What to do when your airline tells you to shut up

Ryan Ludtke’s family vacation in Fort Myers, Fla., ended on a bad note when they flew back to Chicago on Spirit Airlines.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking: Of course it did. He was flying on Spirit Airlines.

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But that’s beside the point. His return flight took him, his wife, four-year-old daughter and 18-month old son via a circuitous route, making a connection in Atlantic City. The family’s flight to the Windy City was canceled for reasons that were unclear — one crewmember said there was a mechanical problem, another said it was the weather in Chicago.

The next available flight out of Atlantic City wasn’t until two days later, and Spirit said Ludtke’s family would be responsible for all of their own expenses. Ludtke decided to rent a car, drive to LaGuardia airport, and catch the next Spirit flight to Chicago, running up a tab of $294.

He asked Spirit to cover his expenses. The response was vintage Sprit: It told him “no compensation or reimbursement is provided when flights are delayed or canceled due to weather” and then it added a phrase that I’ve begun to see with greater frequency these days.

“Even though you may disagree with our position,” it said, “there will be no further correspondence regarding this issue.”

In other words, shut up.

“I believe our original flight was canceled due to mechanical failure,” says Ludtke. If Spirit were a legacy airline, federal law would require it to cover his lodging and meal expenses and put him on the next available flight. But the airline’s contract of carriage gives it an out, forcing him to pay his own bills and endure a “long night with two little ones.”

I feel for him. I have three little ones, and as a consumer advocate specializing in travel issues, I’ve seen airlines fudge their reasons for a delay to weasel out of covering passengers’ expenses. Mostly, though, I’m bothered by Spirit’s hard “no” — a “no” that it wouldn’t reverse, even if I asked.

Spirit isn’t alone. When Chris Burr complained to US Airways about an involuntary downgrade on a flight from San Juan to Boston, the airline quickly grew tired of the back-and-forth. It offered him a 5,000-mile credit, which he didn’t think was sufficient.

“After thorough research of your travel records and our flight logs, I have found no reason to alter the original resolution,” a representative wrote. “We understand your frustration. We are considering this matter closed and there will be no further correspondence pertaining to this issue.”

“Looks like I’ve reached the end,” he told me.

Well, not exactly. When an airline tells you to shut your trap, you still have options.

Contact the cops. That would be the Transportation Department’s office of Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement. Airlines are federally regulated, and these are the regulators. If you can cite the rule being violated, DOT’s airline cops can ask the airline about the case, and if the carrier acted improperly, they can either penalize it or pressure it into compensating you.

Take them to court. If the compensation you’re looking for is below the small-claims court limit, you can talk to a judge about your problem. Anything above the small claims limit needs to go to a federal court, which is typically out of reach of the average passenger. One little caveat: While the airline might not bother to send a lawyer to small claims court, and lose by default, collecting can be problematic. I get a fair amount of requests from passengers who aren’t sure where to send the claim.

Call me. Normally, when I see the phrase “no further correspondence” it is, indeed, a lost cause. But not always. Here’s my email address. Although I can’t recall the last time that a hard “no” was overturned by yours truly, I will never give up. If I think there’s a strong case, I’ll mediate it.

Bottom line: Telling a customer to shut up — even if it’s an airline — is problematic. It is almost better to not respond to an email, and to let your silence speak for itself, than to instruct a customer to zip it.

Not only is it rude, but it also speaks volumes about how a company feels about the people who keep it in business.

133 thoughts on “What to do when your airline tells you to shut up

  1. While I understand one may feel Spirit is figuratively telling the OP to “shut up” as you say, Chris, another way to view it is Spirit simply saying “that’s it. Period” and leaving it up to the OP to do whatever he desires after. To be fair, Spirit said:

    We are considering this matter closed and there will be no further correspondence pertaining to this issue.

    And never seemingly told the OP to “shut up”. Not unless I’m maybe missing something or some correspondence that wasn’t included.

    If each of us can decide when to end a conversation, discussion, debate, etc. with another, why not an airline? There’s a time and place for everything, including no longer communicating with someone you don’t see eye to eye with any longer and trying to make that clear so that no one’s putting words in one’s mouth.

    Anywho, it’s anyone’s guess whether it was indeed a mechanical problem, weather, or whatever caused it. If anything, Spirit’s being consistent on giving their final word and leaving it up to anyone to do what they wish after.

    Apparently, Spirit can afford to do that as long as people continue flying with them.

    1. Yeah, but obviously he got conflicting reports as to the reason behind the cancellation. If Spirit had simply told him: “The weather was bad. xx other flights were also diverted.” then it would’ve cleared things up. If they were on the up and up, those extra 2 sentences would naturally put the matter to rest, no?

      1. If they were on the up and up, those extra 2 sentences would naturally put the matter to rest, no?

        Maybe. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing short of forcing the issue somehow.

  2. This is where the FAA and DOT need to get up and regulate the airline excuses. Only the FAA should certify a cancellation is based on weather….not the airline or pilots saying weather as a get out of jail free card.  What they need to do is get a version of EU 261 passed.

    1. I was going to post the same thing.  If an airline is canceling due to weather, I should have to get verification of the weather from the FAA/DOT/NOAA as to what the weather was that caused the delay.  I had one flight delayed because of “weather” and while I was waiting, I checked several weather related web sites and couldn’t find any evidence of there being any weather problems anywhere.  When I asked the person at the desk about the weather problem, they couldn’t say where or what the issue was.  If the airline can’t prove there is a weather problem, they should not be able to claim a weather delay.

      1.  “Weather” can mean a lot of things, and they are usually legitimate.  You checking weather websites doesn’t count.  A weather delay can be caused by:
        – The plane being delayed on an earlier leg of the day due to weather.
        – Weather somewhere along the route (not necessarily precipitation) requiring a re-route in excess of the range of the aircraft.
        – Too-hot weather, necessitating a reduced takeoff weight
        – The forecast at the destination being poor for your time of arrival
        – Visibility issues anywhere along the plane’s route that day

        You get the idea…

        1. That is why I asked for clarification from the airline. I could find no sever weather ANYWHERE during the previous 24 hours that would account for the delay. No one could give me an answer as to where the weather caused delay. That is why I think airlines should have to post proof of the delay along with supporting documentation from an outside agency to be exempted from having to comp for delayed flights.

          1. Sorry but this whole thread is irrelevant with Spirit Air. That airline does not promise any amenities as a result of delayed or cancelled flights. So they never broke their end of the contract.

            The whole bruhaha about whether a delay was cause by weather or traffic (or causes beyond an airline’s control) is important only if the airline BINDS ITSELF to provide its passengers lodging, alternative transportation or amenities if they caused the delay. Those who want these promises should fly United, Delta or American.

            I think it is quite presumptive that a very low cost airline like Spirit (which is proud to be the black sheep of the industry and charges for everything you can think of) should or will act like a classic and big domestic airline.

            When one flies Spirit, one gets what one deserves.

          2. You’re right. I’ve fixed the story to reflect it. I should really read the contract of carriage more often. Federal law only requires a carrier to follow its contract, but doesn’t tell an airline what to put in its contract. Nice catch, and thank you.

          3. I understand it’s based on the CoC….but I feel airlines can’t just go out and claim weather. It must be validated independently. Numerous times airlines will have a mechanical issue that delays a flight then when to go weather gets it. Then they claim weather is the cause when it was mechanical.

          4. I understand it’s based on the CoC….but I feel airlines can’t just go
            out and claim weather. It must be validated independently.

            Chances are, though, that Spirit can have that easily (?) validated. They probably know that pushing that “excuse” can only do so much if it’s especially unverified, and it’s bound to affect them and everyone else soon.

          5. It’s not just the weather, it can be congestion in ORD. The FAA can tell the airline not to depart and stay on the ground.

  3. While in this case the passenger is definitely right, there are also passengers who really need to be told to shut up and go away.
    Although each situation is individual and you can’t really generalize, I have both seen first hand and heard of many more passengers who basically can’t be made happy even with reasonable compensation. (I’ve overheard a passenger demanding compensation for being rerouted to get to their destination early because their original flight was cancelled, for example).

    Similarly, there have been a few cases on this website where the votes and comments overwhelmingly disfavor the consumer, typically because they aren’t being reasonable at all.

    1.  I think in the wording of their “get lost” is the big issue.  It is harsh and evokes strong emotions.  I would suggest this wording:

      We believe we have resolved this issue as far as we can.  Since we believe this matter to be resolved, unless new information is provided that reverses the resolution, further correspondence may not be warranted.

      Softer tone can do calm a lot of frayed nerves.

    2. This is exactly the reason why Chris Elliott should have asked Spirit what they did to reaccommodate the [probably] more than 100 or so passengers who where on the same flight with the OP. I venture to guess that MAJORITY of the passengers took what Spirit gave them and did not go to the extent of renting a car and driving to another airport. For all you know, most were bused to other airports or another plane was sent in the next day.

      1. Part of this story came not play this week and you see Spirits response. There was a flight…I think Vegas to ft lauderdale…that had to land in Houston. Spirit suggested busing the passengers up to Dallas where they serve. To me it be easier to fly an empty plane to Houston, pick up them then got to ft lauderdale.

        1. Maybe to you, but not to an airline – they may not have HAD a spare plane, no crew in the area, no ramp or gate in the area, etc….

          1. This is a special circumstance….you take what 2/3 buses and brink them up to Dallas to then get on a plane to FLL that’s witng or them? It sounds much easier to take an empty plane from Dallas with a spare crew fly to Houston get the passengers..the spare crew takes the plan to another airport in their network.then they take the passengers to FLL…what they did was fly a plane to Houston…empty plane…to get the passengers and fly them to FLL. Spirit initially suggested busing them to Dallas where I guess they would have a spare plane for them. Why not bring the spare to them. If they needed to divert the aircraft…why didn’t they divert to Dallas or another spirit airport?

  4. I feel some information is missing.  So what was the weather in Chicago on that day?  Did other airlines cancel to the Chicago area?     AA has done this crap to me where they claimed weather issues in DFW but I had a strong suspension that it was mechanical.  I think all airlines do this when they can. I agree with another poster – A airline should have to get approval from the FAA to call it a weather related cancellation.

    I voted No, but I want to take that back and mark Yes.   Some people are so ridiculous in their claims that it is OK for companies to tell them case closed however, I don’t feel that is the case here.

  5. One small point.  If your claim is above the small claims limit you don’t need to go to federal court.  You can always disclaim the amount over the jurisdictional limit.  For example, in California the limit is $7500 for non-business cases.  If your claim is for 8k, just disclaim the remaining $500 and head to small claims.

    Also, collecting a judgment from a legitimate business is generally fairly simple.  It takes maybe 3-4 forms and the instructions and forms can be found online.

    Or you can call Joe and ask him about the time when he seized an airplane.  I’ll let him tell the story

    1. California has made it real easy to collect from a business that has a “store front” where cash is handled.  You can hire a sheriff to actually sit behind the register and take the cash as it comes in.  Even better, the business has the pay for the sheriff’s time so it doesn’t come out of your judgement.

      1.  Sort of.  You run the risk that the business doesn’t have enough cash on hand to satisfy the judgement effectively reducing your judgement by $225.

        That happened to an attorney I worked for as a law student. A judgment creditor sent a Sheriff’s Keeper to his office.  The boss didn’t have any clients coming in that day so instead of coming into the office, he went directly home from court and watched television while the keeper stayed in the office.

        My personal preference is bank levy for businesses and bank levy plus simultaneous wage garnishment for individuals.

        1. The Sheriff’s Keeper was just one example of what California has done to help collect on judgments.  If they don’t collect enough that day, they can be sent back to keep collecting until the judgment is fulfilled.  In the case you presented, that obviously wasn’t the best way to collect.  However, in the context of the story, I doubt an airline would tell all of its workers to stay home so the keeper couldn’t collect the money.  I know a couple people who have used the keeper to collect and it has been very effective.

    2. Depends on the state Carver. California may permit that but in Texas the Government Code that governs small claims suits does not allow the reduction of the original amount to meet jurisdictional requirements.

      1. There are ways around that even in Texas.  If your claim can be divided into parts you can sue just for the parts that total under the small claims ceiling.  And in Texas the ceiling is a pretty generous $10,000.  
        (If this case had been in Texas and the airfare in total was over $10,000, I suspect he could have just filed for certain members of the family.)

        1. You’re correct in your example but if it was a single party and the claim was in excess of the jurisdiction amount you cannot reduce the claim to file in that jurisdiction.

          1. I understand the concept just fine. But many cases can get in under the limit even if the total damages exceed it, including one like this.  Point is, it’s not as limiting as it first appears.

    3.  Carver, I think you missed one other small point. What will the OP sue Spirit for. From what I read, he made a decision to drive from Atlantic City to La Guardia (Queens, NYC). No one forced him to.

  6. I understand the frustration the OP faced. I had a similar problem with American Airlines years ago with the whole maintenance v. weather issue. 

    I guess I would ask at what point does the back and forth stop? Spirit is notorious for it’s customer service…or lack thereof. They are telling you upfront, in a cut and paste method, that there will be no back and forth discussion and their decision is final. If Spirit took Chris’ suggestion and DIDN’T respond, the subject of the article would be that the customer is being ignored.

    As Chris points out, there are other methods and avenues to a resolution. I don’t really see this as a “shut up”. It’s about what I would expect from Spirit, so they “met expectations”.

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/profile/2009-06-21-spirit-airlines-ceo-baldanza_N.htm 

  7. I voted “NO” as that is my first impression.  However I believe there are some cases where the customer is over demanding, rude, and asking for something that is simply unreasonable.  In those cases, it is completely appropriate for the company to fire the customer, though I still think it should be done with a little more courtesy and tact.  In Ludtke’s case, if it was mechanical, I think the airline should reimburse him since they were not able to re-accommodate him until several days later.  The fact that they can’t even give a polite “no” or say they looked into it and found XYZ, disturbs me.  Reason 109 why I will never fly Spirit.

    1. I wonder how many times people who thought they were getting a deal on something and then got burned will wake up and stop using these cheapo airlines and online travel agencies.  The only downside is that we wouldn’t get to read about this stuff and it is sort of fun in a sick “watching the cars crash at the track” kind of way.

    1. I don’t think they really care about negative press. They firmly believe that for each customer lost, there’s another one to take their place. Or, people’s short memories will cause them forget about the problem the next time they think they can “save a buck”.

    2. @Raven_Altosk:disqus I put a lot of that mess on IAH. Basically the stories I read insinuated that the issue has caused by Spirit not having any ground staff at IAH so the airport wouldn’t give them a gate. No gate means no one is getting off the flight

      Reinforces why both airports and airlines should be required to have plans in place for circumstances that require a plane land at a field the airline doesn’t fly to. Takes me back to the weather diverts around NY a year ago.

      1. Normally IAH had several open gates even before UA started canceling flights which should open up even more. But, half of Terminal B is shut and being rebuilt.  The flights going from there have been move to what were the empty gates so there are not many unused gates right now.  Also since Spirit has no ground crew there yet, another airline had to be convinced (paid) to allow the use of their ground crew to handle the plane. 

        Why it took 12 hours for Spirit to get a replacement plane there is anybody’s guess.  The original plane was heavy when it landed (they did not dump fuel) and had to be checked for damage before it could fly again so they could not use it.  I guess they don’t have spare planes siting around.

        Seems I all I hear about Spirit is negative news and don’t understand why anyone would fly them.  And I agree that this is another reason not to fly Spirit — one confused old man caused them to interrupt a flight that could have continued on.

      2. This is true, but in reading about the “unruly” pax which prompted the whole mess, I question Spirit’s decision in accepting him without a travel companion. 

        ETA: I thought all airlines had to have contingency plans now? Or did they skirt their way around that, too?

  8. I think I remember discussions from some of the Travel Consultants on this blog about a website to search for actual weather delays and diverted flights.  I have run into the “weather” excuse while looking out the window at a beautiful sunny day because the weather in the midwest delayed an equipment transfer that left ripples throughout the airline, but based on that sort of reasoning, it is raining somewhere everyday so that is much too broad an excuse. I agree with the suggestion that the FAA and the DOT need to step up to monitor the weather.

    I work in construction and we need to establish out of the ordinary weather conditions if we wish to claim a delay – we use the publications from NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) for temperature and precipitation records. We can’t just say it snowed and claim a delay because it snows every year so it is expected that we factor a “normal” amount of snow into our calendar.  This has been the established standard for many years, there must be something similar for aviation – or if not there needs to be!

    1. No dates in the article, let’s see if anyone here can figure it out anyway. 

      Even then, hard to say what weather factor could cause the delay, it’s not always rain/snow. I once had a delay out of Newark…because it was too sunny. The glare from the angle of the sun and alignment on the runway/taxiway on that particular day caused a slowdown at the time we were departing.

          1. You got it. No point to rile up a bunch of readers while drinking their first cup of coffee for such a bogus complaint.

          2. Seriously. 

            And I swear the barista gave me decaf this morning. 

            Cannot. 
            Wake.
            Up.
            DECAF IS FOR QUITTERS!

          3. Spirit says otherwise:

            Dear Mr. Ludtke,
            Thank you for your patience while I awaited a response from our Atlantic City station. I appreciate the opportunity to, further, address your concern..

            On behalf of Spirit Airlines, I am, truly, sorry for the cancellation of your inbound flight due to weather which, as previously stated, is beyond Spirit Airlines’ control. I verified that, as you stated, you were re-accommodated on Spirit flight #331, May 6, 2012, New York, LaGuardia to Chicago, O’Hare.

            I, certainly, understand and regret the inconvenience this caused to your travel plans and want to emphasize that operating our flights safely is, always, paramount.
            Although I understand and am empathetic to the difficulties and expenses you incurred and, sincerely, apologize; in this instance, reimbursement or compensation is not warranted.

            Mr. Ludtke, we strive to provide safe and reliable transportation and to serve our customers with courtesy and efficiency. Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, all of us at Spirit Airlines would like the opportunity to provide you with quality service and affordable airfares in the future.

            Your continued support of Spirit Airlines is appreciated.

            Sincerely,
            Susan 58420Corporate Customer RelationsSpirit Airlines

          4. A big oops and apology. I was looking at 6/6 and 5/21. Need more roast and grind more coffee. Yes the status of that flight was unknown (meaning cancelled from Atlantic City on May 6.) Now let me find the weather reports. Sorry for the confusion.

          5. Chris, did you ask Spirit what they did for the rest of the passengers on the flight bound for Chicago?
            Note this is a RSW-ACY-ORD flight.

            The RSW-ACY flight segment arrived ACY on time at 3:43PM. The ACY-ORD segment was scheduled to depart at 4:55PM. But at 4:10 PM (ACY time), just a short time after arrival at ACY, Spirit filed a Change of Status to CANCELLED.

            This is an important question since Spirit is the only airline with a direct flight between Chicago ORD and Atlantic City ACY (as far as I know).
            Since they fly an A319 which has 145 seats, then we are talking about that many possible stranded passengers.

            Surely the OP and his family were not the only one inconvenienced by the cancellation and the rest were probably reaccommodated by Spirit on one way or another. If so how different were their fate compared to Ludtke’s ??? Was the OP just to aggressive in seeking his own solution so he decided to drive to LGA ? I don’t see the rest of the Spirit passengers complaining here at your site so maybe they were reaccommodated properly.

            I am not an apologist for Spirit. I just want to know if the OP did a reasonable thing.

  9. I voted yes on this one. There are times when the continued dialog is pointless. If the airline isn’t going to change its mind, there isn’t any reason to continue the conversation. In every one of Chris’s cases, a final point is reached when the airline or other business has offered as much as it’s going to offer. At that point, it essentially says the same thing.

    On the weather issue, one thing most people forget is that the airline flight map is an interconnected system so a flight cancellation anywhere in the system due to weather can effect multiple locations that weren’t directly effected by the weather system.

    For example, a plane may fly from MCO to ATL to ORD to IAD to EWR to CVG over the course of a day (yea I realize I hit multiple hubs from different airlines but work with me). If ORD gets weathered in and the flight can’t get out, there’s no aircraft to fly IAD to EWR to CVG. Those two flights would be cancelled or severely delayed for weather reasons even though it might be a beautiful day in Washington, New York and Cincinnati. It’s not always the weather outside the window or the weather at the destination that can cause the delay. Even more issues occur when you are not at a hub so the airline has no flexiblity to move in an alternate aircraft and crew.

    1. That’s why we need some sort of official designation of weather problems in a given area so the airlines can’t just claim that any flight delay is weather-related. It would be the equivalent of checking the radio to see if it’s a “snow day.”

    2.  John – it’s true that Southwest does a lot of that point-to-point flying, and some other LCC’s do as well, but not all (Frontier and Airtran, for instance, are almost exclusively point to hub.)

      Most legacy airlines do not fly many point to point flights except between a handful of large city pairs. Increasingly, the aircraft fly point to hub and back – the same plane coming and going to/from the same city pair. A-B-C flights do occur, but they’re typically balanced out with a C-B-A series as well – because airlines sell most of their tickets round-trip and know that if they moved a person from A to C, they’re going to have to move him from C to A again eventually.

  10. Barring a major situation, like an entire airport shutting down, there is NEVER an excuse for it to take two days to get somebody to their destination.

    Yes, Spirit should’ve been forced to cover all of the expenses for this family if they couldn’t get them to their destination promptly.

    And yes, this should be yet ANOTHER lesson to not fly Spirit.

    1. @cjr001:disqus Spirit doesn’t write tickets ove to other airlines. Most airlines won’t do it in the case of a weather delay either. So, if they only have 1 flight a day and its full should they deny boarding to someone else to let the family on? What about in the case where they don’t fly everyday to the destination?

      1. Then they find another way, they put them on another airline. They do what a proper business should do and take care of their customers, rather than taking their money and then hanging them out to dry.

        I don’t care if it’s one flight a day. That’s the airline’s fault, not the customers.

        And as many others have pointed out, the “weather delay” excuse is used far too often. It’s time for the airlines to prove that those delays exist.

        Basically, there’s no excuse for everything being the customer’s fault, the customer’s problem, the customer getting screwed.

        1. I guess in that case you need to choose an airline other than a LCC since neither Southwest or Spirit will sign tickets over to other carriers and both have routes (actually true for most airlines) that the don’t service everyday.

          Its part of the risk you take when you choose cost over service.

        2. But they do NOT put you on another airline – it is how the low cost carriers tend to operate.  That’s why knowing those things ahead of time is important.  Sometimes the CHEAPEST isn’t the best VALUE!

          1. Oh but the ticket purchaser is always right regardless of the rules of the fare, how the carrier operates and how hard they stomp their feet and yell at the airport employees.

            You know how it is.  Buy that ticket online and never get it explained to you how things actually work.  Just shout, it is unfair, it is unfair.

    2.  Do you have a legal basis for your comment? – Spirit should’ve been forced to cover all of the expenses for this
      family if they couldn’t get them to their destination promptly.

    3.  “NEVER an excuse for it to take two days to get somebody to their destination.”
      what if all their flights are already SOLD OUT for the next 2 days? this happens during the holidays, Thanksgiving, and Spring Break every single year. it’s not easy for an airline to just “get a new plane” like someone else said… there aren’t exactly spares lying around. when my car breaks down or gets stuck in a snow drift, i don’t have another one just chilling in the garage.

  11. Chris, unless you publish the scheduled flight dates, I have to speculate this case is bogus. How far ago do we have to search to find out when NK936 got cancelled? Do we have to simply take the side of the Ludtkes?

  12. Ryan is lucky he did not have to pay a fee to reach Spirit Airlines.  US Airways’ 5,000 miles gift may not be the most generous, but still is an offer of voluntary resolution from the airline.  You cannot take that to court or contact the cops for that issue.

    There are times when further communications are pointless.  The problem is defining exactly when, and will rarely satisfy someone who thinks they should get the moon and the stars when downgraded on a long flight.  

  13. Christopher Elliott, how do we get FAA and DOT together to verify weather cancellations, as suggested by several posters so far?  I think everyone that’s flown more than once has encountered some variation of this excuse. 

    Maybe one of the more eloquent posters here can come up with a sample letter as a guideline for us to use when writing.  To whom would we address it – are there any names or sub-departments within the Aviation Consumer Protection agency that would be the best recipient(s)?
     
     

      1.  I’m not so sure it would be that hard. Procedure:

        1. Require the person making the call to cancel a flight for any reason to submit the cancellation, electronically, with a “reason code”, before any other steps are taken. This locks in the “reason” so they can’t initially claim “mecanical” and then later switch to “weather”.

        2. Require that the specifics of the weather-related reasoning be submitted within X minutes or hours of the cancellation, also electronically. No “rain at destination” excuses; require it to be specific: “Approaching line of severe thunderstorms projected by National Weather Service to be covering destination airport before arrival (see NWS bulletin #XXX)”. Perhaps build in some extra time when the airline has to cancel 200 flights in a hurry all at one site. But the point is to require contemporaneous documentation that backs the decision.

        3. Let’s assume there are, say, 100 flights a day canceled on average – sometimes a lot more, sometimes when the weather is great, none. One person could easily cross-check the weather-related excuses against the bulletins. It doesn’t have to be immediate; just the fear of being held accountable later ought to put some fear into the airlines. In periods where there are a rash of cancellations, audit a random sample if necessary.

        4. Make the fine easy to calculate. It’s the total of what the airlines would have had to pay to refund all the tickets on the flight, x 5 to allow for some punitive effect. Payable in cash, not “airline vouchers”, directly to each passenger, within 7 working days of the determination of faked weather cause. If the average price for the canceled “half” of the round-trip flight was $200, 175 people x $200 x 5 = $105,000 per flight – enough to make them sit up and take notice. If that’s not enough, then ramp up the fine to whatever it needs to be, to stop the “weather” excuse for cancellations.

        5. Make appeals simple. No “new” evidence submitted; if your airline official didn’t bother to submit the information timely, then the airline is SOL.

        I understand weather can cause a flight from A to B to be cancelled, making it impossible for the plane to go from B to C later on. But that can be documented. If the onus is on the airline to prove the validity of the cancellation, they’ll get with the program.

      2. Chris, while I admire your sincerity and goals, I really think you are barking up the wrong tree. The US DOT does not require any compensation or care that the airlines must give passengers when it comes to DELAYED or CANCELED flights. I would like to remind all your readers to simply read the DOT Fly Rights section on Delayed Flights and Cancellations.
        It does not matter whether there was weather caused delay or a mechanical delay, etc. The airlines have the right to change schedules and cancel a flight and the only thing they have to do is reaccommodate you [~whenever].

        That said, the flying public can either be proactive by planning for alternatives just in case this happens; or lobby Congress to adopt a similar version of rights that Europeans have under EC261.

        Complaining about delays and cancellations when you don’t have specific rights protecting you (against it) is almost equivalent to whining. While you can take each and every complainant’s case with the airlines individually, it sure would be a lot easier if your friend Charlie Leocha, with his new role as a Consumer Rep in Congress, lobby hard for our American version of EC261.

        Respectfully,

    1. Actually FAA has a live website that operates (I check it daily) http://www.fly.faa.gov — it will clearly show the airports affected by weather, and estimated delay times.  If a flight is scheduled from or thru that airport, it can be tracked to the end of their schedule.

  14. CEO Emeritus and co-founder of Southwest Airlines once told the employees of Southwest that sometimes the customer is wrong. Spirit gave the OP 5000 miles and considering that it was Spirit I consider that to be generous. Spirit closed the matter when they issued the mileage, if the OP is not satisfied he has options but I doubt it will result in additional compensation.

        1. Their frequent flier program is odd though. One can actually take a flight for 2500 miles but the miles automatically expire after 6 months unless you have their credit card and use it once a month.

          I really can’t imagine Spirit giving out 5000 miles.

    1. I think you are confusing two different occurrences. Spirit offered nothing to the OP. It was US Airways that offered mileage to a different person for his downgrade.

  15. I don’t think the OP was told to shut up, it is more like “We are not going to talk to you anymore even if you continue to bother us.”

    While in the cases noted I don’t think the airlines’ responses were anything for them to be proud if, there are many cases where a response like this is the correct answer.  Like when the client tells the airline “I am never flying with you again.”  So what is the incentive for the airline to do anything to make the customer happy?  Or a client wants enough miles/money for a free unrestricted 1st class round the world ticket because their flight was delayed or their luggage was a day or two late reaching them and the airline has already provided what is required of them?  Everyone would want that, but the airlines cannot give away their product and stay in business.  Because of these types of customers, I could not vote either way.

  16. Another Scam!  They take your money, and you still have to pay out of pocket to get the service you already paid for.  Then when you ask them to pay for the service they were supposed to be provide, they tell you to shut up.  They need to pay!

  17. OFF TOPIC

    I’m going to have to fly with the baby when she is 3 months old. Family thing, can’t drive due to distance. Since I’m new to this and I don’t want to be one of the douchebags we all cringe at, offer me some suggestions. 

    Here’s my plan so far:

    1. Fly SWA even though I have status on UA. GF insists SWA’s clientele will be more forgiving of a baby. (I don’t know about that, but…)  Plus, even as the snarky bastard I am, I’m way more forgiving of a screaming baby on a plane than a seat-kicking school age kid.

    2. If we were to fly UA, I would decline any comp’ed upgrades.

    3. No matter what, I’m buying her a seat and bringing her car seat. These can only go in the window, so hopefully we can get three seats together. Not a problem if I book UA, can probably swing it with “family boarding” on SWA.

    She’s a very good baby, but I honestly don’t know how she will react to the chaos of air travel. I also plan to ask the pediatrician if she has any suggestions. 

    So, traveling parents…help me out.

    1. @Raven_Altosk:disqus Flew with my daughter at that age…
      1. I’d go with UA. Nothing worse than being “stuck” with a baby when “something” happens. Your status at least moves you up the line for getting reseated and a chance at having all your seats together. Especially with a car seat and having to have a window.
      2. Stock a diaper bag with enough for a day. Again, stuff happens and you’ll be covered. Add a favorite quiet toy if she has one by then
      3. Lots and lots of pacifiers and bottles. Try and time a feeding for take off and landing.
      4. I’m with you. I still decline comp upgrades and 1st class reward tickets eventhough my kids are older.
      5. Personal note on this one… Avoid drugging her. Multiple people told us too and we just said no.
      6. Pay the extra for the direct flight.
      7. Pack your patience. You are now going to be the parent that everyone hates with the screaming baby. Its going to happen. Other people will react based on your reaction. If you are trying everything you can think of they will be more forgiving. Not so much if you are just shrugging yoru shoulders.

      1. Yes…plenty of diapers and wipes! We were seriously delayed by t-storms on our first flight with her! (Leaving home.)

        On the return home, it was uneventful. We had a young mother come up to us in the airport upon arrival because SHE was delayed outbound and had no diapers left. We gave her our extras and wipes and offered clean bottles, formula and bottled water (pre-9/11). She was so surprised and grateful that she stared crying. 

        If you run into a problem, seek out help from other parents with babies. Almost everyone has been there at some point. 

    2. I have never had a problem getting seated as a family on Southwest, just avoid the exit row or the FA will snark at you! 😉

      We found a pacifier or bottle helped the ears, (hers…not ours!) but do not let her sleep during the descent. When one of ours was 5 she went ballistic because she woke up in pain during the descent because of the pressure in her ears.

      1. Thanks for the info, Mike. 
        Well, when she was born, the doctor said she was so big she could drive home. But I guess that doesn’t qualify her to sit in Exit Row! 😉

    3. Since you will now be one of the parents that you love to complain about, I am hoping the next time that Chris posts about which is worse babies or overweight people, you will respond with more compassion and not your typical snarky nature.  However, I had to fly with my son when he was that age, and here are my helpful suggestions.
      1. Bring a diaper bag with you filled with lots of diapers (yes, they leak as I found out) bottles, and pacifiers.  The pacifiers will help with take off and landing when the air cabin pressure changes and hurts their ears.
      2. Bring Mylecon drops.  There is nothing worse than a gassy baby on a plane, and the Mylecon drops were a godsend for my son.
      3. Bring baby Tylenol drops for pain.  Babies ears are more sensitive to the pressure changes, and I found that the Tylenol drops helped.
      4. Bring things to keep them occupied.  Unlike a child that you can give a DS or other toys to keep them occupied, a baby will need more attention.
      5. Patience, patience, patience.  My son wound up being a great traveller, but I also know that many typically good babies at home don’t always fly well.  The patience part is not just for the baby, but for the people around you.

      So, now you are going to be one of the *entitled* parents (you may not think of yourself as such, but others around you are going to feel that way) I really hope that the next time you fly for business and you see a family with a baby flying and need to have special accomdations, that you will remember your own experience flying with your daughter.  Sorry if I seem snarky with you, but I’ve read your previous posts and I have never seen anything compassionate from you regarding families.  Hopefully, they will show you more kindness than you show them.

      1. Thank you for the advice. I realize you don’t like my comments so I’m grateful that you replied with helpful information. 🙂

        Now, in defense of myself, while I’m generally snarky, I do have compassion for people with SMALL children. But my complaints and disdain are almost always directed at people with older kids. Remember the woman who wanted my exit row seat next to her teen daughter because “all men are potential rapists?” Or the family of 9 who complained they couldn’t get 9 seats across a 757 with a 3 x 3 config?! I mean, c’mon. 

        The only parent of a small child I’ve complained about is the one who decided to change her child’s diaper on the TRAY TABLE and then left the nasty thing in the pouch of the seat. Ew. Seat belt light was off, I offered (pleaded even) to get up so she could go to the lavatory and use the changing table…but no. She didn’t want to move.

        And, I openly admit to hating lap children because they ARE a safety problem. Your baby will become a projectile! Not to mention before age-verify, there were some pretty large lap kids.

        Anyway, I realize I’m on the other side of the fence now, but my dislike for bad behavior still stands. Hygeine, safety, and crazy man-hating mothers are still fair game in my book. 

        I don’t think you could disagree with my dislike of the situations mentioned above.

        But again, thanks for the advice.

        1. You are right, I don’t like most of your comments, but I realize we’ve all been there when travelling with babies, so I felt your pain.  Just remember, that it gets better….I promise. 🙂

          I definitely would agree with those scenarios, and I would probably complain as well. I cringed inside when you posted about the teen daughter scenario. That was a little over the top for the mom to say that. However, I was one of those lap parents. Honestly, I didn’t realize that you could bring a car seat on the plane (I had my son in 99, and didn’t have the research skills I have now), but had I known you could do that I would have certainly brought mine.

          I too have my own dislikes with families sometimes on planes, but it mostly involves children kicking my seat for most of the flight.

          I guess it’s not what you say that I dislike, but how you say it that gets to me.  I’m not big on snarky, but what you just wrote to me, I definitely can get behind.  I wish you, your wife, and your daughter a safe flight.  I think that as your baby grows up, and I’m sure you’ll teach her well in your own unique way, she will become an excellent and well behaved seasoned traveller.

          Take care,
          Jules

    4.  Spit happens.  There’s nothing worse than being the parent who was (unfortunately) holding the kid when she spits up or has a diaper blowout.  Make sure you have a change of clothes for all travelers in your carry-on bag so you can change when that spit up happens on you.  It can be a long wet, smelly flight otherwise – and I know this from personal experience.

      I seriously second the “pack enough stuff for a full day” suggestion.  I was on a flight home from Maui that was delayed by 6 hours then diverted back to Honolulu in 2002 with my then 9 month old.  I know now that there is no milk to be found in Honolulu airport after midnight (there’s no formula at all), and there are no places at all to buy diapers.  Have 24 hours of “stuff” to carry with you, and start looking for alternatives ASAP if you are more than 12 hours into your journey at not at least halfway home.

      Ziplock bags contain dirty diapers, wet clothes etc. really well.  Pack a few.

      I found buying drinks for my seatmates often eased the discomfort caused by my screaming kid – even if they don’t want a beer or glass of wine, they all appreciate my offer….

    5. If you don’t already have one, get one of those strollers that you can just pop the car seat into, and gate check it.  You may have to leave it with the gate agent at the door, or you may get lucky and be able to use it all the way to the door of the aircraft.  When you get off the plane, it should be waiting for you at the door of the aircraft, so you can leave the baby in the carseat as opposed to having to transfer her to the stroller.  It’s especially helpful if you have to change planes, as you can use the stroller between gates.

    6. My grandson flew from SF to DFW when he was 8 weeks old so his grandmother could meet him before she passed away.

      I highly doubt that my daughter worried about everything you have listed, and all went very well, so relax.

      If you don’t, then your baby will pick up on that.

      An airline does not make a difference in passengers attitude’s if a baby is crying, so do what you and your child need to.

      An unruly toddler is another story, and even I would want to scream.

      Oh, and don’t forget to ask for your little one’s wings pin!

    7. At 3 months, your GF will probably be holding that baby more than you think on the plane.  My DIL nurses the babies at take off and landing to help with the pressure in the ear.  She takes the nursing pillow and keeps it on her lap at all times. 

      Just wait until you see how much ‘carryon’ you will now have! 

      BTW, not all airports deal with strollers in the same way.  We learned this recently in HNL. Ask at the gate for their procedure, don’t assume.  Not sure how you find out the procedure for the arrival airport. I can tell you that UA in HNL is not stroller friendly.  UA in SFO is.

    8. There are some really good replies here.   My son started traveling at 6 months and first flight was to Iceland.  If you are prepared, it can be smooth.

      1.  If you do fly SWA, pay the extra fee to get early boarding numbers.  If you are in Group A, you will have no trouble getting three seats together.  I much prefer SWA over UA.

      2.  Car seat is a definite plus!  So much easier if the baby has his own place.

      3.  Clean clothes for you area a must! You don’t want to know what can happen and perhaps, they will be a talisman for good luck.

      4.  Bring twice as many clean clothes and diapers for the baby as you think you need.  One flight I used everything I had (and I overpacked) Poor kid was nearly naked under his snow suit by the time we arrived.

      5.  Bottle or nursing for descent for landing.  Little ears stuff up and the suckling helps.

      6.  No toys that make noise – I watched an FA scold a mother and child who were playing quietly because the toy made a quiet, but audible sound.  Wasn’t that loud and the kid was quiet and no one else cared so FA must have had a very bad day.

      7.  If you want to pre-medicate later for sleeping (Benedryl ?) try it at home first.  Pharmacist friend had three kids with paradoxical reactions on a flight to Korea.  Imagine double expresso loaded toddlers!!

      8.  Zip lock bags!!  Wipies !!  You cannot bring too many of these.

      9.  Most important – a calm and pleasant attitude.  The baby will pick up on your demeanor so if you are calm and assured because you are prepared, he will be calm and quiet.  If people around you see that you are trying and are prepared, they are more likely to be compassionate.

      10.  A belief that it can all go just fine – there were flights when people commented to me that they did not even know my son was there. 

    9. Raven, we had 2 (actually 3 but the 3rd came later) babies when I was still commuting Sacramento La Guardia.
      IMO, traveling with a 3 month old is easier compared to when she gets a little older.
      My first tip is FLY DIRECT (NONSTOP).
      I’ve never traveled with a car seat INSIDE the airplane. I always checked them. The reason – you will need an extra hand to help Mommy. Besides, we felt more secure with baby on our laps.
      How long is the flight? You probably will have to contend with 3 issues:
      (1) ear problems
      (2) hunger – breast feeding solves that.
      (3) colic – you’ve got to learn the magic that works for your baby!

      We just brought plenty of 100% cotton cloth diapers and used them to wipe, drape, and clean up messes. Take a towel (better those microfiber easy dry ones) with you, too. Extra shirt for both of you will be helpful just in case of accidents.

    10. First,  THANK YOU for buying a seat for your child.  This will make everyone (you, the baby, the mother and everyone around) more comfortable.  I wish everyone was as thoughtful on this as you are.

      Second, I would take SW. Status on UA probably won’t get you anything unless you are using miles to purchase the seats for this flight. The family boarding between A & B groups should allow for there to be at least a few full rows of seats to choose from.

      Since I don’t have children, I can’t really offer any advice beyond this. Hope the trip goes well and is uneventful.

    11.  as an airline employee, let me say THANK YOU for purchasing a seat for the child! i agree, it’s just so much safer.
       
      please bring some form of identification for the baby: copy of birth certificate, shot record, passport (some newbies have them!)… something. it’s not a requirement if she has her own seat, but it’s so good to have with you “just in case”. [we once had a lady scream that the woman in front of her in line stole her baby and was trying to get away…. turns out she wasn’t, um, sane. the woman had the birth cert to prove that she was the mother, and the crazy lady had nothing. not to say that any ol’ birth cert can prove that this particular child is yours, but it helps 🙂 ]

      and roomie thanks you for wanting to choose SWA 🙂
      you’ll be JUST FINE with family boarding in 99.9% of flights. if you want that peace of mind, buy the $10 Early Bird at least 36hrs before your flight. no guarantees of an A, but the computer will check you in for the best available boarding pass after the A-List Preferreds and A-listers have been prioritized.  <<—- that's roomie's advice.

      i love the ziploc suggestions from others! a couple gallon-size and a few quart-size would be very helpful, i'd imagine.

      good luck!!

  18. It seems to me that the airlines have a financial incentive to declare “weather” problems rather than “mechanical” ones. Remove the incentive and problem solved. How do you do that? Either eliminate the distinction between them when it comes to refunds and assistance provided (not likely) or more stringent;y define a weather-related delay.

  19. I think we can agree that at a certain point, two conflicting parties may reach an impasse. So what would be the purpose of further communication after that point?

    Spirit has said that they have considered and reconsidered the passenger’s grievance, and that their decision is now final. What do you suggest that they do instead of issuing a “go away” message? Just respond with a form response every time passenger re-raises the issue? Is that really such an improvement over silence?

    As you pointed out, all Spirit has said is that passenger has reached the end of the line with Spirit’s internal complaints resolution process. He certainly is not under any obligation to “shut up”. If he can demonstrate that Spirit acted improperly, something that Spirit goes out of their way to do on a daily basis, then he absolutely should pursue a resolution via the appropriate regulators and/or the courts.

    1.  but then we’d get columns about how Spirit “ignored” the customer, right?!

      totally agree with you! some things just cannot be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, and sometimes someone needs to just say, “Stop. No more.”

      1. I’ll shout it, STOP, NO MORE!  No more buying tickets on Spirit. No more shopping on Orbitz, Hotwire or any other, I Have A Better Deal For You website.  No more asking for ‘compensation’ when you really don’t deserve it.  No more paying nothing for something and expecting a lot from it.  No more writing stupid letters to Ombudsmans that make you look and sound like a fool. 

  20. If the cause were obvious, like weather issues, that’s one thing, but it seems to me the airline was trying to cover their collective behinds by coming up with different reasons for the flight issues. Of course, you probably get a ‘he said/they said’ scenario, but sometimes not forcing an issue is sending a message of casual acceptance. Airlines seem to have very little responsibility in upholding their committment to customer service. I’ve been lucky with Southwest, but realistically I anticipate the day will come when they cop out of some promise. It’s hard to respect corporate America anymore.

  21. You can check the weather for that day and confirm if that was indeed the issue.

    If a sunny day in Chi Town, then go after them again with the mechanical issue.

    As bad as the the cost of the rental car was, it was cheaper than if they had stayed for two nights.

    1. not necessarily the weather in Chicago. it can be anywhere along the route. or anywhere the aircraft has flown that day. or issues happening at 35,000 feet in the air that we on the ground have no clue about.

  22. @elliottc:disqus 

    METAR(s) data for ACY and ORD on 6MAY between 5-6PM (the scheduled flight time of NK936) looks fine. Note: I can only access the last 15 days of Air Traffic Control System Command Center Advisories, so I cannot tell if the FAA required any changes that would have resulted in a cancellation of that flight. Anyway, I doubt it since the OP was able to fly from La Guardia.

    It sure looks likes Spirit cancelled the flight for reasons other than weather. So the question now is what is the DOT rule if the airline cancels (i.e. Spirit) your flight. Unfortunately, for cancellations, you have no more “rights” than what the carrier’s COC gives you. It is right there on Chapter Seven of the COCs:

    Spirit Airlines Responsibility for Schedules and Operations:
    Times shown in a timetable or elsewhere are not guaranteed and form no part of the terms of transportation. Spirit may, without notice, substitute alternate carriers or aircraft, and may alter or omit stopping places shown on the reservation. Schedules are subject to change without notice. Spirit is not responsible or liable for making connections, or for failing to operate any flight according to schedule, or for changing the schedule of any flight.

    Rebooking:
    When a customer holding a confirmed reservation on a flight will be delayed because of a schedule irregularity (including but not limited to, a missed connection, flight cancellation, omission of a scheduled stop, substitution of equipment, a different class of service or schedule change), Spirit will rebook the customer on Spirit’s first available flight on which seats are available to the customer’s destination without additional charge.
    Spirit will not reimburse customers for flights that they take on other carriers.

    Amenities/Services for Customers:
    Spirit will not assume expenses incurred as a result of a flight delay, cancellation, or schedule change. Spirit may provide limited amenities and services, which may be required by certain customers in order to maintain their safety, health and welfare. Amenities provided by Spirit are provided as a courtesy to the customer and are not to be considered an obligation of Spirit. No lodging will be provided to a customer on any Spirit flight which is delayed or canceled in the originating city on the customer’s reservation.

    So in the end, it does not matter what really happened unless the passenger is BUMPED or unless the airplane is stuck in the tarmac for several hours or the airplane crashes. There even is no point researching for the reason or history of the flight. You fly this airline at your own risk.

    All said, the complaint is still bogus since the contractual agreement between the OP and Spirit specifically states that the only thing Spirit had to do is reaccommodate him for the next available flight.

    PS. the drive from Atlantic City to La Guardia is less than scenic, probably better described as horrible. I know, since I have done it (both directions).

    1. @TonyA_says:disqus Thanks for the insight. I should have thought to pull the CoC. You just reinforced why I will only fly Spirit if every other airline doesn’t go there and I can’t drive. 

    2. the complaint is still bogus

      I’m curious what Carver or Joe or other attorneys think about this.

      If we take the CoC at face value, and assume 1 flight per day on the route with an average load factor (85%), on a 145-seat aircraft, then my quick math says it will take 6 extra days before all the passengers reach their destination (assuming no specially operated flight and no additional cancellations). 

      If this happens to be a popular/peak period flight with a 95% load factor, then it would take 19 days before all the passengers get to their destination.

      If it came down to it, would a court indeed side with Spirit Airlines and conclude that passengers stranded for weeks for a delay within the carrier’s control are owed zilch?   Or is there a chance that at some threshold, a court might conclude that this is an unconscionable contract provision?

      Notice that even Spirit is eager to claim a weather delay “beyond their control” rather than cite their own CoC and argue (as Tony does) that it doesn’t matter what the delay is about.

  23. I voted yes.  I don’t think Spirit handled this correctly – the OP should have been given an honest answer and compensated if legally required.  Having been on the receiving end of helping clients answer customer complaints, I can say without a doubt that sometimes you have to stop corresponding with people.  So yes, there are probably times when any business should cut off the dialogue.

  24. Spirit airline may be cheap, but the old saying, “cheap is the most expensive way to go is so true!!  Plus, they just don’t care about complaints and customer service is basically non existent!

    1. Very good comment. Let’s see how this pertains to the OP’s case.

      Only AA, UA and Spirit (NK) operate scheduled direct* flights from RSW-ORD. By definition Spirits RSW-ACY-ORD flight is direct because the same flight number is used (even with the scheduled stop at ACY).

      If one simple looks at the published fares for ORD-RSW, you can see how cheap Spirit’s fares (lowest $98) are compare to AA and UA’s (lowest $262) before tax and fees . Please note that Spirit may have other hidden charges such as fuel charges that are not usually charged by the others. You must take that into consideration.

      06MAY-MO-238P RSWORD(FMYCHI) ET CT 
      1*O#AA1406   RSWORD- 310P 525P   0  3.15
      2*O#AA1458   RSWORD-1200N 200P   0  3.00
      3   NK 936   RSWORD- 136P 609P   1  5.33
      4*A#UA3453   RSWORD- 714A 930A  *0  3.16
          UA3453 OPERATED BY /SHUTTLE AMERICA DBA UNITED EXPRESS
      5*A#US7898   RSWORD- 714A 930A  *0  3.16
          US7898 OPERATED BY SHUTTLE AMERICA DBA UNITED EXPRESS

      **  MONEYSAVER  FARES  ** LOADED 11JUL 13:44EDT/11JUL 17:44GMT
      FMYCHI NLX FARES FOR TRVL 06MAY13 AND TKTG 11JUL              
       EDITS USED  SNS/BLKOUT/DAY/AP/EFF FOR 06MAY DPTR             
       LN A/L  F.B.C.  USD   OW       RT    EFF     LTK   AP MIN/MAX
        1 NK   R21Z5NR     49.00    98.00 19JUN12    –    ##  – / – 
        2 NK   R7Z5NR      64.00   128.00 19JUN12    –    ##  – / – 
        3 NK   T7Z5NR      79.00   158.00 19JUN12    –    ##  – / – 
        4 NK   V7Z5NR     109.00   218.00 19JUN12    –    ##  – / – 
        5 DL   TA21A0NA   131.00   262.00  9JUL12    –    ##  – / – 
        6 UA   KA21KN     131.00   262.00  5JUL12    –    ##  – / – 
        7 AA   QA21ERD1   131.00   262.00  2JUL12    –    ##  – / – 
        8 US   KA21KN     131.00   262.00 11JUL12    –    ##  – / – 

      Nevertheless, if the OP bought Spirit tickets on the cheap, then he should know why they are cheap. Spirit simply does not offer the level of service that UA or AA does give its passengers.

      For him to complain here later that he spent extra money to drive from Atlantic City to La Guardia to catch another flight is preposterous. He flew cheap and got cheap service. If he wants to get better reaccommodation, then he needs to pay the minimum fare the bigger airlines offer. Don’t buy a Yugo and expect it to drive like a Lexus.

  25. The airlines will not give out mechanical failure information. It is always weather, that is in another city and that is why this plane can’t take off to go to that city. How do you find out if it is mechanical failure or not ?

    1. I’ve been on a plane that boarded and either didn’t leave the gate or returned from the tarmac. We were definitely informed that there was mechanical issues.  Once the announcement was even specific that they couldn’t turn off the air to the cabin which was needed for a few seconds to start the engines.

  26. Thanks to those of you who pointed out a few typos in today’s story. An early unedited version that was inadvertently posted, with some, ahem, issues, and everything has been fixed. I need more caffeine now.

    1. Looks like several of us needed more coffee this AM. I wonder if Starbucks or Dunkin’ will sponsor this site?

      1.  Woke up are read this article on my tablet before going down to get coffee. The jug was empty, waited for a new pot. (Used Dunkin whole beans and ground it.)  Fired up the laptop. Quickly searched and found the flight NK936.  Looked up history at Flightaware showing possible problems at 6JUN and 21MAY. Realized later that the flight had a stop in ACY where the problem actually happened at 6MAY (later post by Elliott). But the dates 6JUN and 21MAY got stuck in my mind already. So I kept on searching for the wrong date!
        I should have not simply looked at RSW-ORD since the airline departed RSW without a problem and landed ACY on time. From there it got stuck. Too late for coffee, I got it screwed up already. The correct search should have been the ACY-ORD segment on 6MAY only.
        Good think I wasn’t booking this trip. 🙂

        1. It wasn’t just you Tony, I had some “need more coffee” moments elsewhere yesterday as well. Today’s a new day!! 🙂

    2. Noticed them, but decided I’d already been stupid a couple times myself in the last two weeks and who was I to say anything?  And you know, sometimes there is no amount of caffeine in the world enough! 

  27. I flew today on UselessAirways (aka USAirways).  I am a frequent business traveler.  I try to avoid them when possible, but there were few other reasonable options for flying from Boston to Philadelphia.  My luggage did not arrive with me despite having paid them a $25 baggage fee. They could give me no reason for the delay, but said it would be on the next plane in.  When I asked for my baggage fee to be refunded, they gave me a $25 voucher to be used on future travel with them.  Just another poor experience with them to add to my list!   I’m not surprised they tell their employees to tell customers to “shut up” rather than focus on improving their customer service.

  28. In the question, Chris asks about whether an airline should cut off communication. Spirit is not a true airline. It is a scheme to make lots of money from people who are uninformed or stupid. Despite the low advertised fares, Spirit passengers often pay more for their travel than they would on a real airline because of the extra, hidden charges that are encountered such as a $15 charge for the privilege of purchasing a ticket on-line or the $45 charge for putting a carry-on bag in the overhead. 

    Calling Spirit an airline is an insult to the other air carriers. The FAA should look at the total picture of how Spirit operates and tell them that they need to clean up their act within 90 days or their operating certificate will be revoked.

  29. The question for me is when did the weather delay occur? And where?

    How far back in time was the weather? Snow in March?

    Sue them for the money. Subpoena their records. They will not show up or produce anything. Get the default judgment then if they refuse check their schedule and go find an airplane to seize. And do NOT accept a check. Cash only.

    If you discover it’s not a weather delay thn you have a much much bigger claim for fraud, misrepresentation and similar bad faith claims. Punitive damages, big money.

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  31. “But that’s beside the point.

    Of course it isn’t.  They are a budget airline and you have to be an idiot to expect service from a no-frills company.  That’s the whole point, you aren’t paying for that.

  32. What if you booked thru Travelocity (T) on a Spirit Air (S) to Lima, Peru. You were never informed about a quite unusual ONE (1) CHECKED BAG policy on said flight; upon calling S about taking four (4) checked bag, I was alerted to this.
    OK, the carrier has a right to have such a policy; but isn’t both T & S expected to inform the customer – before purchase? This should be a DOT regulation!
    I called S within 24 hours & was told there was only four (4) hours to cancel; I certainly would have cancelled if I had been allowed in April 2012. I was moving to Peru to be married & the minimum of bags needed – were 4. I later found out after flying Aeromexico (great experience) of the 24 hour policy.
    S and T have gone thru all the “motions” & lies to make me go away/SHUT UP; I would have if I hadn’t found Chris Elliott – he is a treasure!!! When will businesses realize that a dissatisfied customer is equal to a minimum of 100 satisfied ones? In the case of Spirit, there are few satisfied customers & their CEO even brags about their unethical & un-empathetic practices at corporate meetings – WHAT??? Spirit – a cheap price, but a CHEAP COMPANY!!!
    Muchas gracias,
    Philip C. Brown
    [email protected]

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