Why I’ll Never Fly Spirit Again

graphic by Julia Hedges

The signs were plenty.

1. I am on the bus to the airport when my phone buzzes. Your flight has been delayed by 27 minutes. “Good grief,” I think to myself. “That’s a weird amount of time for my flight to be delayed.”

2. I am waiting to go through security when my phone buzzes again. Your flight is back on time. And will be landing 6 minutes early. “Interesting.” I rush through security, now that my extra half hour has been snatched from me.

3. I get to my gate. The flight has been delayed again, this time by an hour. I know something is up.

I jump on a flight tracking website and, with great rapidity, look up the flight number, 630. At the bottom of the webpage there’s a history of flight service: Arrived on time, arrived on time, cancelled, arrived on time, arrived on time, arrived on time, cancelled, arrived on time, cancelled, cancelled.

Dread fills my heart. I look up Flight 630 on Google, and an article from the International Business Times shows up. “Why Spirit Is The Worst Airline In America, Or My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Flight.” The article describes the signs, point by point. It describes the weird delays, the unsettled crowd, the unanswered questions.

In a flurry, I rush to the gate agent, something I never do, and ask her why the flight has been delayed. The pilot hasn’t shown up, she tells me. I ask her if the flight will be cancelled. She says, with darkness in her eyes, “I can’t say.”

I try to extract more information, but to no avail. I have seen the signs. I know what they mean. The flight will be cancelled. I turn to my compatriots. “This flight will be cancelled. The gate agents are lying to us.” In dismay, they scoff. “How can this flight be cancelled? There are hundreds of us. They can’t do this!” I reply, with timidity in my voice, “They’ve done this before.” My fellow passengers don’t listen.

I sneak off to an American Airlines gate on the other side of the airport, a flight also going to New York. My new friend Marsha, the gate agent, tells me that I can buy another ticket, but it will be $200. Wracked with indecision, I pause. What if I’m wrong? What if the signs were lying to me? What if I can still get on the first flight?

I call my aunt. What should I do? My aunt says I should buy the American Airlines ticket. Full of hubris, I ignore her and return to the gate. I can always rush back to American Airlines if the Spirit flight is cancelled.

I am waiting at the gate when at once I hear a booming announcement. The flight has been cancelled. I was ready for this message. Knowing that Spirit offers essentially no refunds, I pick up my bags and sprint to the American Airlines ticketing gate. Marsha is there waiting for me. The fare has not increased and I’m able to get a ticket. My compatriots are left stranded.

I board my flight. I have succeeded, but this is a melancholy success. My fellow passengers could not read the signs. And for the strife this caused them, in their name, I will never fly Spirit again.

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