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.