Spirit Airlines eliminates its customer service department

Although Spirit Airlines denies reports that it’s on the verge of making massive cutbacks, there’s evidence the no-frills discount carrier is quietly dismantling its customer service department.

Well, that may be an overstatement. But it’s not much of one.

Earlier this year, I published the names and e-mail addresses of Spirit’s executives. It’s a courtesy I extend to every airline with passengers who have service problems. Spirit’s response? It apparently changed its e-mail addresses so that it wouldn’t have to deal with its own customers. None of the addresses currently work, but if there are any Spirit employees out there with the correct contact information — well, you know how to reach me.

Since then, I’ve received numerous reports of customer service inquiries simply being ignored. Two of them landed in my “in” box just this morning.

Here’s one from reader Helen Leung, who recently returned from her honeymoon in Jamaica. Not only did Spirit charge her $20 to transport her luggage, but it lost her belongings and then refused to reimburse her for the clothes she had to buy on her vacation, even though she presented the airline with the necessary receipts.

“Spirit Airlines apparently handles their problems by ignoring their customers through phone and mail,” she told me.

The second came from reader Lana Cullum, who says an error by a Spirit reservations agent cost her $200 in bank fees. The airline refuses to answer her queries relating to the charges. “There is no way to speak to a person that I have found when you call the office in Miramar,” she says. “As far as the 800 number — forget it!”

I’m not sure if Spirit has fired its entire customer service department, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s made cutbacks or has instructed its agents to hold the line on any refunds. Either way, this is a deeply troubling sign.

Spirit was never a standout when it comes to customer service, but refusing to answer inquiries from its passengers could be a sign that the cutbacks everyone is talking about may actually represent a best-case scenario.

The worst-case scenario? Well, that’s where Spirit actually lives up to its name.