Spirit Airlines’ customer satisfaction a myth

Spirit Airlines predominantly serves the East Coast, Caribbean, Bahamas, Latin America, and a few mid-western routes from Chicago and Detroit. Their low prices lead the industry, but their policies toward the public most likely defies any basic rules of customer service no less customer satisfaction. This morning Spirit Airlines announced an up to $45 charge for each piece of carry-on luggage placed in the overhead bins. The charges will begin August 1st.

Spirit Airlines has been compared to the Irish airline equivalent of Ryanair that also offers no frills, little customer service, and coin-operated onboard toilets. I kid you not! Stephen McNamara, spokesman for Ryanair states, “By charging for the toilets, we are hoping to change passenger behaviour(sic) so that they use the bathroom before or after the flight. This will enable us to remove two out of  three of the toilets and make way for at least six extra seats.” That works out to one bathroom for 189 passengers.

The increased fees are the result of losses and problems associated with attracting fliers. The rising cost of fuel, a reduced customer demand and the effect of the swine flu on travel patterns have forced airlines to find new ways to increase bottom lines just to survive, however to what cost?  Many of these new add-ons will alienate fliers and many of the new charges have not gone over too well.  Competitor airlines mostly sit back and watch the torrents of criticism before changing their own policies so as to hopefully retain their loyal customers. Southwest Airlines doesn’t charge for checked bags, but Alaska Airlines who charges $15 for the first bag has realized an extra $70 million revenue in one year.

Discount services (or lack of services) now include charges for soda, snacks, extra-leg room, seats on the aisle, checked bags, use of pillows and blankets and headsets. US Air returned to giving out free coffee and water when criticism peaked from loyal customers.

This holiday season infrequent fliers will be the most affected by all of the changes. Sophisticated travelers will compare added fees; not just the base price and factor all fees into the best ticket choice, but the family with small children won’t realize the impact of these new fees since most are assessed prior to or during the flight. When an airline charges four times the supermarket rate for an onboard muffin and a glass of juice for a traveling child, vacation travel plans may soon preclude flying. And isn’t this all a part of customer service?

If you love the low basic rates of Spirit Airlines, and you don’t expect a return call from customer service on the weekends, you carry no luggage, you never get thirsty while flying, you can curl your legs into an 8″ space, and have no wants, needs or desires while flying – Spirit Airlines has a deal for you.

photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker

8 Responses to “Spirit Airlines’ customer satisfaction a myth”

  1. Shyam Kumar said:

    Apr 14, 10 at 12:06 am

    At this rate, they’ll probably start giving free drinks to paid increase bathroom usage.
    Penny wise, pound foolish.

    Singapore Airlines seems to be the only continuously profitable airline that keeps stepping UP their customer service.

    Here’s how they do it – http://upyourservice.com/learning-library/customer-service-culture/how-does-singapore-airlines-fly-so-high

  2. David said:

    Apr 15, 10 at 12:15 pm

    The new Spirit Airlines charge for carry-on bags, yes CARRY-ON, won’t affect my wife and I, because we stopped using Spirit last year after they suspended all flights from Ft. Lauderdale on an entire route.

    We arrived at Ft. Lauderdale Airport for a Spirit Airlines flight that we’d booked to San Antonio, Texas, and had confirmed by email, and were told by a Spirit employee that they didn’t fly there any more. That was it. No apology, no explanation. They hadn’t just canceled a single flight. They’d suspended all flights there from Ft. Lauderdale.

    When I pointed out that the incoming flight was shown on the arrivals board I was told by a Spirit employee that the board was wrong.

    Spirit CLAIMED that they’d sent us an email, but there were other angry passengers in the same situation, and they hadn’t received emails either. And of course Spirit hadn’t refunded the cost of the tickets.

    Eventually we got to San Antonio, on an American Airlines flight from Miami International Airport, via Dallas, not direct, like the Spirit Airlines flight that we’d booked. But the American Airlines plane arrived in Miami late, then there was a technical fault after we boarded, so we had to spend the night in Dallas, and the trip took 23 hours in total.

    Spirit Airlines refused to pay any compensation for the delay caused by the suspension of their flights from Ft. Lauderdale.

  3. Taylor Potter said:

    Apr 16, 10 at 9:36 am

    The best thing and dogma really to earn in whatever business operation is to deliver customer satisfaction aside from just merely delivering your service. Take note of the Mississippi courier which has started its lowly beginning as a small courier with only one vehicle for transport. Looking at the business now, it has grown into a corporation and is serving more people who cannot say but all the good service it renders.

  4. Luis said:

    Apr 20, 10 at 12:04 pm

    I had about the same experience in 2007 during our family vacation (2 adults and 4 childrens). They lied on a “supposed” refund to my account within 72 hours. Worse than that we had to buy bus tickets from Atlanta to NY to travel back home. The cancellation cost me around $ 4,000.00 ($ 2,000 on a new flight and $2,000 for the reimbusrment that never happen).
    Since then I am a walking advertisement againt Spirit Airlines.

  5. Deno Skra said:

    Sep 29, 11 at 11:31 pm

    This was the first and last time I will ever fly Spirit Airlines.
    First they charged me $90 to make an reservation via phone. There was a statement in the intro a fee may be added..$90 for a 300 flight.
    Then they charge me for check bags, and carry on bags (which I did want and payed for). So I called (India) and they said they did not make a mistake. So I requested my check bag id number…guss what they did not have one. Sooooo. there must of been a mistake, of course no refund for their mistake but I will get travel credits. ON A CARRIER I WILL NEVER FLY ON AGAIN>>>>>>

  6. This company suck said:

    Nov 16, 11 at 7:39 pm

    let me just say this airline sucks hands down. I have never been witness to such amaing stupidity and down right rude attendents. I had a flight attendent actually put his hand on my 2 year old while he was in his seat by grabbing him and telling him to shut up. He is lucky that i did not throw him through a window.

  7. texas life and health insurance said:

    Sep 06, 12 at 4:11 am

    Travelling needs a good provider for your ticket for advance booking helps you so much in saving up. I hope in every flight, make sure to save up. This is important nowadays, because saving is important for the future is unclear.

  8. Selena said:

    Mar 05, 13 at 7:12 pm

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