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Spirit Airlines Given Largest Fine from Customer Complaints

Spirit Airlines Airbus A319-132 (N532NK)

Spirit Airlines Airbus A319-132 (N532NK)

Spirit Airlines has been fined $375,000.00 due to customer complaints for overbooking flights, lost bags, and poor advertising practices.

First off, the airline was not properly compensating passengers who were bumped due to overbooking, which Federal law regulates they must. Spirit was also dragging their feet when compensating passengers for lost baggage. Airlines must make payment “within a reasonable period of time” which most people would agree 14 months is not reasonable.  If that wasn’t enough, the airline also was charging customers $4.90 for a passenger use fee to fares in their “Travel Deals” portion of the website. According to regulation, such fees need to be added into the advertised price.

This comes at a time where Congress is in process of passing a “passenger bill of rights” which will better protect passengers flying on all airlines in the United States. Over the past two years, Congress has also provided the Transportation Department with $2.5million in the past two years to help enforce customer-protection rules.

“Selling fares for $9 has made us very popular and, a few years ago when we adopted this model, we had some growing pains during the transition,” Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson said in an e-mail to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. “We have addressed all the core issues that caused customer experience challenges a few years ago, including upgrading our computer systems and utilizing a new reservations partner.”

Customer treatment is currently on the forefront of the airline industry. I am normally for the industry regulating itself and allowing customers to help steer what the industry does, but it seems some airlines just don’t get it and passengers have a short memory span when choosing what airline to fly. A passenger might have a horrid experience and say they will never fly a particular airline again. But the next time they fly, if that same airline is $25.00 less, they “forget” their previous experience and decide to save a few dollars.

Image: ChicagoKoz