FT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA -- I know this is long, but PLEASE read all of it... It could really save you!!!
Alright... So... I just got back from my week long, much needed, vacation in Montego Bay, Jamaica. (I had a great time down there.) When I booked the trip, CheapTickets.com showed that Spirit Airlines was the cheapest carrier. I had never heard of them, but figured they wouldn't be much different than any other carrier. Boy was I wrong!!!
Everything started out a week before my flight. After doing some research online, I learned that Spirit charges for checked luggage (as United now does as well). At the time, It was $5 per piece in advance, $10 on the day of your flight. (This went up to $10 and $20 on 20Feb08.) So, I showed up to the airport on Monday (six days before my flight) to pay for my luggage, so I wouldn't have anything to worry about the day of my flight. The guy initially tells me to just do it the day of the flight, but since I had driven down there and paid for parking, I wanted to just get it done with. As I show the desk agent my ID, we says, "Oh! You're active duty military? We don't charge you guys." So, I'm like, "Okay... Well, can I get your name, so I have you as a contact of who told me this?" He gives me his name and I'm on my way.
Morning of check-in... I show up with military ID in hand... Guess what? They tell me that only applies to people in uniform. Little piece of information that was obviously left out. (On another note, I'm always a big fan of the fact that we in the Coast Guard are told not to fly in uniform because of security concerns, but Army does it all the time... So pretty much, all these discounts are available to Army only. Nice.) They end up not charging me for my luggage and I'm on my way.
The rest of the flight is fine, other than the fact that they charge for EVERYTHING on the plane! A can of soda will cost you $2! Not even a cup of water is free!
Return flight... The terminal in Montego Bay is split in two. Our gate is in the half that is under renovation, so there is no air conditioning. Now, Montego Bay is not exactly cold during any time of the year, so it was roasting in there. The flight we were getting on was 30 minutes late getting into Jamaica due to bad weather in Detroit. The plane finally gets there and we all board. 30 minutes late at this point. As the pilots are doing their checks and everything, the APU (External power for the plane during idle) conks out. Now we have no air circulation on the plane. After 45 minutes of sitting there boiling in the heat, they decide to open a couple doors, this helps minimally. Apparently the ground crew is looking for the correct cord for the unit to connect to the plane with. At about the hour point, the crew actually passes out water. (Just tiny cups, and they actually don't charge us... Surprise!) After and hour and a half, they FINALLY push back from the gate. At this point, I know unless my flight to Washington, DC (DCA) that connects in Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) is delayed, I'm missing my flight.
We get into Ft. Lauderdale... Halfway home! Only problem is, I am the first person through customs, first one with my bags, and first one to literally sprint down the concourse to the flight. G-o-n-e. Why does this suck? Well, there are only two flights from FLL to DCA in a day and that was the last one. No one stood a chance of getting on the flight, it was gone. (Despite the fact that the baggage guy told me that if I ran, I'd make it. After training like I have been, there was no way anyone could have been faster.) So, no dice on the flight and I make my way up to the counter to rebook.
Long story short here, Spirit acknowledge that the delay is their fault and they set us (me and two other women) up with a voucher for the taxi to our hotel in Miami and a voucher for the hotel. They also gave use a $9 voucher for dinner and a $7 voucher for breakfast. They tell us that the hotel has a shuttle that will bring us to the airport in the morning.
Upon arrival to the hotel, Spirit has not called and made reservations or anything for the three of us. The hotel ends us taking care of all that, but they advise us that there is no shuttle to Miami airport, let alone Ft. Lauderdale, which was a good 30-35 minutes away. My patience has worn thin at this point and I call the reservation line because no one answers the line at FLL. I tell the reservation guy about the problem with the transportation to the airport and he asks me for my flight info. I give it to him and he pulls up my itinerary. He starts talking about available flights, etc and I tell him, "I don't care about the available flights, I am fine with my flights, please do not change them." I continue to tell him that I just need him to figure out what they are going to do about stranding us at the hotel. I ask to speak to a manager, he puts me on hold then comes back on the line. He starts in with the available flights again. He is CLEARLY not listening and/or comprehending what I need from him. I ask for a manager again and he tell me, "No. Because they have the same information." I ask again and he denies me. He tells me that I just need to call the airport in the morning. I ask the agent for his name and he refuses, I ask him again and he says, 'Thank you for calling Spirit" and hangs up on me. Now that's what I call awesome customer service!
Morning comes and I wake up at 4AM, which is awesome because with everything that happened, I didn't get to bed until midnight. I start calling the airport immediately. No one answers from 4AM until 6AM when I arrive at the airport. (The counter opens at 3AM, mind you.) So, because of this, I had to pay $72.10 for the taxi to get back to the airport. When I go to check in, magically, my reservation is gone. G-O-N-E. Funny, considering that I had a reservation when I left the airport the night before and the only person who had viewed it since was the wonderful person who hung up on me the night before. I find that just a teeny bit to coincidental for my taste, but they do end up getting it back and getting that squared away.
At this point, I ask about reimbursement for the taxi. I am told that I now need to contact corporate (which I emailed prior to writing this) to seek reimbursement. Judging how stellar they have been thus far at taking care of their customers, I'll hold my breath. What makes this even better is that our taxi driver told us that he no longer takes Spirit vouchers because they stiffed him on reimbursement before. Awesome! They won't reimburse cab drivers, how the hell do I expect them to pay me?!?
All the better, is that through this whole situation, everyone at Spirit is VERY apathetic towards us. We pretty much get the, "Sucks to be you treatment". No apologies, no sincerity, no nothing. One of the ladies I ended up in this situation with even got stiffed paying $50 for an overweight bag! To get us home on Sunday, vice Monday, they flew us on a Spirit flight to Atlanta (ATL), then a Delta flight into DCA. When we got our bags in ATL, we had to re-check them with Delta. This woman had already paid and overweight fee for her bag with Spirit and now had to pay an additional one for Delta. *Note: We wouldn't have been in this situation if it weren't for Spirit, so she should NOT have been responsible for this cost.
The Delta flight went smoothly and now I'm back home. What a nightmare though! I have NEVER in my life witnessed such callousness towards customers and such a complete lack of customer service in my life. I will not fly with Spirit again if they paid me. If another flight was $100 more, I'd take it, that's how horribly we were treated.
I just wanted to let everyone know so you can avoid ruining a vacation. Imagine if this had happened on the way down to Jamaica, instead of on the way home! Spirit Airlines does some intra-East Coast flights and A LOT of flights to the Caribbean and Central and eastern-South America. Please take my advice and be warned!!!
Please pass this on! I don't want this to happen to anyone else! If you think my incident is isolated, Google "Spirit Airlines Complains" and you'll see you yourself that this is pretty much par for the course! I wish I had before this!!!