Spirit Airlines makes Denver debut amid bad PR over boycott, baggage fees

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Beginning at 9:45 a.m., Spirit Airlines will celebrate its return to Denver International Airport with a slew of events, including the first landing of a flight from the discount carrier in eight years.

But something else is arriving along with this Las Vegas-to-Denver junket -- terrible publicity related to call for veterans to boycott Spirit, as well as word of a $100 per carry-on bag fee.

Over the past week or so, Fox News has closely covered the story of Jerry Meekins, a Vietnam War veteran who asked Spirit for a $197 refund after being diagnosed with terminal cancer and being forbidden to fly -- a request that the airline turned down flat.

Spirit has a blanket no-refunds policy unless a potential passenger "pays extra for insurance that enables them to apply for refunds," according to Fox News. And because Meekins didn't do so, he was out of luck.

Meekins's tale was spread in part by the Boycott Spirit Airlines Facebook page, which was launched before the refund rejection but is now largely devoted to his plight. Here are some sample comments on a recent post:

Well now we know what the spirit of Spirit Airlines is: no compassion. I'd be glad to help chip in and do for this vet what the airline refused to do.

Hope you become bankrupt Spirit. Compassion and customer service, something you fools are truly lacking.

Screw Spirit Airlines. I will gladly NEVER give them one dime. Blessings to this vet and his family.

The response from Spirit is a simple "no". Count me among those with the same simple answer to them when it comes to flying. Heck no to flying on Spirit!

As the anger over this situation continued to build, Spirit risked more ire by announcing its new carry-on baggage policy. At present, the Detroit Free Press notes, the carrier charges $45 for any bag placed in a plane's overhead compartment. But beginning on November 6, that fee will be upped to $100 -- an amount intended to inspire more people to check their bags and make their flying arrangements online prior to arrival at an airport, according to the paper.

The jack-up isn't unique; Allegiant is also taking this tack. But Spirit is increasing charges in other areas as well. Here's the Freep list:

• $50 for a carry-on checked at the counter or kiosk, up from $40, and $35 for a carry-on paid for while booking, up from $30.

• $40 for a carry-on paid for during online check-in, up from $35, and $40 for a carry-on paid for using the reservation center, up from $35.

• $8-$10 more for oversized luggage checked at the airport.

Expect questions on these topics to come up today at DIA, where Spirit is launching nonstop service between Denver and the airline's four largest bases of operation: Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale and Las Vegas. There'll also by connections available to thirty more cities in the U.S. plus the Caribbean and Latin America.

The press has been invited to a photo op from the ramp of that first flight, and DIA manager Kim Day is expected to be on hand for interviews that will undoubtedly tout Spirit's return to Denver. But the comeback is not without baggage -- the expensive kind.

Look below to see a Fox News interview with Meekins.

Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Business archive: "Frontier's next animal mascot could be a dung beetle -- really."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.