Spirit issues continue: More flights canceled at RSW

Published: August 5, 2021 1:07 PM EDT
Updated: August 5, 2021 4:35 PM EDT

Spirit Airlines is still having issues as cancellations continued Thursday.

The flight boards at Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) show that most of Spirit’s arriving and departing flights have been canceled. Those include flights to or from Kansas City, Detroit, Indianapolis, Atlantic City and Pittsburgh. (Check RSW flights here.)

The airline has been plagued this week by problems that include staffing shortages, severe weather and system outages.

A spokesperson told WINK News on Wednesday that cancellations would drop Thursday, but so far, only two flights in to and two flights out of RSW appeared to still be planned for the day.

Passengers say they are more than upset. In just four days, Spirit has canceled more than 383 flights across the country, nearly half of all the airline’s trips. The Miramar-based budget carrier canceled another 412 flights Thursday, which is more than 52% of its total schedule, according to FlightAware.

Tim Worthington said he was able to find a ticket with another airline after his flight was canceled, but he worries for those who can’t.

“I think it’s sad. I really am. The people with families that are flying. I mean I can afford to go to Delta and buy a ticket. A lot of these people are here on vacation with four or five kids. They’re gonna have to pay $1,000 to $1,200 to get home and they don’t have that kind of money.”

Worthington said the airline sent him a cancellation email. He asked for a refund but instead was sent a $50 voucher for a future flight. According to the Department of Transportation, travelers whose flights have been canceled are due a refund if the traveler chooses not to take another flight.

“Spirit’s a shame,” he said.

For five days, Spirit has asked for patience despite disappointing, even angering thousands of passengers like Bobby Gordon because of repeated cancellations.

Gordon said Spirit promised him on Wednesday that he and his family were clear for takeoff Thursday morning.

“We took our rental car back and got an Uber and on the way back… on the way to the airport, they sent us a text saying our flight was canceled, on the way to the airport.”

Gordon said Spirit gave him the option to fly out next Tuesday or find another airline. He chose to wait until Tuesday, but that’s an option many travelers can’t afford.

“The tickets I’m seeing now are $290 for a one-way when I have already spent probably 1,000 just to get home and I haven’t received any credits back,” said Shaylyn Goldthwaite.

She and her brother don’t know what’s next for them. Their flights were canceled and they need to get home for work.

“We work at the same job. We have a point system, so that potentially is going to cause issues at our job. Obviously with our checks, not having enough funds to even make it home.”

Goldthwaite did say Spirit gave her her money back, but she still hasn’t been able to schedule a trip home on any airline.

Joe Ficarra and his wife are stuck at RSW, but unlike everyone else, he isn’t quick to blame the airline’s employees. He figures they have one of the toughest jobs in the nation right now.

“I brought the attendants some brownies as a peace offering because I know it’s not their fault,” he said.

Most passengers see other airlines coming and going, so they’re hitting up the Spirit ticket counter, hoping the airline can find them a flight.

“They canceled our flight. We looked yesterday. It was canceled and then we had to get another flight, so we were hoping that this one wouldn’t be canceled too,” said Connie Krok.

Spirit offers just a handful of flights every day out of RSW, unlike major carriers, so it’s much harder for Spirit to help stranded passengers.

“We’ll never go with spirit again,” Krok said.

But Ficarra said to hold the blame until we know more.

“I guess they were inundated with people flying left and right and they just weren’t ready for it because of COVID. And I’m sure they’ll have it back and over soon,” he said.

The CEO of Spirit Airlines, Edward M. Christie III, refused to publicly address what’s happening. The company had yet to issue any new statements Thursday. A check of Spirit’s flights into and out of RSW for Friday had yet to show any cancellations.