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Customers Are Grumbling With Spirit Airlines

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Creative Commons via Flickr
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Eric Salard (https://flic.kr/p/rRgdfK)

Despite being a little bit better at keeping on schedule, airlines are facing more complaints from customers, according to the latest Department of Transportation Air Travel Consumer Report.

Spirit Airlines, the Miramar-based budget airline, had the second-worst rate of complaints in March among all 13 reporting carriers, including AmericanAirlines, which operates U.S. Airways. Only Colorado-based Frontier Airlines had more reported grumbling customers than Spirit.

This is the first year Spirit has been included in the report. It's the fastest-growing airline in the country and has grown to a size where it is now required to report complaints to the DOT.

Paul Berry, a Spirit spokesman, says they see these grievances fall into two categories: One is when the airline has done something wrong: they lose your bag, delay a flight or spill coffee on you.

“When we look at those types of complaints we are closer to other airlines in those areas,” Berry says.

The second category are what he calls “business-model complaints,” when people don’t realize that budget travel means they pay for everything a la carte - checking bags or getting your boarding pass printed at check in.

“We’re working very hard to educate our customers,” says Berry, “especially our first-time customers on how we’re different and how those charges do come up.”

Complaints across all airlines reported are up 27 percent from February.