Spirit Airlines won’t compensate me for flight cancellation

Steve Leadroot was all set to fly from Chicago to Atlantic City for a wedding last September when an airport ticket agent gave him some bad news: The airline had discontinued its service to Atlantic City. As in, it doesn’t fly there anymore.

The company? Spirit Airlines. Now, before you roll your eyes and say, “Good luck with this one, Christopher,” let’s let Leadroot tell his story.

Back in April, he paid $334 for two round-trip tickets through Spirit Airlines’ website. In June, he even received an itinerary confirming his flight.

But when he arrived at the airport, Spirit Airlines started singing a different tune:

The counter-person for Spirit greeted us and informed us that Spirit no longer flew to Atlantic City.

The airline claimed a broadcast email was sent notifying all ticket holders of this change. I NEVER RECEIVED ANY SUCH MESSAGE.

Dismayed and really ticked off, I was left in a bind that required me to purchase tickets on another airline (American) at a price I never would have paid to begin with.

Not wanting to miss the wedding of my niece, I was forced to take the first flight to Philadelphia. My total was $1,142.

Spirit refunded Leadroot’s original ticket while he was at the airport. But he wonders if it shouldn’t cover the cost of the replacement flight, minus the $334 fare he would have paid it.

“Is Spirit responsible in any way?” he asks.

Let’s go to its contract of carriage (PDF).

9.2 Involuntary

In the event that Spirit is unable to provide a previously confirmed seat and is unable to reroute the customer via Spirit, Spirit will refund as indicated below:

9.2.1. If no portion of the reservation has been used, the refund will be equal to the fare paid by the customer.

9.2.2. If a portion of the reservation has been used, the refund will be equal to the amount of the unused portion.

9.2.3. Customers involved in a Spirit Airlines initiated cancellation in excess of two (2) hours will have three (3) options available to them: 1) re-accommodation, 2) Future Travel credit, or 3) a refund.

So according to Spirit Airlines’ contract, the answer to Leadroot’s question is: absolutely not.

But just because the paperwork says you aren’t covered doesn’t mean you shoudln’t be covered. I think Spirit failed to notify him about the schedule change until he got to the airport, and in doing so not only inconvenienced him, but cost him an extra $808.

I agreed to contact Spirit Airlines on Leadroot’s behalf. The airline normally responds to requests like these with either a thumbs-up or, more frequently, a thumbs-down. This time, it pleaded the Fifth; I heard nothing but the sounds of crickets.

That’s too bad. Spirit already has a battered reputation, when it comes to customer service. A small gesture might have helped it score some big PR points. But apparently it just doesn’t care.

Mind you, Spirit didn’t have to do anything. It wrote itself a convenient contract that let it off the hook. And yes, Leadroot should have confirmed his flight before leaving for the airport. But still, this is no way to treat a customer, even when you’re an “ultra” low cost carrier.

Update (7.a.m.): I edited this post to point to the correct part of Spirit’s contract.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Althea

    I like the idea of symmetry in business transactions, and well, the OP couldn’t get away with doing what Spirit did, without paying for the priveledge of not showing up.  I believe that Spirit’s poor conduct towards passengers just might be seen as a sort of perverse ‘badge of honor’ within their corporate culture.  They just seem immune to any form of criticism, and as PT Barnum once observed, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  But, strictly speaking, they’re just following the terms of their contract, without regard for their customers.

  • Elmo Clarity

    In reading section 7.1 you posted, I didn’t read where they could “cancel” the entire flight.  Only change the time (schedule), who flew the route, or any layovers.  In this case, I feel it was the airline’s responsibility to get him on a flight with another carrier, not require him to fend for himself in this case.  Sending a broadcast email is not significant notification either.  A lot of email servers could easily filter it out as spam if it is sent to too many people at once or even his email client could have filtered it to the spam folder.  It might also be worth while looking to a small courts claim against them.

    Just curious Chris, but if he had booked with a travel agent, would they have been able to get anything done?

  • texan

    I voted no as essentially like it or not, Spirit has complied with their Contract of Carriage.  It is *fair*?  Perhaps not, but I’m also aware of the fact that at no time was the OP forced to buy with Spirit (at least there is no mention of coercion by a 2nd or 3rd party) and that their CoC is available to read before buying..

    So, largely the OP had the ability to book with any other carrier who may have afforded more “protections” (such as interlining of tickets for a CXLD section) and these risks were disclosed to him/her in advance.

    As to the issue of do they “have to”, versus “should they” cover this goes while it may seem like a nice thing, or even the right thing, I’m also aware of that Spirit as a for-profit enterprise– has to watch costs that go into waivers and things like this.  and when expenses are incurred by a company that’s outside of the rules or contractual language, they end up ultimately being paid by the entire customer base via higher fares.

    I can have empathy for the OP, but in the end, it would seem to me that barring more information that Spirit acted correctly and consistently in accordance with their posted rules.

  • sirwired

    Tricky.  Spirit certainly fulfilled its contract; it issued a refund on the fare paid, just as it should, and just as any airline would.

    But knowing if Spirit didn’t notify him of the cancellation is difficult to impossible.  E-Mail is a notoriously unreliable communication method; if I was Spirit, I would have included a link for customers to click on to acknowledge receipt, and contacted him via phone and/or snail-mail if there was no response.  I believe other airlines would have placed a phone call, e-mail address on-file or not.  The one time I had a direct-booked ticket changed, I know I got a phone call from Continental, and I know they had my e-mail.  (It happened to be an equipment and operator change… from a real plane to a Colgan puddle-jumper.)

  • sirwired

    Chris cited the wrong part of the CoC:
    9 Refunds
    9.2 Involuntary
    In the event that Spirit is unable to provide a previously confirmed seat and is unable to reroute the customer via Spirit, Spirit will refund as indicated below:
    9.2.1. If no portion of the reservation has been used, the refund will be equal to the fare paid by the customer.
    9.2.2. If a portion of the reservation has been used, the refund will be equal to the amount of the unused portion.
    9.2.3. Customers involved in a Spirit Airlines initiated cancellation in excess of two (2) hours will have three (3) options available to them: 1) re-accommodation, 2) Future Travel credit, or 3) a refund.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    You’re right. I’ve fixed this.

  • Elmo Clarity

    Well, even given that section, 9.2.3. says the “Customer” has 3 options, the first being re-accommodation.  The way it is worded sounds to me that the customer gets to choose, not the airline. It sounds like this is what the OP requested but was denied so it sounds like Spirit is in violation of their CoC at this point.

  • BillC

    Normally I would say that if the customer could somehow prove that he didn’t receive the notification that the flight was cancelled then he absolutely should have his other flight refunded. I will have to take him at face value since there is no way a perosn would receive such a notice and still show up at the airport expecting to fly.

    In my case I am little particular when I travel and I usually confirm my reservations at least every two weeks so that I am not blindsided by changes. This is something I do in part because of the stories I read here.

  • Tom

    A blemish against Spirit’s otherwise sterling reputation. NOT.

    The truth is he got what their weasley contract said he would get and he isn’t getting anything else.

    Still, the real problem is that a broadcast e-mail is not enough notification. In this era of spam filters and the general decline of e-mail, something more needs to happen. Perhaps they could automatically phone him and require him to touch the keypad indicating he had received the message. On his part, he probably should have checked his flight online a few days before the trip to confirm the time, gate etc. That would have alerted him that Spirit had dropped the flight.

    He might also want to check back with American for charging $1,142 for the hop from Chicago to Philadelphia. Seems abusive.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I’m wondering what Spirit expected these customers to do? If a Mass email did go out, I would expect a number of them to call and ask the proverbial “WTF” and be rebooked or refunded somehow.

    When a customer doesn’t respond to a “hey, btw, we totes cancelled your flight bcuz we don’t serve that route anymore, kthnx baibai” a DILIGENT company would find another way to contact the individual and/or refund directly to the credit card, once again spawning a “WTF” from the customer.

    Spirit here just waited for the guy to show up at the counter and gave the standard “too bad so sad” answer.

    I’m also wondering if Spirit just kept the money from the people who no-showed for the flight and/or did not call after receiving a mass email. Hmmm. That to me sounds like a SCAM.

    Which, given this is Spirit, is probably the case. They can’t turn a legit buck, so they turn shady ones.

  • Jason N

    All airlines pretty much have this same section in their contract of carriage – they tend to be more flexible with changes or cancellations depending on the airline, but the involuntary cancellation part is fairly standard.

  • Tony A.

    I wonder why Spirit did not promptly refund his money when they cancelled the flight earlier. There was no reason to keep the money since Spirit could no longer keep their part of the contract – they stopped flying to the destination. Sound like BAD FAITH to me. Sue them.

  • BeenThere

    Perhaps Spirit did contact Mr. Leadroot, and the email got lost in the ether or misplaced in his Spam box.  Nevertheless for something like this, a total flight cancellation, a more affirmative form of communication — one which requires him to confirm that he has received the notification before they quite trying to reach him — is probably appropriate.  Not that I’d expect that from Spirit Airlines. 

    And yet … maybe I just travel too much and have too much experience to rely on a three month old confirmation (flight, hotel, car or otherwise), but am really the only one who is stunned that Mr. Leadroot didn’t call or go online a week or two before his scheduled departure to confirm the flight number, time, and date? 

  • ChrisY

    E-mail does tend to be unreliable mainly because of spam filters and users not reading important messages because of that.  I like your ideas on confirming contact in principle too. 

    But, all airlines use email to notify passengers of changes and cancellations (and via text if you let them.  What happened to confirming your reservation on the website a few weeks before the flight?  The last confirmation the OP got was in June, and that was three months ahead of the flight.

    I’m not saying it isn’t lousy for the OP, but there’s nothing contractual for Spirit to do here.  And, it’s easy to avoid by confirming your flights.

  • Fishplate

    “I wonder why Spirit did not promptly refund his money when they cancelled the flight earlier.”

    When the flight was cancelled, and no other accommodation on Spirit was available, and no portion of the reservation had been used, then according to Section 9.2.1 of the CoC an automatic refund would be the obvious choice.  Since that refund was not made, then quite possible Spirit is guilty of theft by conversion.

  • Guest

    Another possibility is if the airline is willing to reaccomodate the passenger to another airport at another date. In my ex-travel agent days, various airlines like Delta and United often (okay, rarely) allowed us to do this before refunding.

    If anything, the counter agent ought to have refunded the OP on the spot still if nothing really worked out for both of them.

  • sirwired

    “Re-accommodation” refers to putting the customer on another Spirit flight, if available.  It does not mean that there will be flights acceptable to the customer that exist.

  • Clare

    I think the OP would win this in small-claims, because I won in a case that was kind of similar.

    The issue here is not whether Spirit refunded his money or not; the issue is, they did NOT notify him in a timely manner that they were no longer flying that route.  They did not give him TIME to purchase tickets elsewhere before the price went outta sight.  They claim that they did; but since he says that they didn’t, the obvious implication is that Spirit can’t prove their claim.

    Here was my issue, and the judge INSTANTLY agreed with me: I had a travel-agent book a VERY expensive overseas itinerary for me, many months in advance.  He booked the wrong dates.  He then sat on the tickets, and didn’t mail them to me for eons, and when he finally mailed them, he misaddressed the envelope, making it take even longer.  By the time I got them and saw the error, the ticket prices had soared.  Being a jerk, he told me bluntly that he didn’t want to pay for a new ticket for me out of his own pocket, so touch luck, go away.

    I had to buy a last-minute ticket elsewhere for the correct dates, ka-CHING!  The ccard co. refunded me the amount I’d paid the TA (on the grounds that I hadn’t received the item for which I had been charged), and I then sued him for the difference between the original price and the last-minute price. 

    I pointed out to the judge that if this had been caught right away, it most likely would’ve been possible to repurchase the correct tickets at a reasonable price–but it was the TA’s fault that I hadn’t been able to do this!  I immediately won the case, and the TA had to pay all my court costs on top of the amount I sought. 

    If the OP makes the (entirely true!) argument that he could have bought tix elsewhere much cheaper if Spirit had bothered to tell him of their change BACK WHEN THEY KNEW ABOUT IT THEMSELVES, he’s got a super-strong case.  If you’re reading this, OP, DO IT! 

  • Pennsylvaniachris

    A “schedule change” was issued to all ticketed customers.  Whether it’s via email, voicemail or US mail, the customer probably dismissed it as a solicitation and didn’t give it one shred of thought. 

  • Eric

    I’d strap a rocket to my ass and fly there myself before I’d book a ticket on Spirit Airlines.  Chris, any chance of getting your hands on their customer service training manual and posting it online?  I bet it would make for really interesting reading.

  • Eric

    Hmmm.  That’s an intersting point.  By not refunding the ticket at the time the flight was dropped, maybe Spirit was angling to keep the fares as a “no-show”.  It begs the question, though, how can a passenger be a no-show for a flight that doesn’t exist.  If that went to court, Spirit would lose.

  • Brad

    I might argue that the contract of carriage was voidable and therefore of no effect due to the terms being excessively unfair and Spirit has a position of greater strength making the contract “unconscionable”.

  • $16635417

    Who needs the customer service manual? Here’s a quote from their CEO Ben Baldanza:

    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.”

  • y_p_w

    Barnum has always been misquoted.  What he actually said was, “There’s a customer born every minute.”

    For some airlines there might not be a difference.

  • AirlineEmployee

    Spirit flies from Chicago to LaGuardia…..how hard would it have been to protect him on a flight to N.Y. ?  Renting a car or getting ground transportation to Atlantic City would have been an inconvenience and time-waster but certainly a lot cheaper than $1142 !!  The guy has no ability to think out of the box.

  • Fctravel

    So sorry about your terrible experience with that TA! As a TA myself, I deliver a confirmation within 24 hours if not immediately. I also ask for a response after my clients have checked the dates and spelling of names. I’m so glad you took that TA to task!

  • MVFlyer

    Sirwired–while you’re probably right that Spirit intended re-accommodation to mean on another Spirit flight, I’m not sure a small claims court would see it that way.  Re-accommodation on another airline is common in the industry, and there is nothing in the language that says “on another Spirit flight”.

  • MVFlyer

    Whenever a *real* airline has cancelled service well in advance of flying, they call and provide reaccommodation.  Sending out an e-mail is not sufficient notification, particularly if it is picked up as spam which can happen.  Merely sending an e-mail doesn’t absolve Spirit of their obligation to provide transportation.

    I say take this one to small claims court…my guess is a judge won’t like Spirit’s cavalier attitude.  Too bad we’re not in Europe–EU rules would have made Spirit pay through the nose!

  • MVFlyer

    What’s really interesting is Spirit still shows the ORD-ACY route on their web site route map as of today…more fodder for small claims!


  • Shannon R.

    I have to say, I always thought a contract went two ways, with both sides having input.  I never had any input in ANY of the contracts of carriage on the airlines I fly, but I am bound by them.  And they are written by the airlines.  Wish I could have that deal next time my work contract is up!!!

  • Bodega

    All carriers have the same rules.  If they can’t get your to your destination, all the have to do it give you your money back.  When you purchase from a low cost carrier, you need to know if your ticket is endorseable to another carrier.  Most are not, which FYI includes Southwest. Make your purchase wisely and carefully and DO NOT just go by price if getting to your destination is a must. 

    While Spirit could have immediately refunded the money, carriers often will wait to hear from the passenger for reusing the money on another flight, with no change fee.  I had UA cancel a nonstop routing on a trip we had paid for and held the money until I contacted them for reaccommodating or canceling.  They didn’t just automatically refund.

    While I fully understand the comments about a onesided contract, almost every contract I have ever encountered, even as an employee, leans to one side or the other.  Your option as a shopper for your airline ticket is to not book if you don’t like the terms of the purchase.  Spirit is WELL known for doing things differently, but my guess people don’t pay attention to anything but the price until something happens. So in this case, the OP got exactly what he should have received as this is all the carrier has to do, even if it is on the day of departure.  Had he purchased a UA/AA/CO/DL/US ticket, he could have been protected on another carrier for no fee, since their fares are endorseable. 

  • Joe Farrell

    Guess I’m odd man out again – but does Spirit fly to PHL?  Why can’t he simply fly to Philly and rent a car?  It would have cost several hundred dollars less than buying new tickets – and he could have done it on Spirit. . .. problem solved.  

    I would argue that 9.2.3 is the most effective section for the customer.  The contract is vague as to which section applies – and Spirit created 100% of the contract – thus – the customer should be able to obtain re accommodation – plus – it does not specifically limit re accommodation to Spirit flights – thus – I would probably bring a small claims action against them simply because you have NOTHING to lose.   They can’t argue both sides of every issue – and since it is a contract of adhesion Spirit will be hoisted up on its own language being vague.  

    If a consumer has a reasonable interpretation of the language then it is every bit as logical as Spirit interpreting it – 

  • Cheryl

    I said yes, because even if he had confirmed his ticket 24 hours in advance, which I believe is the accepted practice, it would have been too late to find a less expensive ticket.  I can’t ever say that I have checked an airline to make sure they still fly to my purchased destination, that would not even hit my radar!

  • Nigel

    I’m another of those who check flights every week or two to ensure the flight is still operating and my/our seat allocations haven’t been changed. On one occasion I picked up a schedule change – we had specifically booked a daytime flight not the red eye it had changed to. When I discovered this, it was back to our travel agant who had time to re-book us for the same price-or close enough that it didn’t cost us anything. The TA apologised for not catching this before I did, but as far as I’m concerned it’s team work. I have also managed to improve our seats by frequent checking. So I will continue to do check.

  • Ndally

    I’m confused…I just went on Spirits web site and they show Atlantic City as a service location.  Possible they don’t fly directly to Atlantic City from ORD, but they should have been able to arrange transportation to a city that does service Atlantic City.  There real mistake Steve made was booking with Spirit to begin with!  Any airline that has the policy, “We’re Spirit, screw you!” should be avoided

  • Guest

    And it was supposedly a rival of PT Barnum who actually said that sucker thing.

  • Guest

    Check your (provider’s name) contract and see if it puts you in a stronger position than them.

  • Guest

    I’d strap a rocket to my ass and fly there myself before I’d book a ticket on Spirit Airlines.

    Off-topic, better do this when you can. :)

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    “am really the only one who is stunned that Mr. Leadroot didn’t call or go online a week or two before his scheduled departure to confirm the flight number, time, and date?”

    I was thinking the same thing as I read this.  I generally check a couple of days before I’m flying to make sure things didn’t change.  Last year, I was booked on a flight to Europe on Delta and in the course of the three months between purchase and take off, I received several e-mails about changes made to the flight.

    I don’t know I’ve ever just shown up at the airport expecting all to be well given the fickle nature of the airlines these days.  Additionally, did he not do online check-in the day before departure?  Does Spirit not offer this?

  • Robert

    But you have the choice to buy a ticket or not. A contract is where both parties abide by the rules laid out, regardless of what they are. And of course, you are free to not sign it and walk away if you choose.

  • LFH

    While Section 9.2 of the Contract may have some relevance, the part of the Contract with real effect is Section 2.1. Therein it states:

    “Customers with confirmed reservations will be entitled to air transportation between airports of origin and destination.”

    If Spirit is unable to fulfill its contractual obligation to provide air transportation, then it is liable to the passenger by virtue of its breach of contract. Section 9.2 of the Contract is not a provision in which a passenger’s damages are totally liquidated. It simply says that Spirit will refund a reservation.

    In this case, the passenger’s damages are equal to (at least) the amount of the Spirit reservation (constituting a refund of the amount for the failure of Spirit to deliver the service purchased) PLUS the additional amount that American collected above the amount that Spirit had been paid for the air transportation (constituting “cover” damages, the additional amount that had to be paid as a result of losing the benefit of the original bargain), or a total of $1,142.

    Provided that the passenger did not sign any agreement that he received an involuntary refund in liquidation of all claims against the carrier, this sounds like a case that might well be taken to small claims court. The amount of the claim would be $334 pursuant to Section 9.2 of the Contract (if not already received by the passenger) plus $808 pursuant to Section 2.1 of the Contract and principles of the common law relating to contracts.

  • Lindabator

    All airlines reserve the right to cancel a flight, and you would recieve a full refund for what you paid.  Spirit, in fact, did notify clients of the cancellation of that schedule, but this client may not have seen it or dumped it as spam.  Calling 24 hours in advance would have been better than a useless trip to the airport, but unfortunately, he would still have been left with the need of purchasing a new ticket.  Too bad Spirit doesn’t call their clients to inform them.

  • Lindabator

    As I posted above, ALL the airlines reserve this right, and all you would be entitled to is a full refund for the amount you paid.  If they booked with a travel agent, the agent would get updates as well as they do, so the agent could have caught what he missed, but could have done nothing the day he left, as there would be no other option for him.

  • Lindabator

    That is for a flight delay due to cancellation – NOT a cessation of schedule!

  • Lindabator

    No, its common on the legacy carriers — the no frills have NO agreements, and are not required to.  Its one of the ways they keep their prices so low.  And when a carrier no longer operates that schedule, they are only required to refund you, as they couldn’t offer you another flight on their aircraft.  (Just a note – they only offer another airline if it is due to a cancellation of a FLIGHT, not an entire schedule) 

  • Lindabator

    They DID refund them at the counter – but he bought new tickets on another airline he now wants money for as well.  And they may have re-routed him if it was feasible, hence the reason they don’t just cancel and refund automatically.

  • Lindabator

    COMPELETELY different scenario!  The airlines ALL have this contingency plan in place, because all have had to use it – especially when they are discontinuing service to a particular destination.  I agree that there should be a better system Spirit uses to contact the passengers, but he sits for 3 months without ever checking his reservation?  Some personal responsibility comes in play here as well.  And we only have his word he was never contacted – for all we know he doesn’t read his emails, or dumps them without a second glance.  He may have been just as guilty of losing the email notification as they are of somehow not getting it out to him.

  • Lindabator

    Again – this isn’t something only Spirit does – all airlines do it.  I don’t think an email notification is enough, either, but they are hardly the only guilty parties in that regard either.   But the client had 3 months to check to ensure there were no changes before he travelled, and he chose not to.  So I don’t see why he’s completely off the hook, either.

  • Lindabator

    They moved to operating this seasonally versus as a regular schedule, so you will still see it as part of their scheduled service.  This happens to airlines a lot.

  • Tony A.

    So why do airlines  (and travel agents to create a PNR) require a telephone number if they won’t bother to call the passenger? Isn’t it a reasonable expectation to be called for airline cancellations if someone was asked their phone number?

  • Carver

    My problem with your analysis, though correct, is that it only works in the travel industry.  In most other industries, the breaching party would be liable for compensatory damages which would be the cost the new ticket.

  • Carver

    I dont’ think the onous should be on the passenger to confirm his/her flight.  That seems easy enough unless you are a frequent flier.  I took an unusually low number of flights last year, about 35 round trip flights.  That 70  confirmations for the airlines (RT), 35 for the hotel, and 35 for the car rental company.

    That’s 140 phone calls. That’s too many.  I do agree that confirming travel is wise when traveling during certain challenging times, e.g. holiday weekends, inclement weather, etc.

  • Carver

    I agree in principal that a refund should have been automatically processed.  However, it my experience that many airlines wait until the customer makes a formal request for a refund.  For some reason (sarasm) cancelling a flight doesn’t trigger a refund request.

    Regarding theft by conversion, not applicable here

  • Carver

    That would work in most industries.  For some reason, the travel industry seems exempt.

  • Carver

    “A contract is where both parties abide by the rules laid out, regardless of what they are.”

    Completely untrue

    Within any jurisdiction there is a statutory scheme that contracts must follow otherwise they are void or voidable.

    Some common examples included waiving employee protections such as minimun wage, and wage and hour claims; civil rights claims, etc.

    A contract is voidable if the terms are unconscionable or illusory.  For some reason travel industry contracts appear exempt.

  • Carver

    Unless reaccomodation is a word well known in the travel industry as has been suggested elsewhere.

  • Robert

    Well, yes, contracts can’t do anything illegal or violate rights or the like. However, as far as a monetary transaction for goods/services goes, this one here is not illegal or even that unreasonable.

    And again, it is a bilateral contract that both parties agreed to and either one could have walked away from if they didn’t want to abide by it.

  • Lindabator

    Oh, I heartily agree!  And when I worked for United (many moons ago) they used to have us call on all schedule changes.  But I can’t tell you how many times those phone numbers were no longer in service, either.  Guess it’s just not a perfect world, so CYA by checking up on the booking.

  • Ash H.

    I check this blog often. I find it interesting and a great way to gain a little insight into the travel world.  My comment has nothing to do with the case at hand. It is a simple request to please fix the misspelled word in the article, the word is shouldn’t not “shoudln’t”.

    “But just because the paperwork says you aren’t covered doesn’t mean you ***shoudln’t***
    be covered. I think Spirit failed to notify him about the schedule
    change until he got to the airport, and in doing so not only
    inconvenienced him, but cost him an extra $808.”


  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Actually, that’s what I meant to say: Just because the contract says he isn’t covered does not me he should not be.

    I can see how that’s confusing, with the double negatives. My English teacher would have killed me. I’ll try to write clearer.

  • Guest

    Not meant as an authoritative source, but something to get you started:


  • Guest

    As a tip, read to yourself what you wrote to see if it makes sense. ;)

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Good tip, thanks.

  • Joe Farrell

    You know Carver that reaccommodation has several ‘levels’ of meaning – especially in the travel industry.  

    Given the reasonable conclusion that many airlines have interline agreements and Spirit at no location limits its reaccommodation to only Spirit – then what is a reasonable re-accommodation becomes up to whats reasonable in the industry – and what that is is a) prompt personal notification and the b) ability to select another destination on that airline that gets you close to your destination or c) a refund.  

    Depending how close that cancellation is to departure then an offsetting cost additional refund might make sense as well . . . 

  • doctork

    Thanks for advising about Spirit. It will not enter any of my booking plans in the future.

  • Molly

    I hope Leadroot takes Spirit to Small Claims Court.

    I flew on Spirit once, and it was the absolute worst flying experience ever.  (I chose it because it had a better time schedule than my usual airline, and in this instance, time was of the essence. Spirit was a little le$$, but that wasn’t the reason for the booking, timing was – my Dad was dying and I wanted to see him alive for the last hours of his life)  From the check-in process with the rudest ground people I’ve ever experienced, to the downright nastiest FA’s ever who could barely speak english….or any language. They had the communication level of 3 year olds.  They mumbled instructions which prompted call outs by everyone asking  “What did s/he say?” “Would you repeat that?”  and “axed” us to put our seats up during landing. Before take-off, one FA stormed through the aisles like a tornado opening all the overhead bins and pulling out every single coat and jacket and  threw them down on our heads insisting that we all fly for 6 hours with our coats in our laps because she THOUGHT there was no room in the overhead bins for them.  Of course considering that they were already in there shows her “thought” process to be as evolved as the language skills of her co-FA’s.

     Upon arrival, the baggage conveyer belt broken and the available ones on either side worked fine and when asked why doesn’t Spirit just use one of those, we were told that the other airline would charge Spirit for that and they’re not willing to pay.  When I said I had to leave the airport (remember, I booked this because it would get me in earilier to see my dying father)  and would they please just deliver my luggage to me, they said that if I leave, I’d be considered abandoning my luggage and they take no responsibility and will not deliver it.  So we sat for over 4 hours, after a 6 hour flight,  waiting for luggage on the other side of the wall, which we were not allowed to go and get.

    You’ve got to love abuse to fly that poor excuse of an airline.

  • Bodega

    The airlines disagree with you.  In fact, prior to the internet some international carriers would cancel passengers who did not reconfirm. We use to reconfirm every flight for clients.

    I you get your boarding pass online, you are reconfirming, so no call is needed….but you knew that.  It is your responsibility to check on your flight 24 hours prior as emails and phone calls sometimes don’t reach you.  You should also provide your cell phone number.

  • Psbgsa

    Chris I guess if people were smarter about travel you would be out of a job. When I make plans I check at least weekly for changes. Last year in 3 months the airline changed and rebooked me twice in including a connection that left before I got there. Check, check, check!

  • Michael K

    he sits for 3 months without ever checking his reservation?

    That’s a completely disingenuous comment.  He bought the ticket in April and ORD-ACY service was not discontinued until September 6th–  5 months after he purchased his ticket.

    Do you re-check all your reservations weekly for 5  months?  And then if they are suddenly cancelled in the final days before departure, you accept that shelling out for a last minute full-fare is just the  cost of being a consumer?

  • Michael K

    The guy has no ability to think out of the box

    What do you say about the Spirit Airlines agents who didn’t offer this either?  Either this was never on the table or the employees — who should be the subject matter experts going to bat for their customer — have no ability to think out of the box either.

  • Michael K

    they may have re-routed him if it was feasible

    Then why didn’t they offer him a re-route?

    You can’t have it both ways.  If a re-route was not feasible then there’s no excuse for holding on to his money.  If there was a feasible re-route they were willing to offer then the airport agents messed up.

  • IGoEverywhere

    These cheap airlines need total 100% careful observation. Yes, he is entitled to his original refund, nothing more. This happens all of the time. I have a staff that looks at all of the online booking Airlines 3-4 weeks before flighttime. We have our email in the reservation to know to take action. We read up on flights that being discontinued; things that every good agency does. Normal airlines like Airtran, American, etc. send their schedule changes directly to Travel Agents computers. The online ones maybe send an email, but they do not always come through. I believe the day a the store front ASTA agency is here. We would not have missed this problem. But we would have known about it early enough to re-schedule an alternative trip. The worse travel agents in the world are the same as the worse attorneys – the wons that try to do it for themselves. Paying me $30.00 per ticket against losing $700.00+-hum!

  • IGoEverywhere

    An airline may cancel a route by pushing a button in their computer system. Yes an ASTA travel agent would have been all over this. The flight was probably cancelled 60 days out and that should have been plenty of time to have made new arrangments, not at the original cost, but somewhere in between.

  • Lindabator

    We don’t know if he was offered that or not – just that he wanted to go on another carrier, and since he was at the airport, probably didn’t even want to consider anything else.

  • Lindabator

    I do check several times within that period of time — and of course, you should ALWAYS reconfirm 24 hours prior – he just sat around and ASSUMED that in 5 months there were no schedule changes?  PLEASE!

  • Lisa

    Last time I booked a flight on Spirit, I was required to provide a phone number. I want to know why the passenger was not personally contacted when the supposed email notification was also sent out. I have always received phone calls along with emails for other airlines that have had to cancel my flights.

  • Angry_Passenger

    It’s Spirit Air for crying out loud. I’m to the point that anyone stupid enough to buy a ticket on them should not be helped in anyway. They have been abusing passengers for years and their antics are well known. 

  • Eugene

    This had just happened again to the 150 passengers supposed to be on flight 458 on Nov. 24 from Portland to Dallas.

    It was a late night flight scheduled to depart at 12:05 AM. At the ticketing counter, we were told the fight was delayed because of “bad weather” in San Diego so the flight would be two hours late. This was the only flight to Dallas in the time frame, so all we could do was wait. At the gate, we had to rely on the cell phones with internet access to get update because there were no agents at the counter. People started to question whether the delay was really weather related because San Diego had nice partly cloudy weather all evening and night. Around 1:00 AM came the bad news – flight was cancelled, and still no agents at the gate. Eventually the PA announcement said all flight 458 passengers should pick up the checked in luggage and go back to the ticketing counter.

    We formed a long line at the ticketing counter and there were only two working counter in the first 40 minutes or so and the line moved very slowly. All Spirit did was offering either refund for the unused portion of the ticket, or book the next available flight out of Portland TWO DAYS later. There were no attempts from Spirit to put us on other airlines at all. To add insult to injury, the checked in luggage were neither at the baggage claim or the ticketing counter! Basic what we heard was “Sorry the flight was cancelled, here is your money back and you are on your own and, oh good luck finding your luggage”.

    So we are pretty much helpless in the airport because there was no compensation or assistance from Spirit to make the travel rescheduling less frustrating. Not even a voucher for future travel. People were angry on the phone with Spirit’s customer service and couldn’t even talk to a supervisor. Contacting the media and class action lawsuits were suggested in the conversations I heard.

    I myself had to buy a ticket from another airline at the airport to continue my journey home. Funny the only three flights marked ‘delayed’ on the
    airport flight schedule display that night were all Spirit flights.

  • bodega3

    Why did you buy a ticket on Spirit in the first place? Their tickets are not honored by any other carrier, they have limited flights and they offer crappy service. You got what you paid for and I hope you won’t book them again!