Alyse Goodstein is a casualty of the recent Spirit Airways strike. She flew from Fort Lauderdale to Punta Cana just as the work stoppage was starting, and she had to return on another carrier.
Spirit agreed to refund the unused portion of her ticket, but she thinks she’s entitled to more. Specifically, the cost of the new flight and two nights at a hotel, for a total of $1,296.
Could I help?
The short answer is: no. Spirit’s contract of carriage is clear on the issue of flight cancellations. The best I could do is recommend she contact a manager for some consideration, but that she wasn’t owed anything.
Goodstein appealed in writing. Here’s how Spirit responded:
Thank you for your continued correspondence with Spirit Airlines. It’s my pleasure to continue to assist you.
I understand your disappointment and frustration, appreciate your comments, and respect your point of view.
Although I am empathetic and regret your inconvenience, in keeping with our company policy, I am not able to honor your request for reimbursement of any additional expenses incurred.
Your reservation and inquiry have been, thoroughly, reviewed by myself and my Manager. There will be no further correspondence regarding this issue as I have, previously, clarified our policy.
If you have any additional question about any other matter, I will be happy to assist you.
Thank you for choosing Spirit Airlines.
That’s not just a “no” — it’s a “no, and don’t ask again.” So Goodstein asked me to intervene.
“I don’t think they will change their answer for me,” I wrote to her in an email. “I’m sorry.”
To which she responded,
I am so disappointed and disturbed of your response concerning Spirit not refunding our due $. Could you not give it a try to call or em them to maybe change their decision? Please!!!
Well, the last thing I want is for a reader to be disappointed or disturbed — yes, I’m a softie — so I asked my Spirit contact if she could see if the airline overlooked anything. As a matter of full disclosure, I sent her our entire correspondence, in which I had shared my doubts about the claim.
The response: “This was assisted in line with both our policies and DOT regulations.”
In other words, no.
In resolving customer grievances, there’s often a line between what a company must do, as a matter of policy, and should do, as a matter of good customer service.
Spirit did everything it had to do, according to its contract. It could have done more — much more — to make this customer happy. But it wasn’t required to.
I’ve found that some commenters and readers on this site are unaware of that line. As a result, I’m often accused of helping people who don’t deserve any assistance. People like Goodstein.
I try to keep an open mind about these cases.
Did Goodstein get everything to which she was entitled from Spirit? Yes. Did she have a bad customer service experience? Without a doubt.
Even though her case was a long shot, I was happy to take it up with Spirit.
Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance?
Update (8/11): Apparently, there will be further correspondence regarding this issue. From Goodstein:
Hi Chris – I just wanted to inform you that we heard again from Spirit and they have given us an additional $200 for future flight with Spirit (Total $400) so we have ended this situation.
(Photo of Punta Cana sunrise by side rean/Flickr Creative Commons)