Spirit Airlines Cancels Half of Thursday Flights as Travel Chaos Enters Fifth Day

Al Seib | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
  • Spirit canceled half of its flights, the fifth day of travel disruptions for customers.
  • The low-cost airline has canceled more than 1,700 flights since last weekend.
  • The airline blamed the issues on a combination of bad weather, staffing shortages and technology outages

Spirit Airlines has canceled more nearly 400 flights — half its Thursday schedule — as the airline tries to end disruptions that have vexed customers since the weekend.

The airline blamed a combination of bad weather, staffing shortages and technology problems for the disruptions, which has led to more than 1,700 cancellations since last weekend.

Angry and confused passengers complained about long waits to speak with customer service and long waits at crowded airports.

The issue is testing the low-cost carrier's strides in recent years to improve reliability and its customer service.

Spirit said the problem was made worse by the spike in summer travel demand, which bounced back faster from a pandemic slump than the U.S. aviation industry expected.

On Thursday morning, about 80% of all U.S. flight cancellations came from Spirit, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.

Airlines will often cancel large numbers of flights in order to get planes and crews in place and prevent further disruptions that could strand employees and customers at airports.

"After working through yesterday's proactive cancellations, we've implemented a more thorough reboot of the network, allowing us to reassign our crews more efficiently and restore the network faster," Spirit said in a statement Wednesday. It said that flight cancellations would "progressively" drop in the coming days.

Just eight Spirit flights scheduled for Friday were canceled.

American Airlines passengers faced snowballing cancellations and delays earlier this week, sparked by severe weather at its Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport hub on Sunday and subsequent staffing shortages. Those delays have largely subsided with just 43 cancellations on Thursday.

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