Spirit Airlines always had a rather rough reputation as one of the U.S. biggest low cost carriers but now this has been taken to the next level following the airlines recent mass cancellations over the last few days.
On Sunday and Monday roughly two third of Spirit Airlines flights were either cancelled (42% of all flights on Monday) or delayed and the carrier went as far as telling their front line employees to leave the airport premises as a safety precaution.
Several U.S. Airlines have had waves of cancellations over the last few months following a too ambitious schedule planning and crew shortages but this Spirit situation is the icing on the cake.
And the situation continues even today as the New York Times reports.
Spirit Airlines and American Airlines canceled hundreds of flights on Tuesday after several days of disruptions, frustrating passengers across the country.
By midafternoon, Spirit had scrapped more than half its scheduled flights for the day, according to FlightAware, an aviation data firm. The airline canceled more than 40 percent of its flights on Monday and 19 percent on Sunday. Spirit attributed those disruptions to “a series of weather and operational challenges.”
American had canceled about 300 flights by the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, about a tenth of Tuesday’s scheduled trips. The airline canceled about 18 percent of its flights on Monday and 9 percent the day before. American pinned the blame on a weekend storm that hit Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, its large hub airport.
“A prolonged severe weather event in Dallas Fort Worth on Sunday night into Monday morning brought sustained heavy rain, strong winds, lightning, microbursts and hail to our largest hub,” Curtis Blessing, a spokesman, said in a statement on Tuesday. “The nine-hour weather event resulted in flight delays, cancellations and nearly 100 diversions. Our team members are working around the clock to care for our customers.”
Before the spate of disruptions, it had been a relatively good stretch for the two airlines. Only about 2 percent of American’s flights and about 1 percent of Spirit’s flights were canceled last month, according to FlightAware. Both airlines had more cancellations as a share of overall flights in July 2019, according to Transportation Department data. …
American said that some employees hit the maximum hours they could work in one stretch because of the weather delays this week. The airline said it expected its operations to improve starting Tuesday.
American Airlines is pretty bad too by the way, this isn’t just Spirit. It’s only that Spirit’s percentage of the overall flight network is much higher compared to AA.
You can see this displayed on Flightaware, for example in thus graphic:
There have been some pretty nasty scenes at the airport that were captured and uploaded on social media such as Twitter.
Frustrated passengers (understandable) are stranded at airports across the country without any support from the airline are taking on the customer service representatives at the airports in a rather aggressive manner which is absolutely not ok. These airport agents are not at fault for the situation their disgrace of an airline has created here.
Passengers had enough!
This is at MCO. Flights cancelled and people suffering in hot airports during a PANDEMIC. Phone line is not answered and only one agent assisting with CANCELLED FLIGHTS!! @SpiritAirlines DO YOUR JOB!😡 pic.twitter.com/kwMwk4eun2
— Aysha Becerra (@love_ur_self130) August 2, 2021
According to Gary (View From The Wing) there are reports that the airline (Spirit) told their employees to get out of their uniform and leave the airport in order to protect themselves from passenger who were on the verge of rioting.
Airlines have seen a severe uptick in demand from passengers especially during the summer travel period and this prompted their commercial side to push the flight schedulers to be rather aggressive on the planning side. In many this appears to have backfired as carriers are still facing a staff shortage, especially when it comes to pilots. And planes don’t fly themselves as of yet.
The excuses airlines come forward with here don’t hold water. Yes there might be occasional weather delays in Dallas but that’s not the primary cause of these ever reoccurring issues. There should be a congressional hearing about this and the DOT should take decisive action to hold airlines accountable considering the financial and emotional distress they caused the public.
This situation is a real mess and the best indicator why the U.S. urgently needs a passenger bill of rights similar to EC261/2004 in Europe that would threaten the airline with immediate monetary consequences for their actions.
I have a quasi list in my head of airlines I’ll never fly and Spirit is definitely on this list. That doesn’t excuse the big legacy carriers such as American and Delta from similar situations. They are just as bad but at least they won’t tell employees to abandon their duty stations and flee the airport. Well, maybe American would…
Were you affected by either the Spirit or American Airlines cancellations this weekend (or even today)?