Spirit Airlines Sucks

Submitted by Brian on March 22nd, 2010 at 10:57 PM

FFFFFUUUUU-

Your humble author at around 8PM on Wednesday 

So, right. I didn't want to harsh the hockey buzz earlier and mention it then, but I will mention it now: Spirit Airlines sucks. I waited long enough that I am no longer a spittle-flecked FFFFFFUUUUUU-bot about the whole thing and can now relate to you my story without having it devolve into fantasies where I chop off their heads. Instead I will rationally explain to you why Spirit Air is an exceptionally bad choice for anyone looking to use a plane to change their location.

Event #1: I am flying to New York for Blogs With Balls 1.0, the first ever sportsblogger convention-type substance. Due to crazy weather things, the flight is cancelled. Okay, fine, out of their control. I am then told that I can get on the next available flight. The flight is on Sunday. It is Thursday. BWB is on Saturday. I am attempting to get to New York City, which is a large and notable place with no fewer than three major airports if you count Newark.

It turns out I cannot explode the heads of people who are talking to me on the phone. I cancel. I do manage to Priceline a flight for less than one zillion dollars, but I have to get up at 4 AM to catch it. That day is fun.

Event #2: I purchase tickets to head out to Las Vegas for the NCAA tournament's opening weekend in order to see my friend who moved to Nowhere, Arizona, and spends the first weekend of the NCAA tournament running around like one of those little dogs whose blood is 90% cocaine. Because MGoSignificantOther has to TA classes, we have a tight window. It only makes sense to fly out Wednesday night and come back Sunday and unfortunately in that window Spirit is about 300 bucks cheaper than the alternatives. I grit my teeth and buy.

When we arrive at the airport more than an hour before the flight, our boarding passes have no seats. I know this is very bad. It turns out they have oversold the flight by a whopping six people and we are all totally screwed. We are given the option to fly out later… 24 hours later. This totally destroys the sense in going. We cancel. Spirit offers us exactly nothing in compensation.

I FFFFFFUUUUUUU my way out of the airport and fall into a funk that only magically delicious Shawn Hunwick can cure.

A Totally Non Spittle-Flecked Reason You Should Avoid Spirit

I have been caught in the throes of airline fiascoes a few times before, and have been pissed off. But in those instances the delays have been on the order of hours because other airlines have reciprocal agreements where they will reduce FFFUUUU as much as possible by letting you on their flights.

Spirit does not have these agreements—my Priceline flight is proof of that—and if anything goes wrong with your flight, or you are one of the unfortunate folk who Spirit says "psyche!" to when you say "you sold me a ticket", you will be waiting at least a full day and possibly up to, like, forever, before you can actually get on a plane. If getting somewhere at a particular time is important, avoid Spirit Air at all costs. If you have a wedding or a holiday or a space ninja convention or have made any plans whatsoever, Spirit Air is a terrible choice.

I understand that sometimes the flight is going to be ridiculously cheaper and you'll want to roll the dice, but trust me: if it's anywhere under a couple hundred bucks—which most of them are—they'll extract most of that from you in hidden fees for booking a seat or checking luggage or breathing funny and you'll be exposing yourself to greatly increased risk that your plans will just evaporate.

Also, when you try to email them you will have to jump through sixteen hoops to do so and then you will be all FFFFUUUU again when you send them a link to your post.

A Side Note

Is there any other industry that will promise you something, take hundreds or thousands of dollars from you, and then say "sorry, we were just kidding?" I can hardly believe this "oversold" bullcrap is legal. Two would be one thing, but six? Seriously?

Obligatory Planes, Trains, And Automobiles Embed

The most NSFW 53 seconds that does not involve nudity can be:

For the record, I did not do this. For the first time in my life I did pull the "DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO?!?" card, though. They did not.

Comments

jblaze

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:04 PM ^

Hit up the consumerist at [email protected].

They have a large following that tends to get the attention of airlines and other evil businesses.

You can also try an EECB (Executive Email Carpet Bomb), where you can email all of the Spirit execs and point to the bad publicity that MGo and Consumerist will generate for Spirit, especially because they have a hub (if you can call it that) in DTW.

http://consumerist.com/

TokenMChick

March 23rd, 2010 at 1:15 AM ^

Oh the Consumerist knows all about Spirit's abhorrent customer service and business practices: http://consumerist.com/2007/08/spirit-air-ceo-learns-the-dangers-of-hit…

After the worst flying experience of my life in 2008 I vowed never to fly Spirit again and am proud to say that I have never given them one more cent of my money. They have the rudest employees EVER and they charge for everything on the plane, even water and pop. Please listen to Brian and don't give them your business, they don't deserve it.

On a side note, I flew Virgin America this past week and it was amazing; I highly recommend it. Sadly, they only fly into a handful of airports and DTW isn't one of them.

WoodleyIsBeast

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:07 PM ^

Last time I flew with them, I couldn't get my luggage for two days. They told me to buy two outfits, as well as toiletries. They told me to save the receipt for compensation. Turns out, I not only didn't get any money back for the clothes I bought, but I was rewarded with $20 dollars off my next flight! Oh joy! Why that's the price of taking my suitcase that they lost one way! Needless to say the last time I flew with them was the last time I will ever fly with them.

scottcha

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:22 PM ^

I sat around at DTW for two hours waiting for my bags the last time I flew Spirit. I was in the middle of filling out a tome of stupid lost bag paperwork along with a mob of others and then the carousel started spinning and out popped my bag along with 2 others, then it stopped. Three of us left the airport livid but with bags, the rest of them presumably stayed livid in the airport, leaving in groups of threes at two hour intervals, but this is conjecture.

Spirit blamed it on the DTW handlers, but I fly into DTW all the time and it had never happened before and hasn't happened since. I haven't flown Spirit since, so you figure it out.

Fuck Spirit. Fuck 'em in their stupid asses.

gater

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:10 PM ^

Nick Saban regularly over books his flights by 6 or more. Possibly Spirit was just trying to gray shirt you or send you to a prep school for a year.

Big Brown Jug

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:18 PM ^

Airlines fuck up. It happens. It happens to big airlines. It happens to small airlines. It screws with our lives when they do and I totally sympathize, but using your journalistic power as the creator of the world's best sports blog to vent seems a little petty. Get a glass of whiskey, close your eyes, take a deep breath, think about how hockey saved our wounded soul-dongs, and we'll get through this.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:36 PM ^

He said he was given the option to fly out 24 hours later and didn't mention any compensation there, either. And besides, almost every airline offers you something, cancel or no. Northwest used to hand out vouchers for 1,000 flyer miles like Halloween candy when they were late getting you somewhere, whether or not you actually got on the plane and flew.

Big Brown Jug

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:49 PM ^

It sounds like a shitty deal all around, but I guess I'm questioning whether this is the right venue to report it. This is a sports blog, not a consumer reports site. Email to the CEO, tell your friends, write the attorney general and the BBB. Brian commands a lot of influence and respect here and rightly so, but not for his experiences with the airline industry. Dropping the "Do You Know Who I Am and What I Can Do to You?" card is pretty uncool in most situations.

Big Brown Jug

March 23rd, 2010 at 12:27 AM ^

Fair enough, but assuming this site has aspirations of achieving legitimacy closer to the level of print newspapers and sports media outlets (and I'm guessing here, I don't know you guys or your goals), this type of post will become increasingly out of place. I don't need to hear about it in the Wall Street Journal every time a columnist gets a blister from their Rockports, and I'm not coming here to decide what airline I'm flying.

Sensing an approaching negbang on my few precious MGoPoints, I'll assume my point is made and sign off.

zlionsfan

March 23rd, 2010 at 11:13 PM ^

Companies screw customers over all the time. Some companies will do it until a) publicly shamed or b) ordered at lawpoint to compensate said customers.

By many accounts, Spirit is one of these companies. Why should Brian have to find some other place to air his grievances when he has a perfectly good place right here?

GoBlueScott

March 23rd, 2010 at 9:26 AM ^

When my girlfriend and I were heading to Dominican Republic we got bumped from a flight. US Air told us we could get a flight the next day and, to compensate us, we would all get a check for $400.

They wrote the checks on the spot, and put us on an AMERICAN AIRLINES flight to Miami so we could catch a flight that would get us to the Caribbean a few hours earlier the next day. Oh, and they also put us up in a hotel in Miami.

Now, missing the flight sucked, but having HALF your trip paid for because of it definitely made it better.

Since that time they have increased the compensation to $800 for bumping you from a flight.

bouje

March 23rd, 2010 at 9:54 AM ^

good or bad things happen is because of the rep at the gate and what airport that you're at. I've had American cancel my flight for no reason (it was the last flight of the day) because of apparently "Airplane troubles due to bad weather". Across the nation that day skies were blue. I had to pay for a hotel and missed part of work the next day.

They've also done a similar thing to my gf with canceling her (again last flight of the day) and said that they couldn't get her out until the next day. I called the airline up scathing saying she needed to be there that day because it was for an event and that she could do a one stop or something.

In sum:

American sucks

Offers no compensation (In my experience)

Never ever ever take a last flight out (ESPECIALLY with American).

dakotapalm

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:36 PM ^

This too, is a shitty practice. If your company screws up to the point that it ruins the reason someone is using your company, compensation should be offered.

Extrapolate this to a restaurant. If you mess of someone's evening so they choose to leave without eating, you'd better offer a certificate or voucher.

oriental andrew

March 23rd, 2010 at 10:03 AM ^

It is, in fact, federal regulation that all airlines must provide compensation to passengers who are Involuntarily Denied Boarding (IDB). However, here is the rub - it is in the form of either travel vouchers (eg, free ticket) or cash voucher (eg, $200 credit) on that same airline. I wouldn't be surprised if they offered one of the above and Brian said to shove it. Or, if he was at the ticket counter, it may never have even gotten that far and he may have just walked off.

That said, Spirit is notorious as one of the worst low-cost carriers (compared to, say, Alaskan, Southwest, JetBlue and Frontier, all MILES better, no pun intended).

Re: overselling practices, this is common in the travel industry (airline, hotel, rental car), although most impactful with the airlines. Each airline's inventory management group calculates number of tickets sold at each fare level, estimates the number of no-shows, cancellations, etc for each flight, and oversells based on those calculations. Spirit, again, is known for being somewhat aggressive with their inventory management practices in order to sell more (ie, revenue is king). People that use Spirit generally don't know well enough to ask for appropriate compensation, so Spirit will usually come out ahead.

Finally, I HATE the consumerist. For all your travel-related woes and actual advice from people who actually travel more than twice a year, I must tout the wonders and joys of www.flyertalk.com - the greatest travel forum known to mankind (if mankind = me).

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

March 23rd, 2010 at 7:12 AM ^

Exactly. If I were an airline executive, or an executive of any company really, the point I would be hammering home to my people is that in the Internet age, there's absolutely no way of knowing who wields a big stick. The guy you're pissing off just might be the guy who lets the whole world know that United Breaks Guitars, and then you're in for it.

BlockM

March 23rd, 2010 at 12:04 AM ^

Wait, did you honestly just ask if a post by the owner of the site about a trip he went on to a sports blogging event should be OT? If I knew that I'd have thousands of people reading my rants all the time I'd vent whenever I felt like it.

That's why he's got the IANAJTTP tag.

M-Wolverine

March 23rd, 2010 at 12:34 AM ^

TAKE IT LIKE A MAN, Brian.

Not me, but I've heard that phrase before, somewhere...

Still, I'd love to hear how that "do you know who I am" thing went. When someone says it, do they literally use those words? Do you tell them who you are, that you have thousands of upwardly mobile college graduate readers who can afford lots of plane tickets? Does the dummy at the counter give a blank stare when one tells them he is a blogger? The whole sequence was ripe for YouTube. Oh, to have a camera...because I think you left out the best part.

M-Wolverine

March 23rd, 2010 at 10:19 PM ^

...of your stroking your beard, and laughing evilly?

As for the below, I'm not of the "Why is this appearing on the site" deal. I usually love the OT posts, it mixes things up, and I'm always for people complaining and sticking it to companies that think they can walk all over their customers.

I just knew karma was going to be a bitch when you changed your Blog header.

Though at this point, I'd think it'd be SPIRIT AIRLINES SUCKS by now...

Blue in Seattle

March 23rd, 2010 at 10:11 AM ^

The fact that Brian posts frustating episodes of his life is hardly equivalent to him attempting to cash in on his celebrity.

http://blog.nj.com/jerseyblogs/2010/02/kevin_smith_vs_southwest_airli.h…

As a reader I happen to have to take airplanes to places I want to go, and I have had similar experiences, and Brian is usually an entertaining writer. So I thought the whole post was enjoyable, and really wouldn't have worked if the theme wasnt' "Don't ever use Spirit Airlines".

I realize that you are the oldest sports trophy and all, but jeez lighten' up!

formerlyanonymous

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:21 PM ^

Could have been worse. Michigan baseball had a 5 hour delay in south Florida. Got to Atlanta, missed the connecting flight. Rather than miss class, took a 12 hour bus ride from ATL to Ann Arbor. Shitty all around.

GoBlueInNYC

March 23rd, 2010 at 12:27 AM ^

I was trying to fly from Tampa to Austin yesterday via Atlanta. After spending 8+ hours on the plane, including 5 hours sitting on a tarmac in Birmingham, we finally arrived in Atlanta over 7 hours late. I saw the baseball team sitting around at the Atlanta airport while I was in line to talk to a Delta rep. I can't fly out until tomorrow morning, so 2 nights stuck in Atlanta. I'm not sure whether or not that's worse than a 12 hour bus ride. That's pretty rough. Oh, and feel free to add Delta to the list of horrible airlines. After yesterday I don't think I'll ever fly Delta again.

willywill9

March 23rd, 2010 at 7:44 AM ^

When you fly enough, there are horror stories on all airlines. The question is which airline has caused me the most pain. I'd say it's probably spirit. I've had several issues, most recently flying out to DTW from LGA for the ND game in Sept. Because of "bad weather" i had to fly all the way to myrtle beach, then fly to DTW. That was fishy, but 6 hours later i was in Ann Arbor, scarfing down Panchero's at midnight, only I wasn't drunk.

I've had issues with Delta, too. Flying down to St Simons Island for a wedding, we flew into Atlanta and needed to catch a connecting flight. Well do to fog or something, we landed in Savannah and had to drive the rest of the way.

UMWest22

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:22 PM ^

I think it's funny how in a post destroying this business, there's a google ad in the banner for Spirit Airline tickets.
I do also agree with Big Brown Jug. Just my opinion, though.

ecormany

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:25 PM ^

shitty, yes, but if this was the sacrifice that it took to get karma to work for you and indirectly for the hockey team, i humbly thank you, sir.

AnthonyC

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:32 PM ^

http://airconsumer.dot.gov/publications/flyrights.htm#overbooking

I am super paranoid of stuff like this to the point where I will intentionally book extra segments on trips and longer flights just to get me to elite status. Airlines are the freaking devil.

FWIW I regularily book flights for family members who aren't travel savvy and I won't ever book Spirit again based on your recommendation. Avoid US Airways as well they have done similar stuff to me in the past.

bluebyyou

March 23rd, 2010 at 4:07 AM ^

Also avoid United, US Air, Hertz car rental (several horror stories where they have no cars in spite of your contract which isn't). Northwest into DTW - Hah....more horror stories than you want to think about.

I have gone through periods where I have had to fly frequently for professional reasons. You fly enough, you get burned.

Brian, there are rules about getting bumped. How come it was you? Was it the date you purchased your ticket or your lack of elite status on the airline?

My recent favorite airline over the last few years is Southwest which actually seems reasonable on occasion.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

March 22nd, 2010 at 11:33 PM ^

Two words for flying from East Coast/Midwest to West Coast: Frontier. Airlines. It's cheap as hell (or it was when I was using them to shuttle myself back and forth from Seattle to Detroit) and basically all they do is fly planes back and forth between Denver and City X. This means:

- They have a section of the Denver airport all to themselves, so if you're cutting a connection close, it only takes two minutes to get from gate to gate. I have benefitted greatly from this.

- If you do miss a connection, whatever: the next flight's likely not too far off.

- For being 45 minutes late taking off (and causing nobody's connection to be missed) they gave us free DirecTV, which they normally charge $5 for, which isn't a bad deal anyway for entertainment options considering you could buy just about anything at the airport stores for more than that. Actually, thumbs up all around to their customer service.

Of course, this only works in the summer. If you make the conscious decision to fly through Denver in the winter, you deserve every weather-related hassle you get.