Spirit Airlines Decides It's Better To Invent Adverse Weather Conditions Than Admit Equipment Shortage

UPDATE: A corporate communications rep from Spirit Airlines reached out to Consumerist regarding Chandler’s story of his mother’s delays, and offered to look into the situation.

She writes that no weather conditions were invented, and that in fact there were problems in San Diego and Detroit.

“We take pride in getting our customers where they want to go as scheduled and always do so with safety as the top priority,” she said.

Even if there were problems with the weather, the ensuing problems (lack of equipment, crew shortage) could have been communicated in a clearer manner.

Chandler added more to the story after speaking with his mother after her arrival:

They eventually learned that the delay started because another flight from Denver was cancelled due to lack of enough passengers and my moms plane never actually showed up in Vegas. A pilot, who was unaware of the situation, ended up making several PA announcements in the airport as the gate employees did not offer any updates. My mom also witnessed Spirit employees hiding behind the door in the jetway only coming out to board other flights. During the “stay” in Vegas, Spirit Air begrudgingly gave passengers plastic dixie cups and poured water out of a bottle of water. The employees, as witnessed by many passengers, did not offer any apologies and were intentionally rude about any requests.

Chandler also followed up to let us know that his mother finally arrived in Detroit at 11:30 p.m., around 8 hours late. There were no gate employees to assist with the deplaning, he says, and passengers couldn’t retrieve their bags until after midnight.

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Being delayed at the airport is bad enough, but having the airline seemingly invent weather problems to disguise the real reason a plane isn’t taking off just makes it all worse. Chandler writes in to relay his mother’s trials and tribulations with a delayed Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Detroit over the weekend.

Instead of communicating honestly with passengers waiting to board their flight, Scott says Spirit took the tack of imaginary weather conditions preventing the plane from taking off. Turns out that if you lie to your passengers, they won’t be too happy with you.

Chandler writes:

I bought my mother a ticket from Las Vegas to Detroit as a gift, as we haven’t seen her in over a year. She was scheduled to depart this morning (1/1/12) at 8:20 PST. The flight was initially delayed to 1:45 PST departure. The Spirit Air employees lied (see below) and said that there was a supposed weather delay in San Diego holding up their plane and additional delays because of alleged weather problems in Detroit. There were no weather problems in either city, initially as evidenced by the fact that several other carriers sent planes to Detroit while my mother was waiting at her gate.

It turned out that the airline was short a crew and plane because one plane has been on the tarmac undergoing maintenance all day. Eventually a plane became available but was used to take passengers scheduled for LAS to Chicago. After two more hours of delays a Spirit Air employee admitted the lack of plane/crew and was directed to blame the weather. The flights is now over 8 hours past scheduled departure. My mom has been sitting in the terminal watching a crew service a plane on the tarmac for literally hours and will probably be expected to fly on that plane or forfeit the ticket money.

Earlier in the day, after 2 or 3 hours of delay, my mom asked if it was possible to cancel her ticket and receive a refund. They told her that only half the ticketed amount could be refunded, as there was no problem with the return flight from Detroit to Vegas. Seriously? How is she going to take a flight from Detroit later this week when she can’t even get out of Vegas? They are still waiting for the corporate office to approve putting passengers on other airlines.

We later found out that a Spirit Air employee lied about asking the corporatge office for help and never contacted them. So, essentially my poor mother has been told she has no recourse but to continue to wait at the airport for an unknown amount of time or get stiffed out of at least half of the money we spent on her gift.

We’re waiting on Chandler’s update as to how his mother fared by the end of her delayed journey.