Flight frustration: Spirit re-routes flights

May 16, 2009 3:26:49 PM PDT
It was a travel nightmare for the passengers stranded on the ground in Philadelphia and it has turned into a public relations nightmare for Spirit Airlines.Three flights were expected to land in Atlantic City late Friday night.

When the pilots noticed fog around the Atlantic City Airport, they circled the airport for an hour, hoping the fog would clear.

When the fog lingered, they flew north and landed at Philadelphia International Airport, about midnight.

Spirit does not normally fly to Philadelphia so there were no Spirit representatives at the airport.

Passengers aboard the first flight were allowed to get off the plane at Atlantic Aviation, an executive terminal.

There was, however, no room at Atlantic Aviation for the second or third flights. Those planes remained on the tarmac for hours.

"I just never thought it would take 24 hours to get from Ft. Myers to Atlantic City airport," passenger Barbary Redy of New Gretna, Pennsylvania said.

"Every hour that went by, got worse and got worse. They had no coordination, there was total lack of communication," passenger Sharon Hoydich of Cape Coral, Florida said.

Passengers were not allowed off two of the planes. They became cramped and hungry, and unable to get much sleep. Parents struggled to make their children comfortable.

"I had to run after the stewardess to get the drink for her (daughter), food, nothing, they had yet to offer anything, meanwhile she had been sitting there for 10 hours. Nothing," passenger Melissa Paul of Marlborough, New Jersey said.

"Three men, maybe four, with one or two vans and one stairwell trying to service three planes with over 500 people on it; it was totally out of control," Hoydich said.

Seven hours after they landed, the passengers were put on shuttle buses, but, when they got to Atlantic City, they realize their luggage did not.

It was still on the planes and they didn't get airborne again for another three hours.

The passengers were outraged.

"To run a corporation this size and have no answers available after 8 hours, 10 hours, that's unconscionable; it should be illegal," passenger Lawrence Lerner of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida said.

Spirit says it was at the mercy of the weather, and passenger safety comes before convenience.

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