So for Thanksgiving I drug Kat to Michigan to spend time with my family and I. Traveling during the holidays is always an expensive so of course we were looking for the cheapest tickets, while searching we came across Spirit Air. It had been a while since I flown with them, and well it will be and even longer time if any that I choose to fly with them again. Outlined is our horrible experience with Spirit Air which in the end made so that our “cheap” tickets cost us the same if not more if we would have flown with a better quality airline. To start you off I was given what I thought was a real persons email address via the Spirit Air helper twitter account … seems like its a generic email that goes into their ticketing system. I didn’t know this off the bat.
I got this email address via Twitter and was told to file my complaint this way in hopes to get a refund. I am not new to flying, and have flown many times in the past with Spirit as well as other airlines. The whole travel experience this time was like nothing I have ever experienced with Spirit or any other airline for that matter. Here is the whole story.
My girlfriend and I were traveling from Las Vegas Tuesday Nov 23rd around 10pm that evening, we got to the airport and had to check in 1 suitcase that was clearly too large for any overhead, this was not a problem as we had expected to check this in. I know over the holidays it is a busier time at the airports, but the check-in line for Spirit was beyond slow. We got to the counter and the gentleman, I believe by the name of Darwin was very helpful and asked how many bags. He looked at our bags, asked how many and we stated only 1 (Mind you we had the 1 large suitcase and our 2 carry on bags with us.). We successfully checked the 1 bag and he said nothing about our standard carry on bags that my girlfriend and I have used time and time again.
We got to the gate, and our flight was stated as ON TIME, though was late getting there or taking off, which ended up making us around an hour late once we landed in our destination of Detroit.
When we were finally boarding the plane the group of four men a few spots in front of us in line and ourselves were told to go over to the counter to check our carry on luggage. The group of men were on a return flight and they were NOT charged for their luggage on their trip to Las Vegas but WERE being charged for their luggage to head to Detroit. The men and myself/girlfriend explained to the lady that these were standard carry on bags (which once again my girlfriend and my self use all the time, and actually just used on a flight a week prior to this with out being charged.). We were all told at this point we either pay the $45 fee PER bag, or we can choose not to board the flight or we can leave our bags at the airport. The lady who’s name I didn’t get was very very rude about the situation, and pretty much had the “My way or the highway” attitude. Which in a customer service related job is NOT the approach that should be taken with customers. In the end the group of men and my girlfriend and I were left with no choice but to pay the $45 per bag (in our case 2 bags x 45 = $90), at this time I assumed she was going to take our bags to have them stored under the plane with the rest of the luggage since during this explaining how we had to pay she stated these charges are to help with boarding/un-boarding process and to keep the bulk of the weight out of the cabin…. clearly not the case because as soon as payment was received we were all directed to carry our bags onto the plane as normal and put them in the overhead bins. I also asked the lady for a contact number about this or which department that I should get a hold of about this issue and bluntly she said “check our website, there are phone numbers there”. She offered little help on a resolution of this issue.
On our return flight we decided to save ourselves some heartache with having to be forced into paying $45 per piece of carry on and checked all of our bags, while this only ended up saving us around $20 from the original flight we were still and still are very upset about the hidden costs which brought our “cheap” flight with Spirit Air to a cost that was more than any other airline we could have booked with. While on the plane there was discussion from many of the other people on board who were talking about how they had seem some people charged for their carry on when they went to board, while others were not.
In closing I am wondering what can be done about the issues we had with not only the horrible customer service but also the hidden charges that seemed to be on a very selective basis of who was harassed with having to charge and who was not. This experience defiantly tarnished our view of Spirit Air, as well as cost me roughly $160-180 more than we had planned to spend.
Thanks you for your attention in this matter and I look forward to hearing back from someone on this issue.
Shelby James DeNike
After sending it I was interested to see what they would say when they got back to me …. though I had little to no hopes that they would since well if you search Twitter for Spirit Air you will see nothing except ummm “awesome” reviews of their service. Did you sense the sarcasm there? The following day mid afternoon I did get an email back from them. Have a look at this lil gem.
Dear Ms. DeNike,
Thank you for your correspondence with Spirit Airlines. We welcome an opportunity to assist you whenever possible.
We are committed to offering quality customer service and ensuring that your experiences are positive. I am sorry that you feel your experience with us did not measure up to the standards we strive to achieve.
Our agents are expected to monitor baggage while customers are on line, prior to arriving at the ticket counter, in order to expedite the check-in process. When there is a question about the eligibility of a carry-on bag, an agent must make an assessment. If a bag does not meet the criteria, it must be checked.
I am sorry if our agent displayed behavior contrary to what is expected of them. I would like to assure you that what you described in your email is not the normal customer service provided by Spirit Airlines. Please rest assured that your feedback has been taken seriously.
We strive to provide safe, reliable and economical air travel options to the flying public. We know you have a choice and are grateful when you choose Spirit Airlines.
Corporate Escalation Officer
When I started to read it I kind of thought that they were going actually refund me or something… well as you see that didn’t happen. I decided to go ahead and respond to their pretty generic email and press the issue a little further, not that it would do any good.
Thank you for getting back to me on this. I have some further questions that I do not see clear answers to after reading this. While you state you are committed to offering quality customer server and want to make the experience positive I don’t see that happening.I feel the practices of Spirit are neither clear or ethical. You state that the agents are expected to monitor the baggage of all customers, which if that the case then then Darwin who checked us in should have let us know “Hey, you will need to check your other 2 bags as they do not fit our requirements for carry on.”. This was not explained to us, nor explained to other customers that were flying with you. That being said we were blindsided when we were told that we had to pay $45 per carry on at the gate. At that point what are we as customers supposed to do? We have a few choices as I see here
1. Pay the $45
2. Leave our luggage at the airport
3. Don’t get on the plane
That all being said we are really at your mercy, I mean in actuality you could say we would have to have paid $200 per piece of luggage and we are left with few choices.
I am more so upset that you are essentially stating that your agents should make the call about the bags and since we were let past the initial agent it should have been left at that. But instead we were hit with additional charges, and then on the other flight we were some of the few that got conned into paying for our bags when others didn’t. If it is going to be a standard of having to pay for the bags then EVERYONE should have to pay and groups of people should not be singled out like we were.
Since nothing is going to be done about this issue, I apologize but neither my girlfriend, myself and hopefully friends and family will choose Spirit Air again.
Shelby James DeNike
At the time of this posting I sent that email to them 2 days ago…. still no response. In the end I just hope this lets people see what kind of an airline they are and how concerned they are with their customers experiences. I will update this post if they contact me back, but I am not holding my breath to hear from such a fantastic company.