Spirit Airlines (Spirit) is a Miramar, Florida based ultra low-fare airline that offers some of the most affordable base air fares in the industry. So one could ask, what is the problem? The problem is Spirit is the industry leader in separate charges for almost everything outside of the base fare associated with commercial air travel, and follows those separate charges with apparent poor customer service. So many customers have been enraged and have complained about the separate charges and poor customer service to the point that the carrier has drawn the ire of the Department of Transportation (DOT).
A number of airlines charge for checked bags and Spirit is no different charging $18 – $43 for the first checked bag per flight with additional checked bags costing up to $100 per bag per flight. Some, but not all, of the extra charges/fees that are assessed by Spirit are: a $20 – $45 charge for a carry-on bag that fits in the overhead bin (Spirit is the only airline to assess such a charge), a $12 charge to reserve a seat online, and starting in January, 2012 a charge of $5 per person for an agent issued boarding pass, a $10 web convenience fee for online booking buried in the category of taxes, and a $2 charge for coffee, soft drinks and water. In November, 2011, Spirit raised its standard passenger usage fee for online bookings 89 percent each way for domestic flights.
In September 2009, the DOT fined Spirit a record $375,000 for violating consumer regulations regarding unfair and deceptive practices. In November, 2011, the DOT fined Spirit $50,000 for advertising air fares without clearly disclosing the full price, a violation of deceptive price advertising rules.
According to DOT statistics, Spirit has more than 7 times the complaints; to include deceptive advertising, unfair practices, and numerous customer service matters, against them than any other airline operating in the U.S.
Ben Baldaza, CEO of Spirit, has been quoted as saying “it lets consumers decide what is important to them rather than the airline presuming what’s important to them”. In an interview with ABC News, Mr. Baldaza defended the policies of Spirit.
Spirit can be a good to great option if one is simply looking for the least expensive air fare to get from point A to point B; although the additional fees and charges added to the base fare can approach and sometimes exceed the total cost of non-low fare or discount airlines.
The statistic of more than 7 times the complaints against Spirit than any other airlines is a staggering figure. Notwithstanding the low base air fares, Spirit Airlines seems to be leaving far too many of its customers / passengers in poor and low spirits.
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