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America’s Most Hated Airline Finally Gets It Right

SmarterTravel

In July, Spirit invited the traveling public to weigh in on what they most hated about Spirit and, perhaps, other airlines. As a kind of perverse incentive, Spirit even offered to reward the haters with 8,000 miles in the airline’s universally derided frequent-flyer program.

Business as usual, it seemed, for the country’s most complained-about carrier.

At the time, I expressed skepticism that the comments would be reviewed, evaluated, or acted on. With the publication of the “State of the Hate” report, however, Spirit has proved me at least partly wrong.

The report reflects the gripes of almost 30,000 travelers’ “vitriolic salvos.” And although the survey was clearly sponsored by Spirit, and in spite of the fact that Spirit has a well-deserved reputation as the airline flyers love to hate, fully 60 percent of the complaints were directed at other airlines, as follows:

  • 12% Delta
  • 10% United
  • 8% American
  • 7% Southwest
  • 5% US Airways
  • 3% JetBlue
  • 2% Frontier
  • 2% AirTran
  • 10% All Others

Lest we forget, Spirit is by far the smallest of airlines which were called out in the survey, so their 40 percent showing is an eye-popper.

So, what do the haters hate? Here are the top seven irritants:

  • 20% hate seats (“everything about them”)
  • 16% hate lost bags
  • 15% hate delays
  • 15% hate shoddy service
  • 12% hate fees
  • 7% hate costs
  • 7% hate skimpy legroom

On a lighter note, Spirit took the time to count the number of curse words deployed in the survey respondents’ comments, and correlated the vulgarity quotient with the complained-about airline. United was the object of the most profanity, followed by Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, and American.

There’s no effort to put the results into any context (relative to airlines’ size, for example) or to drill down into the data for actionable findings. And speaking of action, Spirit’s only follow-up to the gripes appears to be using them as a platform for justifying the carrier’s most irritating policies.

Don’t like fees? “Some people call them fees. We think of them as options. Other airlines bundle them into your fare, but when you fly with us, you pay only for what you use.” Take that, naysayers!

In other words, the survey and report are more of a stunt than a real effort to identify problems and address them. As its customers have come to expect, the airline is in love with its own business model, even if flyers hate it.

Reader Reality Check

Which airlines and policies are on your hate list?

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This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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