Now that’s the holiday Spirit, Spirit

Maria Enriquez’s story has a happy ending, and couldn’t we all use a little of that today?

She booked a ticket to meet her son in September. He was stationed at the Gulfport Naval Station, 80 miles from New Orleans, and was going to be deployed overseas, so she wanted to see him before he left.

Oh, one more thing: Her tickets were on Spirit Airlines.

I know what you’re thinking. Was I serious about the happy ending? I was.

A change in her son’s training got in the way of her first day to visit, so she did pay a $90 change fee. But then, before she could go down to see him, he was deployed on an earlier date than the Navy had originally planned for him. Enriquez had to cancel her flight, losing $441.

She received a credit for $123 that was set to expire quickly, so she wrote to Spirit and asked for a full refund. But she received an email response saying that while Spirit honors its military and their families, they were in no position to refund her ticket.

Enriquez contacted our advocates.

“I don’t see how Spirit honors their military and its families with policies like that,” she said. “Any help would be greatly appreciated.”

Our team wrote back informing her of the steps to take so we could help her. They included sending a brief, polite email to Spirit. If that failed, we would have recommended contacting a customer service manager at the airline. We list the contacts on our site. But then she wrote back to us again with this good news:

I wrote to you and again I wrote to Spirit Airlines. To my great pleasure they have issued a refund for the entire cost of the flight. I was surprised and grateful.

Although you did not have the opportunity to help me this time I wish you good fortune in continuing to help others. Your service is appreciated by many. Keep up the good work!

This story makes everyone feel good. There was a little hiccup in the beginning where Enriquez had to write the airline twice, but she was willing to pay fees for changes and kind of wanted a little more back when her son’s the Navy made the trip a total no-go.

Related story:   Post-holiday travel bargains abound, but are they worth it?

Originally Spirit said it couldn’t do much to help her, but it seems to me that someone over there figured out the true meaning of the holiday spirit. Also, it really does help because Enriquez’s son is in the military and in my opinion, airlines like Spirit should cut them and their families a break when they can.

And they did. They came through and issued a full refund for her ticket, for which we are grateful.

The military has an ever-changing schedule of training, missions and deployment, and with the holidays coming and people rushing around to see family and get things done, we need to take care of the people who are taking care of us.

Our men and women in uniform are the real stars who deserve the limelight, even though they are often too humble and honorable to want it. Spirit has a reputation for being a Grinch, but this holiday season, they showed they could change.

Maybe it will continue in 2017.

Jeff Filipov

Jeff Filipov is a destination planner and a frequent commenter on this site. He became interested in advocacy when his father died on American Airlines flight 11 on Sept. 11, 2001.

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