Spirit Airlines Sucks

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


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.



March 22nd, 2010 at 11:37 PM ^

"...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."

Do you have video of one of these dogs?


March 23rd, 2010 at 12:16 AM ^

I thought it was mandatory for airlines that overbook their flights to offer vouchers, raising the amount until enough people volunteer their seats. Thought it was against the law to force someone to bump. I fly all the time and have never seen anyone with a flight reservation bumped against their will without taking some type of voucher deal.


March 23rd, 2010 at 12:45 AM ^

I flew Delta from DTW to Lubbock, TX this weekend, and I was offered a $600 voucher to volunteer for rescheduling. Unfortunately, flights to LUB were all booked until Wednesday, so I couldn't do it. Had I been able to reschedule within 24 hours, I would have done it in a heartbeat.

...and then I found 5 dollars.


March 23rd, 2010 at 12:47 AM ^

Spirit does freaking suck. I flew to LAX once and they wouldn't let us out of the plane for 4 hours! We were at LAX, how could they not get a freaking bus or a walkway just to let us off? It's because the airport laughs at how shitty Spirit is too...


March 23rd, 2010 at 12:55 AM ^

My dad was trying to fly from DC to Lansing a number of years ago for Christmas on US Airways. Landed in Pittsburgh to make the connection, looked at the monitors, Lansing was nowhere to be found. Turns out US Airways had stopped flying to Lansing 3 months prior. My dad was still issued tickets for the flight. At least they got him to DTW and paid for his car service to and from, but I don't think he's flown an airline except Southwest since.

Zone Left

March 23rd, 2010 at 1:53 AM ^

Wow, that's just awful! I've never seen anything quite that bad.

I've always felt that airlines should have to guarantee arrival by a specific time or issue a refund. That time could be many hours later than an estimated time that would be akin to a traditional arrival time. It would lend a sense of truth (barring weather or other issues out of the airline's control) to the whole process.

It's not that hard to be on time--I do it for a living, just not with airlines and there are a ton of ways to make up time.


March 23rd, 2010 at 2:05 AM ^

this is why I only fly southwest. Sure, they don't fly everywhere...but who's to say I want to go to where they don't fly? (minus internationally...that will be a sad day when I have to book without s/w for the first time.)


March 23rd, 2010 at 2:59 AM ^

Spirit overbooks constantly, but if you have flexible travel plans, it works out. I take the free flights from Spirit all the time, which is why I still book my flights on Spirit. I have 5 free flights from them, all vouchers saved up for a couple summer trips to Detroit, and a few in the fall for the Michigan games. Ill bump off my flight on purpose to get those vouchers and stay a few extra days, Spirit puts me in a hotel room, last few times it was the Crowne Plaza on Meriman, and the free roundtrip flight to anywhere they fly. Frontier is a great airline though, for those who can fly it, the Directv is great, its 6 dollars, I just flew on Frontier from Vegas to Denver, then Denver to Oklahoma City for the NCAA Tournament. Awesome flights, except the 2nd leg. I was on a propeller plane! I didnt even know they still had those!


March 23rd, 2010 at 10:40 AM ^

i respectfully disagree. when you run a customer service business, like an airline, you have to be aware of word of mouth marketing - both positive and negative. you should treat all customers well, regardless of whether you are familiar with their name, because you never know when you'll have a customer, like brian, who can reach and influence a mass audience. brian isn't prohibiting you from using mgoblog if you fly spirit, he's just relaying his story.


March 23rd, 2010 at 7:34 AM ^

Flights should not be allowed, under any circumstances, to overbook. Instead, you should have to pay for your flight at the time of booking, or at least a few days ahead or something. They sell all the seats, and then if you don't show up, they keep your money just like you did. There, no reason to overbook and nobody who ACTUALLY ARRIVED WANTING TO FLY got screwed.

Raback Omaba

March 23rd, 2010 at 7:43 AM ^

I feel for you Brian.............

The bad thing about having a problem at the airport is that, when it happens, I can't have my obligatory MELTDOWN and FUCK.SHIT.UP moment. I can't scare them with my temper and master physique, because, well.....the TSA and US Marshalls are a little tougher to deal with than some airline biatch.

Wolverine In Exile

March 23rd, 2010 at 8:16 AM ^

As a guy who has to fly A LOT for work (and trust it isn't all glamorous like a Geogre Clooney movie)...

1) Alway pack carry-on. You can get a 22-in rolling bag in any of the overheads and if you can't the airline will either gate check (where they take your bag as you enter the plane and give it to you on the gate ramp after) or give you free standard luggage check (where you'd pick it up at baggage claim). You also get a backpack, so put the clothes and such in the carry-on and the iPod/cell phone/laptop/steamy romance novel in the backpack. No lost luggage. Quick exit out of airport. And most you on this board are men, so if you bring shitloads of toiletries with you that require you to check luggage, may God have mercy on your soul. dong.

2) ALWAYS check in online and print out your boarding pass at least 10 hours before. No bumping, you can usually show up just outside of an hour and still make it to your flight, and if you HAVE to check luggage, most airlines now give you a discount when paying for checked luggage.

3) AVOID the following airports for connections at all times when you can avoid it: Chicago Ohare, Atlanta Hartsfield, NY Laguardia. Seasonally, avoid Dallas-FortWorth in late summer (lightning storms) and Minneapolis-St Paul in winter (obvs). Salt Lake City, Denver, Washington National, Phoenix Skyport I've not had many issues with in terms of connecting flights.

4) If it's under a 10% difference, get the full fare ticket-- more options if you get bumped / delayed / etc and worst case you get your money back.

5) Know the airline alliances. If you get bumped / delayed, your airline should be able to put you on an allied airline with out a problem (again another reason to avoid checking baggage... you tell the agent you don't have checked bags, and whole world of alternate flights / itineraries await you)

My reccommendations for airlines? I like in order of preference:
A) Frontier: Nice modern planes, you can get most anywhere with one connection in Denver (and Denver is a NICE airport), cheap prices for flights, TV on the plane, and food / drinks on the plane are actually relatively reasonable ($3 for decent chips & salsa, $5 for a Newcastle). They also have a REALLY good frequent flier program. Now since they've been bought by Republic Airlines as well, you have some other airline partners to help you out get you where need to go (Midwest Express through Milwaukee, alliance with AirTran gets you through Baltimore & Atlanta)

B) Delta: caveat-- as long as you're flying through Detroit. With the merger with Northwest, they have a lot of "hub" airports now that offer you a huge variety of itneraries and options if you have issues along your trip. Also if you're going overseas, the number of airlines in the SkyTeam alliance is a big benefit.

C) Southwest: limited in some cases to non-central airports and no partner airlines, but for price for the experience, hard to beat. And baggage handlers who paint "FREE BAGS" on their chest.

D) United: more a case of just that their size and alliances allow them more options and their airport hubs (Washington Dulles, Chicago OHare, Denver) have a lot of traffic that almost ensure you'll get another flight somewhere.


March 23rd, 2010 at 8:39 AM ^

I'd disagree with you on the Atlanta thing.

I fly through Atlanta two times a week and rarely have a problem. If I ever have any delays, it is due to a crew having to come from the T terminal to the C terminal, and that usually results in a 15 minute delay at most, which you can make up in the air.

Additionally, I would disagree with United. That's a poop airline that has poopy service and even poopier everything. Replace that with Continental and your post is great. Continental treats their customers fairly and has really improved their service in the last 3 years.

Otherwise, I second everything you said.


March 23rd, 2010 at 9:10 AM ^

If you're flying out of Texas Continental is probably the best.

If it's anywhere in the Midwest NWA/Delta is probably the best.

I pretty much stick to flights that are originating in Chicago and so I've found that if I'm flying to a Delta hub I'll fly out of Midway and if I'm flying to anywhere else where they have a hub I'll fly out of O'Hare (except for Southwest then I'd fly out of Midway).

But everything else that he said is true I always fly with carry on bags only and I've never hard a tough time getting on something else.

The only other point that I'd like to add is this:

If you are flying in the winter and a snow storm (or for any bad weather really) is coming GO TO THE AIRPORT SUPER DUPER EARLY. Not like "I normally get to the airport an hour early so I'll get to the airport 2 hours early". This means going online seeing when your airline is offering the earlier 1 or 2 flights and going to get there for those. I've saved my ass from getting snowed in at least twice by flying standby on earlier flights.

Wolverine In Exile

March 23rd, 2010 at 9:54 AM ^

As an additional benefit of getting to the airport significantly early (+2 hrs) AND traveling only with carry-ons, is that a lot of times there will be earlier flights to your destination that will leave just outside of your flight time -2 hrs that would allow you to get to your destination significantly earlier or before weather hits (usually first flights in the morning from an airport get off the ground-- it's the second/third flights that depend on airplanes getting to hubs from other locations that really start the cascade of death delays).

A couple years ago, I was traveling to Orlando taking my 6-yr old cousin on his first trip to Disneyworld and we got the airport about 2 hrs before our flight to Cleveland with a connection to Orlando. We ended up getting on the earlier flight to Cleveland by about 2 min, and then caught an earlier connection to Orlando. Instead of getting in to Orlando at 2pm, we got in at 10a, which was 4 more hours at the theme park.


March 23rd, 2010 at 10:00 AM ^

Second the Delta endorsement, at least as far as adaptability. The last two times I've flown, they canceled my flight because of maintenance issues on the plane. (One time the plane needed fixing in South Carolina and then couldn't take off because of snow - the second time, it had a flat tire that they didn't have a spare for.) But they were able to rebook me; the first time, for a few hours later, and the second, early the next day on a new, unscheduled flight that used the plane that was supposed to be the previous night's flight. It makes you wonder why the hell they don't carry something as simple as a spare tire at the airport there, but at least they were good at rescheduling on the fly. So to speak.


March 23rd, 2010 at 8:19 AM ^

Your trip is EXACTLY the same time frame mine is going to be. Leaving Wed (much cheaper) coming back Sunday. I am going out for a wedding/KY derby/Mayweather fight. Were flying out Wed night at 8:01 pm. I paid the fee to select seats so hopefully that helps out in the event of an overbooking issue. Its amazing that airlines can do what they want when they want and if theres a sniffle of hostility your ass is grass. I'll report about my hopefully not dreaded experience.


March 23rd, 2010 at 8:29 AM ^

Man, that totally sucks......i was thinking good thoughts all weekend for you guys. I was sure you hit it big with Murrary State, given your company for the weekend. Not to mention, I was imagining you all crazed trying to find the hockey score Friday night


But, here's a thought, if I could offer one, for the next time your fly. Dont worry about price. I mean, you're going to Vegas, right? All you have to so is write a post or two about the experience, and BOOM write off as a busiess expense on your taxes.

You most certainly could have done that with the with the blogger convention......then, you dont have to worry about saving a few bucks with the dillweeds at Spirit.

Regardless, that blows.


March 23rd, 2010 at 8:32 AM ^

I spent 11 hours in a terminal waiting to catch a delayed flight. They kept delaying the flight for 45 mins, an hour, whatever, but never once said that it would be 11 HOURS! I was 13 and coming back from a boy scout trip in florida, picture 20 dirty, smelly kids who just spent a week in the woods with no running water sleeping on the floor in the terminal; worst day at an airport ever.


March 23rd, 2010 at 8:53 AM ^

I won't let my family members fly Spirit, either. My father-in-law is notoriously frugal, and used to fly them a lot to go places. Unfortunately, it was up to me to deliver him to the airport, and retrieve him. I got sick of the flights being cancelled, bumped, late, or whatever, so I told him I wouldn't do the ferry service if he was flying Spirit.


March 23rd, 2010 at 9:01 AM ^

I agree with Brian in posting this on HIS site. I would have done the same thing if I was treated like he was. The wonderful thing about being the owner of anything is that you can do whatever you want because you OWN it. This is a very popular site and posting here as a warning to all of us that come here is very informative. I will never use this company now, so thanks Brian.

Plus it was a fun read!!

Other Andrew

March 23rd, 2010 at 8:59 AM ^

Brian, you showed some impressive restraint here. I realize it was days later, but I am sure you are still furious. I have already ruled out four airlines due to my own experiences. I will add this to the list due to yours.