Spirit Airlines – An Example of BAD customer service


I am a strong proponent of excellent customer service as both a path to drive revenues and enhance brand image. I have written about this topic before in my blogs (key the topic in the search area); “what is your customer retention rate”, “A scientific approach to customer satisfaction”, “and “Who is responsible for customer satisfaction?”.

Therefore, when I see terrible customer service I feel I must comment on it, so that we all understand what good customer service looks like.

This March, my wife and I flew to Florida and back on Spirit Airlines. On our return trip my wife and I along with most of the other passengers, witnessed one of the worst customer service events.

To frame this incident, you should know that I have traveled extensively worldwide.  I have witnessed some very rude, obnoxious, and downright hostile passengers.  Shortly after 911, I even assisted a steward with a potential ugly situation.

Our flight home was delayed for over two hours plus because of some “paper work”.  Anyways Spirit Airlines boarded us hoping we would be leaving soon.  Well if you are a traveler, you know what happened; another delay.

Passengers were getting a little concerned and restless.  The passenger directly behind me said “excuse me steward” and, “did you know about the delay before or after you boarded us?” His response was “before”. The passenger said “Then why board us?” Response was “Oh do you want to tell me how to do my job” (loud enough that others around took notice). Passenger “Gee, just asking”, response “GET OFF MY PLANE NOW”.  Long story short, two passengers left the plane very peacefully.  THEN the same steward said to another passenger   “you want to start something also?”  No response.  Most of us were so concerned about this particular steward that no one dared to say anything!

Later during the flight, I said to my wife, I should write to Spirit about this unusual situation; thus when the steward walked by we got his name (looked at his badge), to which he replied “do you want my ID and say something also?”

 So I did write to customer service for two reasons; one, Spirit Airlines should know about this and second, hoping this individual would be consulted on good customer service.

More than a month later, no response from Spirit Airlines about this situation.

Four reasons why this is one of the worst customer service examples:

  1. Spirit was 1000% in the wrong and given today’s competitive environment, one aspect to shine above your competitors is customer satisfaction, score,  negative 100
  2. Spirit did nothing to calm, acknowledge their mistake to all of the passengers until most started chanting “free water” (water cost $3-4).
  3. None of the other stewards interceded to correct a terrible situation.
  4. Spirit still has not responded to my inputs –guess they do not care what their passengers think or more importantly how we would rate their airlines.

As I pointed out in my earlier posts, customer service (and thus customer satisfaction) is and can be an enterprise’ unique and differentiating value that will keep existing customers and bring new customers to them. An article by infographic* stated; “Some 65% of respondents say they would stop buying from a brand if treated poorly by it—even if they love its products—and 43% say they would knowingly buy an inferior product from a brand they love.”

Do you poll your customers and if so do you take their feedback seriously?  If you don’t, update your resume.  And just for interest, let me know about your experiences on Spirit Airlines

RHL 4/5/17

*infographic  3/30/2017

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