Counting the Cost of Discount Travel, My Spirit Airlines Ordeal

by admin on June 7, 2016

in Tyler Businesses

I had a former student a few years back, who expressed the desire to do me a favor by rendering a service at a fraction of what he would have charged other customers. It was a nice gesture but unfortunately, he was unable to complete the job for which he was hired because the money and time ran out and I was compelled to find others who could complete the work. Ultimately it was an excellent reminder for both of us that low prices cease being helpful when one side fails to deliver on its promise. Well I was reminded of that lesson when my wife and I purchased very… inexpensive tickets to Portland aboard Spirit Airlines. The expense ultimately came at a cost to our time and patience. Here is a brief run-down of our adventure:

We arrive at DFW airport at approximately 1:30 pm anticipating a 3:30 pm departure. I say anticipating because that was what the tickets we had purchased explicitly spelled out. We have a very easy check in through TSA and proceeded to terminal E gate 18. We have a nice lunch and return to our gate to await the boarding call that doesn’t come. Instead we hear an announcement that our gate has been changed to gate 32. Ok fine, we pack up our belongings and head to gate 32. At the same time, the Spirit flight to Philadelphia is sent to gate 18 from 32. After waiting at 32 a while we are sent again to gate 18. A few minutes later, the Philly flight is returned to gate 32. Finally, in one last annoying move we are again sent to 32 and the Philly flight to 18.

It is now around 3:30, and we are nowhere near boarding an airplane. About an hour or hour and a half later, the Philly flight boards. We go nowhere. A Chicago flight arrives. And begins boarding we go nowhere. Philly finally goes wheels up, but in a nonsensical twist, they do so in our bird! Turns out the reason for the constant gate changing is that there was a problem with the avionics equipment on the Philly flight so they gave them our plane! And rather than merely setting all the flights back a half hour or so, the Airline allowed all other flights to proceed as scheduled while we sit in travel purgatory being purified for the sins of others. Chicago boards and departs. Detroit boards and departs. Minneapolis boards and departs. Vegas boards and departs, but Portland sits with no plane.

The board keeps changing. Our flight randomly appears and disappears. We’re scheduled to depart by 5:00. But 5:00 comes and goes. Then 6:00, nothing. We begin to discover that they have absolutely no idea when or if our flight will actually take off. They are merely trying to hold off the growing mob around the Spirit desk. The terminal parking lot is empty where a plane is supposed to sit. The supervisor has been summoned all afternoon and after hours of hiding finally emerges to do absolutely nothing.

Finally, around 7:00 pm there are rumors that the Philly plane has been repaired. I don’t believe it. We go for dinner, which by the way we were supposed to have in Portland. We return to find the rumors are true and we begin boarding. I finish my meal in a tiny seat but at least I’m aboard.

Now there is a small but significant subplot to this story. That morning I awoke with a tickle in my throat which has turned into a sore throat. I’m not terribly sick, not carrying the flu, not burning with fever, I’m simply in the very early stages of a minor summer cold. Now readers who have flown Spirit Airlines can attest to the fact that nothing is complimentary on board a Spirt flight, including water. And midway through the flight that left more than four hours late, I need some water.

My wife is first to approach the flight attendant to ask for some water. She’s told it would cost three dollars and she can’t give me any. I decide to try walking to the front of the plane and try to convince another audience to grant my simple request. When I try to explain that I’m sick the head attendant reacts with incredulity, as though I’ve boarded the aircraft with a dangerous pathogen! She rudely demands that I return to my seat where water would be brought to me. So after more than five hours in the airport, being sent from gate to gate, having our plane given to others, and finally being cramped into the most uncomfortable plane I’ve ridden since the time I flew in an old discarded Russian plane to war torn eastern Europe in the nineties, (true story by the way), I’m finally comped a bottle of water on the Spirit Flight to Portland.

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