Spirit Airlines bedlam, day five: Airline cancels half of Thursday flights, bringing weekly total to 1,700+

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Spirit Airlines has been canceling flights around the country due to summer storms, technology outages and staffing shortages.

USA TODAY

Spirit Airlines apologized to passengers Wednesday after days of staggering flight cancellations and said cancellations should ease in the days to come as it reboots its operation.

Help didn’t arrive on Thursday.

The Florida-based carrier, which has blamed its operational meltdown on a series of issues, including weather, technology outages and staffing shortages, canceled 425 Thursday flights or 53% of its scheduled flights, as of 6:30 p.m. EDT, according to flight tracker FlightAware. The airline accounted for the majority of Thursday’s flight cancellations in the United States.

The airline also canceled 53 Friday flights, 7% of its scheduled flights, as of Thursday evening.

It is the fifth consecutive day of frustration for passengers on the budget airline, with cancellations since Sunday now topping 1,700. The situation is drawing similarities to a JetBlue Airways meltdown in February 2007, when 1,000 flights were canceled over a five-day period. JetBlue’s founder and then CEO David Neeleman said at the time that he was “humiliated and mortified” by the travel mess. The incident inspired a Harvard Business School case.

?Neeleman’s new airline: Breeze Airways takes off with $39 fares, no middle seats and nonstop flights to smaller cities

Spirit CEO Ted Christie so far has not addressed the issue publicly and has declined requests for interviews.

Spirit’s continuing woes come as a busy summer travel weekend looms. Last weekend, the Transportation Security Administration reported screening a pandemic-era record number of individuals.

?Alaska Airlines’ biggest sale this year: $99 one-way fares to Hawaii, other deals end Thursday

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Spirit canceled more than 400 flights per day, or 60% percent of its operation, on Tuesday and Wednesday alone. Earlier in the week, the airline wasn’t the only one struggling. Much larger American Airlines canceled hundreds of flights as it struggled to recover from summer storms in Dallas/Fort Worth, home to its largest hub. American’s operations have since stabilized.

Well… no one held me accountable and now we our flight just got cancelled for tomorrow to go to my aunts wedding. And to make it worse, we just waited on hold for over an our and a half to be disconnected due to technical issues on their end. #SpiritAirlines

— Tressa. (@Tressa__)

August 5, 2021

Spirit recommends that passengers check their email for updated flight information and says travelers should check flight status before heading to the airport. Those needing help are encouraged to use the new chat function on Spirit’s website.

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