Consumer rights

As Spirit Airlines cancels more flights, know your rights as a passenger


Queues of passengers eager to return home continued to form at the Spirit counter at Tampa International Airport on Friday. As the airline’s cancellation debacle spanned its sixth day, the airport reported a total of 148 cancellations from Spirit as of 3 p.m.

Meghan Sullivan, who has been stuck in Tampa for several days, finally gave up on Friday and bought a Southwest ticket out of pocket.

“To book my flight, I spent $ 230,” she said.

Sullivan says she received a credit on her flight from Spirit instead of a refund.

“Just giving myself credit for the future is kind of a mess for me because I don’t want to fly with them anymore,” Sullivan explained.

Lawyer Dale Appell says it’s up to passengers to know what their rights are under their airline bookings for refunds and credits.

“The airline doesn’t have to tell you, so it’s important to know,” he explained. “If a flight is canceled, whether for mechanical or weather reasons, they are entitled to a refund.”

PREVIOUS: Spirit Airlines cancels hundreds of flights, leaving travelers stranded in Tampa

The US Department of Transportation says you are eligible for reimbursement, but for other expenses it depends on the airline.

“This is all covered by your individual contract with the airline,” Appell added. “Every airline is different.”

FOX 13 read Spirit Airline’s “contract of carriage” for details. According to the contract, with a few exceptions, the airline will not reimburse customers for flights they book on other carriers.

So if you change reservations on Delta, for example, Spirit probably doesn’t take that tab. They will also not assume the expenses due to a cancellation.

But it is said that if their action is canceled, if they can book you a new reservation the next day, they can offer a hotel night for non-local guests.

Still, says Appell, asking for a refund is worth a try.

“Since a lot of the decision is made by someone at the door, the old adage of ‘you get more flies with honey than vinegar’ applies here,” he said. “Definitely be patient with them, they’re under a lot of stress and they have a lot of discretion over things like vouchers and hotels. “

PREVIOUS: Spirit Airlines cancels flights across the US and Tampa on Thursday for the fifth day in a row

The legislation was introduced during the 115th and 116th Congress of the United States in recent years to create a “Passenger Bill of Rights.” It was presented by Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. Under his bill, airlines would be required to reimburse you and book you another flight, even if it was another airline.

However, the bill was never presented to the Senate.

In a statement to FOX 13 News today, Senator Blumenthal said: “The Spirit fiasco illustrates the urgent need for significantly stronger consumer rights for air passengers. . These and other essential protections in my Passenger Bill of Rights are long overdue to protect consumers and restore sanity in the sky. “

The senator plans to reintroduce legislation this Congress.


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