Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza has created quite a ruckus by denying a 76-yr old cancer patient a refund after his doctor told him that he was too sick to fly to his appointment in New Jersey. Jerry Meekins paid $197 for a ticket from his home in Florida to New Jersey where he could receive treatment. The doctor told him that he was too sick to fly so he ended up driving instead at a cost of about $300.
When CPO Meekins approached Spirit about getting a refund, they only offered him a credit voucher provided that he would pay a change fee. CPO Meekins replied that he couldn’t use a credit voucher since his doctor forbid him from flying. Ben Baldanza went on TV to defend Spirit’s handling of the affair only to create a media storm of negative publicity. Here is his quote:
“Making an exception would be like an insurance company paying to fix a fire-ravaged home even though the owner didn’t have a policy before the fire. Had we done that, I think it really would’ve been cheating all the people who actually bought the insurance,” he said. “And I think that’s fundamentally unfair.”
OK, Mr. Baldanza, I get that you don’t want to set a precedent and change all of your famously cheapskate airlines rules, but c’mon. If I was Mr. Baldanza, when I found out about this story, I would have whipped out me personal checkbook and written the retired CPO a check for $197 and ended it right there. I’ll wager that the CEO probably makes millions every year and should have just done the right thing without making such bad publicity.
Want to know how much that bad publicity is costing Spirit? A Facebook page calling for a boycott of Spirit has gone viral and their stock price dropped 5% on Thursday after this interview with Baldanza. Instituting a $100 bag fee for any bag that could not fit into the overhead bin may have also contributed to that drop. Here is the link to the BoycottSpirit page.
Not that I had any intention of ever flying Spirit, I now will definitely not. What do you think?