Yesterday was my first trip on Spirit Airlines and the day held many surprises. I arrived in Denver, Colorado for the 2012 Travel Blog Exchange conference TBEX12 at Keystone Resort. I am ready for a week of activities, but even though I am here in Colorado – my checked bag on Spirit Airlines did not arrive with me.
I knew Spirit Airlines had a bad reputation, and now my first-hand experience places me in the camp of travelers who believe Spirit Airlines is an airline to be avoided.
Spirit Airlines now flies to Denver
Spirit Airlines just recently added Denver flights in the past six weeks. Spirit Airlines calls itself the leading ultra-low-cost carrier of the Americas.
Just like ultra low-cost health insurance, the price is right until you have a problem when you actually need assistance and some semblance of customer service.
Spirit Airlines has made airline news this past month for two prominent stories. First Spirit Airlines refused to refund the cost of an airline ticket to a 76-year old dying veteran diagnosed with terminal cancer and advised by his doctor that he was too sick to fly. Spirit Airlines CEO finally addressed the issue personally by offering a refund along with a donation to Wounded Warriors after veterans called for a boycott of Spirit Airlines.
The other issue is the $100 bag fee.
File a Lost Bag Claim at the airport within 4 hours of arrival
My primary complaint is I flew OAK-LAS-DEN and I was the only person to arrive in Denver without my bag. I already had made enough observations of the airline after two flight segments to prompt me to write a post about Spirit Airlines prior to learning the airline did not deliver my bag in Denver. Perhaps I will tell those tales in another post. Today it looks like I have to backtrack from the mountains across the Colorado plains to the planes.
Even if my bag is sitting at the Denver Airport, I have been told that I can’t get it delivered since the bag is not lost until I file a lost bag claim with Spirit Airlines at the Denver Airport.
What if my bag is delayed?
We’re very sorry. If your bag was delayed please submit a report in person at your arrival airport within four hours.
My bag was delayed on my last airline flight with American Airlines into Monterey last month. I filed a lost baggage claim upon arrival in Monterey Airport at midnight and my bag was delivered to my home the next morning by 9am.
No Team Spirit in Denver
The problem with the Spirit Airlines flight and baggage claim was after being the last man standing at Denver Airport baggage carousel #5, I went to the Spirit Airlines ticket counter to find there was nobody at the counter. One of those clock signs indicated they would be back in one hour. I had a ride waiting for me and I figured I would just handle the situation over the phone or computer. Big mistake!
On the phone I was greeted by Spirit Airlines customer service with an odd phrase of words with something to the effect of: “I am so sorry you lost your bag.”
My thought was, “No, I didn’t lose my bag. Spirit Airlines lost my bag.”
Spirit Airlines Customer Service insisted that nothing can be done until I go back to the Denver Airport and file a lost bag claim. And after I file the claim my bag may be returned in 2 to 4 days.
Explaining to the customer service agent that it will require several hours to get back to the airport did not change the message that my bag is not lost until I go back to the airport and file a lost bag claim.
Currently I am back on hold, 35 minutes and counting as I write this post, and I will see if I can get any more customer-friendly service out of Spirit Airlines customer service.
After two phone calls speaking with customer service agents with little semantic clues like “just give me two moments please,” my guess is Spirit Airlines customer service center is outsourced to an Asian country (India?).
Same line this time: There is no way to process a lost bag claim over the phone. I must return to Denver Airport and file a lost bag claim.
And it turns out this is a frightening deal after reading the Spirit Airlines lost bag compensation terms if my bag is ultimately not recovered. I doubt I have store receipts for more than a few hundred dollars of the several thousand dollars of clothing in that bag.
My wife asked me how much booking Spirit Airlines saved for this trip to TBEX12 Keystone, Colorado?
At the time I booked the flight the savings was about $150.
That savings has already been lost in money and time wasted to return to the airport just to find out if I have a bag waiting for me.
Other quick observations about Spirit Airlines:
1. Water or soda is $3. Coffee or tea is $2. The 5:00pm flight out of Las Vegas had several people who had apparently been drinking. One passenger who did not look well appeared to me to spend $9 for three cans of ginger ale during the 90 minute flight from LAS-DEN. There was another passenger seated behind me on the plane who had the loudest puke bag sounds I have ever heard in all my 1,000,000+ miles of flying. Since there was no accompanying foul smell after a couple of minutes I think the person might have just been a drunk young man playing around.
2. The flight attendant made one of the most inappropriate comments I have ever heard announced on a plane when she described the physical attributes of her young male colleague and suggested the women on the plane might get his phone number if they filled out the Spirit Airlines credit card application. Change genders from an older male flight attendant describing a young attractive female flight attendant and there would probably have been a bit more outrage rather than laughter. Definitely qualified as a public sexual harassment violation.
3. Question: Does Spirit Airlines deliberately place couples on the same reservation seated apart from each other when they refuse to pay for seat assignments? I heard several couples complain about this during the two flights.
Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.