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Spirit Airlines Cancellation due to Weather

Discussion in 'Airlines' started by PMW, Oct 1, 2015.

  1. PMW

    PMW

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    I was on a flight from Baltimore to Ft. Lauderdale that was cancelled due to weather in conditions in Chicago that prevented their flight crew to get to work. They refunded my low fare but offered no other compensation whatsoever and were unable to rebook us. I was forced to buy a last minute ticket on another airline and also missed an entire days' work.

    It seems to me that with this logic all airlines could use weather as an excuse to skirt the consumer protection laws that were designed to protect us. In my particular instance, the weather was perfect that day up and down the east coast.

    I wrote to the FAA and to Spirit. Both did respond and nothing was done.

    Any thoughts out there? Seems to me the basis for a great class action lawsuit that could shake up the industry. Why should their problem of no staff become my problem and unexpected high cost?

    Thanks for any input or suggestions.
     
    #1
  2. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Gee, we haven't had a complaint about Spirit in days! Here's the quick, (somewhat ignorant, I learned all this on Elliott dot Org) answer: Spirit doesn't have enough planes, enough crew, or interline agreements with other airlines. When they cancel your flight due to weather, they don't have to refund you. If it's mechanical, they should refund you, but still don't get you to your destination.
    Several of my colleagues know all about Spirit and will undoubtedly be along shortly to give you solid information.
     
    #2
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  3. PMW

    PMW

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    Thanks for response. They did refund what I paid which was little, but left me to buy a much more expensive ticket on another airline. My point is that the weather problem was in another part of the world. If every airline used that excuse, nobody would ever be compensated, hence making the consumer protection policies useless.
     
    #3
  4. kenish

    Staff Member Advocate

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    PMW, provide the route, flight #, and date please? I've "backtraced" similar situations for others and their aircraft was indeed weather cancelled upline. DoT and BTS audit cancellations and delays; gaming the system won't work for long.

    Agree with others....Spirit leaves you with few options when things go pear-shaped. Some of their routes are only 2 or 3x weekly, and often into outlying airports with no other airline service. Your experience is common, having to purchase a last-minute "walk up" fare from another airline, and sometimes after a frantic 1-2 hour drive to the main airport.
     
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  5. PMW

    PMW

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    Thank you so much for your help! It was flight number 301 on 6/16/15 from Baltimore to Ft. Lauderdale. I think there is genuine cause for a class action lawsuit that would shake up the industry if someone has interest in representing us.Thanks again!
     
    #5
  6. bodega3

    bodega3 Guest

    I doubt it. You picked a low cost carrier with few options in a case like this.
     
    #6
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  7. LaurieB

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    I am not a specialist in air problems, but PMW, I am very sad to say this is crystal clear to me. Spirit has an evening flight ( on 6/15 ) that brings the aircraft and the crew to to Baltimore. If the weather interferes, then there is no airplane, and no crew, to fly you on 6/16 from Baltimore to Ft Lauderdale. Weather is an acceptable reason to issue a refund, or place you on another flight. ( this is a typo and was corrected ) As a smart consumer, this is a great lesson learned....buy cheap / get cheap. Take this as a personal warning to stay away from Spirit in the future, unless your travel plans are flexible and you can absorb deviations from your plans. Then go forward with new wisdom and don't look back.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
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  8. PMW

    PMW

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    Thanks for the explanation!
     
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  9. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    PMW, Spirit has no interline agreements with other airlines, so if their flights are canceled due to wearher, they can't put you on another airlines flights. Their only obligations is to refund you or get you out on the next available flight. If that flight isn 't until 3 days layer, so be it.
    Thats what happens when you book with low cost carriers- if there is a problem, you have no other option but to buy a walk up fare on another airline.
    You are better off booking a regular airline and paying a little extra rather than having to book a walk up fare.
    Hope that helps explain the issue.
     
    #9
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  10. kenish

    Staff Member Advocate

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    This was more than 3 months ago and it's difficult to reconstruct. There was severe weather on June 15 in the upper Midwest with many flight cancellations on all airlines. Spirit 968 arriving from ORD into BWI at 1222am, and Spirit 240 arriving from FLL at 916pm were both cancelled. (The latter flight was cancelled earlier in the morning in ORD and never made it to FLL). Several BWI flights the next morning had no aircraft. The BWI-FLL flight later in the evening operated, but the flight on the morning of the 17th was cancelled too.

    The cancellation was due to weather. Bad weather on the other side of the country or even the ocean can affect your flight on a warm sunny day, on any airline. There are few options when that happens on Spirit.

    Off-topic tangent about Spirit's business model. They were formed by an equity firm that owns the aircraft. Spirit generates leaseback revenue by flying the planes. Spirit's profits are the ancillary revenue from add-on fees, and also hotels, rental cars, etc. they promote when you make a reservation. They make little or no profit from tickets. Spirit sometimes drops destinations with little notice when the ancillary revenue doesn't meet projections.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
  11. GNRMatt

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    #1) Spirit is a completely no-frills airline, which includes not helping much when things don't go as planned. If your flight does get cancelled due to weather, or other factors, it can be many days or even over a week to get to your destination. This is part of the reason they are so cheap with their base fares. You really do get what you pay for.

    #2) As for the class action lawsuit, you can try to find a lawyer to take this up, but honestly, Spirit did not do anything illegal. A weather delay at another airport is a valid excuse for airlines to cancel/delay flights. If it wasn't this way, there would be issues all the times. Remember, airlines need to keep their aircraft in the air as much as possible, which means sending them around the country, which can have various weather issues. Keeping them on the ground at your airport for several hours or a day before your flight to ensure weather in another part of the country does not impact you is not realistic.
     
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  12. Mike Z

    Staff Member Advocate

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    [QUOTE="LaurieB, post: 11300, member: 1454 Weather is an acceptable reason to refuse a refund. [/QUOTE]

    This is incorrect. If the airline cancels for any reason they need to either get you to your destination on a later flight of their own or on another carrier if they have agreements. The traveler also has the choice of asking for and getting a refund. This is the case if it is mechanical or weather related cancellations.

    The difference happens when you are seeking food and lodging for the cancellation. For something weather related, no compensation is granted, bur for mechanical delays or cancellations, hotels and meals are often covered, depending on the ticket rules.

    if you are bumped or involuntarily denied boarding then the government states certain compensation must be given.
     
    #12
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  13. GNRMatt

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    This is correct. If an airline cancels a flight, they must refund you what you paid. You also have the option of being re-booked. Now, the re-booking may be later that day (as is the case with many airlines) or not for another week (which happens on smaller airlines like Spirit). This is one of the huge negatives of booking on an airline like Spirit or Allegiant. They have very few planes and very few flights scheduled between airports. When cancellations happen, it can take a LONG time to get on another flight.

    I know some people like Spirit's cheap fares, but I want to re-iterate, that it may cost you dearly in the long run. Expecting Spirit to make things right for a customer when issues like this happens is just not being realistic.
     
    #13
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  14. Michael K

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    To expand on @Mike Z 's comment, in the case of Spirit Airlines, it's irrelevant what their reason for the cancellation was, because they are one of the no-frill airlines that does not provide in their Customer Service Plan for ever covering passenger hotel or meal expenses, even for delays and cancellations completely within Spirit's control.

    If you want to "shake up the industry" then consider writing to your Congresspersons to urge them to support passenger rights legislation such as EC Regulation 261 in Europe or Israel's Aviation Services Law. Or at least a new version of Rule 240 (which required carriers to accommodate passengers on another carrier if they were unable to get those passengers to their destination in a timely fashion themselves).
     
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  15. Michael K

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    Not quite...

    Spirit has little incentive to game the system because they don't offer any compensation for non-weather delays either.

    However, in general, the DOT only asks airlines to categorize their delays into one of five categories:
    1. Air Carrier Delay
    2. Aircraft Arriving Late
    3. Security Delay
    4. National Aviation System (ATC) Delay
    5. Extreme Weather

    #4 and #5 are obviously weather delays and the DOT could potentially audit those.

    However @PMW experienced #2 [Edit: actually he experienced a cancellation, but same sort of issue]-- which is by far the most common type of delay. The 'Aircraft Arriving Late' could have arrived late for weather reasons, or non-weather reasons, or some combination.

    The bigger question is WHICH aircraft arrived late, and when was this aircraft assigned to the subsequent delayed flight? Carriers often swap the aircraft assigned to a particular flight many times in the hours prior to scheduled departure, and they do this based on their own scheduling priorities and they don't need to report any of this to the DOT.

    Basically, the DOT doesn't collect enough information to audit the root cause of an "Aircraft Arriving Late" delay.

    See also:
    http://elliott.org/the-navigator/are-airlines-bending-the-truth-about-weather-delays-2/
     
    #15
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
  16. Mike Z

    Staff Member Advocate

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    I can certainly see the need for an EU261 type law here, but all it will do is raise the price of our tickets. I'm willing to take the chance on a problem if I buy a ticket from Spirit. Likewise, I can also buy insurance from a third party or even pay more for a ticket from another airline that has contracts with other carriers.
     
    #16
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  17. GNRMatt

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    I disagree 100% with this. The airlines always use the excuse that it will raise ticket prices, but I don't think it will. It didn't do anything to increase ticket prices in the EU (it's ridiculous how cheap inter-Europe flights are compared to domestic US flights). This is just another scare tactic that is used by a corporate industry to say regulation is bad. The airline industry has gotten away with too much in the recent past and have been proven to be liars when it suits their needs. Remember when they said that oil prices caused prices to surge? Well, after oil came down, did flight prices? No, they did not. Or to give even more concrete of an example, a few years ago a tax was eliminated for domestic flights due to Congress not passing a law in time and it stayed eliminated for a few days. Did flight prices go down by the cost of that tax? No, ALL the domestic airlines increased the cost of the base fare to make the final cost of a ticket the same.

    This is an industry in serious need of MORE regulation, not less of it.
     
    #17
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  18. kenish

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    I understand the process, was involved with line activity while working for a vendor to multiple airlines. Your comments are certainly true....the dispatch plan can change if incoming aircraft are late or absent for the planned outbound flight(s). LW's case is older than 30 days so I couldn't find tail numbers involved. Only 2 aircraft scheduled into BWI the night before could have flown LW's early morning flight; both those were cancelled.
    The BTS database has a detailed dataset for every flight.
     
    #18
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  19. bodega3

    bodega3 Guest

    You can't generalize on US domestic fares. In some markets fares dropped, others went up, others stayed the same. Just like they do daily anyway.
     
    #19
  20. GNRMatt

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    Correct. My point is, having a law similar to EU261 is not going to be something that drives up flight prices. And other similar times airlines said regulations, taxes and oil would effect prices, it was dishonest. Airlines currently charge as much as they think they can to get people to buy tickets on a route. That is the case today and will be the case tomorrow, no matter what regulations are put into effect.
     
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