Spirit Airlines lost bag debacle

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.

Spirit Airlines Delayed Baggage policy

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.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »


  1. Ric, get to Spirit through Twitter–it’s the only way to reach US based people. Send me an email and I will give you a good contact to reach their communications person based in Ft. Lauderdale; she had to fix a debacle for me last year.

  2. Wow, that’s soooo wrong. Yes, Northwest, Continental, and Delta have all lost my bags, BUT on each occasion they took responsibility and delivered my bags to my hotel or home when they located them. That is just criminal the way you were treated. To be honest, I’ve never heard a nice word about Spirit, but your post has confirmed my belief never to consider them. I’ve heard of the $1 sales but the “service” you got wasn’t worth free! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they return the bag.

  3. Sorry to hear this Ric, but you know someone’s gotta do it and we should be happy it’s a blogger who can spread out the “bad” words/news

    Feel lucky that it’s only YOURSELF this time, not a family trip ruined

    I’m Canadian and even I wouldn’t want to fly Spirit, you get what you paid for

    Good luck and hopefully the bag magically returns

  4. Just received an email from Spirit Airlines that my bag is in Denver. Hopefully it will get delivered by tonight.

    The thing is I had to use every tool I had to get a response from Spirit including the contact from Robert (comment #1), several Tweets and this blog post.

    I don’t know which one led to the result, but thanks to all who reached out to help.

  5. Is there really savings gained from having service that is that bad? Almost seems like it would cost them more plus annoy people to do it their way.

  6. Interested to read your comments about American. They damaged a suitcase a couple of months ago, and their service has been extraordinary. Why can’t all airlines be this way? 🙂

  7. 8 hours after being notified by email my bag was at DEN and 6 hours since receiving a phone call it was being delivered.

    Still no luggage.

  8. The bag just arrived. A day of waiting and anticipation has been exhausting.

    Tomorrow is another, and most likely better day to kick in #TBEX gear.

  9. How much did you pay for checking that bag in the first place? Are they refunding that?

  10. Idiot? What did you expect? They share a lot of DNA with Ryan Air, no?? I do hope you get your bag and property back. It is ‘stuff’ that you want, not money. That Spirit(less) Airlines demands that you file your notice, in person and in DEN sucks, but I also suspect that it is within their contractural rights to do so. Write them a sharply worded letter with a copy to DOT. Sue them in small claims court and or whatever else will make you feel better. But, If you don’t get their search routine started within 24 hours, don’t bet on your bag of stuff coming home. And, if you do write to them and to DOT, please proof/edit your letter before sending it. Most of your posts are well written, but this one is terrible. Stress over the lost bag, I guess. Even if your bag gets lost, or Spirit runs out of spirits on your flight, always proof-read before hitting “Go.” If not, you look even worse that those twits as Spirit. And yes, the do farm-out the customer no-service calls t o SE Asia. They don’t care about service so the use the least cost operator (No surprise there!!) She’s a one-phone mama in India and she answers when she feel like it, reads responses from a script book and truly cannot help you with a baggage issue. A well-connected computer infront of her? Ha. One Phone Mama does not even know what a computer is! She’s had a TV and a phone for only two years, so let’s don’t rush her. I hope that you conference is going well, but without your 3 Oz. bottles of TSA-brand soap etc., I’ll bet you are staring to smell a bit off. Next time, buy a real airline ticket or just stay home. (Sent in the Spirit of best wishes for the eventual recovery of your stuff, Spirited away from you, before reaching luggage carousel #5.

  11. @Oliver – bag check was $28. Refund? The airline is not worth any more of my time to get back $28.

    @Cook – Poor writing? Perhaps. Seems to read okay to me a day later. The point of this post is Spirit Airlines has a poor customer service program in place. I was writing the post while on hold with Spirit Airlines.

    Spirit Airlines flight times were all on time. I drove from California to Denver last summer. Spirit Airlines was faster.

    I actually did have a short story comparing Spirit Airlines to my 1997 RyanAir experience. I made the same comparison. I deleted that section of the post.

    @Jamison – I think most airports it would be easy to steal checked bags. Once. Security would probably ramp up after a couple of stolen bags.

  12. I’ve never had a bag lost.. is requirement to submit a claim in person at the airport unique to Spirit? And did they have any signs posted about the requirement for when no staff is available?

  13. @Marc – I definitely have had bags not arrive to my destination 20 or more times. This was the first time there was no airport baggage office to file a claim or open airline counter.

    The only sign I saw at the Spirit ticket counter was a clock showing they would return in one hour.

  14. @Vito – another thing about Spirit Airlines is low weight allowance. 40# for checked bags. Spirit Airlines charges more money for a carry-on bag than a checked bag.

  15. I fly a lot, and about 30% of my travel happens to be on spirit (I live in Ft. Lauderdale). That accounts for about 20 000-30 000 miles a year with them. I love them. Yes, customer service is non-existent, percentage of flights departing late is much higher than my second airline of choice (Delta), but I’m fine with that, especially that I had amazing countless flights from FLL to Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, NY, BOS, WAS for under $20, as well as LAX and Vegas for around $40. For me, my main concern is to get me from point A to point B with a carry on that fits under the seat (free, and doesnt necessarily have to stay under the seat during the flight), or a luggage for $18 (prepaid, $9 fare club member) – never been lost or delayed in my 100K miles flown with them.
    You do what you pay for, that’s absolutely true, if I want good customer service, be on time, I’m ready to pay extra $100 each time you fly, I fly major airline (and hope for a denied boarding and $400 credit), if I just need to get from here to there and save money, I fly spirit.

  16. The $100 carry on fee sounds like a robbery at first, but in reality it applies only if a customer failed to check it in, or failed to pay for carry on at the check in or earlier and was hoping to sneak the bag in. I think it’s only fair. Rules of the game are published and clear, trying to play around them will (and should) cost you.
    No, I’m not a spokesperson for Spirit, I’m just a fan.

  17. We offer a way for travelers to receive a call if their luggage is lost during travel, without displaying their personal information with their bag. http://www.reportmybag.com is our website. Please check us out for more information. Nobody wants to display their personal information with their luggage for the world to see, our service allows travelers to be contacted at the number provided directly through a toll free number, and the caller can leave a voicemail on your personal number. very inexpensive, many membership options to choose from.

  18. I absolutely love Spirit Airlines. I fly them regularly from Atlantic City for Fort Lauderdale.

    I save at lease fifty percent over the cost of other airlines. Along with ten million travelers (and growing)I just want to there safely, on time and in a clean aircraft and I am happy. Forget the so call frills of other airlines that charge double the cost.

    By the way, their credit card is also great.
    I have booked myself round trip to Florida three times this coming winter so far. Each time I used only
    $ 5,000.00 in purchases and a five dollar charge. No other credit card will come even close to that offer.

    I do use a secret that I can share with you. I read the rules carefully and plan ahead for my travel.

    As one of the writers stated, you can always travel on other airlines if you want better customer service. Traveling first class also often helps.

    Thanks again Ben Baldanza!

  19. @Jeff – So you plan for your bag to be lost or do you never check a bag with Spirit Airlines?

    The flight was on time, the plane was clean and we arrived safely.

    The point of the post was to point out the irrationality of the rule that I must file a claim for a lost bag at the airport when there was nobody working the airport counter at the time I learned the bag was lost.

    Just because there are rules posted does not mean the rules are reasonable rules for a company to operate by.

    One of the great outcomes I value with Loyalty Traveler blog and as a traveler long before I started this blog is my ability to get some consumer-unfriendly rules and practices changed.

    A company rule does not mean it is a fair rule for consumers and some rules need to be changed. Consumer action is the means to change.


  21. @Robert, I just had a very similar experience to Rick DEN story. Could I have the communications contact you are referring to? @Ric, dealing with a very similar nightmare

  22. Facing the same issue and i dont know who to contact.. Its been 5 days i lost my bag.. The checking bag what i lost have special clothes for my mom, which we wont get in USA. They came to visit me from INDIA. Now I am so worried. Can anyone can help me in finding the contact details of them that would be great. I will greatly appreciate that. Can we do a claim?? And how to to do??

    Thanks a lot

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  24. I recently lost my bag, or I should say that Spirit lost my bag while I was on a 3 day vacation. I should have carried it, but thought that I would save $20, and save myself from dragging my bag around. As it turns out,my bag wasn’t found until 3 days later. Under the advisement of the lost baggage lady at LGA, I should just pick it up on my way out. She said I wouldn’t receive my bag for 6 hours and then there is no guarantee, as the company delivering is a separate entity, and they no longer held any guarantees.

    To make matters worse, I witnessed many people getting treated quite poorly,(downright shitty)by the employees at Spirit. I’m sure this has to do with company policy and not their individual personalities.

    One last note, there were missing articles in my bag. Clearly, whoever was in charge of my lost bag had a good time sorting through it!

    I intend on refuting payment for my bag fees, plus restitution for the missing garments. Keep you posted!

  25. I just fly Spirit for an 8 night vacation in Orlando, FL. I flew from Vegas to Ft. Lauderdale to Orlando. From the ticket counter to the flight attendants to the lady in the lost luggage….they are the rudest people I have ever dealt with. They left my luggage in Ft. Lauderdale and the lady that I reported it to did not care at all!! Worst customer service ever!!! They don’t even scan the luggage is what the lady at the lost luggage told me!!! I had a bag lost in Vegas and the could look it up and tell me immediately where the bag was. Hell, they don’t even scan our tickets, they just take them up!!! I had on a sweat suit because it was cold when we left Vegas 40 degrees and I arrive here to 82 and no way to go to the parks in a sweat suit!!! No make up, no hair brush, no tooth brush, no offer to help me at all. I will NEVER fly Spirit again. I started with a good rate but ended up having to pay for selecting my seats since my son was flying with me and ended up with another $200 for decent seats and then $120 for luggage so it’s not a great deal and then they lose my luggage after paying greatly for it. The flight from Vegas was almost an hour and a half late and then we barely made the connection in Ft. Lauderdale. We literally left our gate and walked down two gates to the next flight and were the last ones on. Don’t fly this fly by the seat operation. I have had problems before but the other airlines were very accommodating but not spirit!!! WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE EVER!!!!!

  26. Hi Ric, would you mind sharing the contact information for the communications person in Ft. Lauderdale that Robert recommended? I have a similar issue with a lost bag…


  27. Hello

    I have a same problem as you right now. my luggage has not arrived when I traveled from Orlando to Houston. I tried to contact any phone number that I could find but no luck. Is it possible for you to give me some sort of contact who actually willing to help! 🙁 I also tweeted many tweets regarding this matter but still no luck. 🙁

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