Good customer service from Spirit Airlines? “I must say, I was really shocked”

By | February 15th, 2010

Because it charges for pretty much everything that isn’t bolted down on the plane, Spirit Airlines is a favorite target of this site’s readers. So when Spirit does right by one of its customers, it’s got all the makings of a man-bites-dog story.

Christina Conte is the man — actually, the woman — doing the biting. Here’s her story:

When Conte’s mother’s flight was canceled last year, Spirit offered her a $200 voucher toward a future trip. That in itself is extraordinary. Usually, an airline gives passengers the option of a full refund or a flight of its choosing. But when she tried to use the voucher, she found it was impossible to redeem for the flight she wanted.

I called Spirit and asked to speak to a supervisor, but he was extremely condescending and rude, and never did apologize for anything. I actually asked him if Spirit was trying to earn an award for the worst customer service.

I truly don’t understand how a company who treats their customers this way can stay in business. My guess is, it won’t be around for much longer. Spirit is known for its lack of customer service … and that is not a good thing.

I recommended Conte send a brief, polite email to Spirit, describing her disappointment. She did.

A few days later, I heard back from her:

I hope you are sitting down. If you can believe it, I actually received an email and phone response from Spirit Airlines’ customer service … yes, you read that right: Spirit Airlines!

Here’s the even more unbelievable part: They have made a gesture to apologize for the trouble my mother had to go through when her flights were cancelled and when she tried to use her subsequent vouchers.

It’s shocking that Spirit even made the offer. They are going to refund the seat assignment fees after my parents book their seats, and are waiving the luggage fees. I must say, I was really shocked.

I can’t say that I am. I know that Spirit is doing its best to restore the airline’s once-great reputation for customer service.

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Will it succeed? Hard to say.

Spirit needs to do more than apologize for flights that go wrong; it must ensure that those bad flights never happen in the first place. Hiring capable customer-service executives is not enough. It won’t change Spirit’s corporate culture.

I might feel more reassured if I saw a memo from Spirit’s CEO that basically said, “We get it! Being an ultra low-fare carrier isn’t enough. People care about good service.”

But if such a memo exists, I haven’t seen it yet.

(Photo: vnvlain/Flickr Creative Commons)

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