio and there isn’t even a Spirit employee on premise and our flight has been canceled without any contact.

    Posted by: Rich Slack | July 8, 2008
  11. Too bad we can’t post all of these negative complaints in the airports and on website where people ook their tix. My husband and I missed a day and a half of our honeymoon thanks to Spirit and are now trying to foght to get money back for the tix we had to buy through another airline since Spirit wasn’t going to get us out until 2 days after we were suppose to arrive in Mexico. Good luck to everyone. I have a feeling we’ll all need it! Thanks for the phone #’s though. It’s impossible getting through to anyone.

    Posted by: Melanie | July 9, 2008
  12. THIS COMPANY IS JUNK!! I CANT BELIEVE THE MESS IM IN. FLY ANY OTHER AIRLINE!!!

    Posted by: Justin | July 10, 2008
  13. I had a bad experience with Spiritair. We flew from DC to Costa Rica with a stopover in Fort Lauderdale. When we arrived in Costa Rica our luggage was not there. Now it has been 2 days and I haven’t been able to get a hold of anyone at Spiritair. I will never fly Spiritair again!!

    Posted by: Jared | July 14, 2008
  14. I’m just trying to cancel my $9 membership. I went to the place the HELP area told me too and the option is not there! I signed up to check out all the hype and paid the $9. I have left messages with the only two numbers I could find going through these blogs. Still no return call. I don’t want my membership to renew, especially after all the horror stories I have heard and read. I can’t believe they charge you to bring a bag!

    Posted by: Liza | July 22, 2008
  15. I completed part of the process of purchasing a ticket from FLL to DCA. After learning there were additional charges for the luggage and to get a seat, I cancelled out because the cost was adding up. Unfortunately, I got past the part of entering my personal information, therefore, I’ve been charged for the ticket and don’t intend on using it. I’ve called two times to someone (in India I think) and was told there is nothing they can do and won’t even allow me put it towards a future flight.
    My husband and I did fly Spirit in June from FLL to Atlantic City. The Ft. Lauderdale airport was total chaos and unorganized. It was a terrible experience.
    The cheap fare is not worth the stress and aggrevation.

    Posted by: Nancy | August 5, 2008
  16. First, unless you are traveling on one of their $9 specials or other discount fares, Spirit is not a low cost airline. Second, Spirit is run for their own convenience not the flying customer. As such, they will rearrange flights and schedules to meet their needs and there is no such thing as customer service. Flying on Spirit Airlines is a crap shoot and resolving any problems (which are frequent) is impossible.

    Posted by: Roger | September 15, 2008
  17. I am sitting on hold with India for over 1 hour now. I am looking for a phone number to anyone that will actually answer, preferably someone that I can understand because they speak English. DO NOT BOOK ANYTHING WITH SPIRIT. Customer service is a concept that they know nothing about!

    Posted by: Lin | October 2, 2008
  18. I had the same experience lost baggage
    We had a fligh from Detroit to Cartagena when my mother reach the destination one baggage was missing. I’ve been ever since trying to get a hold with spirit. Its been almost a year now. And no response :(

    Posted by: alexia | December 1, 2008
  19. I am wondering how their employees are treated and what is the turnover ration at this company

    Posted by: Ron | June 30, 2009
  20. Hi everyone, This is Kishore, For airlines phone numbers, airlines address, contact numbers, customer service, mail ids, history of airlines, USA, UK airlines information, IATA code, baggage info, check in visit “Altiusdirectory.com”.
    http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Travel/airline-phone-numbers.html

    Posted by: Kishore | July 14, 2009
  21. I purchased a ticket through Spirit Airlines are was charged twice for only only one ticket. After over 8 calls to their “customer service” no one was able to answer my question, stating that they never over charged me. About 4 days after the purchase I got a phone call from the customer service rep advising that they actually did charge me twice and I should expect a refund in 7 days.

    I have e-mailed the cooperate office, because of course their is no number I can call to make my complaint. I sent out two e-mails and have not heard anything from them at all.

    Today I caled the customer service number again and I was told by the “supervisor” that the refund is in the works but could not tell me when and who is in charge of the refund department. Now am I going to have to wait till after the holidays for my money back?

    In closing I will never spend one more penny on this airline!! The customer service is horrible and they will not get me twice. The saying is right, you pay for what you get”. Stay away from Spirit Airlines!!!!!

    Posted by: Nancy | December 22, 2011

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Friday, August 18, 2017