I had a ticket for Monday, June 30th at 7:45pm, leaving from Laguardia Airport (NYC), bound for Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
I arrived at check-in at 6:40pm. There were two check-in attendants at the counter. One was talking to a person who neither had a ticket for the flight nor was attempting to board, and the other was attending to a ticket-holder with two children.
Once the ticket-holder and her children completed their check-in, this attendant started my check-in process. When she began my check-in it was 7:08pm. She took my ID, verified my ticket, and then requested that I measure my carry-on bag. I measured the luggage and verified that it was within the size regulation.
I returned to the counter, and she directed me to complete the check-in by myself at the kiosk. I complied, entering my itinerary number and my name, and then as I attempted to proceed further, a message appeared telling me that I was not able to complete check-in. When I asked the attendant about this, she attempted to finalize my check-in on her computer and found that she too was unable to complete my check-in. At this time, it was 7:13pm.
After unsuccessfully trying to check me in, she called her supervisor, named "Madonna." Madonna informed me that Spirit airline policy ended check-in 30 minutes prior to take-off and that I was no longer eligible to board my flight. As I explained my ordeal, Madonna was sympathetic but told me that she could do nothing to override the system and that she could only offer me a ticket for the next day (July 1, 2014 at 6:30am). I felt this was unfair, but could not see a better way to resolve it, and I accepted the ticket.
I returned home to sleep, and woke up at 4am in order to take a taxi to the airport again. After I had completed check-in at the kiosk, I went to the gate. When I proceeded to board, I was told that my ticket was a stand-by ticket (which I had not been aware of) and that I would have to wait until all regular ticket holders had finished boarding. At 6:28am, there were still five passengers who had not made it to the gate. At this time, the staff called five stand-by passengers (including myself) to the gate. As we were standing by the gate at 6:30am, Spirit staff allowed passengers -- who were clearly late, to board past the scheduled take-off time. As a result, I was denied boarding and told that I could either continue to stand by for the following flights (which were all full) or receive a confirmed ticket for July 3rd.
I live in NY, but I am from Brazil and do not get to see my family often, as our family has neither much time nor money. My brother was going to be in Fort Lauderdale for two days only, and my wife went to great lengths to surprise me with this ticket so that I could see him. With poor customer service, inconsistent airline policies and inadequate communication, Spirit Airlines managed to waste my family's valuable time and money. They refused to give me a full refund and told me that they would only be able to extend me a full credit, which expires August 31, 2014. As I had to take off from my job for a trip that never happened, I do not foresee an opportunity to use this credit in such a short time. I spent $324 on a ticket, $30 on a taxi, $2.50 on public transportation, lost $200 by not working, and $75 for childcare that ended up being unnecessary. In total I have lost $631.50 on this ordeal. My brother has now returned to Brazil. I am appealing to the U.S. Department of Transportation as a last resort in order to mediate this situation.
"Spirit Airlines Contract of Carriage: 8.4.4 Amount of Denied Boarding Compensation 3) 400% of the fare to the customer’s destination or first stopover, with a maximum of $1,300, if the carrier does not offer alternate transportation that is planned to arrive at the airport of the customer’s destination or first stopover less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the customer’s original flight."