Old Jul 26, 2009, 9:55 PM
uadmilda uadmilda is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 2
Thumbs down Spirit Airlines: Worst COMPANY Ever

Ben Baldanza
Spirit Airlines
2800 Executive Way,
Miramar, FL 33025

Dear Mr. Baldanza:

Like many others, I am an avid traveler, both for business and pleasure. Having this lifestyle has taught me a lot about flexibility and patience along with the value of customer service. My background is in business and I have learned that those companies that place high importance on customer service are the ones left standing when others fail.

I recently chose to experience Spirit Airlines for the first time. I was impressed by your ultra low cost carrier model and the flight routes. However, I am now convinced that the hassle, tears and utter disrespect caused by your company were not worth the cheap fare.

My younger sister and I chose to travel to Puerto Rico via Spirit Airlines. I flew from Boston with two layovers while she flew from Detroit with one layover. The trouble for her began when she forgot her phone in the car. Our mother ran it in to Spirit over 90 minutes prior to takeoff and spoke with a representative who said she would take it straight to my sister at her gate. The woman never appeared, nor was my sister paged. When I tried to contact Spirit customer service, I spoke with Paul, a manager in Bangalore about connecting me with Spirit baggage claim in Detroit. He was completely powerless to give out a phone number accessible to anyone with online access or a phonebook! His recommendation was to look it up online myself – which I would have been happy to do if Spirit had not put me on a five hour layover! My mother tried calling from her end. It took over two hours and eight frustrating calls to find someone competent enough to find the phone.
The trouble on my end started when I boarded my first flight. There was insufficient space provided for carry-on luggage, even though the airline encourages only having carry-on. A flight attendant took my bag from me and asked my seat number, saying that she would take my bag and bring me a ticket. I assumed that she was placing my bag at the front of the plane. However, when she did not give me a ticket after takeoff, I became worried and asked what she had done with it. She had checked it, but she was not sure where it would turn up, nor did she have a tracking ticket for me. Her solution: Just de-board the plane during our layover, exit the terminal, find my bag at the luggage pickup, go through security again, and get back on the next flight, hopefully in time and having more space to store my bag. When I exited the plane, I spoke with seven staff members and was appalled by the lack of customer service and of empowerment to help resolve the issue. I did end up going to baggage claim and speaking with ONE kind and helpful person in the Fort Lauderdale Spirit Baggage Claim. Unfortunately, he could not find my bag. Thus, I rushed back through security and boarded my plane, now worried that Spirit had managed to lose my carry-on bag. When we landed in Puerto Rico, we waited for an hour and thankfully, magically, my bag did appear – without a tag and with my outer clip stolen. As I am on the road for nine months and the bag was 50% of my belongings, I was grateful.
Losing a bag is common among all airlines so I let my anger go. However, I was soon to discover that the incompetent staff, rude attitudes and complete disrespect for clients run deep in the culture of Spirit Airlines.

On our way home we arrived at the terminal in Puerto Rico almost two hours early to check-in in for my sister’s flight home. She was to depart San Juan at 3:15am and my flight was around 6:58am. When we arrived we soon discovered that her flight to Fort Lauderdale had been cancelled. How did we discover this? By waiting in line for over four hours and hearing rumors. Not once did the Spirit staff find the decency to explain what was going on. When we finally made it to the front of the line, I watched, appalled, while Jose, a Spirit Customer Service Representative, allowed a friend of his to cut in front of us and check in, even though they had just arrived. (They gave each other a high-five while I asked why he was not serving us.) Why the long wait? Why the total lack of communication? Why the rude behavior? It certainly was not because they were short staffed. I counted five people standing around talking about their holidays behind the counter, while we waited.

When we did finally speak with someone, she was going to put my sister, who graduated high school the week prior, on a tentative flight out of the country after me. I explained that we are family and that she must fly out before me or on the same flight, but not after because 1) she does not speak Spanish and 2) I had seen enough to know not to trust the competence of the Spirit staff. When I called the customer service number, their only response was that they would fly her out within two days without making sure she was safe in a hotel and that all other information was up to the staff in the departing terminal. Wow. Spirit told me to leave my little sister alone in a country where she does not know the language and does not own a credit card. What a brilliant idea.

After waiting for another two hours, we stood by the gate and prayed that she could get on standby for my flight. The staff did nothing to make sure she was moved to the front of the list as to not separate family. Thankfully, she was one of the last people to make it on.

Once in Fort Lauderdale, we tried to speak with a customer service representative again to find out what our options were. Strangely, there was no one who would take the time to help! We exited the terminal and went to the ticket counter where one person was kind enough to give us some advice.
My flight back to Boston was delayed. Her flight to Detroit was delayed by over 45 minutes. My sister sat down on her confirmed seat to Detroit after a seven hour layover (please keep in mind that we cut our trip short in order for her to be back home in time for an event that evening, which she was forced to miss). Moments later, another person appeared with the same seat assignment! My sister was pushed to tears for the third time that day. They escorted her off the plane and told her she was not even in the computer, even though Spirit had given her a ticket and told her she was good to go. Thankfully, a seat opened and she was able to go home. What would have happened if the flight was full? I am terrified to even think about it.

As a working professional and as a family person, I am utterly disgusted by the behavior and the deplorable treatment of customers exhibited by the vast majority of the Spirit staff. As one who regularly provides travel advice to many people, I am positive of only one thing when it comes to Spirit Airlines: This is the worst company (not just airline) that I have ever come in contact with and whatever a customer might “save” monetarily will be lost through the airline wasting their customer's time and treating them with less dignity than a piece of expendable furniture.

It is my hope that you as the CEO will take this letter seriously and begin to change the culture of the organization. Great airlines are needed and you have some of the infrastructure in place. Now act like you care for continued business.



FOLLOW-UP: Spirit Airlines did respond to our letter with an apology stating that this is not normal behavior for the airline. No concessions were made to rectify how we were treated. Strangely, the letter was never finished...the sentence trailed off and the last two letters of the mail read "fu". Coincidence? I think not. What a disappointing company.
Old Jul 26, 2009, 10:44 PM
justme justme is offline
Delta Air Lines Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: ATL
Posts: 257

Terrible story, so sorry you and your sister had to put up with that. I mean this in the nicest possible way, and in no way what-so-ever am I trying to be sarcastic or mean, but what did you expect when you use a carrier that is so cheap? They're cheap for a reason... that said, here's something that was originally posted by PHXFlyer in another thread about Spirit and their CEO Mr. Baldanza.

Originally Posted by PHXFlyer
Spirit's COC contains no provision for re-booking on another carrier, sometimes called "Rule 240", in case of a cancellation or lengthy delay. This is because Spirit has no interline agreements to be able to do so. If a Spirit flight is cancelled you basically have two choices. You can wait for the next available Spirit flight which may, depending on where you are, be in a couple of hours or a couple of days. If this isn't an option than you can take a refund from Spirit and make your own arrangements with another airline which we all know is usually means very expensive last-minute fares.

Delayed and Canceled Flights
Spirit Airlines Responsibility for Schedules and Operations Times shown in a timetable or elsewhere are not guaranteed and form no part of the terms of transportation. Spirit may, without notice, substitute alternate carriers or aircraft, and may alter or omit stopping places shown on the ticket in case of necessity. Schedules are subject to change without notice. Spirit is not responsible or liable for making connections, or for failing to operate any flight according to schedule, or for changing the schedule of any flight.
Rebooking When a ticketed passenger holding a confirmed reservation on a flight will be delayed because of a schedule irregularity (including but not limited to, a missed connection, flight cancellation, omission of a scheduled stop, substitution of equipment, a different class of service or schedule change), Spirit will rebook the passenger on Spirit's first available flight to the passenger's destination without additional charge.
Amenities/Services for Passengers Spirit will not assume expenses incurred as a result of a flight delay, cancellation, or schedule change. Spirit may provide limited amenities and services, which may be required by certain passengers in order to maintain their safety, health and welfare. Amenities provided by Spirit are provided as courtesy to the customer and are not to be considered an obligation of Spirit. No lodging will be provided to a passenger on any Spirit flight, which is delayed or canceled in the city of the passenger's residence.
This contract reflects the anti-customer "corporate culture" of Spirit and it's CEO. Basically they feel you're paying a low fare so expect nothing more than transportation from A to B.
Here's an interesting article which appeared in USA Today about Spirit and it's CEO Ben Baldanza. He doesn't seem to worry about all of the complaints and bad press his airline receives.

Spirit carried 6.8 million passengers last year, and the Transportation Department received 792 complaints. That's more than triple the number of complaints against low-fare airline Southwest, which carried 102 million passengers. The largest number of Spirit complaints were for baggage, reservations, ticketing and boarding problems. Spirit also received a large number of complaints about customer service and refunds.
Baldanza says more than 99.9% of Spirit's customers are satisfied with their dealings with the airline and blames many complaints on fliers' expectations.
"We're the Wal-Mart or the McDonald's — not the Nordstrom's — of the airline industry," Baldanza says. "No one walks into McDonald's and gets disappointed when they don't see filet mignon on the menu."

If any Spirit passengers feel they've been treated badly, "They should fly someone else," Baldanza says. "That's the way the free market works," he says. "I don't eat at some restaurants when I'm treated badly. Our job is to make sure that doesn't happen to a majority of customers." Two years ago, Baldanza accidentally replied to an e-mail from a customer requesting a refund for missing a concert in Atlanta after a flight delay.
"We owe him nothing as far as I'm concerned," Baldanza said in his e-mail. "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."
"Airline Sympathizer"s are People Too!
So, as you pointed out, Spirit's attitude towards passengers, which stems from their CEO, is one of utter disregard. I hope that this experience will not dissuade you from future airline travel on other "non-LCC" carriers. Hopefully next time you will be treated better!
I think Bigfoot is blurry, that's the problem. It's not the photographer's fault. Bigfoot is blurry, and that's extra scary to me. There's a large, out-of-focus monster roaming the countryside. Run, he's fuzzy, get out of here.
- Mitch Hedberg
Old Jul 27, 2009, 12:51 AM
PHXFlyer PHXFlyer is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,366

I'm sorry about your "nightmare" on Spirit. Of course it could have, and we have heard it has, been a lot worse. Thank you, justme, for re-posting the article I found about Spirit and Mr. Baldanza. I hope at some point he realizes his company is losing future and potential business due to his company's customer service or lack thereof. He thinks if a past or potential new customer can save a penny they'll choose Spirit however if it's someone who has a friend, co-worker or family member that was screwed by Spirit they'll be less likely to fly them to save a few dollars.

The "fu" at the end of your letter is amusing. One can only speculate what it means. "Follw-UP"? "File Updated"?
Old Jul 27, 2009, 1:00 AM
justme justme is offline
Delta Air Lines Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: ATL
Posts: 257

Originally Posted by PHXFlyer
The "fu" at the end of your letter is amusing. One can only speculate what it means. "Follw-UP"? "File Updated"?
Uh huh, follow-up, yeah, that's it! Maybe it means "Found Undesirable" although I think the more common translation fits the company's motto better!
I think Bigfoot is blurry, that's the problem. It's not the photographer's fault. Bigfoot is blurry, and that's extra scary to me. There's a large, out-of-focus monster roaming the countryside. Run, he's fuzzy, get out of here.
- Mitch Hedberg
Old Jul 27, 2009, 3:06 AM
EXCO EXCO is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 14

I think "fouled up" would be appropriate.
Old Aug 23, 2009, 9:58 PM
uadmilda uadmilda is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 2

Thanks for the comments. I have learned a lot from this experience and also a lot from sharing my thoughts with the online world. Lesson learned and I will not make the same mistake again in the future. This *hopefully* will be my only whiny posting and I hope it will help others avoid Spirit Airlines. Yes, I have grown much wiser since Thanks for your insightful replies!
Old Oct 3, 2011, 1:56 PM
adamr adamr is offline
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 33

So I'm trying to pick apart the complaint here.

1) Person leaves phone in car, and has already passed through security so relative goes to terminal and asks an employee to carry it to the gate. Phone arrives only after other relative at other airport makes phone calls.

This is an interesting one. First, if there was over 90 minutes before the flight, could the relative have asked the airline to page the person to come get the phone? Maybe, but the airline agreed to carry the phone to the gate and find the person.

My question is how did the relative at the other airport know that the sister never got the phone? Why did the relative call the customer service number to "find" the phone? If the phone got to the passenger before departing, then this means that the representative actually delivered it? If so, then what was the problem? Does the complainer actually think that the phone would not have gotten to its rightful owner without his phone call? Lots of questions.

2) Without room for carry-on bags the flight attendant checked the bag and forgot to give a claim ticket. The flight attendant apparently told the individual to exit the terminal to find his bag? Thankfully the person who took the bag was wrong and the bag was checked all the way through to the destination.

Conclusion: the flight attendant made a mistake and then didn't know how to deal with it. VALID complaint. Bag? Not lost, thankfully.

3) Flight cancelled. Two passengers heading to two different destinations on different itineraries. Passenger bothered that a VIP was helped before him. Both passengers re-routed on next available flights. Female offered lodging while awaiting next flight. Female caught standby and avoided overnight stay.

Sounds like a success story that came about from a flight cancellation. If you're really an "avid" traveler you know that flights get cancelled sometimes and you can't control it. I'm sorry your feelings were hurt when the agent gave a "high five" to someone who cut the line before you. You don't know who it was nor control how the airline checks people in. It could have been an employee.

I'm glad your sister caught a standby but if you don't want to get separated from your family then book the same route 100% and then you fly out separately. From your claim of experience, you should know this. You say they did nothing to make sure she was at the front of the list, but she got on the flight. You wanted her to cut in the line? Fair is fair, right?

3) In FLL you "had" a problem but I'm still not sure what it was. You admit you cut your trip short, so this explains the ticket changes and confusion. Somewhere you changed the routes and booking so I guess you left that part out. Again your sister made it on standby. Awesome!

You sent a complaint letter to the airline and they responded with an apology. That's great. The fact that the second page may have been cut off and ended with "fu" is not even relevant, except for the fact that you want to make it a big deal.

Every complaint you have, except for the flight attendant's stupid mistake, is marginal at best.

Your sister forgot her phone and it showed up after the airline walked it through security. A flight was cancelled and the airline rebooked both of you on the next available flights and offered hotel accommodations. Your sister made it onto two standby flights when you cut your trip short and had to change bookings. A flight attendant forgot to get you a claim check and sent you to find your bag.

Yes, it was challenging. It's challenging on any airline. I sure am glad you got a letter of apology for that ignorant flight attendant. I'm glad you didn't lose any bags and your sister wasn't forced to fend for herself in a strange land.
Old Oct 18, 2011, 9:53 PM
defensemn1 defensemn1 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 3

Mr. Baldanza,

I am a frequent flier that accrues in excess of 150K actual flight miles/year. For a quick trip to Chicago from NYC I decided to give your airline a try because the price was so attractive. I haven’t even flown yet but I can assure you that this has already been an absolutely miserable experience. The likelihood of me, my family or any of my direct reports flying on Spirit is non-existent going forward.

I spoke to a lady, Neeni (? Spelling) in customer service as I wanted to check in on-line. She lied to me. First she told me that I still owed $100. When I protested that I owed nothing she changed it to $10. I told her that I was going to pay nothing extra and she said that she would credit my account. I questioned as to whether she was crediting and not charging my account and she assured me that I would not be charged. BOLD FACED LIE! When I went to attempt to check in again there was an additional 10 dollar charge for a credit towards a future flight. There will be no future flight for me on your airline.. I told her that I needed to check in and print a boarding pass. She assured me that I would be able to print same. Again, your website didn’t allow me to print a boarding pass. I now have to arrive even earlier at LGA tomorrow to deal with that.

My confirmation code for tomorrow’s flight is ------

Mr. Baldanza, if we ran our business like Spirit runs their business, patients would expire and we would be out of business. I would rather walk than have to deal with your airlines again

Extremely disappointed customer,
Old Mar 9, 2012, 10:11 PM
hatespiritairlines hatespiritairlines is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 2
Default spirit piece of crap airline

I feel for you. We americans looking for a cheap flight, pay in advance and then get sh__t on. Foreign speaking answer centers, horrible customer service(if you can get a hold of someone). My answer is to no longer spend my money with a company that does care about it's customers. P.S. Don't ever except vouchers from them either. They tell you one thing and then hand you a flyer at he end of the conversation(when your in hurry to make a flight) which fine prints excuses them from ever giving you anything. I in the future will spend my money with any other airlines, but spirit. If you start adding up all the fees they really are more exspensive anyways.
Old Mar 19, 2012, 9:42 PM
Gatorbait Gatorbait is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 1
Thumbs down The worst airline in the universe... by far...

My wife and kid just flew this POS airline this past weekend.
What a nightmare... look for yourself, suppose to fly out of LAX Friday night at 10:00
They called and said aircraft has mechanical issues and it's delayed until 12:00 or
redeye. Flight 310, and then they stuck my wife one end of aircraft and my 5 year old
daughter on another end of aircraft.. what a joke of airline. They also charge you
for water and everything else.. I was surprised they allowed you to use bathroom
without any coins.. bottom line this is warning to all travelers, be careful and don't
use the POS airline.. worst ever and not recommending this to anyone.
customer service is located across the country and good luck trying to get anything
out of them either.... horrible experience... what a nightmare...
the lax flight did not leave until 12:45 AM... another 45 min delay.. and yes they try to take off a/c and
give you some excuse about better in the morning... what a joke..


Old Apr 6, 2012, 2:17 AM
texaspaul texaspaul is offline
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1
Default Spirit Air Dishonest Business Practices

This email is about a recent trip from Las Vegas to Dallas on Saturday March 31 2012.

I was booked with a confirmed seat on an over sold flight from LV to Dallas. Spirit Air asked for passengers who could travel later that would volunteer to go late in exchange for a travel voucher. I was first in line to volunteer and asked when I would be able to fly out. I made them aware that I could not go later than Sunday because I had to be at work on Monday. They did not really have an answer and said they would get back to me. They asked me if I was going to volunteer a couple more times and each time could not tell me when I would be able to fly out.

After a while I chose to board the plane in fear that they would fill the plane while I was waiting around for info.

After being on board for 10-15 minutes a flight attendant came own the isle asking again and recognized me and again asked if I was interested. I again asked if she knew about later flights. She eventually came back and said that we were guarnateed a flight out, and at that point me and others committed to stay behind. We got our luggage and departed the plane for the gate.

Once there we asked again about the later flight and they claimed that they had purchased us tickets on US Air later in the day. As it turned out, that flight had a long lay over, but I was OK with that since we were to recieve 2 round trip tickets which was promised while still on the plane. I was always concerned that there was not any other tickets.

The gate clerk had us fill out the paperwork for travel vouchers and wait. The paper work was never provided to us as our copy. We were asked to sign at a certain place and check a box!! After another 10-15 minutes a couple came up trying to get on the plane late and they were told it was to late to board and would have to go later.

After another 5- 10 minutes the gate clerk announced that they had 4 emphty seats and designated 4 of us to re-board the plane. When asked about the travel vouchers and the agreement she said that Spirit did not owe us anything and to get on board. I told her I had never seen a more disorganized airline and the whole plane is now 30 minutes late becuse of their inability to load a plane correctly. I then asked about my reserved seat, now occupied by someone else because of this mess, and she told me it was not her problem and to find a seat. When I and others asked to speak to a manager both in LV and Dallas we were declined.

I have sent in an official complaint to Spirit and was told the travel voucher fine print says if you board the plane, you are not owed compensation. Spirit said what they thought was fair was to refund my $12.00 dollar fee for a a reserved seat.

As I walked down the isle I noticed an emphty seat and as I went to sit down I stopped by the passenger sitting in the next seat that pointed at a cardboard sign taped to the seat that said "Do Not Sit-Seat Broken".
I noticed 2 others close by. I then wondered if there was a sign like that on one of the engines!!!!


Last edited by texaspaul; Apr 6, 2012 at 2:22 AM. Reason: spelling
Old Apr 6, 2012, 3:27 AM
xjcaptain xjcaptain is offline
Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 75

So.....they called for volunteers, ended up not needing them and you got on your scheduled flight. Not sure I see a problem. As far as the sign on the seat, that is a FAA requirement under the Mel for an inoperative seat. Would you have preferred to be bumped?
Old Apr 6, 2012, 5:01 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

Spirit is a backpackers airline.... I would simply not fly with them. Those vouchers would have had so many restrictions on them you wouldn't be able to use them. The complaint just re-inforces what we already know. This airline is chaotic and dis-organised and not worth any savings.
Old Nov 17, 2013, 10:08 AM
Eddie Ginley Eddie Ginley is offline
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 2

As with all loco operators, the solution is in the hands of the customer.

The European version of Spirit is widely accepted here to be Ryanair...

I have to insist that it's entirely your own fault. If people stopped booking tix on these Airlines, said Airlines would soon change their policies and attitudes towards their customers.

As long as people continue to buy the seats, nothing will change... Sadly many people are greedy / stupid / unsophisticated / fail to read the Terms & Conditions of Carriage / think they can blag it if it goes wrong etc., etc., etc.,

Some Airlines are eternally happy that this is so, and rely on it...


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