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Thread: Spirit Airlines versus Legacy Airlines

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Spirit Airlines versus Legacy Airlines

    I am usually not allowed to comment on travel situations until several days after the fact. This time is no exception. Several days ago, most of the U.S. airlines cancelled flights to and from Costa Rica. My condolences to anyone booked on Spirit Airlines. All of my clients booked on the legacy airlines arrived less than 6 hours behind schedule.

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    I hear a lot from the nay-sayers about the airlines. "It's just a Bus", they say. Well... Yes... It IS just a bus... until you need it to be something else. That's not just Spirit Airlines... that's also your booking agent. SJO is completely shut down, but you need to be home in less than 10 hours? A good agent can make that happen.

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    Apart from the Legacy Airline issue, which airline do you fly in and out of SJO? Well... You have a few options... Each deserves its own consideration...


    1) Avianca/LACSA: LACSA still exists, although it is seriously hampered by the Avianca umbrella. LACSA is officially known as "Avianca Costa Rica", but it still exists. Practically speaking, that means that there is a crew base and an operations base in Costa Rica. If you fly in and out of Costa Rica on Avianca, you have a "leg up", so to speak, on your fellow travelers, especially if you are booked on a LACSA flight. Do you know how to use that to your advantage? I do.

    2) United: United Airlines is the undisputed powerhouse of airline supremacy in Costa Rica, especially at SJO. If United suddenly pulled out of SJO, the result would be devastating. Although United does not maintain a crew base, per se, in San Josť, United's presence at SJO gives it a de facto crew and equipment base at SJO. Just ask any Newark passenger who has seen their flight cancelled so that the aircraft could perform a Houston flight, instead. United shuffles several airplanes and lots of crew members through SJO every day. If you fly United, your chances are good, if you have good status and you know how to game the system.

    The Continental/United airline merger has greatly weakened United's relationship with Copa Airlines, but make no mistake... Copa depends Substantially upon the United Airlines network.

    3) American (ex-USAirways): Not the best bet, but this also gives you some options. Don't count on American to get you out of a sticky situation in SJO.

    4) Delta/Alaska: These partners are usually pretty easy to deal with, if you have some status and know the drill. If you have good status with Delta, get ready to lean hard and call in some favors. It will work, but it will cost you.
    Last edited by Speedy1; 06-02-2016 at 09:56 PM.

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    I know you hate Spirit...and maybe with cause, but I have flown them a good bit and the worst I have had is an hour delay. In that same time frame I have also flown BA, Air New Zealand, Norwegian Air, Turkish Air, US Air, United and American. In those trips I have had a United flight canceled with no notice to me, even though they had my email, text and phone numbers. It was canceled 2 days BEFORE I drove 1.5 hours to the airport to find out. It never listed as canceled online. I had a BA flight delayed for 11 hours before being canceled and then delayed an additional 5 hours the next day. I had US Air flight delayed and late enough that I almost missed my NZ flight in LAX. NZ was a great flight, was a little late getting in because of weather, but a good flight. Norwegian was great...nice 787 to London from Ft Lauderdale. I think that what I take away from this is that with any of them you roll the dice. But I would rather fly Spirit for 250 roundtrip to CR than American for 881.

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Now on to the Low-Fare carriers...

    1) Spirit: Spirit works great as long as everything works perfectly. Once a little "hiccup" occurs... you're screwed.

    2) Southwest: Try as I might, it's hard to find a whole lot wrong with the Southwest business model. These fuckers continue to provide a good service (albeit a spartan service) at a very cheap price.

    3) JetBlue: Ditto Southwest... but JetBlue appears to be in the process of abandoning the "discount" model.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phalstaph2002 View Post
    I know you hate Spirit...and maybe with cause... I think that what I take away from this is that with any of them you roll the dice. But I would rather fly Spirit for 250 roundtrip to CR than American for 881.

    Yes, I do hate Spirit, with one caveat, which I have stated elsewhere on this board... I do see a specific use for Spirit, when the person and the purpose of the trip are well-matched to the flight. That, I believe, is a rare situation.

    But it's not really a "Roll of the Dice." There are a lot of factors involved in flight cancellations and delays. If you had been my client, booked on a United flight, that would have been a non-issue. As for USAirways/American... suffice it to say that I don't book my clients on that airline right now.

    But... phalstaph... I can assure you... it's NEVER a "roll of the dice." The outcome is well known by all of the major players, long before the common passenger finds out about it. That is what you and the rest of the traveling public has been sold... a Bill of Goods... nothing more.

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    The effect is still the same. I cannot see paying 881 for a flight to CR when Spirit will get me there for 250. Especially when I have never had an issue with Spirit, but have had issues on American. And honestly, if I were to get delayed a day it would not really matter. Back on Sunday, back on Monday...same thing for me.

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    The demise of the Travel Agent... I've written about this subject many times on this board...

    Expedia... Travelocity... and let's not forget the almighty TripAdvisor...

    They've all got "Everyman" convinced that he knows everything that there is to know about the travel business. He books his own flights and his own hotel rooms, online. Well... "Everyman" is right where they want him. He's flying on the airlines and staying in the hotels which have been chosen for him. He'll purchase his airline ticket 24 days ahead of his departure, because that's when he has been TOLD to purchase that ticket. He'll purchase that ticket on the airline which has been chosen for him. I've seen this all before.

    I've even been involved a bit in this new "industry" myself. I know exactly who is posting the fake reviews on TripAdvisor and the other websites, and I know exactly which reviews are fake and which are not. I know exactly when Spirit and Delta airlines want you to buy your airline tickets. It's not really that big of a secret. Most people are stupid enough to visit TripAdvisor before they book a hotel room. How smart could they possibly be?

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    Quote Originally Posted by phalstaph2002 View Post
    The effect is still the same. I cannot see paying 881 for a flight to CR when Spirit will get me there for 250. Especially when I have never had an issue with Spirit, but have had issues on American. And honestly, if I were to get delayed a day it would not really matter. Back on Sunday, back on Monday...same thing for me.

    I'll play devil's advocate here for a moment...

    881 is a Very High Price for a ticket to Costa Rica... depending. What was the Booking Code for that ticket? Was that the least expensive booking code available for a ticket on American?

    I understand that you have had issues with American. Did you press your rights? What was your Fare Basis Code? How did you purchase your ticket on American?

    As I have stated many times, if you can absorb a delay, then Spirit may be the right choice for you, and that's OK. But flying on Spirit does have specific disadvantages.

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    Well you are right...I have no idea when they want me to buy my tickets or even when the best time to do it is. I got my tickets to CR on Spirit a month and a half ago....for October. I booked my room at the SL...your advice...2 weeks prior to that. My last experience with a travel agent was the one who booked my Honeymoon flight and room in Cancun. That was on United. Got the tickets in the mail, 4 days before the wedding. Glanced at them and then packed them up....mistake on my part. Got married on a Saturday, had to be at the airport at 5 am the next morning for my flight...so I thought. Got to the airport and was informed that I had missed my flight. The travel agent booked the tickets for Saturday morning instead of Sunday morning. As it was Sunday, the travel agent was closed, so no help there. I ended up get an alternate flight, but it cost me. Not as much as the tickets, but a fee of about a third more. Needless to say I was not thrilled. That was the last time I trusted it to anyone else. Now, I will admit I was guilty of not checking the tickets better, but with all the stuff going on it was an honest mistake, but a mistake on my part. However, a travel agent who knows you are getting married on Saturday at 5pm and is booking your honeymoon should have been more thorough.

    Now, I am talking about a standard travel agent and not someone like you who has a specialty with a certain clientele. It was a bad experience, full of stress on a day when I should have been having a good time.

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