0 min left

Spirit Blames FLL Melee on “Unlawful” Labor Action by Pilots

The company says a work slowdown resulted in the near riot at a Spirit Airlines ticket counter in Fort Lauderdale after dozens of flights were cancelled due to a lack of pilots.

The problem of dissatisfied passengers is something every commercial airline has to deal with on a regular basis. Recent headlines make it clear that some carriers are more successful than others at pacifying unhappy customers when things don’t go according to schedule. Spirit Airlines, on the other hand, managed to create an angry and violent mob at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) on Monday.

The trouble reportedly started when passengers were forced to disembark from a Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)-bound flight that had been canceled. Some of the irate flyers are said to have stormed the ticket counters where other delayed and stranded passengers had already formed a long line. The resulting skirmishes between passengers, police and airline employees ended with three passengers under arrest.

Much of the incident was captured on cell phone video. Recordings of the airport disturbance quickly became a viral hit, earning hundreds of thousands of views in the hours since the ugliness happened early Monday.

There is no doubt that some of the passengers involved overreacted to the inconvenience of a canceled flight, but, in this case, it seems that the frustration had been building for days. According to Miami CBS affiliate WFOR, the airline canceled at least nine flights, leaving several hundred passengers stranded in the hours leading up to the ticket counter melee.

For its part, the airline is blaming the whole ordeal on the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA). Spirit officials say that an unauthorized work slowdown created the logistical nightmare that turned violent. According to the company, wildcat labor action left the airline without enough certified pilots to get passengers to their destinations.

“We are shocked and saddened to see the videos of what took place at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport,” Spirit spokesperson Paul Berry said in a statement to the Washington Post. “This is a result of unlawful labor activity by some Spirit pilots designed to disrupt Spirit operations for our customers, by canceling multiple flights across our network. These pilots have put their quest for a new contract ahead of getting customers to their destinations and the safety of their fellow Spirit Team Members.”

Tuesday afternoon, the airline won a federal court ruling seeking a halt to what it referred to as an “unlawful job action by Spirit pilots.”

Soon after the judge’s ruling, the ALPA released a statement calling on its members to adhere to the emergency ruling:

“Spirit pilots are committed to helping impacted passengers and the company restore normal operations. Spirit pilots were instrumental in returning operations to normal in 2015 and several times since then by going above and beyond their schedules, and waiving contractual restrictions in order to accept more flying. The court has spoken and Spirit pilots will fully comply with the order handed down, which is completely in line with our overriding goal: the resumption of normal operations. We call on the company to join forces with ALPA and the Spirit pilots to do just that.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.

Not to say that pax shouldn't book one of the worst airlines, but it's a case of getting what you pay for. If you've just come off a cheap cruise (i.e. paying for meals and water) and then get on (or hope to) a cheap airline, then all might not go as perfectly as hoped. I doubt if a lot of these people are getting compensation, though a limited amount is required, but when I read in another article, about someone sitting in Florida for 3 days to get to NY, I think.... hmmm, costs of food, lodging, time, hassle.... I think I could grab a rental car and drive in 1/2 that time. I might just write off the $69 I paid for the flight home. As we have discovered by all the recent negative airline press, the airlines have their story and the pax theirs, so no sense in trying get a straight story, just give up early and get on the road or book a more expensive ticket, if airline won't pass you along to another airline.

fedup flyer May 11, 2017

When management fails, blame labor.


yes, this worked out well didn't Spit Airlines?

FlyingNone May 10, 2017

No apologies, compensation or free tickets, Spirit ?