Tuesday, May 8, 2012

That's the Spirit

I never have flown on Spirit Airlines and probably won't anytime soon, but I commend the airline for starting to understand the power of public relations.

spirit airlines complaints
In a recent incident, a terminally ill man named Jerry Meekins had purchased a Florida-to-Atlantic City ticket on Spirit Airlines to visit his daughter. Meekins knew that he had esophageal cancer when he bought the ticket, but subsequently found out that he was terminally ill. His doctor told him not to fly, so he requested a refund from Spirit Airlines.

Spirit Airlines told Meekins that "rules are rules," and wouldn't get a refund since he didn't buy flight insurance. Probably not the best approach, considering Meekins' situation -- and the fact that Meekins served in Vietnam as a member of the Marine Corps.

To make the situation worse, Ben Baldanza, the CEO of Spirit, told FoxNews.com, "We feel very badly for Mr. Meekins, however, this is a country and society where we kind of play by the rules. And he wanted to really not do that and that's really not fair to the 10 million other Spirit customers and that's why we made that decision."

Given the onslaught of negative publicity that Spirit Airlines then received (including a Boycott Spirit Airlines Facebook page that has more than 41,000 likes), the airline subsequently decided to refund Meekins' $197 airfare and donate $5,000 to Wounded Warriors.

I'm not sure that this about-face will turn around the negative sentiment toward Spirit Airlines, but at least the airline now is on the correct public relations flight path.
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