My son is traveling from Peru to Atlanta, changing at Fort Lauderdale, on Spirit Airlines. He has reached FLL but Spirit canceled his FLL to ATL flight. (No apparent reason, not weather related as far as I can see.) They are telling him they can't book him to ATL for another two days. They're offering "compensation" but it won't cover rebooking.

What are applicable laws?

  • Are you sure you have the full story and there’s no misunderstanding? There was one cancelled flight but there are plenty more, and there are availabilities... Something’s not quite right here... – jcaron Mar 24 '19 at 21:32
  • Where are you seeing the availabilities? They insisted there were none for two days, and all the Spirit flights from FLL to ATL on that day showed as "Sold Out". – iayork Mar 25 '19 at 0:14
  • Did a quick Google Flights search from my phone, didn't really look into too much detail but it was still showing one flight for Sunday and several for Monday. Right now on the Spirit site it's showing availabilities for the 6am, 6:09pm and 10:58pm flights on Monday (though there's only 1 seat left for the first two, I don't know how many people are in your son's party?). – jcaron Mar 25 '19 at 0:20
  • There were many Spirit flights but all were shown as fully booked when I looked. There were three people in the party, but that wasn't really the point -- staying overnight was really not an option because he had commitments for the next day. – iayork Mar 25 '19 at 0:22

What are applicable laws?

The rules are spelled out in Spirit's Contract of Carriage (https://www.spirit.com/Content/Documents/en-US/Contract_of_Carriage.pdf) and terms and condition (https://www.spirit.com/Legal.aspx), which you agreed to at time of booking.

The contract of carriage says in section 8.2

Rebooking When a guest holding a confirmed reservation on a Spirit flight which is delayed because of a schedule irregularity (including but not limited to, a missed connection, flight cancellation, omission of a scheduled stop, substitution of equipment, or schedule change), Spirit may rebook the guest on Spirit's first flight on which seats are available to the guest's original destination without additional charge. Our staff will focus on rebooking as many guests as possible on alternate flights, either direct to the destination or via connections through other airports to best accommodate the guest’s needs. A change may be made to an itinerary without a charge and/or fare difference when the itinerary was affected by a cancelled flight, an eligible schedule change or a delayed flight (greater than two hours from the original departure time) provided:

  • The same departure and arrival airports are booked and;
  • The itinerary is rebooked within Spirit’s authorized date ranges (currently within 7 days of the departure date).

With limited exceptions, Spirit will not reimburse guests for flights that they book on other carriers.

That's unfortunately open to interpretation, so I think it's probably more important right now to figure out how to get your son to Atlanta most efficiently. Today looks pretty bleak, but tomorrow there are non-stop flights on Spirit and Jet Blue for $200-$250. It's puzzling that Spirit claims "no seats available". Check online booking sites and document any available Sprit flights. If they have open seats, they need to give them to your son. If they don't, they should rebook him on Jet Blue. Now it's time to start a solid paper trail.

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  • He found a Delta flight from Fort Meyers, 2 hours drive away -- booked that and is Ubering to the other airport. If he leaves soon he should have plenty of time. It will end up costing a couple hundred dollars more than expected, even including the refund Spirit gave him. – iayork Mar 24 '19 at 13:42
  • @iayork Two words - "Travel insurance". If he doesn't have it, he should. If the flight was payed for with a credit card check to see if they have coverage. – Doc Mar 24 '19 at 19:02
  • It’s in situations like these that you really don’t understand how people could vote to leave the EU which have rights to passengers, basically replacing “may” with “must” in that quote. – jcaron Mar 24 '19 at 20:37
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    @Doc Travel insurance is even more of a rook. You end up spending a couple days fighting with them and end up with nothing but frayed nerves. In particular, the travel insurance will say "we won't cover it since Spirit is supposed to" or other such thing. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 24 '19 at 20:56
  • @Harper That may be your experience. It is not mine. – Doc Mar 24 '19 at 21:14

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