Want an airline to change? Then speak with a million voices

If you don't change you could end up here. / Photo by jwm 1049 - Flickr
When it comes to customer service, travel companies constantly push the limits with fees, surcharges and onerous policies. No industry does it more than the airlines, and no domestic airline does it more than Spirit Airlines, the small Florida-based carrier known for its risque ads and creative extras.

But consider what happened to Spirit last week, when the carrier made two decisions that drew an immense amount of publicity, much of it unexpected.
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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.
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Case dismissed: Grounded by my doctor — could you refund my ticket?

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.
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Is this enough compensation? Rescued from Spirit’s fare club, but still unhappy

Spirit Airlines’ “$9 Fare Club” is probably one of the most controversial legal travel clubs in the country. Scratch that. It is the most controversial travel club in the country.

The problem isn’t that customers are offered lower fares in exchange for joining the club ($59.95 a year) but that they’re automatically renewed, as per the club’s terms. That’s often a surprise, and it seems to be a scam, at least to some customers. Even scammier: Spirit is reluctant to refund the autorenewed $59.99, even though the customer no longer wants to be part of the club.

Rules, says Spirit, are rules.

Meet Judi Breinin, one of the club’s “victims.” Rather than narrating her story, I’ll just replay the correspondence between her and Spirit.
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