MIRAMAR, Fla., March 17, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Customers are starting to understand Spirit Airlines (Nasdaq:SAVE) is different than other airlines. The message sent has been successful: those differences save them money on travel, which has led to the airline's rapid growth and popularity. In fact, Spirit has seen a 40% growth in customer satisfaction according to internal surveys. This growth has also led to Spirit being included in the Department of Transportation monthly Air Travel Consumer Report beginning this year. Most airlines will only focus on the area of the report where they perform well - not Spirit. The Ultra-Low Cost Carrier actually wants consumers to better understand what the report says and focus on what is important to consumers, even if it means drawing attention to the areas where they didn't score so well.
"The DOT provides a comprehensive report, but it is a lot of data that can be difficult to understand," said Spirit's President and CEO, Ben Baldanza. "We want consumers to be able to focus on the important information the report provides that actually shows how carriers are taking care of their customers."
According to the DOT, Spirit performs well in these categories:
- Spirit is far and away the leader in lowest airfares and total price, even after adding options.
- The January report shows Spirit was among the best when it came to fewest canceled flights and fewest lost pieces of luggage, two areas consumers get most frustrated with regarding air travel.
- Spirit had a high number of complaints – although they weren't the worst on the list. Spirit has embraced complaints as a tool to help educate customers on the airline's unique model.
The airline has created a much easier to understand, more visual, and humorous Infographic that clearly shows how Spirit performed in the January DOT report. And in true Spirit fashion, they've also created a self-deprecating video that discusses the DOT report. To watch the video click on this link: State of Hate Video - DOT Report
Best Fares, Best Price
Spirit continues to lead the industry in the lowest price for airfares – which is the measure that most consumers rank as their highest priority when choosing an airline. DOT statistics show that Spirit's fares are on average 42% less than other airlines.* That equates to a potential savings of nearly $770 million for Spirit customers.**
For decades most news stories regarding the DOT report focus on "delays" and "complaints," two areas that may seem on the surface to be a clear reflection of consumer frustration. Spirit CEO Baldanza contends consumers have been steered into thinking those categories are a true reflection of performance, while they can be highly misleading.
"Don't get me wrong, we don't ever want to have a delayed flight, and we want to have zero complaints; but we're in the airline industry and those things are going to take place with every airline," added Baldanza. "The fact is many airlines 'game' the system when it comes to on-time performance. When you understand this fact and understand the different nature of complaints, it can quickly change your perspective."
Spirit had 71.3% of their flights arrive on-time, just below the industry average of 76.8%, although almost 20% of those delays were due to weather, airport, and security issues. While there were other airlines whose performance was worse, Baldanza suggests "delays" are a part of the airline industry. Most air travelers have experienced a delay; but it doesn't adversely affect their trip. However, when an airline cancels your flight, it can ruin a vacation or destroy a business opportunity.
"That's why Completion Factor - or fewest canceled flights - is a measure of taking care of customers that should also be considered," says Baldanza. "At Spirit we're committed to getting you to your destination on your flight, even if it means taking a delay." The DOT report shows Spirit ranked near the top of the industry only canceling 1.1% of their flights, compared to the industry average of 2.5%.
In the January DOT report Spirit ranked second for the most number of complaints. Baldanza points out there is a relatively small number of complaints, and the specific nature of those complaints is often overlooked.
Spirit had 7.99 complaints for every 100,000 passengers. That means that 99.99% of Spirit's customers did not complain to the DOT about their service on Spirit. "I can't think of any company that would change their practices based on complaints from such a tiny fraction of their customers," added Baldanza.
The airline's reading of the DOT report shows business model complaints make up 35% of Spirit's complaints.
"When a customer is upset that we have more seats on the plane than other airlines or they don't like that we charge $3 for a soda, that's a business model complaint and is much different than if we don't provide the service we promise," says Baldanza. "Our business model saves people a lot of money, and that's what we're all about at Spirit, so we're not going to change in those areas. However, if we lose your luggage, or make a mistake of some kind, we will work to fix the situation and make it right. While we always want to get better, we think the DOT report shows that we are successfully doing the things that the vast majority of our customers care about most, like not canceling your flight or losing your luggage – and we do this while saving customers a lot of money!"
Spirit understands that air travel can be frustrating, and they're willing to listen. So the airline set up a website where consumers can "share their hate" about Spirit or any airline. In return, the airline will give 8,000 FREE SPIRIT® Miles to use toward an award flight on Spirit when they submit up to 140 characters at www.HateThousandMiles.com
About Spirit Airlines:
Spirit Airlines (Nasdaq:SAVE) is committed to offering the lowest total price to the places we fly, on average much lower than other airlines. Our customers start with an unbundled, stripped-down Bare Fare™ and get Frill Control™ which allows them to pay only for the options they choose - like bags, seat assignments and refreshments – the things other airlines bake right into their ticket prices. Spirit's total price, including options, is nearly 40% lower than other airlines on average.* We help people save money and travel more often, create new jobs and stimulate business growth in the communities we serve. With our modern and fuel-efficient all-Airbus fleet we operate more than 325 daily flights to 57 destinations in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean. Come save with us at www.spirit.com.
* Based on US Department of Transportation data for Spirit and other U.S. airlines for the twelve months ended 6/30/14 adjusted for differences in length of haul.
**The average fare on Spirit is $88, vs. $152 on other airlines, a difference of $64. Spirit flew 12,021,642 passengers in 2014.Therefore 12,021,642 x $64 = $769,385,088 in savings.