This is Spirit Airlines’ summer meltdown.
First, blame summer storms. Next, blame “operational issues.” And then top that off with a staffing shortage.
Why Spirit’s Flights Are Being Canceled
Spirit saw a chance to profit by adding hundreds of flights when COVID-19 pandemic concerns started to ease and travel demand grew. But the carrier hasn’t been able to hire enough staff to keep up. The result: cancellations — plenty of them.
And the situation isn’t likely to resolve itself in a matter of days. First, Spirit does not offer daily flight service to all of its destinations (in most cases just 2-4 times a week).
Additionally, Spirit does not have spare planes to move around the system to fill in the gap days. This creates the domino effect of cancellations across the system and subsequent days of oversold flights and thousands of stranded customers.
“We’re working around the clock to mitigate the travel disruptions caused by overlapping operational challenges including weather, system outages, and staffing shortages in some areas of the operation,” the airline said in a statement to USA Today.
“This is worse than I can recall ever happening in the airline industry. Maintaining their reputation after this is going to be hard,” says money expert Clark Howard.
Flight Canceled? Here Are Your Options
So what’s a Spirit ticket holder to do? If you’re already on your trip, check your email and current flight status at Spirit Status. The fastest way to get assistance, according to the airline, is to visit a newly established webpage: Contact Us.
Check To See if You Deserve a Refund
Travelers whose upcoming flights are canceled are due a refund or credit, per U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) rules. If you’re getting a refund, expect it to take a few weeks to show up.
Consider Changing Airlines
If you must stick to your scheduled departure date and time and don’t want to chance it on your travel day, consider purchasing a new ticket on a different airline.
Unfortunately, last-minute travel is costly but in most cases, you can get a refund on these higher-priced tickets. Be careful to follow airline policy, as some may require advance notice of cancellation to be eligible for a refund (never be a no-show).
Learn About Your Rights During a Delay
If your flight is delayed are you entitled to money or other compensation from the airline? No. There are no federal laws requiring airlines to provide passengers with money or other compensation when their flights are delayed.
Each airline has its own policies about what it will do for delayed passengers. If your flight is experiencing a long delay, ask airline staff if you can get a voucher for meals or a hotel room. There’s no guarantee you’ll get anything, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
What if your flight is significantly delayed: by several hours or even days? The USDOT has not specifically defined “significant delay.” Whether you are entitled to a refund depends on a lot of factors such as the length of the delay, the length of the flight and your particular circumstances.
Also, there are no federal regulations requiring airlines to put you on another airline’s flight or reimburse you if you purchase a ticket on another airline.
Here’s more information on cancellations and delays from the USDOT website.