Not sick of massive airline flubs yet? Spirit Airlines is serving a new one. Amid ongoing tensions with pilots, the airline canceled a number of its flights Monday, resulting in thousands of stranded passengers, a full-blown brawl and several people being taken into custody at Florida's Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Spirit quickly pointed the finger at its pilots for the cancellations and the ensuing chaos. In a lawsuit filed Monday, the airline sued the Airline Pilots Association, the union that represents the pilot, accusing them of an unlawful slowdown caused by intentional pilot unavailability.
"We are shocked and saddened to see the videos of what took place at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport this evening," Spirit Airlines spokesman Paul Berry told International Business Times in an emailed statement. "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."
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Around 300 Spirit flights were canceled over the past week, according to CNN. Eighty-one flights were canceled on Sunday alone, which accounted for 17 percent of the airline's scheduled flights that day. An estimated 20,000 customers were affected by the weeklong cancellations, Spirit said in the lawsuit.
In addition to flight delays and inconveniences, mass chaos ensued at the Florida airport Monday.
"All of a sudden, one particular flight got canceled, and a mob ensued up here at the front counter, in front of everyone else who had been waiting in line," a passenger told local news station WSVN.
Spirit is known for its bare-bones, no frills and dirt cheap flights. Thousands of reviews have garnered Spirit a 3/10 rating on airlinequality.com, a 2.5/5 rating on Trip Advisor and a 1.5 rating on Yelp. No stranger to dissatisfied customers, the airline was quickly eviscerated by users on social media.
Some poked fun at the lack of pampering Spirit is notorious for.
"Spirit Airlines fills an important niche for those that don't require the pampering, or speed, of Greyhound," one user wrote.
"Spirit Airlines makes you bring a lawn chair from home to sit in on the plane," said another.
Others compared the airline to a recent flub by United Airlines, which had security officers forcibly dragged a passenger off a plane in April to make room on an "overbooked" flight.