Just before Ralph Dehner’s flight from Atlantic City to Orlando, he suffered a heart attack. He spent a month in the hospital recovering.
It gets worse. His flights were on Spirit Airlines, which is notoriously strict about refunds and changes. And wouldn’t you know it — that’s exactly what happened to him.
His wife tried to cancel their reservations and obtain a refund. But she was told that Spirit doesn’t offer cash refunds, which is “why Spirit is able to keep their fares low.”
Per the Spirit Airlines website:
Cancellations must be made 5 days or more prior to scheduled departure date and are subject to a fee of $120 per person plus any cancellation fees imposed by travel suppliers, such as hotel cancellation fees or charges.
Spirit did offer full credit, but the Dehners had to book by April; or, alternatively, a $20 discount on future tickets. But Dehner has two more extensive heart surgeries scheduled, which will make any travel in the near future virtually impossible.
The Dehners would like Spirit to extend the travel date or to at least refund their $120 baggage payment. But Spirit won’t budge — not for him, not for us.
We tried contacting Spirit on his behalf. In response, it asked us to change some of its executives’ names on our site. Odd. We can’t figure out what one has to do with the other.
Here’s what we can’t figure out: What does extending Dehner’s ticket credit have to do with keeping fares low? Would Spirit actually lose money if it allowed him another six months or a year to use the ticket credit?
Other airlines allow a ticket credit to be used for a year from the date of the initial booking. Only Spirit shortens that period, and for no apparent reason than that it makes the credit harder to use. But there’s no proof the airline would lose money by allowing the passenger to use the ticket he’d already paid for.
So our advocacy team felt an extension wasn’t too much to ask for. Instead, we got a request to remove an executive’s name, followed by radio silence.
Come on Spirit, is it asking too much to have a little heart?
UPDATE: After this story published, an elated Dehner wrote to our advocacy team with some good news: “Spirit called to say they’re refunding my money!” In disbelief, we asked which money the airline has promised to refund. The baggage fees? The fare? Well, it’s no wonder Dehner is happy — Spirit has decided to refund all his money.
It appears Spirit has a heart, after all.