By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
When Spirit Airlines cancelled at least nine flights Monday evening at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, police were called in to calm angry passengers, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Videos posted to social media show upset passengers confronting airline employees. Deputies from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office were called in to calm passengers and keep order in the terminal.
“Fights broke out due to the frustration with Spirit and customers, and then it turned into customers against police,” Chicago-bound passenger Tamari Cameron told the Sun Sentinel.
Spirit blamed the flight cancellations on labor problems with its pilots. “This is a result of unlawful labor activity by some Spirit pilots designed to disrupt Spirit operations for our customers, by canceling multiple flights across our network,” the airline said in a statement published in the Sun-Sentinel.
“We are shocked and saddened to see the videos of what took place at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport this evening,” Spirit said.
Lines returned Tuesday morning at the Spirit check-in counter as passengers lined up in hopes of getting re-booked on other flights.
With an 8:30 a.m. Spirit flight to Chicago listed as canceled, Cameron and her travel companion were eventually told they could fly out Wednesday morning.
Spirit filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Miami on Monday accusing its pilots of taking “an unlawful job action,” says the online travel site Skift. Skift also noted that Spirit said in its complaint that in some cases, pilots are even turning down a chance to make 200 percent of their pay for last-minute assignments.
A spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) called the lawsuit “unwarranted and counterproductive.” Spirit pilots, represented by ALPA, and the airline are at odds over terms for a new collective bargaining agreement.
The pilots “are not engaged in a job action,” the spokesman said. “Rather, ALPA and the Spirit pilots are continuing to do everything possible to help restore the company’s operations, which have experienced significant problems over the past several days.”
As a result of the dispute, Spirit has cancelled about 300 flights, including 81 on Sunday due to a lack of available pilots, Skift said.
The labor dispute has cost the airline roughly $8.5 million in lost revenue. The problems are centered in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas and Detroit.
About the Author
David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. David’s 2015 book, “The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation’s Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever,” was recently published in paperback by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.