I have a love-hate-anger-acquiescence-despair-anger-love relationship with Spirit Airlines but I still fly them pretty regularly despite the emotional rollercoaster they cause me. I fly from Minneapolis to Chicago more than a few times a year and they are by far the cheapest and most convenient–if you only bring a glorified purse. I’ve gotten good at the minimalist packing for a weekend and saved a bunch of money in the meantime. They generally seem to treat their employees well and every flight attendant I’ve met who works for them has been pretty damn pleasant/happy with their job. So I definitely love them in that respect.
Then there was the time my BFF and I took Spirit out to D.C. for the Women’s March. The way there was hilarious and fun because there were so many women flying out to D.C. From Chicago that a plane selfie was taken and people were exchanging phone numbers and emails with complete strangers to get a copy. I, of course, was sitting next to the guy reading Sean Hannity who was not amused with the selfie, the situation, or my presence in general. On the way back Kris took a later flight, which got cancelled. The next flight was two days later. They offered to switch airlines but all of them were booked solid for two days or a hell of a lot of money. They couldn’t or wouldn’t do shit beyond a hotel if you want to book a flight (you pay for yourself) another day OR getting you in another flight two days from now but no hotel. I’m not asking for Airlines to subsidize vacations but if you fuck up–own up to it and do everything in your power to fix it.
So Kris met some other marchers in line bitching about the situation and because biyatches get shit done one took the lead on renting a car where they all took shifts driving and paid for everything equally and got back to Chicago in 12-15 hours (it seemed–I wasn’t there just heard the story). It was an extra inconvenience and hundred plus dollars but easier and cheaper than waiting two days. Plus the experience was totally worth it (IMHO).
That’s how they suck you in. Super cheap flights without the bells and whistles–it’s actually cheaper to fly to chicago for me than drive. I can totally fly 1 hour in horribly inconvenient bodily configurations but if it gets going on 2 or 3 I get cranky.
The thing that pisses me off about them, is that they expect you to do everything online (awesome–you’d think) but they have a clunky awful website that’s more interested in selling you shit than it is in being able to do useful shit you need. Seriously, for example, when I purchased my tickets for this trip, I was worried about Kris’s back. She had surgery and the doc was recommending another one. She’s always in pain and we are going hiking in Peru so I’d hate to have the trip over before it even began with her throwing her back out with a carry-on. So I decided I would check my bag and carry hers. I guess we should’ve talked first. The problem is that after Kris and I spent some time strategizing we realized my plan was flawed and I should also just carry on bags and that it’d make life easier for both sides f us. Unfortunately, Spirit won’t let you change your bag configurations once you’ve purchased them. You can add more bags but you can’t switch from one to the other. So I called.
Never call Spirit Airlines if you don’t have to–it is a sisyphean effort in futility. I may seem like I am exaggerating, but I am not. The Spirit customer service hotline is a motherfucking hot mess. Like a dumpster fire hot mess. I was on the phone for two hours, transferred four times and hung up on twice. All I wanted to do was to switch from checked to carry-on which I already paid for to a carry on, which was a smudge more expensive and pay the difference. You would’ve thought I wanted to solve the issue of crumbling democracy in America, with a complete and multi-layered approach focusing on economic and social trends.
At first it was all happy voices and “how can I help you?” Until I asked a question that couldn’t be solved by pleasantries. Then I was fucked. They must be trained in both excessive de-escalation and diversion. Man oh man that conversation was a mine field of shittiness. I am generally a polite person. I have worked in telemarketing, had my share of retail jobs, and generally try to understand that the other person is just trying to do their job within the realm of what’s allowable. I also know that it’s easier to get what you want when you’re not an asshole. After two hours instead of blowing up at the person I just hung up midway through the third guy telling me that it will be $50 per leg of the flight(s) to change my bags via phone and that it’s only $25 online–after I had told him that it is not an option online. He just kept saying I should just pay for another bag instead of wasting his time trying to get my money back.
So I decided to go to the airport early and see if the gate agent could help me. Long story short it was the same run-around except in person with a Minnesotan. It might actually have been worse. Passive aggression runs deep in the core of the Minnesotan. Beyond the usual statements and solicitations designed to illicit guilt or a different outcome Minnesotans are a people that never tell you what they *really* think. Careful years of deflection and a polite exterior are built up from birth to protect them from anyone and everything. It’s why I like them so much. They intrinsically have what I worked years to build and still can’t totally master. It’s a sight to behold a Minnesotan in their true form passively and politely telling you to go fuck yourself with nothing more than a smile and a “there’s nothing more I can do for you, have a nice day.” It’s beautiful. If I wasn’t so angry I would’ve appreciated it a bit more. Anyhow, at the airport they wanted to charge me another $100 per leg of the trip. So I checked my bag for the flight to Chicago and decided to deal with it there.
In Chicago is where the Minnesotan truly shined. After waiting for 45 minutes and two planes unloading baggage with my rage barely contained I finally went to the Spirit offices and saw my bag at the desk. I asked how it got there and the woman replied “It was in the oversized bin.” “Oh really, does it fucking look oversized to you?” I said not being able to control myself. I asked for it and she said I need to verify it’s yours. I showed her the matching small bag and my ticket and said something rude, grabbed my bag, and walked out mumbling loud enough for people wishing 25-50 feet to hear “I fucking hate Spirit.” I feel bad for the woman in Chicago. Sure I swear a lot, and sometimes people take offense but I usually never direct it at strangers–just people I love. I’m also almost never rude to strangers–just people I love. But I was a horrible person to that woman who didn’t deserve it and probably gets worse from many more just because her employer sucks.
Fast forward to taking a sleep aid and purchasing carry-ons online the night before we leave and just sucking up the extra cost. But of course I fuck up and print out two of the same boarding passes and miss one completely. Our flights were O’Hare to Ft Lauderdale and Ft Lauderdale to Lima, Peru. I missed the second one. So we get to Ft Lauderdale and I try to find a gate agent to assist, assuming I’m going to have to pay another fee but willing to do that, so I don’t have to leave and go through security. Well 3 gate agents told me to go to customer service and wait. Two said they would call someone. We waited for over an hour and and a half. No one showed. I started getting nervous so left my bags with Kris, and exited to find a ticket agent.
After waiting in line I must’ve looked on the verge of a nervous breakdown because the woman at the counter just looked at me and said “what do you need?” I asked her about both the boarding passes and the carry on issue and she took care of both in under 5 minutes. I almost cried. I was refunded $130 and got everything together for the return. This woman is my hero.
See what I mean? Love-hate-anger-acquiescence-despair-anger-love.
And yes, I will still continue to fly back and forth from Minneapolis to Chicago with them but *probably* not anywhere else.