Break your Spirit Airlines has entered the competition for “airline that can treat customers the worst.”
The airline has delayed or cancelled nearly 300 flights in the last week.
Last night, the airline’s problems reached the breaking point. When nine different flights were cancelled, chaos erupted at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Hundreds of Spirit Airlines passengers became stranded.
Upset passengers began to fight near the crowded Spirit Airlines check-in counter Monday night.
“Very angry angry angry people – everybody had places to be and couldn’t be there,” Debbie McGrandy, who was fresh off of a cruise and struggling to get back home to Detroit, told CBS. “This is actually our third Spirit flight that has been canceled since Thursday. I slept in the airport in Philly already on Thursday night and I don’t want to sleep in an airport again tonight,” she added.
Police were called to deal with the chaos, which was caught on video by several passengers.
Multiple people were detained, witnesses told ABC. “I saw two people go down on the floor and get … handcuffed and dragged out of here,” said one passenger, who was not named.
Another passenger said he saw officers apprehending a woman. “There was a lady [detained] earlier. She was quite upset and very vocal about her frustrations,” he said. “I see people are very disappointed.”
Brionka Halbert, 18, was scheduled to fly from the Ft. Lauderdale airport to LaGuardia Airport in New York City aboard Spirit flight 710.
She told NBC that before takeoff, a flight attendant told the passengers they would have 28 minutes to board the flight or it would be canceled.
Shortly after that, passengers were told the flight had been cancelled.
“People were angry and stressed after this,” Halbert said. “Tensions ran high because of the abrupt cancellation. Then, we waited two to three hours at the front desk so that our tickets to be refunded. It got rowdy.”
Halbert said while she was waiting in the terminal, she witnessed what she described as “excessive force” from the law enforcement officers.
“The cops went about it in the wrong away even if they were trying to do the right thing,” she said.
A Broward Sheriff’s office spokeswoman told NBC that two men and one woman were arrested on Monday night. All were all charged with riot incite or encouraging a riot, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and trespassing after warning.
A dispute between Spirit Airlines and its pilots is the reported cause of the cancellations. The airline says its pilots are engaged in an “illegal slowdown” and alleges some are “engaged in a campaign to threaten and intimidate other pilots”, reports CBS.
Spirit Airlines filed a suit Monday against its pilot union, alleging “an unlawful job action by Spirit pilots.” The company accused the pilots of putting their “quest for a new contract ahead of getting customers to their destinations” and the safety of Spirit staff.
In a statement released on Monday, the airline said,
“We are shocked and saddened to see the videos of what took place at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport this evening. This is a result of unlawful labor activity by some Spirit pilots designed to disrupt Spirit operations for our customers by canceling multiple flights across our network.”
I would put Spirit in 3rd place for now. United Airlines still holds first place for the Dragging and Dropping of Dr. David Dao incident. Delta comes in a close second for three incidents: kicking a man off a flight because he dared to get up to use the restroom, an employee smacking a phone out of a kid’s hand, and kicking a family of four (including a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old) off of a flight because the airline overbooked and wanted the 2-year-old’s seat.
American Airlines was in third place for a heated scuffle involving a female passenger who was holding a young child and a male flight attendant. A fellow passenger recorded that incident, and the video shows the woman in tears, a male passenger jumping up to defend her, and the flight attendant challenging the male passenger to a fight.
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Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”