Spirit Airlines Is Now Putting Passengers On Other Airlines During Delays, And Picking Up Meals

The Spirit Airlines operation melted down over the summer stranding customers around their system. I said it probably wouldn’t hurt them in the long run, and that customers would fly them the next time they were cheapest. I didn’t imagine their customer service would get better in a rapprochement with passengers.

Spirit has worked hard to improve its operational reliability in recent years. Before the pandemic they weren’t just cheap, they were frequently on-time. That reputation may have been undermined, but it looks like they may be working towards a new reputation – one that takes care of customers when flights delay?

Here they interlined the passenger onto another airline to get the family to their destination – and covered meals in the airport, too!

How does $28 per person for meals sound, on top of a SkyMiles-earning Delta flight courtesy of Spirit? Ben Baldanza would never! When Baldanza ran Spirit he accidentally hit reply all to a complaint (sharing his snark with a customer) saying to

Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing as far as I’m concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.

American Airlines by the way just changed its contract of carriage to make clear it had no obligation to put passengers on other airlines although they stopped doing this for most passengers in 2018. That same year American’s President explained how they were chasing Spirit. Maybe Spirit won?

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. They had no choice and are probably smarter in seeing that Congress is going to push hard on passenger protections after a summer of IROPs that is now continuing in the fall.
    When Southwest voluntarily does the same thing, then you know the industry has changed.
    Problem is that Southwest is so large that IROPs there cannot be absorbed by the rest of the industry while Spirit isn’t large enough – except in a few cities – that their absorbs can be absorbed.

    The question for the Deltas of the world is whether they will get more business for running reliably enough that people will choose them in the first place or if this will incentive people to fly other airlines knowing there is an out of the bottom falls out. I would strongly bet that NK saw booking resistance and made this move.

  2. AA is really a LCC that would love to be an ULCC like spirit, sad day but the bean counters win,

  3. @ Tim — Congress is more likely to give another bailout to airlines than to adopt new consumer protections. It is sickening. That’s what happens when you get a fasclst POTUS like Donald Trump and a fascist Senate leader like Mitch McConnell. Everything is for corporations and against the middle class. It will be great for the wealthy and corporations in America until America becomes a secnd-rate power that faces real consequences for endlessly printing money.

  4. Gene, that’s perhaps the stupidest thing I have ever read on this blog. Trump has nothing to do, for better or worse, with Southwest’s current week of despair. And if you think the current Congress is interested in further corporate welfare, you’re either not paying attention or being willfully obtuse.

  5. @ Jon — Trump has everything to do with Southwest’s current week of despair since he is the moron who leads the anti-mask, anti-vax campaign, in which pilots are participating. Remember the air traffic controller in the 1980s? We will also be fine after all of anti-vaxxer pilots are vaccinated or fired. In then end, >90% of them will get the vaccine rather than give up their 6-figure salaries.

  6. I yield to few people in my dislike of Trump (going back decades as one who had the “opportunity” to observe his public personna (and a bit of his private personna) dating back to his college years. However, interjecting politics, often accompanied by vitriol and or name calling, into virtually any travel discussion is a further indication of how much the level of discourse (from those on the right and the left) has fallen.

  7. TDS is real, folks. If my yawn gets any bigger after reading Gene’s comments, they’re gonna have to assign a hurricane name to it.

  8. AA aiming for the bottom of the market as Spirit tries to move up to surpass them. Lol, what a world.

  9. @Jerry
    Your need to qualify yourself in the first sentence negates anything you said further. Starting with “Interjecting politics….” would have sufficed and been much more of value. Just saying.

  10. The way it was often done in the 1960s. Airlines would quietly and calmly book onto other airlines and transfer luggage to the airline. It was a time when it seemed the jet age airlines wanted the flying public to not see airline travel as a mess of disappointments and chaos.

  11. Spirit airline has poor customer service. We were cancelled twice within 24 hours at 2 different airports and they didn’t care. It cost me more than $100 for gas and tolls. They sent me a meal voucher but didn’t explain it could only be used at airport, plus the voucher came 16 hours after we let the airport, crazy..

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