Between Sunday, August 1 and Saturday, August 7, Spirit Airlines canceled over 2,000 flights due to varied causes. On Tuesday, August 3rd, as I was returning from a weekend trip to Georgia, I was impacted by this. After a four-hour layover, the flight attendant on duty announced, “Flight [XXX] to Chicago has been canceled.”
At first, I thought it an anomaly, until I arrived in the lower lobby and saw a long line of disgruntled customers waiting to be serviced by a handful of agents. “What is going on?” I thought, so I did what any skeptical millennial would: I checked Twitter, and I found the story.
On August 1, Spirit Airlines began experiencing disruptions in its service that have lasted a week and are expected to go into mid-next week, according to CEO Ted Christie. These disruptions, originally due to weather concerns, were also credited to staffing shortages, surges in summer travelers, and computer problems, NBC News reported.
Traveling to and from school for four years, I always opted for Southwest or Delta Airlines because I’d heard the horror stories about Spirit planes turning around in the air, excessive charges for bags and snacks, and hidden fees behind their cheap flights. According to Business Insider, Spirit Airlines is considered the worst airline in America, and I now see why.
After my boyfriend and I had our connecting flight to Chicago canceled, our first instinct was to get rebooked. Yet, as we stood in line, and chaos began to ensue, we started to weigh other options. That night, August 3, there were about three agents with a line full of people, and one of them was not even working. When called out on this by a disgruntled customer, he simply crossed his arms and continued what he was doing – nothing.
Customers criticized his lack of customer service – and even empathy. Here was a line full of people who had all been inconvenienced by flight cancellations, and he would not even give the decency of eye contact. Sadly, it only got worse from there.
Upon deciding we would not be flying with Spirit that night, we sought a refund. We had paid for tickets – and bags – but we would not be getting back to Chicago for another few hours. When I went to the agent who was handling refunds, she notified me that I would have to wait seven business days to be refunded for my ticket.
Unsatisfied with this answer, I pursued alternative methods. Next, I tried calling customer service, but the number was inoperable. I tried using the automated chat system, and it was the same – waiting seven days for a refund or waiting in that long line to be rebooked. Since the refund option was not feasible, we thought about rebooking, which caused another inconvenience. When we tried rebooking through the app, we were informed it could take 1 to 2 days to get rebooked.
For two working adults with limited PTO, we could not take that risk, so we decided to weigh a third option – booking with another airline and calling family and friends to see if they could lend some emergency funds just so we could get home. This option ended up costing us nearly $500 when we only spent $150 getting the tickets and bags home.
Moreover, it was already 10 PM by the time we got things settled, and we ended up having to sleep in the airport (to avoid shelling out money for Ubers and Air B-n-Bs). I guess you could say the moral of this story is not to fly during a pandemic, but I also learned one more important lesson: choose your airline wisely.
Airlines like Spirit brand themselves as atypical to ones like United, Delta, or Southwest, and they are right. They are not Southwest, Delta, or United – because these airlines would have gotten us home on time and not a day late and $500 short. When Latto rapped, “you’ll never catch a b**** flying Spirit,” I guess I should have listened. ~ℝ