“Spirit Airlines is customer service oriented”

The blogosphere has beaten up on Spirit Airlines in the recent past, thanks in part to its well-documented service deficiencies and in part to customer-hostile comments made by its chief executive, Ben Baldanza. But are things really that bad? I’ve been working with the carrier during the last few weeks to resolve several customer-service problems, and I think the answer may be: no, not really.

Decide for yourself.

Alison Drucker was scheduled to fly from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Washington this summer. She arrived at the airport two hours early, only to stand in a line that took two hours to get through.

During that time, I frequently checked the boards. They showed a delay, but said that my flight was still flying.

After two hours of waiting in line, I was told by the Spirit agents that my flight had been canceled due to weather. When I finally reached the desk three hours after arriving at the airport, they offered me an option of taking another Spirit flight three days later (with no offer of compensation for food and board during that time, which is poor business in and of itself) or an option of being refunded the $166.51 that my flight home was worth.

I accepted their promise of a refund, and bought a ticket home on another airline.

But months later, there was no refund on Drucker’s credit card account. She phone Spirit, which told her the accounting department had rejected her request because, “in fact, their records showed that my flight had flown,” she recalls. “Needless to say, this shocked me, since the agents told me the flight was canceled and essentially forced my decision to pay extra to fly home on another airline.”

I contacted Spirit on her behalf. Within a week, she had a response.

Dear Ms. Drucker,

Thank you for your correspondence with Spirit Airlines regarding your recent experience. Spirit Airlines is customer service oriented; your opinions and experiences are used to help us improve and to avoid certain misunderstandings from reoccurring in the future.

I want to apologize for the misinformation given to you by our agent at the airport and assure you that this matter has been forwarded on to our General Manager in Ft. Lauderdale and our Senior Director of Customer Service and Airport Affairs. Please rest assured that this matter will be dealt with appropriately.

I have forwarded a request to our accounting department for a refund of the total amount of your return flight ($166.51). For further review, please forward me copies of additional expenses you had because of this misinformation. You may either attach them to this email or fax them.

Ms. Drucker, we appreciate you and look forward to reaching an amicable agreement.

Sincerely,

Karianne Silva
Corporate Consumer Affairs
Spirit Airlines

Spirit still has a way to go before I can say it’s doing right in the customer service department. But this is a good start.

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 . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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