FT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Hundreds of Spirit Airlines passengers waited for hours at Fort-Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport after major flight delays.
“It has been a disaster,” said Rafael Hernandez who was trying to get home to Chicago.
Hernandez said he was escorted out of the terminal by authorities after he lost his temper.
“I was so frustrated. I’m never ever going to fly Spirit again,” said Hernandez. “If they don’t know how to run a business, everything is going to collapse, bankrupt.”
Exhausted Spirit passengers slept on the floor after being stuck at the airport all night. Some waited as long as eight hours and said they could not even get their luggage back in order to switch airlines.
“I’m just tired, exhausted, it’s not worth it. I’m never going to do it again with this airline,” said Teresita Lee who was trying to get to New York with her young son.
The delays began Wednesday evening. One woman said while her plane was stuck on the tarmac, passengers became unruly.
“One man in the back of the plane started screaming ‘Spirit let’s get some refunds or get some free liquor, this is outrageous’ and there were other people joining in, getting out of hand,” said Brianna Niemann.
“They gave me $14 in meal vouchers,” said Jim McKinney who was flying to Tampa. “I’ve tried to be as calm as I could and I finally had to go outside and take a breather.”
Passengers said they received different explanations from flight staff about the delays; from mechanical issues to an FAA flash inspection.
“They kept giving us excuses and telling us the flight was delayed, the flight was delayed, the flight was delayed,” said Tonya Elizabeth who was trying to get to Tampa.
“Supposedly the FAA told them you can’t fly, need to put planes down because of mechanical issues and safety of the passengers,” said Hernandez.
Spirit said the FAA had nothing to do with the delays.
Spirit communications director Misty Pinson e-mailed this statement to CBS4:
“Following the engine failure on one of our aircraft last week, and after reviewing routine maintenance procedures, we are completing a proactive and voluntary check on our aircraft engines overnight as a precautionary measure. These checks take approximately 45 minutes per aircraft.
Some flights are experiencing significant delays as we complete the checks. Each aircraft is being returned to service as soon as the check is completed. We apologize for these delays. We are working diligently to get our customers where they need to go as quickly as possible. We expect all checks to be completed this morning.
As always, the safety of our customers is our number one priority.”
Pinson said all checks should be completed by Thursday morning. She added that customers who experienced lengthy flight delays would be offered credit for future flights.