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Spirit Airlines’ CEO flips his customers the bird

Time to send the CEO to Microsoft Outlook School! Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza hit “reply to all” instead of “reply” and thereby sent this charming e-mail not only to one of his customer service employees, but also to the angry passengers who contacted the company to complain in the first place. Here’s the CEO’s message:

Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing as far as I’m concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.

Comedy gold, or the perfect distillation of the state of air travel? Maybe both!

“Let him tell the world how bad we are.”

Well, Mr. Baldanza, you’ll be glad to know that the customer did! Blogger Alex Rudloff posted a reader’s entire correspondence with Spirit on his site. Go read the whole thing.

Rudloff’s post hit the Consumerist earlier today, which is where I first saw it. But it’s making the rounds, going viral even, and frankly, the airline is getting exactly what it deserved.

James Wysong asks why U.S. airlines are so bad. Spirit Airlines’ disdain for their passengers just provided Exhibit A.

I get a lot of complaints about Spirit — more than any other airline. (Chris Elliott recently named US Airways to his “blacklist” on the basis of sheer volume of complaints that he receives. If I were writing that list, Spirit would have to be take the top slot. No contest. Most of the complaints surround their baggage fees or automatic opt-in to travel insurance or the $9 club. One airline employee wrote in with a long list of complaints, many of which were common to other airlines, but the sheer litany of issues… Tip: Avoid the coffee.)

Spirit just keeps leading the charge downhill.


Is Spirit Airlines’ new club worth joining?

This past weekend, I was a guest on Peter Greenberg’s radio show, talking about Spirit Airlines and their new luggage fees. (Shameless self-promotion alert!)

During the segment, Peter had his producer fire up the Spirit website to see how low their fares went. The answer: $9.

But there was a catch: She found a $9 fare, but only if you joined their “$9 Fare Club.” I had noticed this on their site Friday afternoon, but didn’t think anything of it, really, not realizing at the time that this members-only savings society was anything new. Since then, it has hit the news and blogosphere as something newsworthy.

I’m predictably skeptical. For starters, I’m not a fan of the new Spirit fare structure, so paying a membership fee to maybe — just maybe — have access to limited-availability ultra-low fares doesn’t seem like a good way to spend your cash.

That said, for now the club is relatively cheap to join. A 3-month trial is $9. Thereafter, it’s still pretty cheap, honestly, at $29.95 per year. If (and only if) that really gets you access to ludicrously cheap fares year-round, then it may be worth it. But I have my doubts. Besides, Spirit doesn’t shy away from sales with cutesy names.