April 22, 2014

In My Opinion: Spirit Airlines addressing complaint rate

Articles were recently published highlighting that Spirit Airlines has the highest Department of Transportation customer complaint rate among U.S. airlines.

As the CEO of Spirit Airlines, I certainly know that, as does every member of our team.

We care about every one of our customers and work hard to deliver what they value most: safe, reliable transportation to where they want to go at a lower cost than other airlines. That’s because we know that the No. 1 thing that makes our customers happy is getting where they want to go for less.

We’ve all learned that there’s always “more to the story,” and there is here, too. First, the absolute number of complaints to the Department of Transportation is very small for all airlines, including Spirit. The industry averages around one or two complaints from every 100,000 customers, which is a great level of performance.

Our complaint rate is higher: over the last five years, we’ve averaged eight complaints per 100,000 customers. That means 99,992 customers did not file a complaint, while eight did. That is a very, very small number, but not one with which we are satisfied.

For the last few months, complaints about Spirit have declined by over 30 percent to five per 100,000 customers. And, we’re still not satisfied.

Offering our low fares requires doing some things that some people complain about — more seats on our planes with a little less legroom, no Wi-Fi or video screens and no refunds without insurance; however, these reduce costs, which gives our customers the lowest fares in the industry. Judging by the number of customers on our planes and repeat customer rate, most people like this tradeoff.

We know some customers are surprised by our unbundled, a la carte model, and that creates some complaints.

That’s why we’ve committed Spirit to two key objectives: helping all of our customers learn how to fly on Spirit while keeping more money in their pockets and sustaining our great safety record, while we continue to improve our operational reliability, which is already competitive with other airlines.

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