The Frustration and Folly of Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines.  Yeah, I know.  Lots of complaints against them.  They are an ultra-low cost airline, famous for nickel and diming customers from charging for water in-flight to charging customers to speak to someone on the phone.  If you know what you are getting and are prepared to avoid the fees, Spirit Airlines is actually a pretty good way to go.  I have used them many times to go to Las Vegas — one time I even flew round trip for under $75!

On my latest trip to Las Vegas, I was voluntarily bumped and I accepted a future round-trip voucher so somebody else could take my seat.  I got on the next Spirit flight back to Portland the very next day, and it was a minor inconvenience because I had in my possession a future flight voucher that was valid for international destinations!  There was just one big bit of fine print:  although my voucher was valid for one year, I had to make the reservation within sixty days.  Well, today marks day #59.  Better start booking a flight for the summer!  Or not….

I spent almost two hours speaking to five different Spirit Airlines representatives.  Here are the flights that I asked them to book for me using my round-trip voucher:

  • Strike:  Portland to Cancun, December.  No flights loaded that far into the future.
  • Strike:  Las Vegas to Lima, Peru.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike:  Las Vegas to Guatemala City, Guatemala.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike:  Las Vegas to Bogota, Columbia.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike:  Las Vegas to San Salvador, El Salvador.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike:  Las Vegas to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike:  Las Vegas to Managua, Nicaragua.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike:  Las Vegas to Medellin, Columbia.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike:  Las Vegas to Cartegena, Columbia.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike:  Los Angeles to Lima, Peru.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike: Los Angeles to Guatemala City, Guatemala.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike: Los Angeles to Bogota, Columbia.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike: Los Angeles to San Salvador, El Salvador.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike: Los Angeles to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike: Los Angeles to Managua, Nicaragua.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike: Los Angeles to Medellin, Columbia.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike: Los Angeles to Cartegena, Columbia.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike:  Fort Lauderdale, FL to Lima, Peru.  No flights available in June, July or August.
  • Strike:  Fort Lauderdale, FL to Guatemala City, Guatemala.  No flights available in June, July or August.

No flights available, huh?

Well, it turns out that all the flights above ARE available, and they HAVE seats to purchase.  But ah, there just happens to be NO seats available for non-revenue passengers.  That’s me, the guy with the free ticket.  One of the agents explained that on each flight, there are only a handful of seats available and earmarked for non-revenue passengers.  And apparently, all the flights above are completely exhausted of any non-revenue seats.  So all of a sudden, these great plans I had of taking a week long trip in June to Central America are pretty much squashed.

Okay, so no flights for me to Central America.  I can cope.  I had one last back up — why not just a simple flight from Portland to Baltimore, MD?  I can rent a car, go to Washington DC and visit the Smithsonian Museums, perhaps check out some amusement parks and ride some extreme roller coasters.  Certainly there will be some seat availability for that flight, right?  Guess again.  Guess again.

And there is the frustration and folly of Spirit Airlines.  Sure, I have this free ticket voucher, but it is pretty much useless because there are NO seats available for this non-revenue passenger.  So I give up for tonight.  Tomorrow is my last day to salvage any value I have left from this “free” ticket.  But something tells me that I will still come up empty handed in my quest to redeem this, following their rules.  Sheesh.  What a waste of my time.

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