Cops Drag Unhappy Passengers Out of Terminal as Spirit Airlines Cancels Flights

Police were called in to the Fort Lauderdale airport as Spirit Airlines flight cancellations frustrated travelers. Several customers were arrested.

Carter said there were no injuries reported and things seemed to be under control now. She did not say if there were any arrests made, but cellphone video showed at least three people being taken away in handcuffs by deputies.

One witness told ABC News’ Florida affiliate WSVN on Monday that they saw a multiple people being detained.

“I saw two people go down on the floor and get … handcuffed and dragged out of here,” one witness, a passenger who was not named in the report, told WSVN on Monday.

Spirit flights have been cancelling at a higher than normal rate for days. On Sunday Spirit was denying that pilots were engaged in a job action even though bedrock reporter Brian Sumers of Skift reported on the airline warning its pilots about sabotaging the carrier days earlier.

They’re now publicly accusing pilots of an illegal strike and they’ve filed a lawsuit against the pilots union “which it accused of intentionally disrupting the airline’s operations, leading to hundreds of canceled flights.” Via Skift, a copy of the lawsuit is here (.pdf).

While United Airlines has promised not to call the cops on passengers over customer service problems, Spirit Airlines has made no such public commitment.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Surprised Spirit didn’r charge extra for the police escort.

    But honestly, nobody should be allowed to complain about anything Spirit does. Spirit’s entire business model is to treat people like cattle. If people are so damn cheap and have such low standards, then eff em all. Zero sympathy.

  2. Finally good news…this Spirit Airlines passenger fight started on the ground and not on the aircraft.

  3. That’s the Spirit! How long before we can expect to create

  4. Passengers were acting like Lord of the Flies — that deserves policing in a public space.

  5. What is wrong with people these days? The flight was cancelled get over it already.

  6. Yea Walmart. I couldn’t tell if it was an airport or a big sale going on at Walmart. Sheesh.

  7. So when can we expect Spirit to have a promotional fare sale with a pun alluding to this incident?

  8. The issue here is that people bought tickets and couldn’t travel through no fault of their own. Thsuisas entirely caused by a purported Spirit employee work action. This is why the law needs to be changed. Spirit should be REQUIRED to reaccomodate passenger (without being beaten) when the airline doesn’t honor their contract for reasons completely under their control. Since Spirit pilots refused to fly the airplanes, why couldn’t spirit move these people to other airlines? They could if they wanted to (interline agreements notwithstanding) but because of the unfair, one-sided contract, they were stuck and frustrated. How about the airlines be required to pay a penalty to the passengers when they don’t honor their commitments for reasons completely under their control? How about $200 per hour for every hour after three hours to a max $1400? Then people are delayed for 10 hours can just buy a new ticket on whomever to get where they are going. No need for interline agreements, ticket changes, etc. You don’t honor your commitment (but could have) you pay.

  9. “Less money. More go.” What Spirit’s motto fails to say is just how you are gonna go.

  10. Interesting comments,
    I understand Spirit is low on the opinion meter, but if the passenger bought a ticket and flight is cancelled, then if at all possible the airline should work with the passengers to get them to where they promised to deliver them.
    At the same time people need to quit acting like animals whenever they are slightly inconvenienced. The scene reminds of Target store videos of shopper on Black Friday.

    I have been delayed before due to weather, maintenance etc. like everyone here. Having worked on aircraft and heavy equipment before, I understand if there is a system that is not functioning properly or a pilot senses something just is not right about an aircraft, I want them to delay the flight until they are satisfied. it is kind of hard to pull and check the oil at 35,000 feet and 500+ mph.

  11. I read another article that said that people waited for 4 hours to get their ticket refunded. 60 minutes per hour x 4 hours = 240 minutes.
    How many seats are on a Spirit Airlines plane? Let’s guess and say 150. If there were two employees doing the refunding that is 75 passengers per employee for 240 minutes, or 1 refund every 3.2 minutes, yeah it is going to take a while to process those refunds. In four hours many people can work up a good head of steam.

  12. If you are a frequent flyer you will avoid Spirit. If you are not a frequent flyer and do fly Spirit, you will find they are not a very good airline.

  13. Another reason never to fly on Spirit (as if we needed one). And further proof that DOT regulations are the only proven way to fix this problem (e.g. misuse of LEO personnel to resolve customer service issues and airline breach of contract disputes).

  14. I flew Spirit for the first time a month ago. It’s the worst piece of airline manure I’ve ever encountered. I’m usually pretty mellow about cancelled flights. I fly a lot. Flights get cancelled. But these guys seem to do it randomly/ when it suits them and their economics. No explanation was offered for the cancellation. There were families there on the flight with hospital appointments and other important issues. I’m never flying them again. If you’re looking for a cheap flight just be aware there is an extremely high probability Spirit will leave you high & dry.

  15. Spirit airlines, what united and american with their basic economy aspire to be. Soon the legacy carriers will learn to only have the passengers detained in the terminal so the airline doesn’t look so bad on video.

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