Spirit Airlines Faces an Army… Literally

About a week ago, Gary @ View From the Wing posted an article about Spirit Airlines refusing a refund to a dying Veteran, and he described the story as “so compelling you’d almost think it was made up.” The original news story went viral within hours and became a controversial debate. Some argued that it was unjust and disrespectful of Spirit Airlines to refuse the refund of the 76 year old Vietnam veteran who was dying esophageal cancer, and could not fly because of his compromised immune system.

However, Spirit Airlines says, “No refunds, means no refunds. If he actually dies before his flight, then we’d be happy to issue a refund.”

Will Spirit Airlines have to fight an army over this one? An article that came out today states that across the nations, Veterans groups are outraged and are rallying to the side of dying Vietnam veteran after the airline refused to refund him $197 for a ticket.  Following his doctor’s orders who deemed him unfit to fly, Jerry Meekins said Spirit still denied his request for a refund even after a note was provided from his physician, including proof of his prepaid funeral service.

In response to this, The Veterans plan on putting together a 6 to 7 million-person boycott against Spirit Airlines’ course of action, and are disgusted by the unsympathetic, unpatriotic, and inhumane nature of the way Spirit is handling his request.
The airline argues that making an exception would open the flood gates of having to issue refunds to other customers.
This is definitely a very touchy subject, and though I understand Spirit Airlines has a very strict no-means-no policy, this could potentially damage their reputation [even more] and end up costing more in the long run.
What are you thoughts?


  1. Noah Kimmel says

    I hate spirit’s policies as much as the next sane person…and I will never fly them again after 2 bad experiences. Im simply not their target customer and would rather pay for a better experience.

    BUT I respect that they have a very simple, clear, and consistent policies across the entire brand. They do exactly what they say they will and are very transparent about fees and restrictions, as onerous as they are.

    Non-refundable ticket means non-refundable!

    If you don’t like it, or if you expect better service, pay for another airline to fly you. It amazes me how upset people get over these fees when refundable and changeable flights are available for sale from most carriers. Yes they are more expensive, but they have more benefits.

    Spirit is not being mean or rude or disrespectful, they are following a blanket policy as they would with ANY person for ANY reason. No, they are not compassionate, but they don’t need to be, its not in their DNA. They are a price-leader, not a service-leader

  2. Nickfromct says

    I think this is pretty reprehensible behavior by Spirit. Sometimes rules need to be broken and this is one case where I think it would be appropriate.

  3. Lynda vet from texas says

    They have a no refund policy and that’s their right, just as it’s my right to NEVER fly with them or their affiliates. The man didn’t anticipate that there would be a drastic change in his health due to his cancer within the couple of weeks time he was flying any smart company would have just refunded the money and not sent a VERY cold and heartless letter concerning the possibility of his demise before he could fly. He probably was going cheap because even with health insurance (if he has any)all the expenses of cancer add up. What this company has is a few idiots in their line of supervisors and managers and now they are getting a lot of bad publicity for their slightly less than 300 bucks. Hope it was worth it to them.

  4. Steve Kalman says

    There was a day care center here in town that was full to capacity yet almost went bankrupt. The owners had so much compassion for the difficult times of parents, especially single parents, that they gave discounts on fees, sometimes even letting a second or third child attend free.

    When I was brought in to manage the finances one of my first acts was a no-discounts policy. Second was to reduce all fees by 20% (some had crept up so those with good incomes could subsidize those without. That’s only OK if everyone knows and agrees).

    I also put in place a “hire the parents” program. Overnight cleaning was done by parents, when anyone needed work done such as odd jobs, a posting went on the board in the parents’ waiting room.

    In a few cases where someone needed a grace period to tide them over, I made a gift from my own pocket. However, I NEVER relaxed the rules.

    The day care center is now financially sound. Some of the profits go to a “scholarship” fund to cover costs of special trips and events whose fees would exclude some of the kids.

    While the veteran who wanted a refund is sympathetic, the airline is correct. He gambled when he bought a non-refundable ticket. It would be just as wrong for Spirit to cover his bet as it would be for a casino to cover his losses at a table.


    Attention all trolls: Feel free to send hate mail. It will be deleted in the order received.

  5. ORD-TGU says

    The public has a very short memory, next time when someone wants to fly, they will book the cheapest, could be spirit.

    People want to save a buck, even if this is detrimental to one’s neighbor, the tragedy of the commons.

    So if a sick patient with cancer would be issued a refund, how about a pregnant woman who has been recommended bed rest?

    I do side with a more liberal refund/store credit policy, the veteran should be issued this at a minium.

  6. eds1830 says

    @Steve Kalman

    In my mind the daycare should have gone belly-up. Of course it helped probably to kick out all of those undesirable poor people and only cater to the “proper” clientele.

    Spirit thinks that it can be the Ryanair of the US. Any they can have their little niche of cheap kettles. Hint to Ben Baldanza, just like the daycare example – you will never get very wealthy selling things to poor people. And your market share will cap out.

    From a marketing standpoint, it’s a bonehead move. This is all over fox news, and has spread like wildfire to veterans groups. Not a good idea to get in a pi$$ing match with military groups when kids are still coming home in body bags while we are fighting an active conflict. One of the legacies should step up and offer to refund him the $$ and fly any of his family to see him if he would like.

    The Nazis at Nuremburg were just enforcing the rules, and look how well that worked out for them.

  7. Fred says

    As a veteran I too am disgusted with Spirit. The man is a vet who served his country & helped make it possible for companies like Spirit to even exist as a business in the USA.

    Now in his dying moments he gets treated very disrespectfully, all because he is following his doctor’s advice. This is not just a slap in this man’s face, it concerns a multitude of others.

    Prayerfully we can put pressure on Spirit to change this action of theirs.

  8. Fred says

    Also Spirit is so ashamed of their customer service policies that they don’t even have an email address or customer service hotline in plain view on their website.

    What a great company!

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