Monday, April 30, 2012

Where's The "Spirit" In Spirit Airlines?

The story about Jerry Meekins, 76, of Clearwater, Florida has been making waves on the internet these last few days. Meekins suffers from esophageal cancer and was unable to use his $197 ticket on Spirit Airlines because he is too sick to fly.

When he tried to get a refund from Spirit Airlines, they simply responded with a big: "No."

Spirit Airlines is a no-frills, nickel-and-dime you carrier that advertises extremely low fares. The catch is that they charge you for just about everything, from carry-ons to snacks to a $10 reservation booking fee. I think they even charge you a fee for every fee you pay.

"We have a $50 safe landing fee"

Seriously though, when contacted about Jerry Meekins' case, Spirit issued the following reply:

"Our reservations are non-refundable, which means we don't do refunds and we are not going to issue Mr. Meekins a refund. We offer our customers affordable travel insurance to cover a variety of unexpected circumstances that may arise and many of our customers choose to take advantage of this option. We receive many requests for refunds every day for similar situations. It wouldn't be fair to bend policy for one and not all. We will not make customers who follow the rules pay for those who don't. It's just not fair."
What's really not fair is that an airline can't spare to refund $197 to a man with terminal cancer.

I've worked for many customer-service oriented companies in my day. Each has their own rules about dealing with customer refunds. I understand that. Sometimes though, the rules need to be bent a little to help someone out.

I hope Spirit Airlines comes to their senses and gives Meekins a break.

Photo Credit: Alaskan Dude. Used under the Creative Commons License.

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