Spirit Airlines may be a low-cost leader, but its customer service leaves many passengers fuming.
In the past, the airline has been openly indifferent (if not downright hostile) to the notion of providing good customer service. Nope, the focus is cheap transport from point A to point B and if you want good customer service pay more to fly someone else.
But as legacies have matched Spirit Airlines pricing on many routes and the airline has endured growing pains with pilot shortages, Spirit has realized that customer service does count for something. Perhaps the bloody brawl earlier this month after a flight cancellation was the tipping point, but Spirit is changing its tone. Here’s an email I just received from CEO Bob Fornaro:
Customer Service Commitment from Spirit CEO
A little over a year ago, I became the CEO of Spirit Airlines. At the time, we were very good at providing the lowest possible fares, and that hasn’t changed – our total price is more than 30% lower than other airlines on average. But, while low prices are important, one thing was missing – a commitment to delivering great service.
Over the past year, we invested heavily to improve your customer experience. We increased staffing and our focus on service training. We built a new state-of-the-art hangar and opened new training centers to keep our crew and equipment in tip-top shape. And we brought on 16 new aircraft, adding to the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleet in the country.
These improvements produced great results – our on-time performance increased by nearly 15%, and customer satisfaction increased by 50%. I am proud to say that we were named the Most Improved Airline in the Airline Quality Rating this year.
A couple of weeks ago, we suffered service disruptions and had to cancel approximately 15% of our flights over the course of a few days. We regret the inconvenience this caused and have been hard at work to ensure this does not happen again. We are committed, as always, to providing our valued customers with safe, reliable and on-time flights to their travel destinations.
Moving forward, you will see some exciting improvements at Spirit. While our on-time performance has improved, we will continue to get even better. Additionally, we will be launching a mobile app by the end of summer as well as a refreshed website and new kiosks at the airport by year-end. These are just a few things that we are doing to provide a better customer experience for you.
Today’s Spirit is performing better than last year’s Spirit, and next year’s Spirit will be even better. I look forward to meeting you on a Spirit flight soon!
President and CEO, Spirit Airlines
Show Don’t Tell
Spirit Airlines must still hammer out a labor agreement with its pilots. It obtained a temporary restraining order to break an unofficial pilot strike, but the two sides remain far apart. A lucrative pilot contract will wreck Spirit’s business model, but so will continued cancellations.
Happy employees make for a happy company and good customer service. Spirit is in the unenviable position of trying to keep costs low while keeping passengers and employees happy. I wish them the best of luck.
Top image: JT Occhialini / Wikimedia Commons