Spirit promised it would cover my hotel. Then it didn’t.

By | January 10th, 2017

When Livia Weingarten’s Spirit Airlines flight is delayed until the next day, the airline promises to cover the cost of overnight accommodations for the passengers. But Spirit refuses to honor the promise. Can our advocates persuade Spirit to help Weingarten?

Question: My 18-year-old daughter Livia, a college student, was scheduled to fly on Spirit from Boston to Cleveland. The flight was supposed to take off in the morning, but she and the other passengers waited all day and into the night before being told that the flight was canceled because of mechanical difficulties. TSA agents then asked the passengers to leave the airport terminal. There were no flights available until the next day.

A supervisor and a manager of Spirit Airlines each gave Livia a written promise that Spirit would cover the cost of food and a hotel room for the night. Livia paid $312 for a night at the Hampton Inn Boston-Logan Airport.

Spirit refunded the cost of the flight, but when Livia asked it to honor the promise of compensation for her hotel room, all it offered was a $50 voucher that will expire before Livia can use it.

Livia and I have contacted Spirit Airlines repeatedly, but its customer service agents refuse to help us. Can your agents get Spirit to reimburse Livia’s hotel cost? — Ron Weingarten, Solon, Ohio

Answer: Oh boy, Spirit Airlines — “home of the Bare Fare,” as it likes to advertise itself. “Bare Fares” cover nothing more than yourself and one personal item — no bags, drinks or any other perks.

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We recently covered another case of passengers on Spirit who were delayed and wanted more than a tightly restricted $50 voucher to cover their out-of-pocket expenses. Spirit turned down their request for compensation for their hotel room and brushed off their complaint that the airline did not provide any meals during a six-hour delay “resulting from a mechanical issue.”

So it comes as a surprise that Spirit agents at Logan Airport were willing to offer compensation for your daughter’s hotel room.

Spirit’s contract of carriage disclaims liability for out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of a flight delay or cancellation:

Amenities/Services for Customers
Spirit will not assume expenses incurred as a result of a flight delay, cancellation, or schedule change. Spirit may provide limited amenities and services, which may be required by certain customers in order to maintain their safety, health and welfare. Amenities provided by Spirit are provided as a courtesy to the customer and are not to be considered an obligation of Spirit.

In the case of a cancellation or misconnection, if rebooking options are available the following day, and the cancellation was due to our failure, we may offer overnight hotel accommodations for non-local customers. However, if the cancellation or misconnection is caused by severe weather, Air Traffic Control decisions or other issues outside of Spirit’s control, we cannot offer such accommodations. We will, nevertheless, make reasonable efforts to provide information enabling customers to secure accommodations on their own. No lodging will be provided to a customer on any Spirit flight which is delayed or canceled in the originating city on the customer’s reservation.

Although you and Livia used our executive contacts for Spirit in seeking reimbursement for Livia’s hotel room, Spirit’s executives’ refusal to honor the promise she received from its agents at Logan Airport is consistent with this disclaimer.

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Our advocates forwarded Livia’s written promise to our contacts at the airline, who have apologized, confirmed the promise’s validity and agreed to issue the reimbursement for her hotel costs. They are also willing to reimburse her food costs if she will send them copies of her receipts. But they have indicated that the reimbursements are one-time exceptions to Spirit’s normal policy of non-responsibility for a passenger’s out-of-pocket expenses.

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