Monday, June 14, 2010

Spirit cancels flights through Tuesday

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Spirit Airlines canceled all of its flights through Tuesday, stranding thousands of passengers or forcing them to pay out of pocket for new flights.
"None of the planes are moving and none of our pilots have crossed the picket line," said Paul Hopkins, who serves as strike committee chairman of Spirit's unit of the Air Line Pilots Association.

The privately held Miramar, Fla.-based airline carries 16,680 passengers a day, about 1 percent of the U.S. total.

Aviation consultants are divided over how long the pilots' strike — the nation's first in five years — will take to resolve. After more than three years of failed talks, union leaders say they're prepared to hold out for a new contract, though they hope it won't come to that.

Spirit is offering full refunds or credits for the cost of flights plus $100 future flight credit. Refunds and credits are being processed through the company's reservation line at 800-772-7117.

For a second day, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport terminal 4 on Sunday morning was the scene of anger and frustration as travelers returning from Caribbean cruises struggled to find another way home. Most had heard of the strike and knew their flights were canceled, but they had no place to go but the airport.

Spirit gate agents and counter clerks were on hand to help, but few passengers seemed pleased with the help offered: a refund that would show up later on a credit card. There was no help finding flights on other carriers.

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