Monday, June 8, 2015

Has Anyone Ever Had A Good Experience WIth Spirit Airlines?


Today, I Tried So Hard to Fly Spirit Airlines

 I have never heard any traveler say anything nice about Spirit Airlines. But I thought maybe the anecdotes I'd been hearing might be exaggerations. Then I tried to actually fly Spirit. This is my experience......


Imagine a business model as follows:

You operate and airline with lots of planes filled with lots of seats. 

You fly your planes to lots of destinations.

You could make money selling seats to people who need to go where you fly!

Keeping the above in mind, let me describe my experience with Spirit airlines.

This morning I needed to book a flight from Denver to San Diego June 24 arriving before 9:00 am.

Poof "Fly.com" found a flight on Spirit Airlines for $68 arriving in San Diego at 8:40 AM.

Soooo happy! I've never flown on Spirit, but I am certainly willing to give them a try.

I aim my browser at Spirit's website and put in all the requested flight data

First, I am offered a membership in Spirit's "$9 Flight" club. It explains I will save a lot of money on today's booking (my flight to Denver would now cost $48)!

I sign right up and return to my booking.

Spirit website asks:
Q. Do I want to carry a bag on the plan? 
A. Well yes. 
OK Add $26.

Q. Do I want to check a bag?
A. Mai Oui.
OK Add $21.

Q. Do I want to select a seat? 
A. Great! Add up to $50.

Q. Do I want to check in at the airport? 
A. Do Bears Sh#t in the Woods?

Well that's extra too.

My $48 fare is now lots more expensive (plus my $9 flight club membership!)

I go to check out. A pop-up window says: "Wait While Something Awesome Loads!"

"Well that's kinda cute"!

The I come to realize the word "Load" was value laden.

The site crashes. All is lost. Undeterred, I try again. 

Spirit site crashes again. 

In cyberland no one hears your scream.

I try a different browser (Firefox).

The site behaves a bit differently and I now see the seat I requested before is no longer available. I fret. "did it actually book me in one of my various earlier attempts?"

I decide to call , but the Spirit website offers zero phone numbers.

I find a site called "Get a Human" (some irony there). It lists Spirit's (secret?) 800 number. 

I call. I am given prompt after prompt (I counted like 42 prompts).

I start saying "Operator". And after 27 successive "Operators", my call connects to a friendly call center gal in (I'm pretty sure) the Philippines.

I explain I've tried to buy a seat from Denver to San Diego on Spirit's site and it does not seem to be possible.

She coo's "yes our site can be like that". 

She runs me through the normal series of booking questions and quotes a price $30 more than the web price. 

I ask "why is it more?" She says "because you called me".

Of course! I should have known! If their site doesn't work, they'll charge more for my chat with a human.

I point out it is Spirit's site that is not working. I can mentally see her staring at her nail job during my protest.

I decide I'm not paying more just out of principal. I double back and ask her to check if there have been any charges on my credit card (i.e. did my other flight requests go through?).

She says "yes there is a charge for $55". I say "Wait the flight was more than that". She says "Oh it is not for a flight it is for the $9 Flight Club".  I say "Wait I thought it was $9!" She laughs gently saying "yeah, everyone thinks that."

I say "please cancel it". She says "absolutely" and goes off the line. When she returns she says "it is cancelled. Is there anything else I can do for you?", I say "no".

She says she is rolling my call to the $9 club rep. 

I think "Huh?" I thought we were done.

I decide I'd better wait and verify the charge was cancelled.

The wait is 26 more minutes. During which I get more prompts and then (finally) I reach friendly call center gal #2.

"No, the charge has not been cancelled and it is non-refundable". In fact, she informs me, it auto-renews annually and the renewal fee will be $10 more! I reaffirm that since I cannot actually book a flight on Spirit's website, I want to cancel my $9 Club (Actually $55 Club).

She gently scolds me about signing up for programs things I do not carefully read first.

While she offers her advice, I mentally roll through all those I-Tunes User Agreements I have routinely clicked "Yes" to without ever reading over the years.

I agree with her that I am a silly twit.

She accepts my apologies and cancels the charge. 

She then reminds me I will not be eligible for the discounted fare.

The fare I cannot actually book.

I acknowledge the reality I now face, without pointing out the irony of the Spirit business model.

She (I am not making this up) informs me I can get 15,000 Spirit Miles if I apply for a Spirit MasterCard. I demure.

She plunges ahead asking if "I might reconsider the offer if she throws in another $50 discount?" I reiterate that I have all the credit cards I need.

So for those keeping track.

Time elapsed = 1 hour 45 minutes

Frustration level = High

Spirit airfare purchased = 0

I go back to the web and this time I see the funny way Fly.com hints whenever a Southwest flight might exist.

I go to Southwest.com and see a non-stop flight arriving in San Diego non-stop even earlier. It costs more.

I don't care.

I book it in 3-1/2 minutes.


Roadboy's Travels © 2015

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