LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A couple flying from Denver to Detroit ended up stranded in Las Vegas after last-minute flight changes from Spirit Airlines.
Gary Goetzinger said he and his wife had to sleep at Harry Reid International Airport after poor communication that followed their Spirit flight this week. He estimated more than 200 other passengers were also affected by the change.
Their flight to Detroit was rerouted to Las Vegas, and when they arrived, they were met with more delays that interfered with getting a direct flight to Detroit. Today, Spirit paid for their Southwest Airlines flight to Houston as they made their way home. Next up, they fly to Columbus, Ohio, where they will rent a car and drive more than three hours to Detroit.
They were splitting the cost of the rental car with another couple, Wayne and Eileen Jones, who were in the same situation. They all missed work on Tuesday as the odyssey continued.
Attempts to get an explanation from Spirit were not answered immediately.
Goetzinger said they were told that the air crew “timed out” and were unable to staff the flight. That was after everyone was boarded and put on the plane. The Spirit flight was on the way to the runway and turned around. A backup crew summoned to take the flight declined, according to Goetzinger.
Video provided by Goetzinger shows the scene at Reid International Airport at around 1 a.m. Tuesday as passengers wait to be helped. He said each passenger had to go to the ticket counter and “make their own deal.”
Today, Spirit has canceled one flight between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Las Vegas. Seven arriving flights and four flights leaving Las Vegas indicate delays. All flights from Las Vegas to Detroit indicate they are sold out.
“Originally we had a direct flight from Denver to Detroit. Spirit changed the flight to go to Vegas and then Detroit with our only option was to accept the change or get a new flight. By the time we were informed of the change it really was to late to find a direct flight,” Goetzinger told 8 News Now in a text message.
“Then today they delayed immediately and provided little to no communication until they canceled and sent everyone to stand in line for hours and fend for themselves with little help,” he said.
Goetzinger said today he saw others who were booked to Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston on Spirit flights being told their flights were canceled.
The problem comes as Spirit is in talks to merge with Frontier Airlines following Spirit’s move to reject a hostile takeover bid from JetBlue. Shareholders are scheduled to meet June 10 to consider the Frontier deal.
A recent report, April 2022 Air Travel Consumer Report, ranks Spirit as the 10th-worst airline for bumping passengers. Spirit was fined in June 2020 for violating federal policies on bumping passengers. Since then, Spirit’s record has improved. Out of 8.1 million passengers boarded, Spirit has “involuntarily” denied boarding for 94 passengers.
In this case, passengers were told just before the flight that it was being sent to Las Vegas, and they didn’t have much chance to book other flights.
Goetzinger and Eileen Wayne described several attempts by Spirit to provide vouchers for food during the unplanned trip to Las Vegas, but the vouchers were far short of actual costs for food in the airport. Not all passengers received vouchers, they said.
Other expenses, including hotels and cab trips, are creating some friction as well. Spirit provided a $150 voucher to some passengers for hotels, but some passengers took flights that wouldn’t get them home without an extra night’s stay.