Spirit Airlines Demands Passports For Flight To Puerto Rico: It’s A Whole Different Country!

Mere days after we learn that refused to rent a car to a Puerto Rican and called the cops who threatened to have the customer deported, because he wasn’t carrying a passport inside the United States comes a story that Spirit Airlines is just as challenged which probably comes as little surprise. Americans working for travel companies aren’t very good at geography or American history, it seems?

A family traveling on a domestic Spirit Airlines flight, from Los Angeles to San Juan, was refused travel because:

  • They’re Puerto Rican
  • And their toddler didn’t have a passport

Puerto Rico is part of the United States. Traveling with a drivers license is sufficient for Americans, but the parents happened to have their passports. The toddler did not have one, and the family was told they could either have a refund or reschedule travel to fly home once they’d gotten a passport for their child. Children do not even need ID at all to fly domestically.

The Spirit Airlines agent said, “this is an international flight.” A supervisor backed them up. The family bought expensive walkup tickets on JetBlue.

According to Spirit Airlines,

Spirit has a long history of serving Puerto Rico, and we offer about 25 daily flights to three destinations on the island. In this specific case, an agent at LAX who is new to the position misunderstood the identification requirements. We are providing the agent with additional coaching and reiterating proper procedure. We sincerely apologize to our Guest and their family for the inconvenience, and we issued a refund for the tickets and provided them with future travel vouchers.

Note what is not in the statement: covering the cost of the JetBlue tickets they wound up forced to buy. (Update: Spirit shares that while not mentioned in their earlier statement, they “did refund the difference” in what the passengers were out of pocket as well.)

TSA, of course, has been known to reject D.C. drivers licenses as identification at airport security checkpoints, at times perhaps confusing Columbia and Colombia.

(HT: @Znews_US)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Basic geography is NOT being taught nor emphasized in the classrooms today. And to have a supervisor that is also ignorant involved here shows the incompetence that is prevalent in ALL areas of American culture.

  2. When a company is desperate for manpower willing to be abused for low pay, it doesn’t stop to see if they’re morons.

  3. The ignorance is astounding. The fact that a Spirit “supervisor” backed them up is really beyond belief.
    Maybe the airline should be subject to fines for discrimination towards American citizens?

  4. It sounds like the supervisor, who should have taken control of the situation when it was escalated, got off scot-free. It takes less than a minute to clear up whether PR is an international destination, but they probably dug their heels in and backed up their employee instead.

  5. I am in PR right now. It’s like my 30th trip. David Begnaud is an amazing unspoken ambassador to PR. I carry my passport everywhere because it seems no one has looked at a world map in the last 2 decades. Spirit does refer to PR flights as international, but a passport is def not required for US citizens. No wonder everyone hates the US lol

  6. I notice that they blame the new agent, but what about the supervisor? Doesn’t their CRS have a function for checking international documentation?

  7. PR government should learn from the Korean government which penalized OZ after accidents, e.g. ban Spirit from flying to PR for seven days and give their PR ground staff paid leave for the duration. Domestic flights are unregulated, so state-level government controlling their airports can totally do that.

  8. Perhaps the Puerto Rico Tourism Company should work closer with travel partners considering that they promote the island as “no passport needed to visit from the U.S.”

  9. @George_S perhaps we should just give PR statehood and address the root cause of the problem.

    @Don_Smith we could probably reinforce PR’s relationship with the US in our schools, but I’m pretty sure someone will raise some objection about how it is inappropriate to teach this in schools.

    I get that NK positions itself as an affordable product providing access to air travel for folks who otherwise might not be able to afford it, but low-price doesn’t have to mean nasty employees who don’t even know some of the basics about how to do their jobs.

  10. Don’t fly spirit, they have to be the dumbest people on the planet. So do I need a passport to fly from Seattle to New York now spirit? According to your doing bat supervisors I do. I will never ever,ever fly yppr crappy airline. You’ve got idiots for employees.

  11. Spirit is the worst airline. They apply foreign travel policies whenever it suits them and turn ignorant when it doesn’t. They let you pay for travel insurance but don’t honor it if you are traveling in or from an international destination. Yes, I speak from experience. They should be accountable.

  12. Read more like, Spirit fails in international document training. If you are in the travel industry, and do not know how to verify when international documents are not needed, step out of the position and demand better training! A supervisor backed them up is unacceptable.

    Timatic is used throughout the industry!

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