Spirit Air (as we know it) next to go?

Via Joe Sharkey points to the Miami Herald‘s report of massive downsizing at Spirit.

Spirit Airlines may lay off or displace up to 60 percent of its flight attendants and as many as 45 percent of its pilots in two months, as it struggles to cope with soaring jet-fuel prices.

The Miramar-based low-cost carrier sent letters to union leaders Saturday, notifying them that it will furlough or displace up to 448 flight attendants and 242 pilots on Aug. 1, as the airline closes its New York LaGuardia and San Juan bases and reduces its Fort Lauderdale base. For flight attendants, the airline is also shutting its Detroit base

In 2002, Spirit Air CEO Ben Baldanza was a Senior Vice President at USAirways and became famous for publicly stating that the airline should fire its ‘unprofitable’ elite customers who don’t spend enough to buy their tickets (which USAirways willingly sells). He plugged along with this viewpoint and tone deafness at Spirit, becoming famous there for instructing customer service staff to give bupkus to complaining customers.

Looks like this approach served him well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. We only flew Spirit Air once (part of a vacation package). It was a customer relations nightmare both going out and coming back.

    I could write a short story on the degree of incompetence and indifference we encountered on just one trip! I was amazed how the airline could survive if they treat all their customers that way.

  2. I am THRILLED to see Spirit get exactly what they deserve. I’m in now way happy that the employees are the ones to ultimately suffer, but that airline has been nothing but a travel and customer service nightmare since its inception.
    Brief personal note – Spirit cancelled our flight for our honeymoon 3 days before we were scheduled to leave (which happened to be our wedding day). I fortunately checked my email the day before leaving to discover the problem. After 5 hours on the phone with incompetent customer service, I got my purchase price refunded only to have to buy 2 last minute international tickets for more than double the price. It was a complete mess and it took them more than 3 months to refund the original ticket price to my credit card. My only saving grace was getting the credit card company involved. So, needless to say, I’m not mourning the loss of Spirit Air.

  3. The ad should have read something like: “We’ve lower our, um…, fares for you. Putz around with us!”

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