Basili Alukos spent almost a month in the hospital this summer and his doctor told him he couldn’t fly. He had several trips planned, including one on Spirit Airlines.
Could Spirit refund his nonrefundable ticket if he showed it proof that he was sick?
Now before you say, “Of course not!” consider what would happen if the roles were reversed. If a Spirit flight couldn’t operate because a crewmember got sick, and there were no available flights for Alukos, the airline couldn’t just keep his money.
So there are exceptions to every rule.
Then again, Spirit has a reputation for throwing the rule book in its customers’ faces. I thought this might be one of those times that it wouldn’t, so I suggested Alukos send a brief, polite email to Spirit.
He did. And he explained the efforts he’d made to resolve this, including calling Spirit. He adds,
I was disheartened when I spoke to Reservation Supervisor Nicholas Peterson and he informed me that Spirit was unable to provide me with a refund.
My family and I had booked another trip with one of your competitors and the company willingly refunded our money with no questions asked despite the absence of a medical emergency policy.
I’m asking that Spirit consider my unique medical situation and go outside its policy and grant me a refund, since this emergency was out of my control.
If Spirit is unable to make the similar concession that its competitor made, I will reconsider flying Spirit Airlines again. The airline business is a service industry, and I know the last thing Spirit needs is more negative publicity considering the flack it received for implementing a carry-on baggage fee.
Well, he got the “brief” part, I guess. He also sent the appeal straight to the top executives.
I wasn’t too surprised by the response. Here’s an edited version.
My associate and I understand and are empathetic to your plight and an exception to our policy has been offered to you to enable you to utilize the value of your purchase, $421.40, towards a future reservation.
There will be no other correspondence regarding this issue as a refund is not possible and this is our final offer. However, if you have questions or concerns or need any information about any other matter, I will be happy to assist you.
Alukos was unhappy with that answer and asked if I could talk with Spirit on his behalf. I contacted the airline, but neither he nor I heard back from them. I guess they were serious about that “there will be no other correspondence” part.
Now I know there are some of you out there who will say, “What part of ‘nonrefundable’ didn’t he understand?” I hear you. Alukos had the option of purchasing ticket insurance at the time of his booking, which would have covered him.
But why would a Spirit competitor willingly refund Alukos’ tickets? And doesn’t such a rigid policy fail to take into account the fact that life sometimes throws you a curveball?
Spirit was well within its rights to deny Alukos’ refund request. (And who knows, maybe his implied threat about “negative publicity” really set it off.)
But c’mon. The guy was in the hospital. Why not give him a break?