Cape May, New Jersey
Not resolved

I recently had reservations on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Atlantic City (ACY) with an early morning lay-over in Fort Lauderdale (FLL). Due to inclement weather, the flight to LAX was delayed nearly two hours. Although the delay was known at the airport in the afternoon, I never received any email notification, and the website never listed the delay. I learned the news when I arrived at the terminal and was unable to research alternate flights (most of which had already departed). The LAX supervisor was willing to make reservations on another airline (costing $769) going to Philadelphia, but said only a customer service supervisor could authorize reimbursement of any extra expenses.

I called customer service. Spirit's oversees office put me on hold for 30 minutes while they searched for a supervisor. He told me that his flight board showed my plane to be on-time. So, instead of offering to pay for a flight change, he told me, I would be charged $75 if I changed my itinerary. Furthermore, he told me only the LAX supervisor could authorize reimbursement.

The LAX supervisor (the only person who actually helped me during this ordeal) volunteered to personally reduce plane turnaround time to a minimum by working the gate when my plane finally arrived. People were still putting their luggage into the overhead compartments when we taxied from the gate. He also sent a note via computer to the airline personnel at FLL alerting them that I was the only person (still) making a morning connection.

As we were approaching FLL, my airline stewardess refused to ask the pilot to radio ahead to confirm my connection (she stated that there were many people making connections - contradicting the supervisor's information), and instead of requesting that passengers allow me to depart first, she announced that people should ask the gate attendant for departure gate information.

I arrived at FLL a few minutes before my connection was scheduled to depart. Thankfully, a number of people allowed me to depart ahead of them. I ran to my next gate only to find it completely vacant.

Figuring the plane had boarded early but might still be on ground, I hurried to a customer service counter. Although I told the woman I had an emergency, she told me to wait until she finished answering the questions of the couple in front of me.

I returned to my arrival gate and found out that my connecting plane had left 8 minutes AHEAD of schedule. The FLL supervisor was unable to offer any explanation why my flight left ahead of schedule.

I eventually arrived home, hours overdue and over $500 poorer ($454.86 after deducting Spirit's reimbursement of my missed flight).

When I contacted Spirit, they linked me to a passenge contract dated after my flight date and noted that their ticket contract says they aren't responsible for any expenses related to inclement weather. I pointed out that leaving EARLY wasn't related to the storms in Chicago. They wrote back that "if we as a practice held flights for passengers, our flight scheduled [their typo] would be late all the time." They also wrote, "If you are not at the boarding gate more than 15 minutes prior to departure ..., you may lose your reservation and become ineligible for denied boarding compensation .... As you were not in the boarding area, you were considered a No Show at that time." Of course I wasn't in the boarding area, as I was a captive on my arriving flight.

Ending their email, they noted, "there will be no further correspondence regarding this issue."

As I review the events, I see Spirit Airlines falling short in [1] not notifying passengers about a major flight delay, [2] not updating their flight information web page in a timely manner, [3] unacceptably slow response by an out-sourced customer service department, [4] different supervisors and the flight attendant releasing conflicting information, and [5] inattention to flight manifests and connecting passengers. If any one of these didn't occur, I probably would have been able to make connections and arrive at ACY in time. Efforts made by the LAX supervisor, for instance, could easily have set things right if it were not for the poor work effort on the part of many other employees.

Product or Service Mentioned: Spirit Airlines Flight.

Monetary Loss: $454.

Company wrote 0 private or public responses to the review from Oct 11, 2012.
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