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Spirit caves: Airline boss to refund dying veteran's fare

Dying Vietnam veteran Jerry Meekins is getting his money back from Spirit Airlines' tightfisted boss after all. ( More...

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Ric Wernicke 2
I don't buy the "rules is rules" argument because the so-called rules fly in the face of common sense and public policy.

It is common law that you cannot enjoy unjust enrichment in a transaction. Any seller of scheduled air transportation has a perishable product. If you purchase a ticket and fail to fly for any reason the airline might lose money on that seat. If you buy a non-refundable ticket and hold it to departure, I think the airline has the right to keep the money and the deminimus amounts for not serving you and carrying your weight. If you apply for a refund in advance of the scheduled flight I feel the airline has a duty to attempt to sell that seat. If sold, you should be entitled to a refund, if not sold you should not be refunded.

What Spirit is not telling us is that they often sell non-refundable seats to standby passengers.

There are circumstances beyond the control of the airline that might result in them being unable to operate the flight. Weather, maintenence issues, and crew scheduling could cause a delay, but no compensation is due the passengers. It should be the same for passengers who cannot fly through no fault of their own.

The no refund policy in a medical situation could push an ill passenger to take the flight anyway and possibly create a medical emergency in the air. My son was an unacompanied minor on a non-stop flight from IAD to LAX. I checked FlightAware to judge what time I should arrive to collect him. I saw the plane was landing at LAS. An ill passenger caused the diversion. Several hours later they arrived. The ill man had a non-refundable ticket and caused a plane load of people to be delayed, and the expense of a take off and landing. It was very expensive for United to enforce that policy.
brian wright 6
I was never a fan of Spirit Airlines because they nickel and dime you for everything. But if their policy is no refunds, period, no matter what and no matter who you are; and customers have the option to buy insurance in case something comes up, then I'm not so much in favor in caving to the guy, veteran or not. Maybe we wouldn't be a nation of bankrupt airlines if more CEO's played hardass like this guy. Just an opinion.
richard weiss 8
A good executive could have kept this incident under wraps and not allowed it to command the news wires for days. Sure, rules are rules, but Spirit took a beating they will take a long time recovering from over $200.00. Like the old song says "you gotta know when to hold'em and know when to fold'em.
preacher1 5
All you guys are right here. Policy is policy and should be followed. Nothing personal there. It is what it is. BUT, as Richard says, they have lost a lot more than $200 and will be a long time recovering. In this day and time of social media, bad news travels faster and reaches more people faster than ever before
Too late Spirit!
Well folks, being the President of a truck repair service, and also suffering from crohns disease, I gotta look at it from both sides here, yes I do fly frequently, so when I go to frontiers website to book my flight, I have the option to buy flight interruption insurance,... What 10 or 15 dollars?, if I get up the day of flight, and do not feel capable of making the flight, well a quick " courtesy call to the airline " sure goes a long way,(Frontier has been GREAT about rebooking a later flight, at pretty much the same rate,Thanks Frontier)...and my "flight insurance" kicks in,
But C'mon now, what Pres/CEO is going to expose his business to the kind of ridicule that this man has?
Jerry Meekins,..Thank you for your service to our country,..We all owe you a debt of gratitude for what you have done for our country,..That being said,as a person with a sometimes debilitating disease, I urge you to please have whoever makes your flight arrangements, to click the button for flight insurance, will make things much easier for you,..also, wishing you the best in your battle with the cancer.
Ben,Ben,Ben,...Mr.Baldanza,...your Board of Directors has not fired you yet?, WTF were you thinking man?,...your employees, suppliers,and everyone else that benefits from the success of Spirit Airlines, is counting on YOU,...
Dude, when this situation hit your desk,.. the first phone call from you, should have been to Air Methods/Air Life, make arrangements to have Mr.Meekins transported under medical supervision,.. (imagine the story that Fox news could have told about you and Spirit airlines),
Heavy, or Hero,..your choice man,...even if he couldn't fly on a medical bird,.. At least you offered to help,...Spirit looks good at the end of the story,... And isn't that what our responsibility as CEO's is all about,..keeping our companies "lookin good"?
Well, Mr.Baldanza, hope there was a lesson learned here,...too bad you and Spirit had to get drug through the ditch,..but all for $197.00 ?.....
Fred Moore 3
Corporate greed and compassion are often antithetical. The only reason the guy folded was money. He has already lost a hell of a lot more money than the $197.00 by being obstinate, and he will lose a hell of a lot more for a long time to come.
It should NEVER, had needed to come to this for Jerry or any other person. If someone has medical proof, they are unable to fly, it should be an automatic refund.. Insurance or not. Supposedly, airlines offer lower fares for breavement, with proof .. why not refunds with proof ? I will NEVER fly SPIRIT AIRLINES and they will NEVER look good, when they continue to "nickle and dime" their passengers.. It wont be soon enough for a larger operational force to swallow them up.
AccessAir 1
I have been a travel agent for 22 and a half years and let me tell you that airline policies and rules are there for their use only. I have had many airlines resolve situations like this without all the fuss that this CEO has brought on. There is always an exception to every rule...You just have to know what to ask for....
Any reasonable airline would work to keep the passenger happy, whether in this case, the passenger would die or be around to fly again later.
Im sorry, policy or not, or whether Spirit offers optional insurance or not, the smartest thing to do would have been to just refund the money and be done with it.
This also goes to show everyone that using a travel agent might have been the better choice as the agent can step in (like I do) be an advocate for the passenger if something like this happens. I guess this is something that people that book on the internet have to deal with.....What the big print giveth, the small print taketh away.
If the CEO's objective was to get the airline more exposure with this fiasco, it has brought the WRONG type of attention to the airline.
Spirit Airlines in my opinion has turned into a US version of Ryanair (Ireland). Maybe they should change their name to Ala Carte Airlines...
The general policy in our Travel Agency is to Avoid booking Spirit Airlines for any of our passengers...If our clients insist, we lay it all out, too and including the optional insurance....
Conor Ball 1
Spirt has a nice paint scheme but they are never going to be as cheap as Frontier or JetBlue.
JJ Johnson 1
Why do people treat our Vet heroes like crap? This nation and our businesses should bend over backwards to take care of our Veterans. If it wasn't for Vets, there would be no business or America only rice paddies and tin huts and dictators and communist oppression and religious fanatics running our lives. When will people figure that out???
preacher1 4
I tell you what, you guys and others like you need a thanks from all of us. 'Nam era vets aren't any more special than those of Desert Storm or any other operation, but in the late 60's and early 70's, there was no coming home to parades and all this welcome. We rotated individually and if you could afford it, you paid the extra fare and flew in civilian clothes because you didn't want to be spit upon and called baby killers by all those dratft card burning hippies. There is all the talk now about not prosecuting or deporting illegal aliens. It was supposed to be stiff penalties for draft dodging too but it wasn't enforced either. Whole different time and glad we have kinda progressed thru it.

So JJ and indy2001, and all the others out there, Thank YOU for your support
richard weiss 4
After arriving back in the States from RVN in September '68, I jumpedd in my car for a ride. Soon there was a police cruiser behind me, pulling me over. He told me my plates were expired. I told the officer I had just arrived home from Nam, and had forgetten to check them before driving. A few minutes later the officer came back to my car, handed me a ticket for the expired plates. He then snarkily said "welcome home" and walked away. Yeah, times have changed. Thank goodness.
preacher1 1
Thank Goodness is right!!!!

indy2001 1
Too little, too late. Hopefully, this puts an end to a really shameful episode that could have been easily avoided if Spirit had just given the guy his money. No precedent would have been set because I'm sure he wouldn't have told a soul. Between this and the recent baggage fee hike, Spirit is now the first airline that I have ever wished would go bankrupt. I know that would put a lot of people out of work, but I have to wonder what their world must be like anyway. If this is an indication of how Spirit treats its customers, had bad must their employees be treated?
Sounds like we know what the real position of spirit airline is. He just caved to pressure but I am sure it is noting he wanted to do. I will remember this when I book my up coming flight.
cheefpilot -1
Am I the only one tired of some people expecting special treatment for whatever reason? I've lost money on non refundable tickets several times but I didn't cry about it and demand my money back anyway, they tell you before you buy that it is non refundable. It's the price you pay sometimes for being cheap and not paying for a refundable fare.
richard weiss 4
cheef, you don't seem to understand that "holdem and foldem" concept of business. The CEO could have turned a negative to a positive had he acted quickly. The vet might have been wrong for demanding his money back, but the CEO choose to turn a negative into a double negative. That's the real story.
AccessAir 2
Well, that's fine, but if it was a reason that could have been negotiated for a refund for you, I will bet you'd be all over getting that refund, eh?

Some people, like you, can perhaps afford to throw away money on a nonrefundable ticket. Others cannot and they also cannot afford the ridiculous cost of a fully refundable fare either, so they are kind of in a pickle. So they accept the lesser of two evils. Life happens and if the airlines would devote a few pinheads from yield management to handling special cases such as the aforementioned, perhaps they could keep loyalty with their clients instead of alienating them....
Bob Ziehm 0
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

Spirit Airlines Denies Dying Man a Refund of His Plane Ticket-UPDATE 2

Spirit Airlines finally gave in to the public outcry yesterday and said they would refund Jerry Meekins ticket.


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