||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: much of the text from many years ago reads as if it is now, general cleanup and tense changes needed. (May 2012)|
|Founded||1980 (as Charter One)|
|Company slogan||The Ultra low cost airline of the Americas|
|Parent company||Indigo Partners|
|Headquarters||Miramar, Florida, USA|
Spirit Airlines, Inc. (NASDAQ: SAVE) is an American low-cost carrier headquartered in Miramar, Florida. Spirit operates scheduled flights throughout the U.S. as well as the Caribbean, Mexico, and Latin America. Major focus cities include; Ft. Lauderdale, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Las Vegas, Chicago-O'Hare and Atlantic City.
Early years (1964-2006)
The company initially started as Clipper Trucking Company in 1964. The airline service was founded in 1980 in Macomb County, Michigan, as Charter One, a Detroit-based charter tour operator providing travel packages to entertainment destinations such as Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and the Bahamas. In 1990, Charter One began scheduled service from Boston and Providence, R.I., to Atlantic City. On May 29, 1992, Charter One brought jet equipment into the fleet, changed its name to Spirit Airlines and inaugurated service from Detroit to Atlantic City.
In April 1993, Spirit Airlines began scheduled service to destinations in Florida. During the next five years, Spirit expanded rapidly, increasing service from Detroit and adding service in new markets such as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Los Angeles, and New York.
Spirit initially had its headquarters in Eastpointe, Michigan (formerly East Detroit) in Greater Detroit. It relocated its headquarters in November 1999, moving to Miramar, Florida in the Miami Metropolitan Area. Prior to the decision to move the headquarters to Miramar, Spirit considered Atlantic City, New Jersey and Detroit, Michigan.
In November 2001, Spirit inaugurated service to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and implemented a fully integrated Spanish-language customer service plan including a website and dedicated reservation line.
In the Fall of 2003, Spirit resumed flights to Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport, which had been suspended after the September 11 attacks.
In 2006, Spirit announced it would exercise options and order 30 Airbus A320-200 aircraft for further expansion.The aircraft started delivery in March 2010.
Transition to ultra low cost carrier (2007-2010)
On March 6, 2007, Spirit announced their transition to become an ultra low-cost carrier. Their initial plan was to begin charging US$10 per checked bag for the first two bags, $5 if bags are reserved before 24 hours prior to the flight, in addition to charging $1 for drinks which were previously complimentary.
On September 26, 2007, Spirit announced a new branding image for the airline that updates the look of its aircraft.
On June 3, 2008, Spirit Airlines made a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining notice) application to potentially relocate or lay off hundreds of pilots and flight attendants, and the closure of its San Juan crew base and LaGuardia crew base.
In September 2008, Spirit began advertising on the side of aircraft, overhead bins, tray tables, seatback inserts and bulkheads.
In May 2009, Spirit pilots overwhelmingly voted in favor of strike action (98% of votes) due to stalled contract negotiations with management. Areas of dispute included compensation, work rules and benefits. At that time, Spirit pilots were among the lowest paid Airbus pilots in the United States.
On Thursday September 17, 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration fined Spirit Airlines $375,000 for violating the agency's consumer protection regulations, including not compensating bumped passengers, violating various rules regarding delayed baggage compensation, and not including fees in advertised fares.
On April 6, 2010, USA Today reported that Spirit will start to charge for carry-on bags on flights starting August 1, 2010, purchased after April 6, 2010. Bags that fit under the seat and measure 16"x14"12" are still free but passengers wishing to bring larger bags to put in the overhead bin are charged.
On June 20, 2010, Spirit Plus was rebranded as "Big Front Seat" and no longer provided business class service. For an additional fee, a person can choose "Big Front Seat", or upgrade at the airport.
Pilot strike (2010)
On June 12, 2010, Spirit grounded its flights when its unionized pilots walked out on strike, stranding thousands of passengers. The ultimately successful pilot strike came after more than four years of inconclusive negotiations between the airline and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents Spirit's pilots. On June 15, negotiations between the airline and ALPA resumed, and a tentative agreement was reached late in the evening on June 16. The tentative agreement, which Spirit pilots later ratified by a 74% margin, brought the Spirit pilots' compensation and benefits in line with comparable U.S. Airbus operators. Spirit announced that flights would resume on June 18. Of particular note, is that this was the first legal industrial action (strike) by U.S. ALPA represented pilots since 2005 (Polar Air Cargo), and the first passenger airline strike by U.S. ALPA represented pilots since 2001 (Comair).
On June 21, 2011, Spirit announced that they would start to charge a $5 fee to passengers who have their boarding passes printed by the check-in agent.
In October 2011, Spirit reduced the weight limit for checked luggage from 50 pounds per bag to 40 pounds per bag, charging $25 for the first 9 extra pounds, and up to $100 for bags approaching 59 pounds over the 40 pound limit.
In April 2012, citing the airline's strict refund policy, Spirit Airlines representative Misty Pinson announced that the airline would not issue a refund to dying veteran Jerry Meekins who chose to purchase a non-refundable ticket though other options were available. The 76-year-old Vietnam veteran and former Marine tried to get his $197 back after learning his esophageal cancer is terminal and being told by his doctor not to fly from Florida to Atlantic City. The decision caused outrage among veterans' groups and the general public, some of whom threatened to boycott Spirit unless a refund and apology were issued. On May 4, Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza apologized for how the situation was handled and announced that he would personally refund Meekins' ticket and that the airline would make a $5000 donation to the Wounded Warrior Project in Meekins' name.
On November 16, 2011, Spirit Airlines announced that it would establish a crew and maintenance base at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada in February 2012. The airline announced that it will open a flight attendant and pilot crew base on December 1, 2012.
Spirit currently flies to 52 destinations throughout Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and the United States. It maintains a base in Fort Lauderdale with focus cities in Atlantic City, Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit and Las Vegas.
The Spirit Airlines all-Airbus fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of June 2013):
|Airbus A320-200||19||51||4||174||178||Seats do not recline|
|Airbus A321-200||2||0||4||214||218||Expected to leave the fleet in 2017 at the end of the lease.|
On November 15, 2011, Spirit entered a non-binding agreement for an order of 75 Airbus A320s, including 45 A320neo or new engine option aircraft, to be delivered between 2016 and 2021. This is in addition to an existing order of 33 A320 aircraft scheduled for delivery from November 2011 through the end of 2015.
The following planes no longer operate in the Spirit Airlines fleet:
|McDonnell Douglas MD-81||1||2006||Airbus A320 Family|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-82||8||2006||Airbus A320 Family|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-83||5||2006||Airbus A320 Family|
Controversial advertising campaigns
Over the years, Spirit has worked to get publicity, good and bad, by advertising using current controversial events.
In 2006, the airline released a “Hunt for Hoffa” advertising campaign with the tagline “Help us find Hoffa with our Hunt for Hoffa game and enjoy fares from just $39 each way.” The point of the game was to dig for Jimmy Hoffa’s body by clicking grids on the airline’s website, and “winners” were taken to another webpage, saying "You found Hoffa!" thanking them for assisting the National Spirit Sale Center find the union leader’s body. Within hours after the promotion debuted, the airline received many complaints, and the promotion was taken down immediately and changed to another promotion, simply titled “Happy Sale.” This promotion was later listed as #8 on CNN Money’s 101 Dumbest Moments in Business.
In December 2007, the airline released a sale with the acronym MILF, standing for “Many Islands, Low Fares.” Online and TV media picked up on this and noted that MILF was popularized in the movie American Pie. This controversy was covered on CBS and ABC News, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and The O'Reilly Factor.
In April 2008, the airline sent an email to its marketing subscription list announcing “We’re having a threesome. Join us in the fun.” Offering "three sales in one," the email repeatedly proposes the "threesome."
On December 2, 2009, shortly after a well publicized car accident involving golfer Tiger Woods, Spirit launched lowered fares in a promotion called the "Eye of the Tiger Sale". Imagery for the campaign featured an SUV crashing into a fire hydrant, with a tiger leaning out the driver's side window.
On February 2, 2010, the airline offered the "Many Unbelievably Fantastic Fares (MUFF) to Diving Destinations" promotion. Many of their prominent Caribbean or Floridian destinations were featured.
On August 12, the airline offered the "Don't Be Blue, Slide Down To Low Fares with Double Fisted Savings". The ad was in reference to a jetBlue flight where a flight attendant deployed an emergency slide and left the aircraft with two bottles of beer. Imagery for the ad featured an opened aircraft door and a flight attendant going down an emergency slide with two beer bottles.
On January 12, the airline offered a promotion entitled "Free at Last! Free at Last! Air travel is Free at Last!", which applied for travel the following weekend, celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Spirit made a "Go south" Valentine's Day themed ad showing a woman in a bikini and placed a candy heart with the initial "VD" on her crotch, poking fun at venereal disease.
Shortly afterwards, Spirit made another Valentine's themed ad comparing a diamond ring to vacation packages (while saying "Why not slip her a big package") then showing a gift box directly in front of a man's crotch.
Spirit capitalized on the Summit of the Americas prostitution scandal by featuring an advert with women in pink bikinis, around an agent implying secrecy, and the slogan "More Bang for your Buck" for flights to Cartagena, Colombia – the location of the scandal – as well as other destinations. Spirit later removed the advertisement after complaints from Colombian officials.
Operational and customer service issues
In 2000, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed to fine Spirit Airlines $67,000 for allegedly violating federal regulations on cabin and seat markings and placards. Discrepancies were found in the marking and placarding of emergency equipment, passenger seats, storage areas and doors on eight of Spirit's DC9 and MD80 aircraft.
In May 2013, a Spirit Airlines crew removed a Russian speaking group from a flight citing that they were being disruptive.
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- Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET (2010-04-07). "Spirit Airlines' boss calls industry-high complaint rate 'irrelevant,' says dying veteran should've bought insurance". Fox News. Retrieved 2012-05-25.
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- "Over the Line?". The O'Reilly Factor. 2007-12-11. Fox News Channel.
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- "Spirit to double fee for agent-printed boarding passes in April". Sun-Sentinel. 2013-03-13.
- "Our optional fees". Spirit Airlines. Retrieved 2013-05-12.
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- Segal, David. (2009-03-28) Don’t Come Crying to This Airline – NYTimes.com. Travel.nytimes.com. Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
- "Spirit Airlines is downgraded to 2-Star Airline status following latest Skytrax Ranking review" Skytrax. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Passengers' outrage as they are thrown off Spirit flight to Vegas 'for speaking RUSSIAN'" Mail Online. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Spirit Airlines|
- Official website
- Spirit Vacations official website
- "Spirit Airlines on strike" on CNN.com
- "Don't Come Crying to This Airline," N.Y. Times, March 28, 2009
- Spirit Airlines fleet
- Spirit Airlines aircraft