Spirit Airlines

Dealing With Extremely Delayed Flights on Spirit

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Spirit Auto Pilot

Spirit Auto Pilot Won’t Help in This Case!

I found out a couple of things from my extremely delayed flight on Spirit Air today.

By the time all was said and done, my flight was delayed by 5 hours. I got updates all day so I wasn’t hanging out at the airport unnecessarily. However, Spirit’s system assumes you missed the flight if you show up to the airport after the original flight time. When that happens you cannot print a ticket from the kiosk. It prints out a fake pass saying you have to take it to a ticket agent. Luckily, when this happens, the ticket agents know it’s not your fault and you don’t get charged for them to print out a boarding pass for you (whew)!

If you have an extremely delayed flight, you can change to another flight free of charge (thanks to al613 for letting me know).

I need to find out how long a delay has to be to be considered “an extremely delayed flight”.

If every other flight is full, you can fly stand-by and hope a seat opens up because someone else missed their flight.

It would have been nice to change to a flight the next day but I still would have had to pay for a hotel room (because all the other flights today were already full).

Spirit gave people the option to change to a different flight if you wanted to (at no additional charge), and you could have tried to get on one of the earlier flights via stand-by (again, at no charge). I chose not to because we still had events going on and I made the conscious decision I’d rather just stick with my original flight even though it was delayed, rather than spend that time hanging out at the airport trying to get another flight.

I’m not sure I understood everyone’s EXTREME anger at Spirit on this flight. I heard lots of “this is my last time on Spirit” and people really angry at them for something I assumed was a maintenance issue earlier in the day that just compounded on itself. I get the Spirit hate for the nickel and diming, the $100 bag fees, etc. etc. But I don’t get the hatred for a normal problems that happen to everyone eventually and aren’t unique to Spirit.

For more on Spirit Airlines, check out Tiff’s comprehensive guide!

Everything You Need to Know About Spirit Airlines



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Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.


  1. Travel Dude

    September 22, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    There is a solution… fly a real airline! The more people fly crap companies like this the longer they hang around. No sympathy from me.

    • Tiff

      September 22, 2014 at 7:40 pm

      “Real airlines” have the same problems. Maintenance issues are maintenance issues. We had a flight canceled on US Airways out of Kona, there was no way to get out that night because of crew rest and no spare planes (because it was Kona and not a hub). Everyone was then scrambling to call and get rebooked. We were one of the lucky ones who got a flight only 24 hours after our original one, some people we talked to couldn’t get a flight home for another 2-3 days.

  2. Dan

    September 22, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Consumers are emotional and far far from rationale. I have had 5+ hour delays on US Air, Southwest, Airtrain, Spirit, Jetblue, etc…. Every time there are angry people cursing the airlines/saying they will sue the airlines/they are never going to fly the airline again. But of course people end up flying airline X again. Cause the next time they need to get somehwere and its between a $300 direct flight on airline X and a $600 flight with a stopover on airline Y, they pick the direct flight.

    Also, I think the people who tell people to stop flying Spirit (say Travel Dude) need to recognize reality. Maybe they fly out of an airport where you have lots of choices. But in a lot of places in the country Spirit may be the only non-stop (say AC airport) and your option is non-stop to destination or paying 4 times more to connect through O’Hare on United.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      September 22, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      When the truck drove into our plane, people were screaming they wouldn’t fly US Airways again. ….even though it was an airport (not US Airways) truck that drove into the plane.

    • Tiff

      September 22, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      That’s true about people being emotional. And I’m sure tired as well which doesn’t help. I know I kept checking the updates and the uncertainty of when we were leaving made me feel on-edge, but again I thought Spirit’s personnel were very professional and helpful when I asked what my other options were.

      Even though I write primarily about flying Spirit, in the past 12 months I’ve also flown on American, US Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Air France, EasyJet, and Mokulele Airlines. I agree with you, I prefer the non-stop routes for sometimes half the price on Spirit instead of paying more and then having an unnecessary connection as well on the more major airlines.

  3. Kailash Nathan

    September 22, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Though the MX problems are not unique to Spirit, the handling of them is a little shoddy. On a legacy carrier (not including SouthWest) you can talk to the gate/ticket agents and get re-routed to your destination through other hubs. Also, in the event of an extreme delay usually there will be another plane available for an equipment swap. Spirit doesn’t have these extra planes available.

    These long delays are sometimes avoidable, but with Spirit’s barebones operation, I can see why people won’t ever fly them again, and some never will!

  4. Danny

    September 22, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    I had a long delay on my last Spirit flights. Today they lost my luggage. It just seems Spirit has more problems than other airlines (at least for me that’s the case). I’m sticking with Southwest. They have great customer service.

    • Tiff

      September 22, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      Obviously people’s personal experience is a big part of it. In my case I’ve had a flight completely canceled on Southwest as I was arriving to the airport and I’ve had horrible customer service from them as well.

  5. opur rahman

    November 12, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    worst fucking plane in the world. third world country have better service then spirit. i just cant believe how they are in business.

  6. Barney Linn

    June 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    I live 10 minutes from Atlantic City Airport and frequently fly to Boston or Florida. Spirit is the worst business of any kind I can remember using, and they have been for years. I often drive the hour each way to Phila. just to use Jet Blue so that I can get to my destination reliably on the same day I intend. I’m sitting in Biston right now in a 4 hour delay that was announced last night!! on today’s flight to AC. They can do better. They stink.

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